This will be my last Sips by review for the year! That actually makes me sad. I received three boxes and each one was unique and fun! This time there are two blacks, a puerh ball, and a herbal blend in the box!
I personally enjoy tea subscription boxes that come in sample sizes (10 to 20 grams) because they allow you to try a new tea and there isn’t a huge commitment when you don’t enjoy it. Also, it is great because it comes right to your door.
If you want to hear more about Sips by, feel free to read my other blog posts! That being said, I’m ready to drink some tea! Let’s go!
Yatra Tea Company: Goomtee Estate First Flush Darjeeling
Description: “Darjeeling, known as the champagne of teas, has a golden liquor, flowery fragrance, and crisp, well-rounded taste.”
Review: Due to the fact that first flushes are hard to come by, I’ve actually never had a first flush Darjeeling before. First Flush refers to when the tea was picked, meaning that this tea was harvested during the first picking of the season.
These leaves grew it after the plant was dormant during the winter seasons. The teas tend to be light-bodied with lovely aromas and the teas are lightly oxidized to preserve the freshness. When looking at the leaves, there are some very pale ones that look like white tea! The recommendation was to steep this twice.
The dry leaves have a very herbal, grassy, and mossy aroma with a sharpness to it. After steeping, the sharpness was cut down and the aroma was more reminiscent of a black tea. The leaves were in small pieces and looked very much like a green tea due to how it was produced and had a very strong grassy and almost tobacco aroma.
Steep 1: The liquor is a reddish golden colour. When I see that colour of liquor it normally makes me think of malty or grain notes, however, this was very herbal and grassy, much like the dry aroma. The flavour weaved from grassy, herbal to earthy and reminded me a bit of spring and rain. The liquor left the mouth slightly dry, but not overwhelming so.
Steep 2: The golden yellow liquor had a bit of a green tinge to it. The flavour was much more mellow this time around, I almost couldn’t taste much aside from the sharp earthiness.
I personally think to enjoy this tea at its best, I would have left it at one steep. I can see why people enjoy first flushes! It is very different than the other flushes have to offer. However, as someone who likes more brisk or malty notes, I think I enjoy the later flushes more. I really enjoyed seeing how season and production greatly affected this tea (3/5 rating).
- Type: Black tea
- Origin: India
- Caffeine: High caffeine
- Ingredients: Black tea
- Company: Yatra Tea Company
Nepali Tea Traders: Himalayan Golden Black Tea
Description: “When the soil drinks in the moisture of the Himalayan monsoon, it produces a rare artisan tea that reflects nature’s goodness.”
Review: I’ve actually tried this tea before. Thankfully, I enjoyed it a lot so I was happy to see it in my box! The curly leaves were dark with orange tips and a mildly earthy aroma. After infusion, the leaves had a malty aroma. The liquor was a dark reddish brown with an earthy aroma.
Steep 1: The brownish liquor had a rich malty and grain flavour and ended with a subtle sweetness. It had a great lingering power that tasted like warm bread. It did not leave the mouth dry. The leaves were still twisted after the first infusion. It also tasted great when it had cooled down.
Steep 2: Very similar to Steep 1. There was still lots of flavour. I accidentally oversteeped it, and it still tasted nice. There was a bit of astringency, but that might have been due to oversteeping.
Steep 3: The flavour was much milder. However, this could be due to me oversteeping. It held out well!
Overall, I still enjoyed this tea as much as I did the first time! Sometimes when I see resteeping I find that the last steep ends up with the liquor being very watered down. However, this tea could handle it, even with me oversteeping. I really enjoyed this tea and will be sad when I have no more left (4.5/5 rating).
- Type: Black tea
- Origin: Nepal
- Caffeine: High caffeine
- Ingredients: Black tea
- Company: Nepali Tea Traders
white2tea: Grandpa’s Shu Puer
Description: “This tea is named after the term “grandpa style” which means brewing tea in a large cup, with no filters – just leaf and water – and constantly refilling the water without regard for infusion time.”
Review: I’ve only had a few teas balls before in the past. For this one, the recommended steeping suggestion was to use Grandpa Style. I’ve actually never tried steeping grandpa style before, but I had read about it before:
“… grandpa style means the brewing of tea in a large cup, with no filters or teaballs or bags or anything else in it, with water constantly refilled without much regard for infusion time or temperature. The only three things necessary for grandpa style brewing are tea leaves, water, and cup, preferably a large one.” via. marshaln.com
Since the steeping style is very fluid and doesn’t focus on infusion time or temperature, I’m going to write about my experience as a whole. As an interesting ‘experiment’, I thought that it would be nice to steep it using the western recommendations, and let it steep continuously and see how it holds up
Grandpa Style: I used a large cup to steep this, as suggested. When I added water to the ball, there were little bubbles that surfaced and it rolled around at the bottom of the cup. The liquor became a reddish orange brown.
The tea ball did break apart fairly quickly and the liquor developed slightly drying sensations, but it never hit the point of bitterness. It had a very classic pu-erh taste that was earthy and lingered. I found that during the later infusions after drinking it for a while, that it had a very rich and deep and almost musky earthy aroma and taste.
I can see why people enjoy this style! It is easy, simple and you don’t have to keep a close eye on it. I would personally try steeping teas like this again and would recommend it for others too!
I imagine this only works on specific type of teas, for example, nothing that has flavour and most likely something a bit more hardy that isn’t prone to oversteeping and becoming astringency. I admit, I accidentally forgot to wash the mug overnight and the tea continued to steep and it still tasted fine!
“Western” Style: I use the word ‘western’ loosely because I was curious to see how the tea would perform if I left it in the cup. I followed the steeping recommendations of 16 oz of water for 3 minutes. Since the recommendations said 3 – 5 minutes, I let the tea steep for an extra 2 minutes after, Then I took a sip every 5 mins.
3 minutes: The liquor is a dark brown colour. Mild purerh flavour: earthy, woodsy and fermented
5 minutes: The ball has broken apart, and classic puerh notes are coming along
10 minutes: The liquor is starting to become stronger and brisker. There are lots of leaves floating at the top now.
15 minutes: Fairly strong with lingering earthiness and mild mineral qualities
20 minutes: Liquor still went down smooth but some astringency started to occur which lingered in the mouth
25 minutes: The flavour had become nice and strong. If you have ever been to dim sum, this is what it reminded me of. The mild astringency was stronger but not unpleasant.
30 minutes: The flavour is not getting stronger, it could be also because the water is cool now.
35 minutes: Flavour and astringency stayed the same. I suspect that this is as strong as the flavour will get.
Overall, I really enjoyed this tea! Pu-erh tends to have a nostalgic feel for me. I liked how with both ways I tried to steep it, the tea performed well. I would recommend steeping Grandpa Style with this, purely because it is so simple to do. I only did it the second way just to be able to gauge how the tea changed (3.5/5 rating).
- Type: Pu-rh tea
- Origin: China
- Caffeine: High caffeine
- Ingredients: Ripe puer tea
- Company: white2tea
Lauka Tea: Evita’s Twilight
Description: “With a hint of thyme and a whisper of lemon balm, this smooth, nurturing blend invites your mind and body to pause and relax.”
Review: I have to be honest, I find I am very hit and miss with herbal teas. If they have a very strong herbaceous smell, am sometimes put off by it since it gives me a headache. This blend had a very strong aroma straight from the bag. It smelled grassy, floral and herbal. The infused blend and liquor had a very similar aroma.
Steep 1: The liquor was a dark orange with a yellow-green hue. It smelled a bit more like a garden. Tastewise, I mostly tasted the thyme and lemon balm at the tail end. There was a mild cooling sensation. When I read the ingredient list, there are admittedly a lot of ingredients I’ve never come across, so it is hard for me to pick out specific flavours.
Steep 2: The liquor is a lighter colour, more of a yellow-green. As expected, the liquor is much milder. I actually enjoy this infusion better than the first one because I find the flavours meld better together.
That being said, one of my cats in enjoyed how this tisane smelled! James, my black cat, normally doesn’t come around when I do my tea tasting. However, when I was tasting this blend and had the bag out, he started rubbing his face against it. I tried to move the cup away from him, and he tried to get to it to follow it. I think that is because one of the ingredients in the blend is catnip!
Lastly, one reason I think this blend was in my box was that I said I used tea as a sleep aid, and this tea featured valerian which I know is used to promote sleep. While the blend wasn’t for me, I do appreciate the fact that Sips by considered that fact and added this to my box (3/5 rating).
- Type: Herbal Tea
- Origin: Unknown
- Caffeine: Caffeine-free
- Ingredients: Meadowsweet, catnip, thyme, lemon balm, calendula, heather, valerian
- Other: Organic
- Company: Lauka Tea
I have to say, now that I’ve tried all the teas, I am sad that this is my last box for the year! I would definitely consider getting more in the future! My personal favourites for this box were the Nepali Tea Traders’ Himalayan Golden Black Tea and White2Tea’s Grandpa’s Shu Puer. I’m glad that I was introduced to Grandpa Style!
As a box overall, I enjoyed that each box came with a personalized info card, the boxes come straight to your mail, the sizes are what I would consider “sample-size”, and the range of teas. I like that there is a function to personalize the tea to fit your preferences or needs.
My one issue is because this is an American brand, shipping to Canada hikes up the price. That being said, I was given a discount code to provide my readers for 50% off their first box. I do not get any commision or monetary value if you use this code. If you would like to use it, it is: TEAINSPOONS
Lastly, if you would like to see my other Sips by reviews, I’ve listed them below alongside my original review of Nepali Tea Traders’ Himalayan Golden Black Tea:
- Sips by October Box Featuring West China Tea Company, Nepal Tea, The Tea Spot, and Camellia Tea
- Sips by’s September Box, featuring Wight Tea Co., teabook, Zhi Tea and Tay Tea
- Nepali Tea Traders’ Nepalese Silver Tips White Tea and Himalayan Golden Black Tea