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Milk Oolong is a type of Chinese oolong with an aroma and flavor combination that suggests cream, and even, to me, a hint of milk chocolate. After a couple of sips, my palate had adapted to it; after a cup, I was a convert.

Product Review: The Republic of Tea – Various Tea Varieties

republic of tea milk oolongJust in time for the holidays, I had the chance to sample a number of tea varieties from The Republic of Tea, including loose-leaf and bagged, caffeinated and herbal. These teas come in recyclable cylindrical canisters with airtight closures that should prevent the teas from deteriorating quickly.

Caffeine-free Good Hope Vanilla tea is vanilla-infused rooibos. Steeped for five minutes, it boasts a smooth, almost candy-like vanilla aroma that dominates the usually strong flavor of rooibos. It’s a robust tea with flavor that holds up nicely when it’s no longer piping hot. Vanilla fans should love this, and it will make a nice celebratory brew.

There’s no actual milk in the Milk Oolong loose tea. It’s a type of Chinese oolong with an aroma and flavor combination that suggests cream, and even, to me, a hint of milk chocolate. After a couple of sips, my palate had adapted to it; after a cup, I was a convert. In addition, as the packaging promised, a teaspoon of the leaves was enough to infuse a second cup, so this is an economical variety.

Ginger and peach aromas mingle nicely in the Ginger Peach Longevity Tea. Gimmicky name aside, it’s a heavily perfumed black tea whose gingery tang conveys a vague feeling that you’re drinking something healthy. And the ginger flavor comes from actual ginger.

Jasmine Jazz loose-leaf tea is mild green tea (“rarest yin hao green tea leaves”) infused with the flowery musk of jasmine blossoms. Jasmine tea is a popular standard and jasmine-lovers should be very happy with this fresh-tasting, strong version. (My wife’s verdict: “I love this.”) As with the Milk Oolong, a teaspoon of these leaves was enough for a second cup.

For the GMO-concerned, the Milk Oolong and Jasmine Jazz are marked as Verified by the Non-GMO Project.

Now back to the holidays, for which I sampled two seasonal teas from The Republic of Tea.

Downton Abbey Holiday Cheer Red Tea has a subtle, slightly spicy potpourri-ish aroma that’s a bit weak when the tea’s very hot, but pleasant and not overpowering at a slightly cooler temperature.

Another holiday brew, this one caffeinated, is the Comfort and Joy Holiday Blend black tea, with touches of cinnamon, cloves, licorice and apple – a nice flavor change from plain black tea and not overpowering.

A canister of either would make a nice modest holiday gift; a selection of Republic of Tea varieties would be a more substantial present.

I feel obliged to note that some varieties, such as Comfort and Joy and Ginger Peach, contain unspecified “natural flavors” as well as named ingredients. The phrase “natural flavors” simply means ingredients derived from a source found in a nature; it doesn’t mean they’re substances you would think of as food. Checking other items in my kitchen, I see that the Whole Foods brand Green Tea with Pomegranate & Cranberry also has “natural flavors” – as do the innocuous-tasting Trader Joe’s Toasted Oatmeal Flakes and Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Beverage. I mention this for those who are obsessive about keeping track of everything they put into their or their family’s bodies. If you want to know exactly what’s in your tea, the Jasmine Jazz and Milk Oolong are great choices. (I tend to favor teas with strong basic flavors rather than heavily spiced varieties anyway.)

The teas covered here and many other varieties are available from republicoftea.com and other online outlets such as Amazon.com. The attractive tins with their airtight tops are reusable, too. After you’ve finished the tea you could store grains, beans, sugar or any other loose food in them – even tea!

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is a Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at http://www.orenhope.com/ you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at http://parkodyssey.blogspot.com/ where he visits every park in New York City. And by night he's a part-time working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.

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