Based on two experiences: my wife’s and my own
Experience buying from Tea Forte: Good. Website is very colorful and easy to navigate. Given free samples after responding to Steepster invitation. Package came in reasonable amount of time. Other than sending my address, no e-mail or phone contact.
Age of leaf: Unknown. Steeped within weeks of receiving.
Packaging: Creative: a grayish somewhat transparent plastic bag with five smaller “Single Steeps” packs attached to a colorful paper backing describing each tea. The tiny tea foil packs themselves are the most colorful and most professional-looking tea packages I have ever seen.
Dry Leaf: Strong, fresh smell (a little like amaretto to me).
Brewing guidelines: (package states 12 oz. I used closer to 16 oz.) Two steepings: 1st: boiling, 3mins. 2nd: boiling, 5 mins. (about 20-30 minutes later). Small amount of Stevia added. Basket strainer inside ceramic 16 oz. cup.
Aroma: smelled a little like canned cherries.
Color of liquor: 1st: Beautiful, deep red color. 2nd: a little darker.
Wet leaf: smelled a little like cherries.
Flavor: 1st steeping: OK. A little too strong on the cherry flavor? 2nd: Not as tasty as 1st, has a kind of ‘off’ flavor to it, almost stale, and even a little — I’m sure how to describe it, but I believe the correct word here is — tart, since I am experiencing some dryness in my mouth.
Value: Free sample, but their price on their website is more than I would be willing to pay if I purchased it.
Overall: Awesome start, disappointing finish. I love everything about the tea but the taste: as to that we both felt it fell short. I didn’t feel a need to finish the first steeping, let alone the second (my wife didn’t even want to try it). Unfortunately, we would not buy this tea. :(