Black Cat Bytes

Tea reviews for the common cat!


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Tea From Vietnam’s Fish Hook Green Tea

Hello friends! 🙂 Happy New Year! I hope you’ve had a lovely festive season, and wish you a happy 2016. One of my new year’s resolutions is to focus on drinking more tea (something about living in London has gotten me hooked on Coca Cola, ugh), so I’m looking forward to filling this year with delicious and healthy iced and hot teas! To kick things off on this most happy New Year’s Day, I will be having a look at Tea From Vietnam’s Fish Hook tea.

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According to the packaging, Fish Hook earned its name from a simple description of its unique appearance. Pretty accurate, I’d say! The leaves are delicate, fluffy, and have a strong vegetal scent with a fresh citrus finish.

Brewing Guidelines: 80 C | 2 minutes | 2 tsp per 200 mL

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Oh my goodness, look at that beautiful spring green color! So lovely and calming- this tea is working wonders on me before I even have my first sip. 🙂 The brew tastes far more delicate than the scent of the leaves first hinted, with a grassy, buttery taste and a delightfully sweet finish that lingers long on your tongue.

The sweetness of this tea inspires slow, thoughtful tasting, and inevitably the brew has cooled rather significantly by the time I’ve finished the pot; however, the tea becomes especially refreshing once it’s hit room temperature. I cannot wait to try Fish Hook iced in the summertime- I can imagine taking it with me to the beach, beads of condensation dripping lazily down the walls of the jar as I sip and happily let the waves tickle my feet. Perfection! 🙂

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I can’t get over how much I love the look of these leaves! I feel like I should have them for lunch as a little salad! I may have to look into that. 😛

To me, Fish Hook embodies everything I believe a green tea should be- refreshing, light, and with a simple flavor profile. It is the essence of spring and summertime, and inspires relaxation and fun. Get your swimsuits ready! Warm weather will be upon us before you know it. 🙂

 

Many thanks to Tea From Vietnam for providing this sample for review!

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Tea From Vietnam’s Red Lily Black Tea

Hiya tea-friends! Happy post-Labor Day! I hope all of you had a deliciously lazy day yesterday (whether you’re from the US or not!)!

I don’t know how many of you have extensive experience with Vietnamese teas, but I certainly do not. With the exception of a few online vendors, Vietnamese blends just aren’t that widely available or discussed in the Western world. I was recently approached by Tea From Vietnam, a company that is looking to bring the world’s attention to the exquisite teas Vietnam produces, and banish the bad (or nonexistent) reputations they believe Vietnamese teas may have. I am so excited to have a chance to sample and review some of their teas, with the hopes we can all go on this journey together to discover Vietnam and all the incredible tastes it has to offer. 🙂

The first of many teas by Tea From Vietnam that I will be having a look at is their Red Lily black tea. According to this packaging, this tea is a heavily oxidized “Golden Lily” variety, with a note that Vietnamese farmers will usually use these leaves to make oolong or green tea.  To have Golden Lily be made into a black tea is a rare treat, and one that TFV is quite excited to be able to offer to western drinkers. Let’s give it a try!

IMG_2157As I first open the packet, the leaves smell like spiced coffee with a hint of smokiness. It makes my nose feel all tingly! I inhaled the scents a bit too deeply and actually sneezed- perhaps this tea can double in function as a way to clear one’s sinuses! 😛

Shop Link: Red Lily Black Tea

Brewing Guidelines: 205 F | 3-4 min | 200 mL | 1 tsp

Since I’ll be using a ~100 mL gaiwan, I decided to alter the brewing guidelines slightly for my own purposes. I still used roughly a teaspoon of leaves in my brewing vessel, but opted for shorter steep times (~2 minutes per infusion). This may sound redundant, but it is really important to use freshly boiled water to brew this tea- the leaves are so tightly rolled that they will not unfurl properly otherwise.  I recommend steeping the leaves for a few minutes initially as a “rinse” to help speed the process along.  IMG_2158As soon as I removed the lid from my gaiwan, a lofty scent of smoke and toasted grain danced around me. It was very strong, reaching my nose long before I actually moved closer to get a whiff of it. The brew had a very strong toasted rice flavor, the aftertaste laced with a honey-like sweetness. I was pleasantly surprised at this- I had been expecting (and I’ll be honest, dreading) strong smokey flavors based on the initial scent of the leaves. I found myself enjoying the tea more and more with each sip: somehow, the sweet honey flavor seemed to become more dominant as time went on.

IMG_2159With the second steeping, I could begin to see how large the leaves actually were. Just as with the first infusion, the flavor was predominantly toasted initially, but grew into a more thick sweetness with each subsequent sip. The third infusion produced a similar result, just with lighter flavors. Time to put these leaves to bed, I think. 🙂

IMG_2162Thoughts: I was quite impressed with Black Lily! I love black/red teas with honey-like taste profiles, and I thought the addition of the toasted nut/rice flavors really added some satisfying warmth to the brew, similar to the way drinking a genmaicha makes me feel. I still need to do a bit of tinkering with my brewing technique for this tea- TFV’s website does a great job of offering a variety of different steeping techniques to get the best flavor out of this brew, and I’ll be trying them all! It takes a lot of work (and time) to make these cheeky leaves give up their goods! 😛 I can envision Black Lily being a perfect way to warm up on the chilly mornings that I’m sure are just around the corner, and seeing as how it is priced so well at $6.90/50g, it has some serious potential to be a daily drinker. I encourage you to give it a try! 🙂

Tea From Vietnam’s Red Lily Black Tea

Thanks again to Tien of TeaFromVietnam for providing a sample of Black Lily for review!