Valentine’s Themed Afternoon Tea from My Cup of Tea Dessert. . . .

Afternoon teas have become a bit of a weekend pastime for my sister and I. It is just nice to slow down and have a pot of tea and a nice meal together. Thankfully, where we live, there are a lot of different tea places to choose from. Some better than others. Some at hotels. Some in stand alone afternoon tea shops. There is a wide variety and we are exploring them all.

My Cup of Tea Dessert has a fun take on the traditional afternoon tea. They have different themed afternoon teas at different times of the year to celebrate the holidays. Their foods are made to compliment the themes such as meringue ghosts for Halloween and strawberry Santas for Christmas. My sister and I attended while they had their Valentine’s theme and that meant hearts and flowers and pink galore.

The sandwiches were not your average cucumber and cream cheese or egg salad. We got pepperoni pizza stuffed bread, proscuitto on garlic toast, and heart-shaped pesto grilled cheese. My favorite was the grilled cheese. Light, warm, and the pesto really added a nice pop of flavor. My least favorite was the pepperoni pizza stuffed bread which seemed out of place, a little sweeter than I would have liked and a bit too robust for an afternoon tea.

They served plain scones as well as lavender earl grey scones. The scones came with whipped cream (I think) and little jars of Bonne Mamman jam. My sister didn’t like the lavender earl grey scones so I got those two and she took the two plain. As a tea lover you’d think I would have been happy but lavender and earl grey just aren’t my favorite flavors. Despite my reservations, with the jam and cream, the scones were really quite good with a warm and flaky texture.

The desserts were also atypical. They consisted of rose water panna cottas with a pomegranate rose water jelly, mixed berry yogurt mousse cakes, and two homemade heart-shaped truffles (one was black sesame flavored and the other was strawberry). Rose water is another flavor I don’t typically love, mostly because every time I have had it it’s been too sweet but the panna cotta was actually quite nice. Personally, I think the pomegranate helped keep the rose water in check which provided a little tart to compliment the sweet. The mixed berry yogurt mousse cakes were interesting as they tasted like mixed berry yop (a yogurt drink) but in cake form. It was good but took a second for my brain to accept the familiar flavor in an unfamiliar way. The truffles were also too cute and while they weren’t my favorite truffles I have ever had, they were a nice way to end the meal.

The tea was presented to us in tiny jars so we could smell them all. There was approximately 30 teas to choose from but I was surprised there were only two plain teas (a tieguanyin and an assam) and very few black teas (most of which were variations of earl greys). I ended up picking a green rooibos called Lime Cooler and my sister went with a fruit tisane called Mango Tango. Our teas were served to us in glass teapots placed on top of pot warmers which I thought was neat. They were boiled but served with tiny glass tea cups that allowed the tea to cool to a nice temperature for drinking quite quickly. The leaf was also in filters in the tea pots but due to the heat of the water, the filters were too hot to remove ourselves and even if we did remove them, we had no where to put them. This was not an issue for our teas but could lead to over brewing of other types of teas.

Tastewise, my tea was minty but sweet from the lime and apple. I thought it went nicely with the foods as it was very refreshing. My sister seemed to enjoy her tea quite a bit too since we sat long after we finished eating so she could drink up the pot. I had a sip and despite its bright hibiscus red color, it wasn’t too tart. It tasted more like fruit punch than mango to me but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

My Cup of Tea Dessert was not the greatest afternoon tea I have ever had but it was unique. Unique and still quite good. Plus, it was relatively inexpensive compared to other tea shops and hotels in the area. I would probably return for another theme to check out their new offerings as it certainly was a fun experience.

Here’s the scoop!

Where to Buy:  My Cup of Tea

Click below for more information about their afternoon tea services!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Peppermint Bark Tea from Sunshine Cottage. . . .

Peppermint Bark is a holiday classic which is why chocolate peppermint teas flood the market at Christmas time. Almost each company has their own take on it and any holiday celebration doesn’t really feel complete without a peppermint bark tea latte. As such, these types of teas are cold weather teas in my mind.

So about a week ago when we had an unseasonably cold day, I set up a cold brew of Sunshine Cottage’s Peppermint Bark Tea in chocolate milk. I then forgot to drink it that day. Then the weather got significantly warmer and I just didn’t want to drink it tbh. Instead I favored my more spring-like teas. However, as the cold brewed milk has been sitting, I figured best to drink it before it goes bad. For comparison sake, I also brewed a hot tea with the remainder of the sample I had left.

This tea sets itself apart from the others, ingredients-wise at least, as it adds sunflower petals to the more typical ingredients of black tea, peppermint, white chocolate pieces, and natural flavors. However, flavor-wise as I sip on the hot tea, it tastes similar to the many other chocolate peppermint teas I have had before. In fact, it may even be a bit blander than most. There is a lot of peppermint flavor but not much else. The sample is a bit old so perhaps there is some flavor deterioration. Alternatively, there didn’t appear to be any white chocolate pieces in my filter while there was a ton of peppermint leaf so that could be causing the lack of flavor as well. Whatever the reason, the hot tea fell short of my expectations.

The cold brew, on the other hand, had a lot going on. The silky chocolate milk was made richer by the flavor of the black tea base. There is hints of white chocolate as well, though they are easy to miss under the strong chocolate milk flavor. The peppermint, on the other hand, comes through loud and clear leaving the aftertaste all minty. It is certainly more interesting than the hot tea was but even still I think this might become another in a long blurred line of chocolate mint teas.

Enjoyable but not really noteworthy.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Sunshine Cottage

Creamy white chocolate and crisp mint make this holiday tea a real treat. Perfect for a toe thawing, pick me up after an afternoon on the slopes, or for sipping by the fire after a wonderful meal!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Strawberry Shortcake from The NecessiTeas. . . .

I want to start by saying that CuppaGeek sent me this sample a long time ago and I stupidly let it get lost in my stash. Though my teas are kept away from Sunlight in a cool and dry place, this was only stored in a single ziploc bag and might have had some flavor deterioration due to improper storage. As a result, my review should be considered with that in mind…

When I looked up the NecessiTeas’ Strawberry Shortcake on their website, it was suggested to try it hot or poured over ice. I decided to try it both ways since the sample I was sent was quite generous. I brewed both the hot and iced tea for 3 minutes in 185F degree water, my standard temperature for brewing white teas.

The hot tea is very subtly flavored but pleasantly so. Again the subtlety of the flavoring could be due to flavor deterioration from age and improper storage but then again a Strawberry Shortcake is a lighter and more gently flavored cake so that could also be intentional. Subtle as it is, there is still all the components of its namesake in the flavor. The white tea makes this buttery, like an angel food cake, while there is a smooth creaminess to the tea as a whole. The strawberry sneaks up on you but really fills out the aftertaste. It is good and now I am kicking myself for not trying it sooner because I want more strawberry and more cream but perhaps there was more when the tea first arrived. I guess I will never know.

The iced tea I don’t like as much. That creaminess that is portrayed in the hot cup is entirely lost here. Instead it is a whole lot of white tea flavors with a touch of strawberry tucked in. No cream. No cake. More sweet hay notes and that little bit of fruit. It is also just the slightest bit soapy from the base.

All in all, this tea is middle of the pack for me. Granted I might have felt differently if I’d try this sooner but I also might not have. There are other teas that have been stored in a similar fashion for an equal amount of time that still pack a flavor punch. This is just too subtle and since I don’t love white teas, I find myself seeking more flavor. It is pleasant enough but one I feel I might forget as I continue on my tea journey.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  White
Where to Buy:  The NecessiTeas

This tea is no longer available but click below for white tea blends that are!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Maple Vanilla Earl Grey from A Quarter To Tea. . . .

Today I got to thinking about fun ways to make teas. Lately I have been experimenting. Cold brewing in chocolate milk. Topping iced teas with lemonade. I have been having fun playing with my teas. So when I had a Vanilla Frosty in my freezer from Wendy’s that seemed daunting to eat on its own, I thought to myself, “what can I do with this?” Well, an affogato came to mind.

For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about, an affogato is an Italian dessert that typically takes the form of a scoop of vanilla gelato or ice cream topped with a shot of hot espresso. Mine, on the other hand, took the form of two scoops of Vanilla Frosty topped with tea. Maple Vanilla Earl Grey tea by A Quarter to Tea to be specific. Why that tea? Well all recipes I looked at online suggested using strong flavored teas like chais or earl greys. I went with what I had readily available and the Maple Vanilla Earl Grey Affogato was born.

Since I have never had an affogato made by someone who knows what they’re doing I am not sure if this is right but I am sure it is good. It’s more a drink than a dessert you could eat with a spoon but there is a little ball of frosty still present. The liquid is so rich and creamy. Obviously it has a ton of silky vanilla flavor given both the frosty and the tea have vanilla flavoring. More than just the vanilla, there is a distinct maple sweetness that is a little more earthy than the vanilla but still very sweet as well as a little bit of a honeyed quality coming from the rooibos. The bergamot, for those that don’t like it very much, is actually really lovely here because it just adds a bit of brightness to counteract the other sweeter elements while the black tea base and cinnamon work to do the same thing in their own ways by adding some spice and some softer tea flavors. It’s really quite delightful because you get both the flavor of the frosty and the tea distinctly but at the same time they work together so nicely making for a delectably creamy and flavorful treat.

All in all, I would say this was one successful experiment if for no other reason than the affogato was gone in under five minutes. Seriously, i just kept drinking and actually finished the affogato before I finished the review. Oops.

Ultimately I am not sure how successful this tea would be on its own as I used the whole sample I had for the affogato but used the way it was here, this tea was certainly a home run.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  A Quarter To Tea

A brisk cup of Earl Grey, mellowed with the sweetness of maple and the smoothness of vanilla with still giving you that satisfying bergamot punch that makes Earl Grey so special

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Comforting Pear from Tea Taxi. . . . .

Some fruit flavors are so subtle and hard to capture when it comes to teas. Watermelon. Cantaloupe. Honeydew. And Pear. The flavors of the actual fruits aren’t necessarily in-your-face so in order to capture those flavors oftentimes they can either go completely unnoticed or come off artificial.

Comforting Pear by TeaTaxi teeters between artificial and unnoticed and somehow actually makes for a nice pear tea. Some sips, the base tea can be a bit astringent and the spices can get muddled. Yet underneath it all is a fruity sweetness that lingers and in the aftertaste, becomes distinctly pear-flavored. Other sips, all the flavors come together to taste of a spiced baked pear.

The spices of cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom are balanced which can be both good and bad. There is none of that ginger burn that I tend to enjoy, while others hate. There is also no overt cinnamon sweetness, which I tend to hate but others enjoy. Cardamom imparts some flavor but isn’t overwhelming. For me that is a plus but I know some will want more. Ultimately, it is that balance of spices that causes the occasional muddling which can make them one note and boring. Yet it is the balance that allows the pear to come through.

This tea is pleasant and could be great for a comforting tea on a cold day. Or a little bit of a treat on a rainy day. It is not a must-have for me but I certainly enjoyed my cup.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Tea Taxi

The perfect harmony between a nutty aroma and a slightly fruity and sweet taste make this black tea the perfect warm drink to start your day on the right foot.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!