Reviewing Our Reviews of Boston Tea Co. Teas

We had the honor, my humans and I, a few years back to try a number of teas from the Boston Tea Company and thought that a review was in order. TOOOT!

Exploring the Boston Tea Company
Some Notes on the Samples
Black Teas
Oolong Teas
Green Teas
White Teas
Herbals

Many devoted tea drinkers consider Boston pretty important in the world of tea. You’ve all heard about the Boston Tea Party, where colonists dressed up as American Indians, slipped aboard a ship anchored in the harbor, and tossed boxes of tea overboard. It was a protest against the actions of King George of England. He imposed one restriction, tax, or other annoyance after another on them. The tax on tea was the line in the sand, a sign that the colonists needed to act. The Boston Tea Company in a way shows that the ire of those past humans has passed and the days of tea drinking are alive and well in “Bean Town.” Our samplings showed they were good days, indeed.

First, a bit of info on the company.


Exploring the Boston Tea Company


The company started in 1773 when they salvaged some of that “protest tea” out of the brink (very enterprising of them). Since then, they have been carrying on the tradition of producing fine teas (over 2 centuries now).

You’ll see the name “Bentley’s Finest Teas” on some of their products. It’s a line of English-inspired teas, estate-grown and harvested in India, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), and China using the traditional English manner. These teas are found in top retailers as well as gourmet shops. I’ll be trying one of the white teas.

Their Web site.
[Note: The site seems scaled back from what we remember, with certain features such as recipes now missing.]

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Some Notes on the Samples


The samples came in pouches and contained a generous amount of each tea. This let us try the tea different ways, for example, plain and with milk and sweetener added (the way my humans usually drink their black teas). The labels has great instructions for how to steep the teas. While they offer some bagged teas, these are mostly loose leaf and certainly appeared to be made with some great quality teas for the most part.

NOTE: These pouches are what the Boston Tea Company uses for samples. Their normal pouches are opaque and block out light, very important for preserving your fine teas. Pouches are, overall, my favorite packaging, since, as the tea is used, excess air can be squeezed out before resealing, unlike tea tins and boxes. One drawback is that the wonderful full tea leaves get a bit crushed in the whole packing and shipping process.

Please note: the teas shown below may not be available on the company’s Web site, especially since these teas were tried several years ago and they tend to do small batches of special blends.

Disclaimer: These teas were provided by the company named. However, the rating of the tea and any opinions concerning it are always strictly objective.

Labels

One of the great things about the samples was the labeling on the pouches. The front label had the tea name and ingredients. The back label had steeping instructions (they used the word “brewing” which is technically incorrect) for the basic tea type. (Always feel free to experiment with how you steep a tea, since these instructions that vendors supply are meant as general guides.)

Some examples (click on each photo to see details):

Packages

These were just for the samples. Their official pouches are opaque, blocking out harmful light. Here you can see that for the most part their teas were a far cry from that “dust in a bag” stuff many of you humans are used to.

Some examples (click on each photo to see details):

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Black Teas


Please note: the teas shown below may not be available on the company’s Web site.

Tea:

Strawberry Fields Black Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Ceylon Black Tea with strawberry essence and some dried chunks of strawberry
Dry tea: Strong strawberry aroma
Infusion 1: Fresh and fragrant strawberry aroma. Strawberry flavor is mild with tea flavor very evident. Milk and sweetener enhance the strawberry flavor, smoothes and enriches.
Infusion 2: Fresh and fragrant strawberry aroma. Weaker in taste but very nice with typical Ceylon black tea flavor.

Tea:

Tropical Mango Black Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Ceylon Black Tea (large leaf pieces)
Sunflower petals and large chunks of dried ripe mango
Dry tea: Strongly mango, with little tea aroma being detected
Infusion 1: Lightly mango-ish aroma with caramelly/nutty character. Fruit and tea flavor, no bitterness or astringency. With milk and sweetener, smooth and mango more evident.
Infusion 2: Slightly lighter aroma. Slightly lighter, less mango taste.
Chilled: Gets a bit cloudy when chilled, but flavor is balance of tea, mango, and light floral from sunflower petals.

Tea:

Cranberry Lemon Black Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea
Dry tea: A nice broken leave black tea with fruit pieces.
Infusion(s): Steeped a full 5 minutes, but per vendor’s label. Light on the cranberry and a bit heavy on the lemon, no bitterness.
Comments: Came in sachets, but my humans cut them open and dumped the contents into the cup-sized infuser.
Chilled: This was more of a lemon sherbet flavoring. The cranberry was almost non-existent. Some sweetener needed. Slightly chalky.

Tea:

Berry Medley

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea from China with raspberry, cranberry, rosehips, safflowers, and pomegranate.
Dry tea: Large tea leaf pieces with good-sized bits of fruit. Aroma was strongly cranberry, with little tea aroma being detected.
Infusion 1: Aroma was balanced, not just cranberry, but the flavor was rather weak, with more floral coming through.
Infusion 2: Lighter all around and generally not up to standards.
Infusion 3: Used fresh batch of dry tea. Still a bit light tasting, cranberry aroma failing to bring forth a good cranberry flavor in the cup.
Chilled: Appearance was truly nice. The flavor didn’t live up to the promise of that appearance, overly floral, dominating the fruit flavors and having a chalky character. Sweetener is definitely needed.
Comments: Once the official portion of the tea tasting was over, there was some tea liquid left. One of my humans added a bit of milk and a touch of sweetener and declared: “Mmmm… not bad!” Recommendations: Steep at least 5 minutes, add some milk and sweetener, and don’t try for a second infusion from the tea mix.

Tea:

Pumpkin Spice Black Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea with real pumpkin pieces, spices, sunflowers
Dry tea: Sweet, fruity, a bit tangy aroma, broken leaf pieces, whole cloves.
Infusion 1: Sweet, fruity, tangy, bitter flavor/aroma. Caramelly with milk.
Infusion 2: Cloves dominate aroma, not bitter, nice fruitiness, faint cinnamon.
Comments: Best with milk and sweetener. It gets a divine smoothness and turns faintly caramelly as it cools slightly. If you don’t like milk in your tea, shorten steep times a little and use your favorite sweetener.

Tea:

Irish Breakfast Tea

Water temp: 212˚F
Steeping time: 3-5 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea (blend of rich Assam with Ceylon)
Dry tea: Malty aroma of a typical Assam tempered with an almost fruity Ceylon.
Infusion 1: Malty aroma, mild flavor, no bitterness, smooth, robust. Enjoy straight or with sweetener. It handles milk extremely well.
Infusion 2: Lighter in color, flavor, and aroma.
Comments: While steeping, this tea is almost Darjeeling like. The rich reddish brown liquid has an aroma dominated by the Assam maltiness.

Tea:

Ginger, Peach, & Apricot Black Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea (Chinese) with peach, apricot, ginger
Dry tea: Broken leaf pieces and dried fruit and ginger root chunks. Peachy/apricotty aroma.
Infusion 1: Mainly peach/apricot aroma. Ginger tang, peachy, apricotty flavors, yet black tea characteristics still evident
Infusion 2: Only used half as much water (8 oz. instead of 16 oz.), lighter color and aroma, still fruity, ginger tang gone, mild, not bitter.
Chilled: Needs sweetener, possibly because of the ginger. Maybe if it were just peach and apricot blended with the black tea, the flavor would be more naturally sweet. We definitely like this one better when served hot.

Tea:

English Breakfast Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea (not specified)
Dry tea: Fresh, rich, nutty aroma.
Infusion 1: Enticing aroma. Nutty flavor, hint of smokiness, not bitter. A slight tang in the aftertaste, but quite tolerable. Great with milk and a bit of sweetener. It becomes smooth but still nutty and smoky with fruitiness coming through as it cools.
Infusion 2: Mild and a bit too light.

Tea:

Earl Grey Citrus Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Assam  Tea
Oil of Bergamot, Citrus, Cornflowers
Dry tea: Oil of Bergamot dominates
Infusion 1: Malty, faint citrus/cornflower aroma. Mild, not bitter, citrus, herbal, tea flavor.
Infusion 2: Faint citrus/cornflower aroma. Milder flavor, citrus, herbal, more Oil of Bergamot. While it was better than many others we’ve tried, it’s still a bit weak.
Chilled: Earl Grey lovers can enjoy that distinct flavor of oil of bergamot when this tea is served straight from the refrigerator. Don’t steep it too strong unless you are planning to add ice. Great without sweetener. A little cloudy from cornflowers and other ingredients.

Tea:

Coconut Joy Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea (broken leaf Ceylon black tea pieces) with Coconut flavoring and shred pieces.
Dry tea: Strong coconut aroma (no surprise there)
Infusion 1: Sweetish coconutty aroma. Sweetish coconutty taste with tea flavor still coming thru.
Infusion 2: Coconutty aroma and taste, milder, still get tea flavor, balanced.
Comments: This isn’t really a tea that takes milk. It’s okay that way but not quite the rich flavor you would get from a straight black tea.

Tea:

Ceylon Symphony Black Tea

Water temp: 212˚F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Tea type: Black Tea
Dry tea: Fragrant, mild, with lively sweet hay scent
Infusion 1: Fragrant, mild, slightly malty aroma. Mild flavor, slightly malty, tangy aftertaste, no bitterness.
Infusion 2: Lighter flavor, aroma.
Comments: The most lively tasting Ceylon tea that my humans had tried. A blend of the fruity taste of Darjeeling and the malty richness of Assam. Takes milk and sweetener well but equally good plain.

Tea:

Bombay Chai

Water temp: 212˚F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Black Tea (they don’t specify which), Spices (cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, anise seeds).
Dry tea: Rich, festive, Winter holiday fragrance. Full of interesting things.
Infusion 1: Spicy aroma. Balanced, smooth, spicy kick with each mouthful but not overwhelming. Followed package instructions for preparing the tea. As it steeped, cinnamon and cloves scents came out strong. At the end of the steep time, tea strained into another teapot and added 1/3 cup of warmed milk and two packets of sweetener, stirred, and poured into mugs. One sip said it all. Ah!
Infusion 2: Weaker taste, good to drink straight.
Comments: Shake the bag up a bit (gently) just to get things well mixed. This is American style chai, tends toward sweet side but well-balanced. Even and smooth, with no one flavor trumpeting over the others. A “drinkable dessert” that you can imbibe after a satisfying meal.

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Oolong Teas


Please note: the teas shown below may not be available on the company’s Web site.

Tea:

Vanilla Almond Oolong Tea

Water temp: 190˚F
Steeping time: 1-8 minutes — see comments
Ingredients: Oolong Tea (mostly full-leaf) plus real almond slivers, natural vanilla and almond flavors, and Calendula flower petals.
Dry tea: Vanilla, almond aromas, plus earthy oolong fragrance.
Infusion 1: Vanilla, almond aroma. Very mild flavor, not bitter. Vanilla plays nice with almond and flower petals, as well as the Oolong. A hint of smoky/earthy flavor, a slight chalkiness.
Infusion 2: About the same aroma as the first. About the same flavor as the first. Capable of multiple infusions keeping the vanilla.
Comments: Guidelines with the tea say oolongs can be steeped 1 to 8 minutes. We tried at 2 minutes and found it too weak, so we went for 3 minutes. Just right!

Tea:

Peach Passion Oolong

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Oolong Tea
Dry tea: Mild peachy fragrance, but tea leaves aroma still perceived.
Infusion 1: Peachy aroma. Mildly peachy flavor, tea still evident, sunflowers a bit strong (add a bit of your fave sweetener to fix that).
Infusion 2: Peachy aroma. Much lighter peach flavor, no sweetener needed, though.
Chilled: The name sets up an expectation of peach flavor. Instead, the taste is dominated by sunflowers. A slight, sweet aftertaste, but still needs a touch of sweetener.

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Green Teas


Please note: the teas shown below may not be available on the company’s Web site.

Tea:

Citron Green Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Green Tea (not specified), dried lemon and lime.
Dry tea: Based on appearance and size of tea leaf pieces, possibly Dragonwell-style (but hardly a true Dragonwell tea). Aroma like dry grass or hay, light with fragrance of dried lemon and lime.
Infusion 1: Wonderful citrusy aroma. Green tea flavor, subtle citrus, tangy aftertaste. Smooth mouthfeel.
Infusion 2: Grass/hay, citrus aroma and flavor with plenty of citrus presence.
Infusion 3: Grass/hay, citrus aroma. Fading flavor but citrus still evident, still smooth and refreshing.
Comments: Let cool just a bit before tasting so that the flavors will be fuller and you won’t scald your tongue. Don’t let it cool too much, though, or it could grow bitter and the taste might flatten.

Tea:

Dragonwell Green Tea

Water temp: 160˚F
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
Ingredients: Green Tea
Dry tea: Fresh, almost minty aroma.
Infusion 1: Planty, sweetly smoky aroma. Smooth flavor, planty, slightly smoky (sweet), subtle, no bitterness. Improved as it cooled a bit.
Infusion 2: Planty, sweetly smoky aroma. This and subsequent infusions were lighter and grassier in color and taste. At 4 infusions, grassiness had gotten too noticeable.
Chilled: Outstanding. No aroma, but the flavor was amazing, fruitiness in perfect balance with tea flavor. The liquid was clear and beautiful. It is naturally sweet and needs no sugar. Very tasty and refreshing.
Comments: In the years since we had tried this Dragonwell tea, we’ve learned more about this type of green tea. While this one still rates as good in our minds, it was clearly not top quality and might possibly have been one that was not produced in the West Lake area of China.

Tea:

Pomegranate Dream Green Tea

Water temp: 160˚F
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
Ingredients: Green Tea with raspberry & unspecified natural flavorings
Dry tea: Fruit scent blended with grassy green tea scent
Infusion 1: Fruit and grassy green tea scent. Fruit taste balanced with tea. Satisfying, mild, smooth, consistent even as it cools a bit.
Infusion 2: Fruit and grassy green tea scent. Lighter fruit taste, mild, smooth, no harsh aftertaste.
Chilled: Outstanding. Flavor was amazing. Fruitiness in perfect balance with tea flavor. Liquid was clear. Naturally sweet, needs no sugar.
Comments: Despite the tea name, there is no pomegranate in it. Pomegranate is increasingly touted as beneficial to men’s health, so this makes the matter worth noting.

Tea:

Apricot Green Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes
Ingredients: Green Tea with apricot and sunflower petals.
Dry tea: Large tea leaf pieces, real pieces of apricot and sunflower petals.
Infusions 1 & 2: Apricot aroma. Combo of green tea and apricot flavors, no bitterness or weird aftertaste.
Chilled: Lovely in the glass, relatively uncloudy, which is a bit hard to tell from the photo because the glass gets a bit of condensation on it during the photo taking process. The important thing, though is the taste, amazing and a wonderful balance of tea, apricot, and a light floral from the sunflower petals.

Tea:

Jasmine Tea

Water temp: 212°F (per label)
[Note: This is too hot. Stick with about 160-175°F.]
Steeping time: 2-4 minutes (per label)
Ingredients: Green Tea (Chun Mee from Anhui Province, China), scented with Jasmine flowers
Dry tea: Mild jasmine with pleasant planty green tea fragrance.
Infusions 1 & 2: Delicate jasmine aroma. Mild, plantiness, jasmine floral.
Comments: Jasmine teas are usually created by layering the tea leaves between jasmine blossoms. For high quality jasmines, the blossoms are removed after the scenting is done and a few fresh ones are added in. Way too many jasmine blossoms in with the tea leaves here.

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White Teas


Please note: the teas shown below may not be available on the company’s Web site.

Tea:

Peach Dream

Water temp: 212°F
Seems a bit hot for white tea, but we tried it anyway.
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
Ingredients: Big leaf pieces of white tea from Fujian Province, China.
Peaches and sunflowers.
Dry tea: Peachy aroma.
Infusions 1 & 2: Pale peach aroma. Light flavor, pale peachy, hint of sunflowers.
Chilled: Looks great in the glass, a peachy taste, mild and sweet enough that you don’t need to add anything. Great for dieters.

Tea:

Tropical Tangerine White Tea

Water temp: 212°F
Steeping time: 4-6 minutes (per label)
Ingredients: Per label this is a tea from Fujian Province, China (most likely Pai Mu Tan, aka Baimudan or White Peony). Also had dried tangerine.
Dry tea: Fruity/floral/nutty aromas.
Infusion(s): Liquid aroma was a balance of floral, fruit, and tea nuttiness. Flavor heavily dominated by floral, little or no tangerine.

Tea:

White Peony
(aka Pai Mu Tan or Baimudan)

Water temp: 175°F
Steeping time: 1-3 minutes
Ingredients: White Tea
Dry tea: Full leaf pieces. Raisiny, apricotty, nutty aromas.
Infusion(s): Planty aroma. Mild flavor, not bitter. At its best when hot.
Comments: Steep with the intention of consuming the liquid fairly quickly before it has a chance to become tepid and the taste goes flat.

Tea:

Bentley Oriental Treasure White Tea

Water temp: below boiling, per label
Steeping time: 2-3 minutes
Ingredients: White Tea
Dry tea: Bagged fannings. Fresh, planty, sort of hay-like aroma.
Infusion(s): Fresh, planty, sort of hay-like aroma. Very mild flavor, slight aftertaste, not bitter. Would go with just about any food.
Chilled: Prominent hay taste, improved with a lot with sweetener but is still too weak to be a good chilled tea.

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Herbals


Please note: the teas shown below may not be available on the company’s Web site.

Tea:

Lemon Honey & Chamomile Green Rooibos

Water temp: 208°F (allow to cool for 30 seconds before steeping)
Steeping time: 5-8 minutes
Ingredients: Chamomile, Rooibos, lemon peel, osmanthus flowers, real honey.
Dry tea: Big yellow pieces. Honey aroma first, then chamomile, Rooibos.
Infusion(s): Honey, chamomile, Rooibos aromas. Sweet, planty, woodsy flavors.

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Hi, humans, this site is under my editorial excellence. I, your lovable and sassy Little Yellow Teapot, authors articles on tea, etc., and edit the occasional guest article. All in the interest of helping you humans have a better tea experience. TOOOT!

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