Roasted Almond Chai from Fava Tea Company. . . . . . . .

I was lucky to discover Roasted Almond Chai from Fava Tea Company thanks to a tea trade with fellow Sororitea Sisters, and now this is one if my favorite chai teas.

This is a decaf blend, so I find it most satisfying as a sweet treat to ease me through a rough afternoon or evening. This tea is perfectly both sweet and spicy. The dry leaf in the bag smells exceptionally creamy and a touch fruity, like marzipan candies. In the loose leaf, there are cloves, cinnamon, and huge cardamom pods, promising more spice in the brew.

Brewed, this blend is surprisingly pink, and I had a moment of worry: pink?! Is there hibiscus in here?  I read the label again and saw beetroot as an ingredient but no hibiscus. Taking a sip, I was relieved. The pink color was clearly from the beetroot which added a wonderful natural sweetness that did not get in the way of the other flavors.

The one change I would make is to rename this blend Marzipan Chai, instead of Roasted Almond Chai. There is not much in the way of tasted flavors or pure nut-like flavors. The beetroot and almond make for a blend that is sweet like a  cake with creamy frosting. This tea is driven by its candied almond taste, coupled with the warming spices of cinnamon and cardamom. Even without milk, this tea is so smooth and creamy, a perfect dessert. I will be stocking up on this chai the next chance I get!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Rooibos
Where to Buy: Fava Tea
Description:

This is the sweet taste of almond magically blended with rooibos and chai spices. Smooth, delightful and a perfect compliment with dessert. Or in place of dessert! Either way, enjoy!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Almond Cookie from The NecessiTeas . . .

Despite the eventual turn of the season towards something warm, there are still plenty of cold, grey days.  On those days, it’s time to brew up something comforting and sweet like Almond Cookie tea from the NecessiTeas.  Opening up the bag of tea, the blend has a very forward amaretto-like scent, sweet and fragrant and strong, like baked goods with almond extract.  This smooth and silky flavor carries over into the smell of the brewed tea and its taste.

Just beneath all the sweet marzipan is something more creamy and buttery, clearly the “cookie” part of this Almond Cookie blend.  This butteriness almost reminds me of coconut, though it’s not so tropical. NecessiTeas had a great idea combining almond and cookie together.  A marzipan-driven tea can be a but too overwhelming on its own, so the nutty, butter-cookie taste is the perfect pairing against the almond flavors.

Writing this review I almost thought I had talked about this tea before.  Last time I reviewed Coconut Almond Macaroon from the NecessiTeas, which is similar though it has a green tea base and stronger coconut tones.  If you liked that blend, definitely try this Almond Cookie blend as well. My mug is almost empty and there are still clouds in the sky, so it’s time to brew another cup!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: The NecessiTeas
Description: This bakery-style blend of black tea, sweet almond and creamy coconut is sure to satisfy your inner “cookie monster”.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

1st Place Tea: Snowflake from Aromatica Fine Teas

Depending on where you live, you may have seen some snowflakes flying on the air this time of year, which would be the perfect time to brew up a cup of Snowflake tea from Aromatica Fine Teas.

This is an award-winning blend, taking 1st place in the North American Tea Championships in 2011.  Thinking about tea championships puts some silly images in my head, like some kind of tea Olympics, with little packs of tea on a snowy downhill ski slope.  Anyway, the story is getting away from me.

Like beautiful, white, creamy snowdrifts, this black tea is blanketed with extra vanilla and creamy flavors.  This tea is somewhere between a breakfast blend and a dessert blend, so that means it can be brewed up just about any time of day.  In addition to the vanilla, there are coconut flakes, which add their usual creamy, buttery taste. Luckily there’s not too much coconut, and this moderation keeps the brew from getting too oily.

What really sets this blend apart are the real slivers of almond.  These stylish blonde slivers go beyond the typical marzipan flavoring, and add real, sweet, nuttiness from actual nuts as ingredients.  With smooth almond and lush coconut shavings, this tea taste a bit more like a coconut cookie than a simple coconut cream tea.

Overall, Snowflake is a really solid vanilla tea blend, super drinkable and smooth.  I drank it black, but it would amazing as a latte or made hot-cocoa-style, topped with marshmallows.  The blend isn’t too sweet, nor too plain.

I know coconut is traditionally a tropical flavor, but with a name like Snowflake, this can be your next favorite winter brew.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Aromatica Fine Teas
Description:

A fabulous almond coconut tea. Brew it in steamed milk for a Tropical Fog. Ceylon and China black tea, coconut rasps, flavour, almond flakes.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

It is Macaroon Season: Try Coconut Almond Macaroon from the NecessiTeas

I feel like I’ve see a lot of macaroon-themed teas popping up this spring so it felt like time to try a tea I was saving in my collection, Coconut Almond Macaroon from the NecessiTeas.

It’s a little known fact that I like coconut in my baked goods and sweets.  Almond Joy bars or Coconut Cluster Girl Scout cookies are the way to go!  And don’t even get me started on Hostess Sno-Balls…

The dry leaf of this blend smelled strongly of almond, almost like amaretto liqueur or almond extract.  Almond was definitely the dominant tone, but there was some coconut cream hiding beneath the marzipan fragrance.  This tea has a green tea base, so I kept the water temperatures a little lower and let it steep.  I could hardly keep my nose out of the mug while I waited.  The brew smelled so delicious, sweet and nutty, with much more coconut coming forward as time went on.

This tea is true to its name: coconut macaroon.  There’s the smooth, almond-cookie, sweet chocolate, and plenty of buttery coconut.  Using green tea beneath all these flavors was a great choice by The Necessiteas.  The coconut is toasted and warm, and almost makes the green tea taste like a roasted hojicha.  The green tea also makes this blend light enough that the coconut and chocolate don’t need to compete for prominence, and it allows the cookie flavors to really shine.  After a long day, this was the perfect dessert tea to brew up as a treat!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: The NecessiTeas
Description:

The perfect blend for Macaroon lovers. The aroma of slightly toasted almonds will greet you at first sip followed by the creamy, sweetness of coconut. This is our guilt-free version of the bake sale classic.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

As American As Apple Pie from CatSpring Tea

Yaupon, as a tea varietal, is entirely new to me, At first glance, it looks a lot more like a mate or a guayusa; flakes of greenish-brown leaf that put me in mind (albeit fleetingly) of fish food. Closer inspection reveals that they’re actually quite sizable chunks of (very shiny) tea leaves, although not as oxidized as I expected given that they’re referring to this as a “black” tea. Generously scattered among the leaves are cubes of dried apple, almond slivers, small pieces of beetroot, and cinnamon chips. Even dry, the scent is pretty amazing – spot-on apple pie spices!

Yaupon is the only caffeinated tea plant native to North America, and was used by Native Americans during male-only purification rituals. Despite a wane in popularity, CatSpring now farm  Yaupon sustainably on their family-owned land in Texas. They’ve also got sound ecological credentials, as they’re producing without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or synthetic weed control.

I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The recommendation is 4-7, so it’s probable that this could be extended if that’s what you prefer, but I’d likely reduce to 1 tsp of leaf if I were brewing for over 4 minutes. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, with a distinctive orangey tint. The apple pie scent isn’t as strong once brewed, and there’s a light underlying dankness, like wet leaves in autumn. Once again, I’m reminded of guayusa.

As it turns out, there’s a reason for this. Rather than the usual Camellia Sinensis, Yaupon tea is actually produced from the dried leaves of Ilex Vomitoria, which is a species of holly. Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis) and Guayusa (Ilex Guayusa) are both closely related plants, and all contain high levels of caffeine and theobromine. The flavours of all three are, to me, rather similar. Dank, slightly vegetal, very reminiscent of forest floor. They’re not tea varieties I would typically look to drink often unflavoured, and they’re a bit of a change from “normal” black or green teas if they’re what you’re used to.

Fortunately for me, this blend is flavoured, and it’s flavouring that works well with the choice of base tea. The apple is floral rather than crisp and sharp, but it manages to conjure a delicious, slightly mushy, “baked” flavour that’s very suggestive of apple pie. The cinnamon adds the requisite spicing, and the almonds round things out with a slightly savoury, slightly creamy nuttiness. I wasn’t expecting to be able to taste the beetroot, but it’s there in the background and it adds an edge of sour tartness that brings the whole thing together nicely. All told, it really does taste like apple pie.

The base tea is slightly distracting, because it’s quite a strong flavour. At times, it almost feels like a fight between the Yaupon and the other ingredients to establish prominence. A longer brew time might have helped to increase the strength of the flavouring, but it might also increase the strength of the base tea, and I’m not convinced that would be a good thing here. Still, experimentation is everything, and I’ll probably adjust my parameters until I find a combination I’m happier with.

On the whole, I’d say it just about works. The Yaupon is a very “autumnal” flavour, to put it politely, and apple pie makes me think of autumn anyway so it’s not as jarring as it could have been (a strawberries and cream Yaupon blend would make me nervous, let’s say.) It’s a very smooth blend, with no bitterness or astringency, and the flavours come over clearly. Tasting this, you’d be in no doubt as to what it was supposed to replicate – it definitely lives up to its name! I’d drink this again, and I’d try more teas from CatSpring in the future. Their offering is definitely unique, and it’s nice that it has a strong family heritage – it’s the exact opposite of the more faceless bigger brands. I’ll be interested to see where CatSpring go from here.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Yaupon
Where to Buy:  Cat Spring Tea

catspringteaDescription:

As American As Apple Pie is our comforting black yaupon tea loose leaf blend as delicious as a slice of apple pie. Take a trip to grandma’s kitchen with every cup.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!