Organic Fruit Jam from Tea Sparrow. . . .

When it comes to getting me gifts, my friends and family often turn to one of two things: mugs or tea subscriptions. One such subscription that I received as my Secret Santa gift this past holiday season was several months of tea from Tea Sparrow. If I am being honest, as someone who loves really out there flavors, I have been underwhelmed by the more basic options I’ve been receiving.

With that said, this Organic Fruit Jam tea did catch my eye. It has the usual fruit tea ingredients such as apples, hibiscus, rosehips, and strawberries but it also has more exciting flavors like barley malt, cream extract, etc.

I made this iced in light of the potential for tartness thanks to the hibiscus and rosehips. Unfortunately, despite the unique ingredients, this tastes a lot like many of the other fruit tisanes I have had before, tart and with a vague fruitiness. It also has a sharp tart note atop the rest of the tartness that hits the back of your mouth near the end of the sip. Alas there is nothing here that says “jam” to me.

I also brewed this hot and intended to try it that way to compare it with the iced tea but life got in the way and the mug cooled before I got to it. However, the hot brewed tea which has then cooled is smoother than the iced tea. It also is a bit less tart than the iced tea which makes more room for a muddled fruit flavor to come through. Still not a “jam” tea to me but this cup is definitely closer to that desired flavor than the iced tea given there is more sweetness here.

Ultimately, I just feel like I’ve had this tea time and time again. The hibiscus/rosehip tartness is overwhelming with a generic fruitiness taking a back seat. The unique ingredients that intrigued me in the first place add nothing or if they do, their addition is drowned out. It’s not bad per se but it just doesn’t stand out at all in a world filled with tea.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Tisane
Where to Buy: Tea Sparrow
Description

With your Tea Sparrow subscription, you’ll receive 4 select loose-leaf teas each month: one black, one green, one rooibos and one herbal tea. You can expect about 35 cups of tea per month: more than enough to spread the love or completely hoard for yourself.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Earl Grey from Zest Tea

“Mombie”  Noun; a parent who is so overcome by sleep deprivation that their appearance looks more and more like a zombie each day.

Oh how I wish this Zest Tea were around when I had a 6-month-old with jetlag. 150 mg of caffeine per cup. Oh how that would have prevented my choking down overpriced coffees. Oh how I would’ve cherished those early mornings easier with a hearty cuppa. If only my local store carried it then, as it does now.

Fortunately now all I have to deal with is the daily grind of a toddler, and this power packed Earl Grey is a perfect mid-day bolster. And who needs a seista when there’s never-ending muddy laundry to be done??

With Sherlock Holmes gracing the teabag’s packet, I know I’ll be ready to go at a moments notice, but still come across refined… or crazy… either works. I imagine Prince William with his 3 kids now, still having to attend royal functions but maybe with those glazed over eyes and a bit of nodding. (Please tell me I’m not the only one reading those tabloids) Perhaps the Duke would’ve benefitted from this nice cuppa Earl, eh!

Real talk, you need to be careful brewing this one — The excess caffeine can easily create a bitterness if over brewed. And the wonderful floral, bergamot aftertaste just won’t cover up a sloppy steep.  I propose an overnight cold brew – two birds, one stone!

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: flavored Black Tea bags
Where to Buy: Zest Tea

Earl grey has been a popular blend since it was introduced to the British Earl, Charles “Chaz” Grey, in the 1830’s. Most Earl Greys are made with low-quality base teas, but not ours. Zest’s Earl is made with premium Nilgiri Indian black tea blended with a delicious bergamot essential oil. Don’t thank us. Thank Chaz.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Blue Lady from Zest Tea

With a name like Blue Lady I thought this would be like Lady Grey, a type of earl grey. But I was mistaken! Not an earl grey, but a flowery orange pekoe.

Beyond the black tea, there is hibiscus and passion fruit, fragrant even in the dry leaf. Brewed, the black tea is bright and crisp, which pairs well with the juicy hibiscus. The sour red fruit taste of the hibiscus adds a jammy, berry flavor beneath the citrus tones of the orange pekoe.

This is not too sweet or sour, still very suitable for a breakfast cup of tea. With just enough tropical flair this blend is summery and satisfying, hot or iced.

And since this blend is from Zest Tea, there is added tea extract so you know each cup packs a punch of caffeine without the coffee jitters. When you want a juicier take on classic orange pekoe, brew up a mug of Blue Lady.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Zest Tea
Description:

Our Blue Lady Black blends a sultry South Indian black tea base with an aromatic mix of orange, lemon, passion fruit, and hibiscus. A peppering of vivid blue cornflower petals and bits of orange peel make for a visual spectacle. Blue lady will excite all of your senses. No wonder this is a favorite among hot and chilled tea drinkers.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Connoisseur Jasmine Green Tea from Zesta Ceylon Tea. . . . .

I LOVE jasmine green teas when they are done well. Some are not. A lot of jasmine tea is actually pouchong and can have a bit more bite than I care for. Lots of people like those teas, especially with food. But since jasmine tea is my special “take me away” tea, it has to be just so.

The instructions on this one scared me. Boiling water? For green tea? In a teabag? Are you kidding me? I know a few types of green tea thrive on it, but I was afraid this was going to be the train to heartburn city.

I dialed it back to 200F and let it steep right in the middle of the recommended one to two minutes.

Wow. I expected a harsh green base, lots of astringency, and artificial jasmine flavor, but this is infused with real jasmine flowers and it is GOOD. As in, actual tasty jasmine tea with all its calming capabilities in a teabag!

The jasmine is natural and sweet tasting, the tea has minimal briskness that does build a little now that I am on my second cup, and there is a creamy texture to the liquor. The Chinese green base starts to come through more on the aftertaste.

I think this would be a great, affordable tea to serve with food, and now I want spring rolls. Really, really badly. I guess I know what I am having for supper tomorrow night.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy: Zesta Tea
Description

This delicately fragrant green tea adds a touch of beauty to your day with its imprint of natural Jasmine petals. Zesta’s Jasmine green tea is an exotic tea that can be enjoyed any time of day and is great as an accompaniment to food.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Chocolate from Pu-Erh Numi Teas. . . .

I’ve found that sometimes pu-erh teas can be a bit complicated, there’s a lot of history and process that’s worth knowing if you take your pu-erh seriously.  However, I had a completely different experience with Chocolate Pu -Erh from Numi, which is one of the most approachable pu-erh teas I’ve tried.

Pu-erh teas are known for their exceptionally smooth mouthfeel and their earthy taste.  Adding chocolate to that combination sounds like a great idea. This Chocolate Pu-Erh came in an easy-to-use sample tea bag, not in a big tea cake, so no special tools or teapots were necessary.  Just add hot water and a mug. The dry tea smelled a little sour with a hint of vinegar. However, once I brewed the tea, the flavors were far more inviting, with a strong fragrance of cocoa and roasted nuts.

This tea had a forward chocolate flavor, but it was rounded out by the more savory, earthiness of the pu erh tea underneath.  There is a hint of fermentation flavors that I expect from pu-erh teas; a subtle undertone, almost like wet leaves or flowers, slightly sweet and slightly sour.  The richness of the pu-erh leaves and the decadence of the chocolate are only enhanced by the creamy, velvety mouthfeel as I sipped this tea.

If you are tired of the bright and biting flavors of breakfast black teas, try a pu-erh tea like Chocolate Pu-Erh from Numi.  The rich, smooth, taste and texture are a completely different experience that may open the door to a new world of teas to try.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Pu erh
Where to Buy: Numi Teas
Description: This velvety infusion combines black Pu∙erh tea and organic cocoa. Accented by whole vanilla beans and sweet orange peel, this decadent blend is rounded off with nutmeg and cinnamon for a spicy finish.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!