Purple Mint Tea from JusTea

Today’s review will focus on another new Purple Tea product from JusTea. This is the Purple Mint Tea. It is a blend of purple tea leaves, spearmint and peppermint leaves, and rose petals.

If you did not read my recent review of the Purple Leaf Tea from JusTea, which includes much more information on Purple Tea, and some special limited time offers from JusTea, go check it out now.

Let’s get to the review.

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Purple Mint Tea from JusTea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from the pale green of the mint leaves, the dark charcoal grey of the purple tea leaves, and the dark red of the rose petals. The vast majority of the mix consists of the peppermint and spearmint leaves (>/= 90%), with maybe 5% of purple tea leaves, and <5% of rose petals. The refreshing aroma is also dominated by spearmint and peppermint scents. The rose petals and purple tea are undetectable.

The dry leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3 minutes.

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Purple Mint Tea from JusTea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a dark golden-yellow color. The aroma is strongly dominated by the sweetness of the spearmint and the spiciness of the peppermint scents, and there is a slight trace of rose petals. The scent of the purple tea leaves is undetectable. The body is medium-full, with a refreshing, mentholated feel, and a lively texture. The taste is dominated by the peppermint and spearmint, and the rose petals and purple tea are undetectable. The aftertaste continues the refreshing, mentholated feel that coats the tongue and throat, and the mint character.

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Purple Mint Tea from JusTea – Wet Leaves

The wet leaves again vary in color from the green of the mint leaves, the green and purple of the purple tea, and the pinkish-white of the wet rose petals. The mint leaves are all small fragments, the purple tea leaves are all medium to large fragments (with a bud or two in the mix), and the rose petals are large fragments. The aroma again is dominated by the sweet spearmint and the spicy peppermint. A mentholated, tingly, cool feel in the nose is very interesting and unique.

The combination of the peppermint and spearmint truly hits all parts of the tongue (and nose), and is quite the sensation to focus on. The coolness touches the front end of the tongue, followed by the spicy bite towards the middle, and an extra mentholated feel at the back. Although I would prefer to see, smell, and taste a little more of the rose petals and purple tea in the mix, the blend of the spearmint and peppermint is very tasteful and uplifting (even without the caffeine). Increasing the proportion of the tea and roses is an easy problem to solve, if other reviewers and consumers feel the same way I do. But the cool, mentholated feel was the highlight of this experience.

You can purchase 60 grams of the Purple Mint Tea for USD $12.00 from the JusTea website.

Many thanks to JusTea for providing this sample of Purple Mint Tea, and thank you to my readers for taking your time to check out this review. Cheers!

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Nandi Hills Black Tea from Justea

Hello, friends and past readers of my tea blog! I know, it has been a long time, nearly two years since my last tea review post. Time flies, life happens, and unfortunately some hobbies must be put on the back burner of priorities. However, my passion for tea certainly did not stop over the past two years. I have continued sampling, buying, and exploring teas from new vendors and estates. I have definitely not lost my nose and taste for tea!

Over the past couple of months, I truly felt the calling to get back to this review blog. I have found that when I do not write reviews, the true quality of the tea is difficult to focus on. Thus, one cannot appreciate the more subtle characteristics of a tea. Considering all of the hard work that goes in to making high quality teas, I feel it almost disrespectful to not take the time to truly appreciate these products. So, here we are, about to fully appreciate another hand made, high quality tea.

Today’s review will focus on the Nandi Hills Black Tea, purchased from JusTea. JusTea is a vendor of only Kenyan small-holder grown and processed tea, offering teas in both loose leaf form and in pyramid bags. JusTea is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, are Rainforest Alliance certified, and Non-GMO Project verified. The JusTea website gives a wealth of information about their farmer partners, communities, and commitment to improving the lives of those who help create these unique teas.

Before I begin the review of the actual tea, I want to bring attention to the quality of the product packaging, and the attractive (although somewhat impractical for proper measuring) wooden teaspoon that is included with the purchase. As you can see in the photos below, JusTea wraps each tin in a very eye-catching, artistically designed fabric, which is also sourced from the same communities in Kenya. This is probably the most visually pleasing, attractive packaging of any retail teas that I have purchased over the years. It is a tea tin that can be used used decoratively in addition to it’s practical uses. The wooden tea spoon is also carefully hand made. The handle is very smooth, with the top area between the handle and scoop being decorated and wrapped with small beads of many colors. It is another visually pleasing aspect of the total product, although (as mentioned above) the scoop itself is not necessarily very useful in properly scooping or measuring the tea leafs, as the leafs are quite long and light weight. Regardless, the hand made teaspoons are still a welcome touch!

Let’s get down to the true matter at hand, the Nandi Hills Black Tea.

The dry leaves have a dark bronze to black color. It is easy to determine that the leaves are hand rolled, as there is much variation to the size, shape, and general consistency of the leaves. There are some bare stems in the mix, and no apparent full buds or tips. The leaves have a course, dry texture, and break easily into fine crumbs. The aroma of the dry leaves include scents of toasted grains, smoke, dry wood, raw cacao, and raisins.

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JusTea Nandi Hills Black Tea Dry Leaves

Nine grams of dry leaves were infused for four minutes using purified water in an eighteen ounce tetsubin teapot.

The infusion resulted in a bright, reddish-copper color. The aroma had scents of toasted grains, pine, malt, and peppercorns. A medium body was complemented by a bright, lightly brisk mouthfeel. The taste had notes of toasted grains, pine, lemon, malt, and peppercorns. The aftertaste had lingering notes of pine and peppercorns.

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JusTea Nandi Hills Black Tea Infusion

The wet leaves have a range of colors from copper brown to dark greenish brown. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, with slightly rubbery feel when trying to tear them. The fragments vary from small pieces to large, nearly full intact leaves. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a bud, although no buds can be located in the leaves. The leaves can be reinfused two or three times, and still produce a pleasant tasting infusion. The aroma includes scents of wet wood, grains, malt, and a very light floral perfume.

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JusTea Nandi Hills Black Tea Wet Leaves

The Nandi Hills Black Tea from JusTea is certainly a unique, well made black tea. This tea is lighter than any other black tea from Kenya that I have tried previously, and is perfectly enjoyable without any additives, such as milk or sugar. The bright, lively taste will give an instant boost of energy. If you think all Kenyan black teas are too strong and full bodied for your preferences, think again. The Nandi Hills Black Tea is closer in character to a mid-elevation grown Sri Lankan black tea than a Kenyan. As of the date of this review, JusTea is selling the 60 gram (2.1 ounces), beautifully wrapped tea tin with hand carved teaspoon, of the Nandi Hills Black Tea for $17.00 USD plus shipping.

As always, thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Nandi Hills Black Tea from JusTea. I welcome your replies, and look forward to getting in touch with my readers once again! Cheers!

Flowery Orange Pekoe (FOP) Black Tea from Kangaita Tea Factory

This morning I needed a strong, full bodied tea to give me a boost after a night of minimal sleep. Looking through my current selection of samples, the Kangaita FOP Black Tea from the southern slopes of Mount Kenya certainly has the reputation of providing a rich, powerful taste.

Let the journey begin…

Kangaita FOP Black Tea Dry Leaves
Kangaita FOP Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color, with some copper color in the stems and veins. The leaves are rolled, and are all small to medium sized fragments. There are few bare stems, and no twigs in the mix. The aroma is sweet (cocoa), and very lightly floral.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.4 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Kangaita FOP Black Tea 1st Infusion
Kangaita FOP Black Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a deep orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma is sweet (malty), lightly floral, with light citrus scents. The body is full, with a rich and mouth-filling texture. The taste is lively, with notes of malt, citrus (lemon), and a very light floral note. The aftertaste is sweet (malty), with a respectable persistence.

Kangaita FOP Black Tea 2nd Infusion
Kangaita FOP Black Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a significantly lighter orange color. The aroma, body, and taste lightened significantly, but maintained the same general scent and flavor descriptions. I decided to pass on trying the third infusion. This second infusion was easy to drink, but lost much of it’s character.

Kangaita FOP Black Tea Infused Leaves
Kangaita FOP Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. The aroma is sweet (malt), floral (wet flowers), and had a light fruity or jammy scent.

The first infusion of the FOP black tea from Kangaita Factory definitely accomplished what it was intended to do, provide a strong tasting tea to perk me up on a slow morning. I really enjoyed the first infusion. The second infusion was not bad in any way, just a steep drop-off in character from the first infusion. This is certainly a perfect black tea to use in a higher quality Breakfast blend tea. I look forward to blending this with some of the Keemun Hao Ya and lower elevation Sri Lanka teas on the morning after my next sleepless night. This black tea tastes perfectly fine without additives, but I assume that throwing a splash of milk in with it can make a very smooth and energizing beverage.

Thank you to Dafina Tea Traders for providing this sample of FOP Black Tea from Kangaita Factory in Mount Kenya. Cheers!

Steamed Purple Tea From Kangaita Factory, Mount Kenya

A short time ago, I reviewed the Fermented Purple Tea, considered more of a wulong style of tea due to partial oxidation. The Steamed Purple Tea is considered to be a green tea in terms of processing. This Steamed Purple Tea is also from the Kangaita Factory in Kirinyaga, on the southern slopes of Mount Kenya.

Let the journey begin…

Steamed Purple Tea Dry Leaves
Steamed Purple Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a very dark purple to black color. The leaves are rolled, with some being long and wiry, and others being in somewhat of a semi-ball shape. The leaves appear to be mostly medium to large fragments. There are very few bare stems in the mix. The stems show a two leaves and small bud pluck. The aroma is sweet (hay and light malt) and bakey, with light earthy hints.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.5 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute and thirty seconds.

Steamed Purple Tea 1st Infusion
Steamed Purple Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale yellow color and a light purple tint. The color is very unique. The aroma is grassy, fresh, with light scents of red grape juice. The body is light, with a delicate, refreshing feel. The taste is very refreshing, with notes of delicate grass, light red grape juice, and mineral (wet stone). The aftertaste is lightly fruity, with a light flowery and grassy essence being left on the breathe. Given the dark appearance of the dry leaves, I was surprised by how light, grassy, and delicate this tea tasted.

Steamed Purple Tea 2nd Infusion
Steamed Purple Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly stronger purple tint than the first infusion. The aroma is fruitier, and lighter on the grass. The body remains light and refreshing. The taste has lightened on the grassy note, and the mineral note has become more potent. The grape juice undertone remains. A slight bitterness appeared, indicating that the infusion time should have been decreased by about thirty seconds on this second infusion. This tea is quite delicate to the infusion time, very similar to a green tea.

Steamed Purple Tea 3rd Infusion
Steamed Purple Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor similar to the second infusion. The aroma has lightened, but remains fruity and grassy. The taste has also lightened, and maintains the dominantly mineral note, and light grass and grape notes. I do not expect a fourth infusion to have much to offer.

Steamed Purple Tea Infused Leaves
Steamed Purple Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a mostly dark forest green color, with some purple leaves. All leaves are medium sized fragments. There are some stems showing the two leaves and small bud pluck. There are a few tips in the mix. The aroma reminds me of a wet forest floor with soft hints of grape juice.

This Steamed Purple Tea was an interesting contrast to the Fermented Purple Tea. One thing that was very similar in both varieties of the purple tea was the thirst quenching and refreshing quality. There is something about a clean mineral taste that I find very satisfying. This Steamed Purple Tea had a very nice balance of tastes, blending grass, grapes, and minerals. The color was intriguing, showing the presence of the anthocyanin pigmentation in purple tea, compared to the dominant chlorophyll pigmentation of the traditional green tea bushes. This tea is a great way to take a break from the typical green teas. It has the refreshing character of other steamed green teas, with a noticeable difference in taste, aroma, appearance, and body to make it unique.

I am very grateful to my source in Kenya for providing me with these purple tea samples. Cheers!

Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea from Mount Kenya

Today’s review is a first in two aspects. This Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea is the first “purple” tea that I have tasted. Technically, this tea is a wulong tea according to processing technique classification (semi-oxidized). Secondly, this will be the first tea infused in my new Kuro Sendan Tokoname teapot.

This purple tea was produced in the Kangaita Factory in the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. Many people have not heard of purple tea, and it is a rather new cultivar of tea bush that has been under development in Kenya for about twenty-five years. The primary difference between purple tea and other tea cultivars is that the leaves of purple tea bushes are actually somewhat purple instead of green. The leaves are purple due to the high content of the antioxidant and pigmentation called anthocyanin, compared to the chlorophyll pigmentation in green tea bushes. This new clone, the TRFK 306/1, is frost, draught, disease, and pest resistant. The Tea Research Foundation of Kenya (TRFK) is hoping that this new clone will help generate three to four times the revenue that the current black teas generate, helping the tea farmers earn a better living. Click here for a link directly to the TRFK website on Purple Tea.

The sample pack is opened, and a sweet scent of honey and ripe fruit is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea Dry leaves
Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea Dry leaves

The dry leaves have a dark purple-black color with a few silver streaks. The leaves are long, wiry, and tightly rolled. There is a clear pluck of two leaves and a bud. Some of the tips are quite long. A few of the leaves appear to be large fragments to whole leaves, with the majority being medium sized fragments. The aroma is very sweet and attractive, with scents of honey, caramel, and dried stone fruit.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in a 9.5 ounce (280 ml) Tokoname teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea 1st Infusion
Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale yellow-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma is sweet, with scents of ripe citrus fruit and honey. The body is medium, with a soft, delicate feel. The taste is nicely balanced and brisk, with notes of ripe citrus fruit (orange), flowers, and minerals. A light mineral (metallic) effect is left on the tongue. The aftertaste is sweet, with a light floral essence left on the breathe. This tea has a very refreshing quality to it.

Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea 2nd Infusion
Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a darker shade of yellow-orange. The aroma remains sweet, lighter on the ripe citrus fruit, making the honey smell more potent. The body remains medium. The taste has lightened on the citrus fruit, making the floral and mineral notes more influential. The mineral feel on the tongue remains, as well as the lightly sweet aftertaste and light floral essence.

Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea 3rd Infusion
Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of yellow-orange than the second infusion, and quite similar in color to the first infusion. The aroma has lightened, but remains sweet and lightly fruity. The body remains medium. The taste has lightened more on the fruit, and the fruity taste resembles papaya more than citrus at this point. The floral and mineral notes are still obvious. The third infusion maintains the refreshing quality of the first infusion.

Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea Infused Leaves
Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a copper color with a purple tint. There are few whole, unbroken leaves, but the few that are present are fairly large (nearly two inches or 50 mm). Most of the leaves are medium to large fragments. There are quite a few whole tips. The pluck is two leaves and a bud. There are a few bare stems in the mix. The aroma is sweet and fruity.

This Hand-Rolled Fermented Purple Tea was uniquely refreshing. For a higher oxidized (fermented) tea, the body was quite light and exhibited more properties of a wulong tea than a black tea. I have one more variety of purple tea to try, being the steamed purple tea. I will be posting that review shortly. Due to the purported antioxidant properties of this tea, and the lighter, pleasant taste, I can imagine this tea can appeal to a large number of people. I certainly enjoyed my first experience with this relatively new style of tea, and look forward to the continued development of this cultivar in Kenya and elsewhere. Cheers!

Orthodox Flowery Pekoe (FP) Green Tea from Dafina Tea Traders

Continuing my tea tasting journey through the African continent, my next stop is at the Kangaita Tea Factory, in the southern slopes of Mount Kenya. I have ten samples of various green, black, and purple teas from this factory. The samples were provided by Dafina Tea Traders, based in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kangaita Tea Factory sits on the equator, with coordinates of 0.5°S and 37.3°E. The altitude of the tea estates in the Mount Kenya growing region ranges from 4,500 feet to 6,600 feet (1,500 to 2,200 meters) above sea level. Beyond the tea fields, the peaks of Mount Kenya are visible. Mount Kenya is also the largest tea producing zone in the country.

Despite the fact that I am very interested in trying one of the purple tea samples, I decided to start with the Flowery Pekoe green tea. A sweet, floral smell is rising out of the sample packet. Let the journey begin…

Orthodox FP Green Dry leaves
Orthodox FP Green Dry leaves

The dry leaves display forest green to dark green colors. The leaves appear to be medium to large fragments, and are rolled. There are a few bare twigs and stems in the mix. The aroma is sweet (dried fruit) and floral.

Five grams of leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for one minute.

Orthodox FP Green 1st Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light pale yellow color and a very light green tint. The aroma is sweet, herbacious, and floral. The body is light-medium, with a very smooth, velvety texture. The taste is very pleasant and refreshing, with notes of sweet grass, flowers, and a delicate fruity hint. There is also a noticeable mineral (wet stone) taste and feel, and a mild astringency. The aftertaste is floral and lightly sweet, with a pleasant floral essence left on the breathe. This tea has a very nice balance of flavors.

Orthodox FP Green 2nd Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor with a bolder shade of pale-yellow color and a light green to gold tint. The aroma remains sweet and floral. The body feels medium, and the texture is not quite as velvety, but instead is smooth and refreshing. The taste has strengthened in the sweet grass flavor, and the floral, delicately fruity, and mineral notes all remain. Overall, this second infusion was stronger than the first.

Orthodox FP Green 3rd Infusion
Orthodox FP Green 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a brighter shade of pale-yellow color than the third infusion, with more of a green tint than gold. The aroma has lightened, but remains a pleasantly delicate sweet and floral experience. The body has lightened back to light-medium. The taste has also lightened, and the notes of floral and wet stones are most dominant. The aftertaste remains floral and enjoyable. Although lighter, this is still a worthy infusion.

Orthodox FP Green Infused Leaves
Orthodox FP Green Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform forest green color. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with some bare stems and twigs in the mix. A few of the stems show a two leaf and small bud pluck. The leaves have a fresh, floral, and lightly sweet aroma that is remarkably fragrant.

This is a very easy to drink green tea. There is one other green tea from Sri Lanka that I can describe as a good everyday green tea, but this Flowery Pekoe from Kangaita will now join this list. It is delicate and refreshing, yet potent enough in flavor to be very satisfying. Thankfully these sample packets are rather generous, because I can imagine this will make an extremely refreshing cold tea that will quench a thirst like few beverages can once the spring and summer months arrive. Other than a generally unimpressive appearance, this tea was a great experience, and a great introduction to the orthodox green teas of Kenya.

Thank you to Dafina Tea Traders for providing these generous samples. I am looking forward to hitting the purple teas next. Cheers!