Country Chai Spice from The Cozy Leaf. . . .

Country Chai Spice from The Cozy Leaf already made me feel warm and relaxed just from the name.  Makes me think of being under a quilt out at a cabin, maybe beside a warm fire. Beyond the name, this tea had a surprisingly pleasant long list of spices in its ingredients list.  Cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom, I expect, but not all chai teas comes with cloves and anise, and the never seem to come with fennel. What a lovely change of pace.

Brewed, this is a sweeter chai, thanks to a hearty serving of anise and cinnamon.  The anise isn’t strong enough to make this a black jelly bean chai, but it does add its token throat-soothing, candy-like properties.

Much to my surprise, the ginger and clove take a back seat in this tea, subtle enough that you might miss them if you’re not paying attention.  The fennel and cardamom are gentle and earthy, and add a much needed almost-savory pairing to the anise and cinnamon.

Just when I’ve thought that I’ve tried every chai tea I can think of, I find something new.   I look forward to getting cozy with another cup of Country Chai Spice from the Cozy Leaf sometime soon.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: The Cozy Leaf
Description:

Full-bodied black tea chai made with real chai spices of rich cinnamon, cardamon, ginger, and sweet anise and clove for a healthy and delicious treat.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Catnap from Aka Tea

I misread the name of this tea at first, and thought it said “Catnip.” Turns out I wasn’t far wrong, because this blend does actually contain catnip. It’s even more fitting when you consider that the company logo, and indeed the majority of their blends, are cat themed.

Catnap is purportedly a relaxing blend, containing chamomile, mint, lemon verbena, lemon balm…and catnip. In my head, catnip isn’t something I typically associate with relaxation – it conjures images of bright-eyed, mischief-making kittens. Maybe in humans the effects are different.

Noticeable amongst the dry leaf are small whole chamomile flowers, pieces of lemongrass, cinnamon chips, bright blue cornflowers, and finely shredded mint (and, assumedly, catnip) leaves. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water, no additions. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-orange, the scent generically herbal with an edge of sweet mint.

To taste, it’s a little danker than I was expecting, more a dark, sludgy herbal than a bright, clean, refreshing one. Mint is the main flavour – there’s the characteristic cooling peppermint, the sweeter edge of spearmint, and then a borderline vegetal flavour that I’m assuming is the catnip. I’m putting it with the mints because that’s how it comes across to me – minty, but with a definite swampiness about it. Underneath all of those runs the cinnamon, adding a warming spiciness. I’m not sure that it pairs 100% successfully with mint, though. It’s not a flavour combination I’ve come across many times before, and I’m pretty sure there’s a reason for that…

The lemon emerges in the mid-sip, and lifts what could have been a fairly uninspiring cup into brighter territory. The lemongrass adds another layer of sweetness, combining hay-like notes with a light citrus, and the lemon verbena and lemon balm also help to heighten this impression. The chamomile makes itself known at the end of the sip, with its typical thick honey notes. It pairs well with the lemongrass, and moves this blend more firmly into “relaxing tea” territory.

To me, this is a tea of two halves. The initial sip is very heavy on the mint and cinnamon, but that fades pretty quickly and is replaced by the citrus-honey flavours that seem to develop further as it cools. It’s certainly a unique blend, but I’m not sure it’s one I’d seek out especially frequently, primarily because I find the flavour combinations a little too jarring.

Having said that, this is an interesting caffeine-free option, and it’s different from most other “relaxing” blends I’ve tried. If you’re looking for something a little unusual to brighten up your evening tea drinking, this could well be the blend for you. Cat lovers may well award extra points also!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: Aka Tea

akateaDescription:

CatNap, anyone? Sometimes that’s just what the doc ordered. Catnip is not just for cats. It has been known to help humans relax, relieve headaches, and calm the nerves. Curl up with a cup and “cat”ch some z’s.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Storm In A Teacup Herbal Tea from Cupan Tae

storm-in-a-cupTea Information:

Leaf Type: Herbal/Tisane

Where to Buy: Cupan Tae

Tea Description:

A stormy, spicy herbal blend with a breeze of anise taste.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This one has a very, very pronounced dry aroma; the leaf practically oozes with the scent of sweet, black licorice! Not licorice root or anise, mind you, but black licorice. While I have no problem with either anise or licorice root – I love black licorice and I’ve found few teas that convey it well.

That love for black licorice probably comes from my Grandpa; before he passed that was his absolute favourite self indulgent treat in the world. He kept huge tins of licorice allsorts by his lazy boy that he’d snack on during Blue Jays games, and he’d buy black jellybeans in bulk and sometimes he’d just let me grab big greedy hand fulls of from the tins. It’s a really good memory I have of him from when I was a child and the smell of the dry leaf of this tea is making me so nostalgic for it. I know there’s not actually black licorice in the blend and it’s a trick that the fennel, combined with the aniseed, is playing on me. But I’m gonna try and be willfully blind to that; because I want this to taste like black licorice.

Hmm, now that this one’s steeped up there’s a very thick, powdery white residue all along the inside of my mug and I can’t figure out why – I’ve never had that issue with any of the listed ingredients I’m familiar with – and the only one I’m not familiar with is ribwort, so unless it’s from the ribwort I can’t explain it. It’s annoying though; almost as bad as gross melted down chocolate goop from blends that use chocolate chips instead of nibs or shells.

Steeped up, sadly, it doesn’t taste like black licorice though. Not in the same way it smells like it, anyway. I do get heavy doses of both fennel and anise flavour which is sweet and delicious, but it’s fairly overtaken by a very dominating savory, herbaceous note and then milder notes of peppermint and a supple fruit note that I suppose could be apple like is listed in the ingredients. Visually I didn’t see any apple in my measured out tea leaf though. That strong savory note tastes very, very weird to me; and I’m wondering if that’s the ribwort leaves. I’ve never had another tea with ribwort leaves and after a very quick Google search I’ve learned that apparently they can have a mushroomy flavour. I have really, really minimal exposure to what mushrooms taste like given that I am pretty allergic to them; any time I’ve had them it’s been really involuntary and, upon realizing I’ve ingested them I’ve had much more pressing things on my mind other than the flavour.

It’s a fascinating experience for me even if it’s not the one I expected to be having and in that regard I’m a little disappointed this isn’t as black licorice-y as I wanted it to be but I also know I was projecting unfair expectations onto the tea. It’s definitely not a bad tea; just so weird. Am I actually tasting mushrooms!? I’d honestly be interested in going back and having this one all over again; I feel like without the expectation of a more licorice-y tea I might be more observant of the herbaceous qualities that are present. Overall, surprisingly sweet and savory!

Lavender Daze Herbal Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

LavenderDazeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy

Tea Description:

Soothing lavender, sweet cinnamon, adjective ingredient! You get the idea. But this herbal infusion is a special one, with a taste that is all its own. You’ll have to try it to describe it! But, as far as we can tell, it tastes something like lavender, chamomile, licorice, and a hint of cinnamon. This blend is part of the Original 20 M&K’s Blends. Additionally, this is the first M&K’s blend officially invented.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Usually when I find a lavender tisane like this Lavender Daze Herbal Tea from M&K’s Tea Company, I expect it to be a combination of lavender and chamomile – and this is such a blend.  But what makes it different from other blends is that M&K’s didn’t stop at just lavender and chamomile.  They added honey roasted licorice root, star anise, ginger, lemon verbena and cinnamon!  Most of these ingredients are not ones you’d find in the average “nighttime” lavender and chamomile blend.

So I didn’t know what to expect with this tea.  I brewed it in my Kati Tumbler, using 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of tisane and 12 ounces of near boiling (195°F) water and steeping for 8 minutes.

As I surmised based on the list of ingredients, this isn’t the typical nighttime lavender/chamomile blend, and it certainly doesn’t taste like it either.

The licorice is really strong with this blend.  Maybe too strong.  I love licorice, but the licorice notes here overpower the other flavors a bit too much because I’m tasting mostly just licorice.  The sip starts out with a soft cinnamon-y note, and then the licorice hits and it lingers throughout the rest of the sip and into the aftertaste.

Just after I notice the cinnamon, I pick up on the subtlest of hints of lavender, ginger and citrus.  But again, they are so faint because bam!  The licorice hits and overpowers the rest of the blend.  I do taste whispers of honey, but mostly, I taste licorice.

And as I’ve said, I LOVE licorice, but I think that with this combination of ingredients and what seemed to promise a really interesting fusion of flavors, I find myself just a wee bit disappointed because I would have liked to experience a more balanced cup.

It’s good, don’t get me wrong.  If you like licorice, you’re bound to enjoy this and I am enjoying the licorice notes here.  I just think it would have been more interesting to taste more of the other components to this blend.

Chocolate Marshmallow Spicy Chai from 52Teas

Chocolate-Marshmallow-Spicy-Chai

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Zoomdweebies

Tea Description:

Following the success of our Spicier Chai, one of our faithful customers requested a version with chocolate and marshmallow.  How could we not do that?

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  I’m loving this Chocolate Marshmallow Spicy Chai from 52Teas.  It’s the perfect tea to enjoy on a cold, wet afternoon!

If you read this blog regularly, you’re probably well aware by this point that I’m trying to raise funds so that I can take over 52Teas.  And if you aren’t yet aware of this, please check out my Kickstarter campaign by clicking right here.  (Remember, every little bit helps!)

Anyway, after taking my first sip of this tea, my immediate thought was, “oh yeah, I have to reblend this one!”  In fact, I just finished posting a comment on the campaign, stating that I nominate this for a reblend for the next vote!

Every time we reach another $2,000 in pledges, we vote on a new reblend.  So far, we’ve reached on $2000 in pledges and the winner of that vote was the Raspberry Cream Cheese Danish Honeybush.  If you want to get in on the next vote, you need to contribute and help me reach my goal!

So, yes, I guess you could say that I like this tea.  I like it a lot!

The black tea base is rich and flavorful.  That in itself is quite an accomplishment because the spices are spicy and the chocolate and marshmallow are both strong components to this cup too.  To be able to be tasted beyond the bold spices and the strong flavors, that’s impressive to me.

I also appreciate that the black tea isn’t astringent or bitter.  It’s smooth and robust, but not aggressively so.  It stands strong amid the other strong flavor profiles in this cup without having to be too harsh tasting.

The spices are very reminiscent of the Spicier Chai blend that 52Teas introduced a few weeks back.  And there’s a good reason for that.  It would seem that the Spicier Chai was the inspiration behind the request for a Chocolate Marshmallow version.  Genius.  It sounds like something I’d think of.  I didn’t.  But, whoever did think of it, you’re a genius.

The spices are spicy!  Peppery!  Zesty and invigorating!  It’s a good, strong, BOLDLY spiced chai.  It not only warms you from the inside out but it’ll feel a little like someone started a tiny fire in the back of your throat.  Yeah, it burns, but it burns SO good!

And then you have chocolate and marshmallow!  I’m usually quick to say that more chocolate is better, but I really am enjoying the level of chocolate in this blend.  It’s not SUPER chocolate-y but I think that more chocolate might have interfered with the spices a little bit and I like the balance as it is right now.  Spicy and chocolate-y deliciousness.

And the marshmallow is light and fluffy.

What this tastes a bit like is that someone brewed up a cup of that Spicier Chai, and then added a scoop of hot cocoa powder to it and stirred it up, and then topped it with a marshmallow that is now melted into the beverage, making it creamy and sweet and delicious.

So, yeah … totally yum.  Please help me save 52Teas so that I can reblend this one!!!