Black Cat Bytes

Tea reviews for the common cat!


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Jollybrew’s Rhubarb and Custard Black Tea

Good day, tea folk! Hope January has treated you well and that you are all looking forward to a sweet Valentine’s Day. 🙂 The weather here in London has been rather frightening as of late! Windy and spooky and stormy, feels more like Halloween than nearly spring! But not to worry! All of this bad juju is simply water off a duck’s back for me, as I’ve been keeping happy and cozy with Jollybrew’s Rhubarb and Custard tea! ‘Rhubarb and Custard?’ I hear you say, ‘Robin, how British of you! I am intrigued!’ Read on, friend. Read on. 😛

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Good gravy pancakes, the scent of this blend is exquisite- Jollybrew has nailed the scent of custard so well here, with just a tiny kick of tart rhubarb. A quick whiff instantly teleports me to my boyfriends’ parents’ house, where a steaming bowl of rhubarb crumble smothered in custard is seated in front of me after a belly-busting Sunday roast.

Brewing Guidelines: 100 C/ 212 F | 2 tsp per 250 mL | 3-5 minutes

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Just as I had hoped, this blend tastes like vanilla custardy heaven, with a teensey bit of smokiness from what I assume is from the base black tea blend. The flavor is simple, warming, and authentic, and I heartily recommend taking a deep whiff from the surface of the brew before taking a sip in order to allow your senses to fully indulge in this tea.

As much as I adore the flavor and scent of this tea, I don’t get quite as much of a rhubarb kick from the brew as I would like. However, I understand balancing a flavor as savory and sweet as custard with the zippy, tangy rhubarb is rather hard to achieve with a black tea base. Might there possibly be room for a tisane or white tea version of this blend in the future? That’d be awesome! But, if not, this blend is still a lovely sweet treat and a great, guilt-free way to indulge in the evenings as the wind howls and stirs outside.

 

Tea sample sent to me by the lovely folks at Jollybrew for review. Thanks guys!

 


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Jollybrew’s Super Spiffing Strawberry Black Tea

It’s certainly been a while since I last reviewed a flavored tea! Like many tea enthusiasts, I think I’m quite cautious of them, especially with abundance of the incredible tasting straight teas I’ve been enjoying as of late. If the tea leaf ain’t broken, why fix it?

However, when I first viewed the photo and description of Jollybrew’s Super Spiffing Strawberry, I was intrigued.While the tea admittedly contains natural flavorings, it also boasts pieces of real strawberry and papaya fruit, as well as lime and blackberry leaves. Papaya and lime leaves, huh? Sounds so tropical and lush! …and into my shopping cart it went. 😛

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Lovely, isn’t it? The leaf quality is what I would expect for a flavored tea at this price point, but those papaya chunks are numerous and I love how I can see the seeds in the strawberry pieces as well. The smell of this tea may just be my favorite thing about it- it smells so REAL! Beautiful, luscious strawberries, plump with goodness at the peak of summer. Any reservations you might have about flavored teas will disappear the second you get a whiff of Super Strawberry, I promise you. 🙂

Brewing Guidelines | 100 C : 1 tbs per 200 mL : 3-5 minutes

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The scent of Super Strawberry continues to blossom while the blend steeps, making for a serious feast of the senses! The strawberry flavoring with each sip isn’t quite as strong as the aroma, allowing for the natural flavor of the tea to shine through as well. Jollybrew doesn’t indicate what specific type of black tea this is, but I’d venture a guess it’s a blend of Ceylon/Assam teas. Crisp and malty with a light bit of astringency in the aftertaste. A solid base!

Honestly what draws me back to this tea to brew up after cup would have to be its scent. It astonishes me that Jollybrew was able to so masterfully replicate such an idealized bouquet of fresh strawberries.. it brings a happy gust of summertime to my senses that I cannot get enough of. Honestly, I really cannot see how this blend could be improved upon- this is easily only strawberry black tea anyone will ever need in their cupboards. Seriously, Jollybrew, well done.

Check out Super Spiffing Strawberry for yourself!

Happy drinking! 🙂


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Jollybrew’s Scrumptious Spiced Apple Flavored Black Tea

What is it with me and cold-weather teas lately? Good gravy! I swear to you, dearest reader, I’m not drinking all of these with the odd hope I’ll summon some winter wizard who will bring back the snow. It’s all this darn cloudy weather that’s got me wanting to have a bit of spicy warmth in my cup, I swear! 😛

Today I’ll be having a look at Jollybrew’s Scrumptious Spiced Apple! This tea contains apple pieces, cinnamon, blackberry leaves, safflower petals, and natural flavors.

IMG_1791The scent of the dry blend is mesmerizing, like freshly cut slices of apple with an added hint of luscious green leaves and just a hint of cinnamon- and the blend itself looks beautiful as well! The safflower leaves add a nice pop of fresh red color.

Brewing Temperature: 100 C

Leaf Amount/Steep Time: 1 generous tbsp per 400 mL of water/4 minutes

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The packaging instructs to use far less leaves per infusion, but I unfortunately had a fair bit of leaf particles dust in my sample and decided to up the leaf amount to compensate for that. As with most flavored teas I review, I decided to brew Spiced Apple in the Western style with my faithful Hario teapot. IMG_1799

The color of the brew is incredible, like the shade of a ripe red delicious apple. Mmmm~ ❤

Interestingly, the taste of the tea seems to be a complete reversal of the scent profile of the dried leaves. The cinnamon flavoring and natural malty taste of the base tea (which I think is Assam? could be wrong) are easily the most predominant flavors, while the apple becomes much more faint. The more I sip, the more this tea tastes like it was intended to be a lightly spiced Assam with the steeped apple pieces providing more of an “accent” to the tea. I don’t believe this is intentional: the first time I made this tea I could taste a lot more of the natural apple flavoring, and it really worked to compliment the cinnamon flavor instead of being overshadowed by it. The reason for the faint apple flavoring in this pot of tea could be due to the tea dust present in the infusion, as it would characteristically steep faster and thus impart its flavor into the brew faster and more boldly than the gradually unfurling leaves and fruit pieces. It could honestly just be a case of “bottom of the bag” syndrome- darn these tiny sample bags! 😛

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Even though I didn’t quite get the taste I wanted from this steep, I know the proper flavor balance of apple and cinnamon are present in this blend if you can avoid steeping any fannings, and heartily recommend this tea as a true sensory experience. Even if you can’t quite get the full apple taste, take a deep whiff of the tea before you sip and you’ll get all the apple bliss you desire.

Honestly, in order to protect your leaves from getting crushed and dusty, I would just recommend you skip buying the sampler packet and go straight for the 50g tin instead. You’ll get the flavor you’re looking for, I pretty much guarantee it. 🙂

Check out all of Jollybrew’s blends here: http://www.jollybrew.com/


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Review: Jollybrew’s Peaches and Cream White Tea

To me, peachy white teas embody the…drinkable essence of summer. 😛 The ideal blend should be light, fresh, and sweet- a perfect accompaniment to breezy mornings and chilled out evenings. As much as I’ve been trying to avoid buying tea lately (gotta start figuring out how to get it all back to the USA), I’ve had my eye on Jollybrew’s delicious looking and cleverly named blends- on top of that, I’m a huge sucker for free shipping, and when they advertised an offer on their Twitter page, I was instantly in there.

IMG_1732[1]With the sun out and temperatures rising, I’ve been craving peachie tea as of late, so naturally, Jollybrew’s Peaches and Cream tea went straight into my cart. The idea of a peaches and cream flavored blend was new to me, and I was curious to see how it would taste versus the usual white peach flavor I’m accustomed to.

When I opened the pouch, the scent of peach was quite faint with the predominant smell actually being that of woodsy vanillaInteresting!

IMG_1733[2]The directions on the packet advise to use freshly boiled water to brew the leaves- this is actually far too hot and will burn the leaves, causing the tea to lose its delicate taste and become bitter. The instructions also say to use 1 teaspoon per 200 mL of water- given how light and fluffy white teas are, I don’t believe this ratio is quite enough to make a satisfying brew. My revised brewing instructions are as follows:

Brew Temperature: 80 C

Leaf Amount/Steep Time: 1 tbsp/3 minutes per 400 mL of water

As it brews, the tea emits a unique smokey and sweetly fruity scent.

IMG_1734[1]With the first sip, the characteristic nutty, toasty taste of the base white tea really comes through, with hints of peach and creamy vanilla as more of an aftertaste. The drink feels warming and rich, more comforting than refreshing. The tea tastes great with a small bit of rock sugar added, but can certainly stand on its own as a full-bodied brew.

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A unique spin on the flavors of classic white peach tea, I think Jollybrew’s Peaches and Cream blend is a great choice for a pick-me-up when the weather is chilly and you need a sweet escape. Yummy! 🙂

Check out all of Jollybrew’s blends here: http://www.jollybrew.com/