Artful Tea

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61
drank Petal Passion by Artful Tea
66 tasting notes

(Note that the name of this tea on my sample bag wrapper and on the website as of today is “Passion Petal”. It’s possible the name on Steepster was what they used to call it, or just a mistake.)

I’m starting to get irritated with the one-hand-filled-tea-bag sample size at Artful Tea in Santa Fe. ONE sample bag, in one of those brown paper fill-your-own tea bags, stapled inside a small wax bag and wrapped in a paper label with info about the tea, is $2.50, the cost of an entire grocery store box of tea bags—yet there’s barely a teaspoon in the tea bag. That’s just not enough to make a proper cup of tea with anything but regular black tea, I’m sorry. In my smallest tea cup (a sweet little fluted clear cup from Ikea) I am still getting not much in the way of flavor, even overbrewed.

Scent in the leaf: the mango and passion fruit come out a considerable amount. The liquid becomes sort of a medium brown and is transparent. Brewed, I’m not getting much of anything in the scent or flavor: a very vague dark oolong flavor (this is not the lighter, greener oolong that can be buttery/flowery, this is the stuff that to me tastes like light pu-erh) with a tiny bit of tanginess from the aronia berries. Mango and passion fruit are gone, but there is a very faint floweriness if I really concentrate. I would not have been able to identify it as rose if I didn’t have the ingredients on the wrapper in front of me. Overall it is slightly flavored/perfumed hot water.

I feel bad giving this tea a lowish score (for me) when I suspect it would be more flavorful and drinkable if the tea amount were doubled or more. But if Artful Tea doesn’t want to give me more than a teaspoon in an expensive sample, well, then I have to go with what they give me to work with. Recall from my last review of a sample from Artful Tea that their minimum purchase of bulk tea is 3 oz.; Passion Petal at $12 is their cheapest oolong, but 3 oz. is a little more than I want to buy of one type of tea (I tend to get 2 oz. of something I know I will want to drink repeatedly, and 1 oz. for things I’m just checking out, at Fava Tea here in WI). I just think their sales practices of no free samples, tiny/expensive samples, and minimum 3 oz. purchase are not friendly to anyone who isn’t a wealthy Santa Fe tourist. Especially in this day and age of Adagio, David’s, Verdant, etc. with their copious and large free/cheap samples and/or 1 or 2 oz. availability of bulk teas (and prices seem often lower than Artful). Artful just doesn’t look good to me. Sorry.

Flavors: Bamboo, Berry, Dirt, Flowers, Fruity, Rainforest

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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56
drank Purple Lychee by Artful Tea
66 tasting notes

First, this is NOT the Butterfly Pea tea that brews up purpley-violet or blue. This is camellia sinensis, but apparently a variety grown in Kenya that looks purple in leaf, and brews slightly purple.

Secondly, about the store: Artful Tea’s new space in Santa Fe is big and white and lovely. The woman who helped me was friendly and answered my questions. And the sheer variety of tea they have is great. However, if you want more than one of their ONE CUP samples, which are all I bought for reasons that will become clear, the smallest amount they sell is 4oz. I’ve bought as little as 1 oz at my favorite tea place at home in Wisconsin; 2oz is for something I know I will want to have many times. I just don’t consume tea that fast! So when I found this out, I gravitated to the samples.

If I’m recalling correctly: the samples were $2.50 each, in folded bulk teabags, each in a small wax-paper bag and stapled inside a thick paper label with info about the tea. I saw that they were selling 6-bag sampler sets (e.g., green, organic, black, herbal…these are on their website too) for $11.95, and asked, “If I pick six samples, can I have them for $11.95?” Somehow THAT wasn’t okay. The deal only worked if I bought a pre-selected sampler set. So…I bought five samples. ‘Cause I’m unemployed.

In short: chalk this tea shop up to Santa Fe tourist theory, that the more expensive something is, the more likely bored rich middle-aged and older women will spend a LOT of money on it assuming it’s special. The $405 rainbow-dyed cashmere shawl I tried on later the same day I bought this tea: that’s special. (Bookmarked it online to let my parents know closer to my December birthday!) This particular tea is not (see below). I look forward to trying the other four samples I bought.

They didn’t give a brewing temp for this, just “until steaming briskly, not boiling”, so I guessed on my Cuisinart tea setting and picked Oolong (180 F). I don’t know if this was too cool, because the resulting brew doesn’t smell or taste like much of anything. Hot water with a couple of Pez dissolved in it? It smells very, very vaguely floral and fruity; not at all like c. sinensis. The brew is purplish-tan and just sits there in my mouth, quietly waiting for me to swallow. I dumped about 2 tsp. of sugar into it just to coax some flavor out, and that at least made it drinkable, but I wouldn’t buy any more of this than I already have, and I’m really happy that I didn’t spend $18 for four ounces, the next size up. (The tin is apparently $3 extra.)

Flavors: Candy, Floral, Fruity, Pineapple

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML
Kittenna

That’s disappointing! This sounds like it should have been a tasty tea. I’ve had purple tea before, and it was similar to an oolong; I doubt your brewing temperature was the problem. It sounds like maybe their tea samples were older than they should have been, or badly stored?

Gillyflower

It’s possible some samples were older (I did see some in the sample rack with the old store address, and they told me they had been in the new store for only 3 months). Also the waxed paper envelope, folded and stapled shut, may not have done the best job of keeping the tea fresh, I don’t know. Or they just may not re-stock much, who knows? They wouldn’t be the first tea place with a gorgeous shop and tea that’s been in the canisters for years…! The five samples have been in a sealed ziplock since I got home from the Santa Fe trip in May, so it’s not my fault!

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49
drank Sing Your Song by Artful Tea
468 tasting notes

This is another normally-sold-as-loose tisane from ArtfulTea that I have as a sample in an unbleached filter bag.

Love the look of the chunky material in the bag. Brewed up, it’s mostly lemongrass tasting and sweet from the licorice root. Not sure, but I can maybe pick up on the ginger and peppermint in the aroma. It is warming from the ginger, though, and I do feel my sinuses opening up from the peppermint. The green cardamom pods are doing nothing for me even though I can smell them in the steeped bag. In my opinion, cardamom seeds need to be crushed.

Somebody out there will enjoy this, I’m sure, but for some reason I don’t like dried lemongrass even though I like other lemony herbs. Fresh, though, hell yeah. This tea isn’t bad – it’s smooth just not my taste.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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67
drank Organic Atomic Gold by Artful Tea
468 tasting notes

ArtfulTea is an online retailer of traditional teas, blended teas, tisanes and teaware. They also have a tea shop in Santa Fe, NM.

I pilfered this from my aunt’s stash. This sold-as-loose tisane was made available as a sample in a large unbleached filter bag. Brewing instructions were to use 12oz boiling water and to steep for 5 minutes. I found the ingredients in this tisane to be very balanced, with each one moving through for an appearance. It was warming and earthy from the turmeric and ginger, bright from the lemongrass and citrus peels and oils and sweet from the licorice root which was at times a little too much. The licorice root also gave the liquor some texture.

I recommend this to those looking for a mild, balanced spice tea with just a bit of bite. The lower rating is a reflection of my personal tastes and I hope doesn’t deter anybody who might be interested in trying it.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML
Kirkoneill1988

I might try this someday. Thanks for telling me about this vendor.

derk

My pleasure

Mastress Alita

The ingredients sound similar to the Kotoko spice blend. So was this one less spice bomb but a similar flavor? If so then it might be just right for me.

derk

Less of a spice bomb, definitely. This one doesn’t have cinnamon or star anise, so I felt it lacked a bit of depth in comparison to the Kikoko sample. But if you couldn’t taste those through the coconut milk, I imagine this one would taste similar. It is quite sweet from the licorice which you might appreciate.

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90

Today, I am thankful our capital city has fun shops. (And books… as always.) I found this store while wondering around. Got a sample because it smelled really good. There is a nice scent of lavender, and some bergamot. The flavour is mostly lavender, with hints of citrus. Overall, it feels very… cozy. Good for the season of pre-winter.

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Lavender

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drank Earl Grey Lavender by Artful Tea
4843 tasting notes

Backlog:

When I’m ordering from a new tea company, I usually choose at least one Earl Grey selection. I’m a huge fan of Earl Grey as most of you (if not all of you) are already aware. And I have learned that not all Earl Grey teas are created equal. This “Lavender” variation of Earl Grey is what caught my eye while shopping with Artful Tea.

This is a really nice Earl Grey Lavender. The black tea is smooth and robust. It supports the strong bergamot flavor well. It’s smooth at the start and toward the finish there is some tangy astringency.

I like the bergamot doesn’t taste perfume-ish even in the presence of lavender, another ingredient that can come off perfume-y if overdone. This has been skillfully blended so that there is enough lavender for a sweet, floral note to contrast with the bold, tangy flavor of bergamot, but not so much of either ingredient so that it comes off tasting like I’m sipping liquid soap.

A very pleasant cuppa.

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84
drank Petal Passion by Artful Tea
4843 tasting notes

Backlog:

A visually appealing blend of dark Oolong tea leaves, fruit chunks and rose petals.

The Oolong base is smooth. It has a buttery texture to it. Not so much a buttery taste as a texture, but some of that buttery translates to the flavor as well. This isn’t like a creamy or heavily “buttery” type of Oolong. Woodsy tones.

Mostly what I taste from this tea, though, is the fruit notes. Tropical fruit: passion fruit and mango! Sweet and nectar-like. I like that the flavors taste true to the fruit, not fake or artificial. These flavors meld well with the natural earthy/woodsy tones of the Oolong.

The aronia berries do impart some astringency to the cup but even so, the astringency is very mild. Not so much of a puckery sensation as a tarty note toward the tail that I can feel in my cheeks.

A nice little tropical getaway in a teacup.

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88
drank Star of India by Artful Tea
4843 tasting notes

Backlog:

I discovered Artful Tea on Etsy. Every once in a while, I’ll visit the etsy site and check out the tea purveyors to see if anything captures my interest. This is a company that did.

I like the packaging: I like attention to details like lining the boxes with tissue paper and each of the samples were pre-measured in the DIY type of teabags and then put into glassine envelopes that were then folded down and “sealed” with a cardstock label and tied with a little bit of twine cord. It was simple and rustic looking and very nice. It didn’t look like something that you’re going to pick up in your average supermarket. It looked like a gift. I like that.

This tea was one of my favorites of the sampler that I purchased from Artful Tea. A well-rounded taste. Sweet but not overly sweet, smooth, not too astringent, and it’s rich and flavorful and satisfying. It would be a good breakfast tea.

Smooth, malty, caramel-y, notes of earth and wood. Really nice.

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78
drank Summer Romance by Artful Tea
4843 tasting notes

Backlog:

Tasty! I often find myself torn with how to brew a tea with both black and green teas. It would seem logical to steep the tea at the lower temperature requirements of the green tea to avoid harming those leaves but the black tea performs best in higher temperatures. I do yield to the lower temperature in these cases, but I find myself wondering how much flavor is lost by doing so.

Of the two tea types, the black tea is the strongest flavor. Not a surprise. It has a rich flavor but obviously not as rich as it might have been with a higher temperature. The green tea is a little more difficult to pick out but it’s not completely lost. I can taste the buttery notes of the green tea and those are quite nice.

And even though I was torn about the two teas blended for the base, I do like the way the different characteristics of each tea mingle with the notes of strawberry and papaya.

Overall, the tea is indeed a bit like summer in a teacup. Nice.

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86
drank Nutty Mocha Mate by Artful Tea
4843 tasting notes

Backlog:

I’m trying to get caught up. Again. Ugh.

This tisane made me happy. Mostly because it reminded me a lot of a tisane that I crafted back in my tea blending days. Back when I came up with the blend that is similar to this, I was looking for something that would satisfy my coffee craving. Back then, I had just resigned from coffee drinking because I realized that it was responsible for me feeling sick by late morning. Every morning, around 11 am, I would start feeling really nauseous and when I stopped drinking coffee the nausea also stopped. Coincidence? I think not.

But even though I didn’t miss that nausea, I did miss the flavor of coffee so the coffee inspired Yerba Mate that I made helped satisfy that craving for me. And this Nutty Mocha mate reminded me a lot of that tisane I blended.

It tastes a lot like the mochas you can find in the expensive coffee shops. Sweet, nutty flavor of hazelnut and a hint of chocolate. I do wish that this had a little more chocolate flavor.

Tasty.

TeaBrat

I like coffee too but it definitely messes with my stomach. :-/

LiberTEAS

Yeah … I used to drink coffee every morning to get me going but by 11 am I started feeling like I needed to hurl. It wasn’t fun. It took me a while to realize that it was the coffee doing it. I liked tea back then too and drank it pretty regularly, but I turned to coffee for the first thing in the morning fix because it does have that jolting kick. But after I finally realized that coffee was making me feel so sick, I switched off coffee and began to explore tea and other options and I feel so much better now. I still occasionally miss the taste and especially the smell of coffee but times like that, I can usually find a blend with chicory in it and that satisfies that sensory craving.

TeaBrat

yeah I had a similar experience as coffee seemed to be giving me acid reflux so I switched to pu’erh tea and my tea addiction spiraled from there, lol

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84

Backlog:

I bought this sample based on the name of it – the idea of apricot brandy sounded good at the time when I was shopping. The dry leaf aroma represents the name quite appropriately: it smells like apricot and brandy and black tea. The brewed tea smells similar but I notice more black tea notes with the brewed tea than with the dry leaf.

It tastes as good as it smells (bonus points!)

A nice, authentic apricot flavor along with a pleasantly smooth black tea flavor. It’s a mild black tea with some astringency but not much. The brandy flavor is not an overwhelming flavor and as I’m not big on alcohol, I think this earns bonus points too. I like the subtle brandy note.

A really enjoyable blend.

Nicole

This sounds good.

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82
drank Winter Forest by Artful Tea
4843 tasting notes

Backlog:

I found this to be a very intriguing blend.

The green tea base is a blend of Chinese Sencha and Japanese Bancha. These two together bring a somewhat brothy, smooth, sweet, slightly grassy, slightly buttery tasting flavor to the cup. Very little astringency to this.

Of the added flavors, the almond is the strongest. I like the way the orange and almond work together in this. Not a combination I find often in a tea (orange and almond) but I like it. The orange brightens the cup. The pine notes are there too, not an overwhelming flavor but I like what it adds to the tea.

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