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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

We've been tasting a lot of bottled teas, but these stood out from the pack. The label on the bottle says, "100% REAL INGREDIENTS, NOTHING ELSE," which cracked us up a bit—do the other teas use imaginary ingredients? But we were struck by how balanced and natural these teas tasted. Though some commented that the added flavorings made it hard to identify these teas as Pu-erh, we still enjoyed drinking them.

The most basic version Classic Pu-erh Tea, is smooth and earthy, lightly fruity, but lingers softly, without too much bitterness. It's sweetened with a light hand, just enough to offset the bold tea flavor. Those who brew their tea weak might find this one a little intense, but we found it invigorating, just as the bottle promised.

We liked the Peach Pu-erh Tea even better; the green tea flavors were nicely accented with fragrant peach puree, a hint of ginger, and passionfruit—this stuff would also make a nice base for a cocktail, it's so well-balanced (though it would probably be good with a squeeze of lemon, too.) Put me on a porch and I could drink a pitcher of this quite happily.

You might expect the mango version to be sweet, but it's quite tart, like the juice from a not-super-ripe mango. This drink is made with black tea, so it's much darker in color than the peach. Our group was split on this one; it wasn't an immediate crowd-pleaser, but some found it refreshing.

You have to like floral flavors to enjoy the Jasmine Pu-erh Tea—some tasters found this one pleasantly sweet and perfumey, with just enough jasmine intensity, while others felt it was just a bit too close to floral soap.

Numi's Mint Pu-erh Tea manages to taste quite close to a cool version of Moroccan mint tea, though a touch of citric acid adds a strange tang. Still, we appreciated that this tea was light and refreshing without reminding us of minty toothpaste. Other teamakers could learn from this one.

Numi Organic Tea

6 pack sampler, $15.31. Sample provided for review.
numitea.com

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