For today’s inspirational piece of artwork, I am again looking to one of the gifts that I received in one of the 12 Days of Christmas mail art swaps that I was involved in. This cute mitten was made by Sue Foster, and it hangs proudly on my tree.
I love how perfectly the stitches are on this. It would take me hours – literally, hours! – to do something like this. I’m not as handy with a needle and thread, I’m afraid.
Thank you, Sue, it’s beautiful and whimsical and a perfect addition to my handmade tree.
Today’s tea from Teanzo is one that should inspire happy dreams.
Dream Spa Blend Tisane
Leaf Type: Herbal/Spice Melange
Where to Buy: Teanzo 1856
Ingredients: Cardamom, saffron, licorice root, fennel, ginger root, cinnamon, rosebuds, lemongrass & rose scent.
Learn more about this blend here.
This tea smells amazingly good, especially after it’s been brewed. The dry leaf smells remarkable as well, but the brewed liquid is almost intoxicating – it smells so good! The combination of the spices and the rose is simply amazing. It doesn’t smell too spicy, it doesn’t smell too rosy, it just smells dreamy. Much like the name of the tea suggests.
Seriously, this scent should be made into potpourri or something. Or soap!
To steep it, I poured the contents of the sampler pouch into the basket of my Kati and added 12 ounces of water heated to 195°F and let it steep for 6 minutes. Originally, I thought that I’d steep it for 10 minutes, the length of time I would normally steep a tisane without hibiscus, but the aroma of the dry leaf was strong and I felt that if I went for the full 10 minutes that this would come off tasting too strong.
After I finished steeping, I kept the cup up to my nose for several minutes, just inhaling the fragrance. So beautiful! Then the thought that enters my head before I take a sip is: should I be drinking this? It smells TOO GOOD to drink, as in it smells like something I’d want to wear or possibly perfume my living room with but would I want to consume it?
But the ingredients suggest to me that this should be alright to drink. There are some of the “usual ingredients” for a chai and I like chai. There’s saffron and I like that too. Licorice root and fennel are two of my favorite tea ingredients. And I love rose teas and I enjoy lemongrass. There’s nothing here that offends my palate so even though it smells like perfume hopefully it won’t taste that way.
So, I let the tea temperature drop to a drinkable temperature and took my first sip. This is actually really nice! It’s a strong taste – I’m glad I didn’t go ahead and steep it for my usual 10 minutes – but it’s quite pleasant. There are a lot of layers to the flavor because I can taste each ingredient.
I notice hints of citrus at the very start of the sip. It’s a warm, spicy citrus note, and about half a second after the citrus comes through clearly, the cinnamon and ginger come into focus. Then I pick up on the rose and the saffron. By mid-sip, the licorice and fennel are recognized by the palate. In the aftertaste, I notice notes of rose and a cola-like flavor that I attribute to the cardamom. It’s a warm and soothing cup, but it does have some invigorating quality to it too.
It’s a really unique beverage but I find myself enjoying it much more than I expected to. To be honest, when I saw that today’s tea was an herbal, the thought going through my head was “again?” You know, a kind of disappointed “again.” But now that I’ve tasted it, I’m really happy with this!
Thank you, Teanzo for this beautifully fragrant dream of a tisane today!
Leaf Type: Spice Melange
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.
Award-winning nostalgic aniseed, star anise + liquorice herbal tea blend
This blend won the highest food award in the country. The judges said: ‘Truly original and delicious infusion that packs a true punch.. finally a blend that’s blokey’! It’s also the nation’s favourite childhood sweet. Not just our opinion, it’s fact. There was a survey, questionnaire and everything.
Learn more about this blend here.
When Bluebird Tea Co. asked me what teas I’d like to try, this one was near the top of my list. After reading the ingredient list, you might wonder why it was that this was one of the teas I requested…
Ingredients: Liquorice, Aniseed, Star Anise, Hibiscus, Stevia, Chilli.
I mean, this tisane has two of my “I’d rather this tisane not have this ingredient” ingredients: hibiscus and stevia. So you might be wondering why I’d choose this tea. But this tisane also has three of the ingredients that I love to see in teas/tisanes: Licorice, Aniseed and Star Anise! And I guess my requesting this tisane proves that my love for these three ingredients overpowers my disdain for the hibiscus and stevia.
Oh, I’m still wishing that the hibiscus and stevia weren’t in there. Before even taking a sip, I’m thinking that it would be a better tisane without them, although it isn’t really a fair assessment because I haven’t yet taken a sip.
The dry leaf is gorgeous. Lots of whole pieces of star anise! They’re so pretty. It smells delightful too: sweet, warm and zesty.
To steep this tisane, I used my Kati Tumbler. (I prefer to use this device when I’m brewing a spiced tea/tisane like this because when I brew a spiced tea in my Breville, the spices become “embedded” in the tea maker and it requires a soak in baking soda to get the odors to release. Then again, I need to soak my Breville anyway, so maybe I should have used it to steep this!) I measured out 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of the tisane into the basket of the Kati and then poured hot water (195°F) over the tisane and let it steep for 8 minutes.
Ordinarily, when brewing a tisane with hibiscus, I steep it for 6 minutes or less. However, I could see very little hibiscus in the loose leaf blend so I figured that this tisane could benefit from a little more time. Spices need time to get their flavors to release fully.
OK! So now it’ sip time. I can definitely taste the hibiscus. Next time I try this tisane, I might go with 6 1/2 or 7 minutes rather than a full 8 minutes. That said, it doesn’t taste too hibiscus-y. But I’m still wishing it wasn’t there.
That said, this is really quite nice despite the presence of hibiscus and stevia. And for those who don’t really mind hibiscus quite so much, it does add an interesting tart, berry like flavor to the cup. It’s a little bit tart and I can feel the insides of my cheeks pucker slightly as I take a sip, but because there is enough going on with this blend from the warmth of the chili to the zesty sweetness from the licorice-y notes, I find that the tartness doesn’t upset me.
The stevia adds sweetness (obviously) and this is a nice contrast to the spicy chili tone. And take note: even though chili is listed as the last ingredient, this tisane has a real spicy kick to it from the chili! I can feel the heat at the back of my throat. It’s not too spicy or hot. I’m not running to the kitchen to find something to temper the heat. But it is warm enough to alert the sensors in the mouth that something spicy is dancing around the palate.
But the three real stars of this cup are the licorice, star anise and aniseed! This has a really lovely licorice-y flavor! If you are a fan of black licorice, this tisane should be at the top of your must try list! This has a lot of snappy licorice flavor! Sweet and zesty. It reminds me so much of the black licorice candy that I love. In fact, it tastes as though someone liquefied some black licorice candy and then served that in a cup with a splash of hibiscus, a pinch or two of chili pepper and a little bit of sweetener.
I like this served straight up without additions but it would also be quite nice with a cinnamon stick garnish. (I like the combination of cinnamon and licorice.) Really, it doesn’t need anything other than that. It could do without the hibiscus, although I’m not hating that the hibiscus is there. The same goes for the stevia. I like the little bit of sweetness that the stevia adds to this. It’s enough sweetness without getting that funky flavor that I sometimes taste from stevia in teas. Bonus!
Yet another huge win for Bluebird Tea Company!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Tisano
In India tea has it’s roots in Ayurveda, a wholestic approach to medicine focusing on food and lifestyle. From there, India’s most popular beverage – Masala Chai, “Spiced Tea,” was born. Tisano takes this 5,000 year old tradition into the 21st Century – we source estate grown Assam Black Tea leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and other spices to create a unique sweet and spicy chocolate Chai Cacao Tea.
Learn more about this tea here.
I was so excited when this tea was offered on sale on the Tisano website recently, because I’ve been wanting to try it ever since I heard that it had been added to the Tisano line of teas and tisanes. I’m really fond of Tisano’s original cacao tea which I reviewed previously (and plan to review again for this site soon!) That moment when I first sampled the original was my first introduction to cacao shells (rather than nibs) as a source for chocolate-y infused drinks. And seriously, there’s nothing better to infuse than cacao shells to get a rich, true, chocolate-y flavor!
When I visited the Tisano website to start prepping for this review, I learned that this wasn’t just a simple blend of cacao shells with spices like I first thought it was! No! This is actually a tea with camellia sinensis leaves, as well as cacao shells and spices.
Mmm! This is so yummy! The chocolate note is rich and prominent. It’s the first note that I taste when I take a sip. Decadent, rich, delicious chocolate! Just beneath the chocolate-y surface is a satisfyingly smooth, malty note of Assam. Then I pick up on the spices.
The spices here are not strong or “spicy.” The spice notes are warm and I love the dimension that the spices add to this cup. There is a really nice balance of the spices. No one spice takes center stage, it is a well-rounded collection of spices that add warmth to the cup without overpowering the cacao. Instead, the spices elevate the earthy notes of the cacao.
The cacao shells are the perfect representation of chocolate. It’s rich and intensely flavorful. It tastes like true chocolate much more so than any chocolate flavoring that I’ve experienced with flavored teas, and it’s also a better chocolate-y representation than cacao nibs. This tastes like a deep, dark, rich chocolate with notes of bitter and sweet. It tastes amazing as a latte too. Perfect!
This is THE CHAI for chocolate lovers. If you love chocolate, you really must try this tea!
Leaf Type: Tulsi
Where to Buy: Just.Organic.Tea
Tulsi, Lemon Myrtle, Ginger, Peppermint, Cinnamon & Pepper
Learn more about Just.Organic.Tea’s stance on Social Responsibility here.
Just Tulsi with a Twist is a blend that isn’t currently available on the Just.Organic.Tea.’s website, but I really like this company, and since they did send me this sample, I figured I’d try it and tell you what I think about it.
Here’s why I like this company: I like that they are a company that isn’t just “talking” about making this planet a better place for us and for future generations, they’re doing something about it and their products prove that. They strive toward selecting organic and sustainable products, and they choose those products that are Fair Trade certified. Sure, it’s easy to find products that are less expensive, but, I like that this is a company that won’t compromise like that. I appreciate that.
And I’m really enjoying this Tulsi blend! It’s sweet, lemon-y, and with just enough of a warm spice kick to keep the taste buds happy. I’m a little surprised that I’m not tasting more from the peppermint than I am, usually, peppermint is a very assertive flavor. But the blenders at Just.Organic.Tea. have blended this in such a way that it has a gentle minty note that plays well with the other flavors in this blend.
I like that I’m tasting each component in this blend. I taste the basil-like notes of the tulsi. The slight “minty” note of the tulsi is accentuated my the soft peppermint-y flavors. It tastes herbaceous but not overly so. I can taste the cinnamon and the ginger and the pepper, and these give the cup a pleasing, soothing warmth.
What I taste most is the Lemon Myrtle, and it gives a really lovely lemon-y note without the pucker. It’s like that sweet-tart lemon flavor you’d find in a lemon curd.
A really nice blend from Just.Organic.Tea. I hope that this will eventually return to their collection of teas that they offer, because it’s one that I think that many tea drinkers would enjoy. It’s a tasty caffeine-free alternative, especially nice after dinner. I found it to have a calming effect on the tummy after a meal … bonus!
Leaf Type: Spice Melange
Where to Buy: Yogi
Embark on a journey to the ancient Mayan temples, where prized cocoa beans were ground and mixed with spices to create a sacred beverage that symbolized fertility and prosperity. We’ve taken this combination into the modern era by combining Organic Cocoa Shells, which supply antioxidants, with the traditional Ayurvedic warming and invigorating spices of organic Cardamom, Clove and Cinnamon Bark. Enjoy this rich tasting and enlivening blend any time of day for a delicious treat.
Learn more about this tisane here.
Even though this Mayan Cocoa Spice Tisane from Yogi isn’t marketed as a “chai” … because it has many of the “usual” spices of a masala chai blend, I decided to categorize it as a chai. And even though this is a tea that can be purchased at my local Chuck’s Produce and it’s a bagged tea, it’s not too bad.
It’s actually pretty good.
Perhaps it’s the cacao that won me over here. I love the spiced chocolate taste of this, it reminds me a bit of a mild Mexican hot chocolate. The chocolate is good and strong (which makes the chocoholic in me very happy) and the spices don’t overwhelm the chocolate, instead, they enhance the chocolate-y flavor. Especially nice is the chicory, which lends a “coffee-esque” sort of flavor to the cup without coffee’s bitterness, and coffee and chocolate seem to go together very well. And so it would seem that chocolate and chicory work equally as well together.
The other spices are well portrayed in this melange too. The cinnamon is the strongest of the spices, but it isn’t an overpowering taste. The cardamom and clove add a nice background of warmth, and the ginger and black pepper add just enough “kick” to this to spice it up without becoming too spicy (although, I can’t help but think what an interesting taste it would be if there was just a hint of cayenne or something stronger in this!)
My biggest issue with this blend is the stevia in the blend. I don’t like it when any tea or tisane includes stevia or other sweetener in it, because I like to decide how sweet or not sweet I want my beverage to be. I don’t like that predetermined for me. And the stevia does impart a slightly “funky” taste to the cup, fortunately, the spices are strong enough to curb this funkiness a little bit, so I’m just getting a wee bit of funky, and its not enough funky to stop me from sipping on this spicy chocolate drink.
Not a bad beverage. It’s not something I’d buy again, but, if it were offered me, it’s not something I’d turn down. I liked it.