This is my second monthly box from Sips by. I have to say, I really enjoyed my first box because it gave me the opportunity to try some new brands. One thing I still like about the boxes is how the tea is sent in the brand’s own packaging, so you’re able to get a sense of the company. I think that that is a neat touch!
Each box is also customized, which is done through a preference quiz. When I filled out my answers, I asked for a mix of both flavoured and unflavoured teas, so I got two of each. In this box, I received an oolong, a pu-erh, a black/pu-erh, and a rooibos.
With all of that out of the way, let’s go!
Nepal Tea LLC: Shangri-La Oolong
Description: “Tending towards green aromas and black flavors, this oolong will intrigue both expert and beginner.”
Review: I was aware of Nepal Tea LLC already because it was a Kickstarter. I was unable to help fund it, so I was happy to see the tea in my box because I really wanted to try them! In the past, I’ve also really enjoyed teas from Nepal.
From looking at the leaves, I could see that while some of them were darker, the lighter ones looked like white tea leaves and were fuzzy. The smell was lovely – fragrant and floral, but not overpowering. The leaves unfurled quite a bit after steeping, and there were some that unfurled to a point where you could see the shape of the leaf!
The wet leaves had more of an earthy smell. The liquor was a dark brown with an orange tint. There was a very faint earthy fragrance. The recommendation was that the tea could be steeped up to 3 times.
Steep 1: I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was leaning toward more of a malty black tea. However, the first notes I tasted were like sweet like grapes. Other notes I tasted were malty with the faintest hint of astringency on the tail end.
Steep 2: I found this infusion pretty faint, which was disappointing because I really liked the first infusion. There was some mild sweetness.
Steep 3: Normally, when the infusion before is fairly faint, I find that the next infusion will be too. However, while it was similar to the previous infusion, it actually had more malty notes! I’m glad I gave it one more try.
My favourite infusion by far was the first one. I’m thinking about steeping this for less than 4 minutes (the shortest recommendation) so, I can see if I can extend this tea a bit with a slightly milder first steep (4/5 rating).
- Type: Oolong tea
- Origin: Nepal
- Caffeine: Medium caffeine
- Ingredients: Oolong tea
- Other: Organic
- Company: Nepal Tea LLC
West China Tea Company: Rain Butter
Description: “This tea has been aged 7 years giving it a grounding, mature, earthy flavor with macadamia and hazelnut notes.”
Review: Normally, due to price constraints, most of the pu-erhs I drink tend to be on the younger side. Therefore, when I saw that this had been aged for 7 years, I was curious to see how it would taste. It does suggest steeping this gongfu style, but since the instructions were western style, I defaulted to that.
The leaves were brown and twisted with a layer of dust. The leaves gave off an earthy, woodsy and nutty smell. As someone who likes nutty teas, I was excited about this! The wet leaves were a dark, almost black colour and the liquor was a reddish brown. There was a very faint earthy smell.
Steep 1: The liquor was very smooth and there was no astringency. It had a nice mild taste that reminded me of damp earth.
Steep 2: The liquor was a deep brown the second infusion. I found it was fairly mineral this infusion, and reminded me of copper or iron.
Steep 3: It was pretty faint at this point.
While the info card mentioned macadamia and hazelnut notes and I can see where that came from, that it isn’t the first thing that personally would have popped into my head. I think that this is a nice example of a mild pu-erh, which isn’t as brisk or bold as some pu-erh can be (3/5 rating).
- Type: Pu-erh tea
- Origin: China
- Caffeine: Medium caffeine
- Ingredients: Shu pu er tea leaves
- Company: West China Tea Company
The Tea Spot: Bolder Breakfast
Description: “Note the hint of dark chocolate in this strong, bold tea.”
Review: I have tried The Tea Spot’s tea a few times now. I actually received this blend as a sample from the company as well, but since I got it in my tea box, I wanted to be able to fairly assess the box, so I am trying it now.
The dry blend smelled great – cocoa with hints of coffee. This smelled like the perfect morning tea! The blend was dark brown, with a few mallow petals (both the info card and the Sips by website missed this ingredient). The dark brown liquor and the infused blend smelled earthy, but I wasn’t able to smell the cocoa or coffee smell.
Steep 1: The liquor was nutty and sweet, and there was a lingering aftertaste that tasted vaguely sweet and cocoa-y.
Steep 2: While I am normally always happy to try to squeeze out as much as I can out of tea leaves, when a blend has flavouring, I tend to only steep it once. However, since it was recommended, I gave it another try. The liquor was mostly earthy, but since there was still some trace amount of flavouring, it tasted a bit off to me.
I personally would only recommend steeping this once. I enjoyed it and I think it would be a nice breakfast tea if you want a tea that is sweeter because it is flavoured (3/5 rating).
- Type: Black tea
- Origin: Unknown
- Caffeine: High caffeine
- Ingredients: Black tea, pu’erh tea from Yunnan, mallow flowers, dark chocolate flavoring
- Company: The Tea Spot
Camellia Tea: Just Lovely
Description: “This lovely blend is soothing and delicious – rooibos is rich in minerals and vitamins; coconut provides iron and phosphorus minerals; lavender will help you relax!”
Review: I have spoken about this before on my blog, but I currently been sleeping very late. Lavender is an ingredient that is supposed to assist with relaxing! The dry blend was very pretty, with the rooibos, coconut flakes and lavender. It had a very strong lavender smell.
Steep 1: The liquor had a very unique orange colour. However, it was mildly murky and there was an oily film on the surface. Like the dry blend, there was a very strong lavender smell that hit me as soon as I put the cup close to my face. I wasn’t able to taste much except for the lavender, which also lingered.
Steep 2: The second time around, the liquor was the same colour but clear. For a second infusion, it still had a lot of lavender flavour!
I noticed that my previous box also had a lavender blend and I remembered in my preference quiz checking that I bought tea as a sleep aid. I didn’t expect them to cater toward that! I really appreciate that since I found it relaxing. If you love lavender, I would recommend this one (3.5/5 rating).
- Type: Rooibos tea
- Origin: South Africa, Sir Lanka, Europe
- Caffeine: Caffeine-free
- Ingredients: South African rooibos, Sri Lankan coconut flakes, European lavender petals
- Other: Organic
- Company: Camellia Tea
Overall, I am happy with this box as well! I am impressed that they actually put into consideration what I said in my preference quiz and that I used tea as a sleep aid. I also mentioned I wanted a mix of caffeine and non-caffeine teas which was reflected in what I received. The tea I enjoyed the most was Nepal Tea LLC’s Shangri-La Oolong, followed by Camellia Tea’s Just Lovely because it was relaxing!
Which one would you want to try?
Lastly, like I mentioned in my previous post regarding Sips by, I was given a discount code to share. The code gives 50% off the first box. I do not get a commission or any monetary value from this code. If you’d like to use it, it is: TEAINSPOONS