Go to Wonderland with a cup of Lewis Carroll tea from Simpson and Vail.. . .

Springtime feels like the time for Alice in Wonderland: flowers blooming, spending more time outside, feeling a little more whimsy after the winter blues.  I’ve seen a few new teas popping up this time of year, themed for just such an occasion.

I recently tried the Lewis Carroll blend of black tea from Simpson and Vail.  In case you don’t know, Lewis Carroll is the author of Alice in Wonderland, among other works.  Alice in Wonderland tends to be a favorite among tea fans for the famous tea party scene featuring the Mad Hatter, not to mention all the cute tea cakes that wreak fantastical havoc for Alice’s adventures.

This Lewis Carroll tea blend features an Indian black tea base, combined with Chinese Rose Congou black tea, highlighted by added violet fragrance and flavoring.  All these flowers are meant to put us in a fantasy world, whether in the queen’s roses, or in the garden beside the tea party.  There are lots of blossoms in the dry leaves, and the brewed cup smells as sweet as a blooming garden.

I enjoy the fragrance of this tea, but strong floral blends aren’t my personal favorite when it comes to taste.  I found I enjoyed the tea more with a touch of milk and sugar, which helped mellow out the strong floral flavors and made the brew more like a flower-scented dessert.

This is a great tea to put you in a springtime mood, perhaps sipped while out-of-doors after a dreary winter.  If you’re one for having fancy tea parties, this may also be a great choice, whether it fits your Alice in Wonderland theme, or just because it feels fancy and ladylike, and makes the flowers on your teacup smell like they are alive and fresh!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Simpson and Vail

A tea party plays a memorable role in Carroll’s most celebrated novel as the setting for Alice’s nonsensical meeting with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare. “A large rose-tree stood near the entrance of the garden” where, as the Mad Hatter told Alice earlier, “it’s always tea time.” To make our Lewis Carroll blend, we added our fragrant violet flavor to an Indian Black tea and Rose Congou tea, a China black that has been scented with rose petals during the drying process, to create a deep amber cup with an incomparable bouquet and a flavor that is absolutely heavenly.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Headache Relief from Virginia Tea Co (with help from Mary Poppins). . . .

Once upon a time, I had sad news to give, and I was up all night thinking of how to break it. The next morning came with a pretty rough headache, but also the right words to say. Good thing this headache curing tea was in to ease some of my mental turmoil!

It’s got lots of pulverized leaves, I can recognize lavender and chamomile and there’s definitely spearmint in there too, though there are lots of fragrant flowers I can’t ID.

Virginia Tea Co is a Kickstarter crowd-funded company, whose done all the herbal medicine research so we don’t have to. They also source fair trade ingredients, and that’s a relief too.

When I tasted this, it seemed bitter to me, almost tasted like aspirin. Was it my conscience affecting my taste buds or was this just not my cuppa?

A few weeks later, I served some to a friend who’d been having a lot of headaches and thought he might benefit from it. He often describes himself as having “the palate of an eight-year-old”, but he liked it!…. After adding Paula Deen amounts of simple syrup…. in about 15 minutes, he noted his head felt less tense,  and later that night it hadn’t come back.

Well now we know Mary Poppins had it right, a (few) spoonful(s) of sugar helps the medicine go down! I know that some folks are sensitive to OTC pain relief options, or prefer not to use pharmaceuticals and this is a great option for them.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: Virginia Tea Co.

Lavender, feverfew, chamomile, skullcap, and spearmint are blended together to help fight those awful headaches. They do this by relaxing your mind and allowing for better thoughts to enter.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Don’t judge a tea by it’s company name! Jasmine Green from Chai Kai . . . .

Honestly I was feeling a little unsure about Jasmine flavored tea from a company named CHAI Kai, but this departure from their standard has good company with a group of other tempting flavors in their shop, so I’m putting my trepidation and bias aside… for now.

Looking at the loose leaf here the green tea leaves are finely rolled and I see  small delicate Jasmine blossoms but there is a definite, not overpowering, floral scent to the blend. These little buds really pull their weight!

The leaves expanded a great deal after being brewed for three minutes at just under 160F and have a slight nutty scent to them. Will all the flavors remain after a resteep?

The liquor is a caramel color and is less fragrant than the dry leaves, hopefully the infusion trapped the flavor in the water! Without sweetener it has a gentle earthy green tea flavor with a short floral aftertaste. The jasmine impressively survives resteeping, FLOWER POWER!

Despite my misgivings from it’s name, this blend really does the Jasmine/Green tea genre justice. I guess that’s why they say “don’t judge a tea blend by it’s company’s name”…

If you’re enticed by British teas like this that defy preconceived biases, they’re offering 20% off EVERYTHING in their store with the coupon code: WINTER20!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Chai Kai

Freshly picked Jasmine Blossoms are placed in layers amidst the leaves of this beautifully made Chinese Green Tea, imparting their sweet, perfumed aroma as they dry. Also available in Teabags.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Ashwagandha Root in Atman Tea Co. . .

When it comes to trying new flavors, sometimes ignorance is bliss, but once you have a strong mental image of something associated with a flavor, you’re done for. If you’d like to pretend you were with me during this mystery tasting, imagine Mr. Bean, but with more eyebrow wiggles and puckered lips, and that would be an appropriate approximation.

Upon receiving this pyramid tea bag (just the perfect blend of fancy and convenient) from Atman Tea Co, I was ready to test those taste buds. After a 2 minute brew at 160F, this pyramid really surprised me for a number of reasons! First and foremost, these tea leaves are FLA-VOR-FUL (sorry for caps yelling, but that’s how my mouth felt). I can’t imagine I over-brewed this with such a low temp and time. Follow-up tests with an “independent” second party (ok,ok my Dad) supported my initial findings.

Then I wondered where this smoky taste was coming from. Was this a Puerh? A mate?  I’ve never known those to end with an astringent apple flavor. The dry leaves were so innocuous. And it can’t be from sweetener, because I added none. Really loving my wonderful new year’s resolution right about now. Hmmmm, internet sleuthing we go…

Hello, hello Gunpowder green tea, (BOOM! Found it), and ashwagandha root (aka Indian ginseng). So this has some medicinal value to it, and I’m sure if you weren’t feeling 100%, this would have just-enough taste to it, but for me right now its overwhelming.

Hmmm ashwaganda, haven’t heard that one yet, what’s its etymology? Oh, **SPOILER ALERT** , it literally translates as …. “horse smell”… Well great, now my one militant vegan friend is going to harangue me for enjoying a tea that smells like animals. Uh oh and now that I sip more, I’m envisioning Seabiscuit rather than Jasmine and Gunpowder green…. aaaand I’m done for, gotta put it down. But at least I’ve consumed an anti-stress drink while the haters gonna hate hate hate hate. **SPOILERS OVER**

What have your experiences with ashwagandha root been?

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green/Herb
Where to Buy: Atman Tea Co.

This expertly crafted custom blend consists of Ashwagandha Root and Jasmine Green Tea. Ashwagandha reduces stress while combating fatigue. Jasmine Green Tea eases anxiety, calms the mind, and boosts mood. The resulting flavor is subtly sweet with a tasty undertone, which emanates a beautiful aroma. Together they make the most delicious and relaxing herbal tea one could ever brew.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Kappa Matcha from Wendigo Tea Co. . .Heaven in a Cup!

It is no secret.  I adore, love, and admire all things Wendigo Tea Co.  From the moment I first saw their website, I was hooked.  After trying their tea, I was in love.   From the high quality teas to the crazy adorable tea names to the amazingly created art work for each of the teas, this company has always been one of my favorites from the start.

Recently, Wendigo Tea announced they would start selling a high grade ceremonial matcha.  Once I saw the adorable artwork for Kappa Matcha, I was smitten.  But I will be the first to admit, I have not always the best of luck with matcha.  Maybe it was how I was prepping the matcha or maybe it was that I just didn’t have the right matcha.  Regardless, I had high hopes this go around.

I prepped my water right around 180F, scooped half a teaspoon of matcha in my bowl, added in 6 oz of the prepped water  and went to work whisking away.    After whisking for a few moments, I was ready for my first sip.

Right away you notice this gorgeous smooth creaminess that flows right to the very end.  There are notes of a very subtle vegetal tone here and there.  I eagerly gulped the matcha down and set about to make another cup.  Not something I’ve traditionally done in the past with matcha.

This go around, I wanted to try I topped my matcha with a froth french vanilla creamer and after taking a sip, I was in instant tea heaven.  That rich smooth matcha became this incredible matcha latte.  After having one sip, I guess I sighed and said “Heaven in a Cup”.  My husband just looked at me and laughed.

Kappa Matcha is insanely good.  No other way to really say it.  I have drank so many variations of different matcha drinks over the last few days, I think I’ve lost count.  This will be a staple in my tea cabinet going forward and part of my daily routine for sure.

So what I’m trying to say is that Sky (owner of Wendigo Tea Co.) has once again offered us another amazing tea to enjoy every day.  I’m quite obsessed with Big Foot, Nessie and Yeti.  Now I can add Kappa to that list!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Matcha
Where to Buy:  Wendigo Tea

Welcome! I am the incredibly smooth Kappa Matcha.

This elegant beast is one of the highest quality Ceremonial Grade Matcha teas produced in Japan. I am organically grown close to the river, where the soil is very fertile giving me a mellow and deep taste, then am kept in shade the last 20-30 days until being stone ground and sealed with Nitrogen to give you the freshest and cleanest matcha possible. You can taste the difference. It is perfect for Koicha (thick and strong matcha) and Usucha (thin and weak matcha).

Compare me to any other matcha.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!