Monday, July 17, 2017

Tea Runners Tea Club: July Tea Box, A Tea Review

Bah, my luck is rubbish, RUBBISH! My Hour of Devastation bundle arrived today and blah, I didn't pull anything good, true I did get a bunch of the cheap commons and a cheap rare I wanted, but nothing that was worth more than a dollar so the expensive cards I have a hard time justifying buying for myself will have to wait. Out of ten packs, I was expecting to get something! Worst bundle ever!

Today I am looking at the July Tea Box from Tea Runners a somewhat new company that bills itself as the 'World's Finest Tea Club' which is quite the claim, so let us see how it stacks up to the competition. For $25 a month you get four pouches of loose leaf tea with enough to make 30-50 cups of tea, the tea seems to be a range combining both flavored and pure teas. Looking at the teas they have offered in the past and this month, this club seems good for those in the beginner to mid-range levels of tea obsession. For someone (like me) who prefers pure teas you drink gongfu cha, or has very specific types of tea they want, this club might not be the best fit. It is harder to make a club for us picky tea snobs, so far I have only found the one that I wanted to stick with long term. I will say that I really liked the packaging, the box looks like a briefcase and it is slim enough to fit in my mailbox was awesome. The actual tea pouches are full of useful information, including caffeine content, steeping (western only) original providers, and origin of tea, plus they are resealable and are thick enough to keep smells in and not contaminating other teas.

The first tea I pulled out of the box to try was the Mystic Mint, an organic blend from Rishi Tea made from peppermint, cardamom, licorice, essential basil and clove leaf oil. Long time readers probably know by now my love/hate with mint, I like mint in moderation, it needs to not overwhelm and usually, I prefer it to be very mild. Most the time in blends I don't get this and it makes me cranky, feeling like I sniffed and drank a glacier. The aroma of this blend is in fact very minty, my sinuses are clear now for sure, there are also notes of mild cardamon and cloves with a bit of herbaceous basil and sweet licorice, mostly though you get mint.

I discovered the best way to deal with mint blends being too strong is to cold steep it, so in the morning I popped this in my fridge and then drank it before bed. The taste is cooling and minty, but it is not overpowering, yay! Strong notes of cardamon and sweet licorice blend with tingly clove for a really soothing drink that manages to be cooling but not unpleasantly so, thanks in part to the warming sensation of the clove. I am glad that I liked this blend, it had been on my list to try from Rishi for a while since it looked like it would be good to sip when I have a belly ache, so add this to the short list of minty teas I like.

Next up is the Dragon Claw Oolong, an Oolong from Nepal (wooo, love my teas from Nepal!) from Tea Runners, there are two teas in the set where they do not list the source, but I have a theory this is from Nepali Tea Traders, and I hope I am right because when my pouch is empty I am going to want more. This is my one problem with tea clubs, if I find a favorite a lot of times that is it, no more for me. The aroma of this tea is pretty amazing, grapes and toasted hazelnuts with an undertone of malt are the dominant notes, it does not smell like any Oolong I have sniffed, making it truly unique.

As expected, I gongfu'd this tea, and holy moly does it go the distance! I got fifteen steeps out of this tea and I was completely ok with that, usually, Nepali teas go for about half that long, so I was not prepared, but it was awesome. The taste is intense, strong sweet nutty notes with apricots and grapes, an undertone of malt, and a bright crisp mouthfeel. It reminded me of a roasted Oolong crossed with a Nepali black tea and wow is it delicious.

On to next tea, one I was not really looking forward to trying, American Tea Room's Organic Bliss, a blend of green and white tea with dragonfruit, lemongrass, kiwi, raspberries, natural flavors, and sugar. Nothing about this blend seems appealing to me, except maybe the dragonfruit. I don't like flavored teas, at all, they taste and smell like candy (even if it is natural flavoring) and I just do not want that in my tea. Flavored teas notoriously give me headaches, and if I am particularly unlucky act as migraine triggers (much like perfumes, cleaning agents, and anything with a potent smell.) and it seems the older I get the less tolerant I am of it. But if you like tea that smells like strawberry lollipops and sweet fruity jam, you will probably like this tea.

In fairness I did try this tea instead of running in terror, I cold steeped it because I find it makes it easier for me to tolerate if it is cold. Granted I should point this out for posterity, I do tolerate chocolate, vanilla, and nutty flavored things more, I am not a fan of fruit flavored things, even candy, so the flavoring on this tea could be fantastic, I just absolutely loathe fruit flavored things. So, it is not really a surprise that this tea is not for me, it tastes of fruit candy, borders between sweet and sour, and has a light and refreshing base tea flavor. I will be foisting the rest of this pouch off on my housemate who loves this style tea and will probably drink it all very quickly.

The last tea might have been my favorite, it is in strong competition with the Oolong, Black Gold Biluochun (or as one of my IG followers misread it, Black God Erebus, MTG reference for the win) I love golden Biluochun, I pretty much burn through my stash of this tea whenever I have it, it is one of my favorite Dianhongs for sure. The aroma is sweet and malty with strong notes of molasses and roasted peanuts, there is just a hint of yam in this one as well, but mostly this goes into the molasses and peanut category.

This tea is quite tasty, everything I expect from a fuzzy golden Biluochun, a thick mouthfeel, sweet lingering aftertaste, notes of molasses, peanuts, malt, and a bit of cocoa, overall it is quite good! You can tell I thought it was quite good because my pouch is almost empty, because this stuff never sticks around! It lasts for quite a while too, getting ten solid steeps and a couple really light ones, so I do not feel too sad that it is running out.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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