Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas. . . . .

I love spicy teas, so when I saw that 52Teas has a special spiced blend for the Chinese New year, I had to try it.  Chinese Five Spice from 52Teas is one of my favorite chai blends I’ve tried in a while. In the dry leaf, you can smell the Szechwan peppercorns, adding a little heat and a little tingly, earthy ground pepper scent.

The peppercorns are well-balanced with the sweeter spices like anise and ginger.  The orange peels are specifically mandarin oranges, and there’s something distinct in the citrus flavor that makes it feel different than the usual orange notes. Finally, there are also plenty of cloves that add their own sweet-spice, almost making the dry tea leaves have a fragrance like Dr. Pepper or Moxie soda.

Brewed, the black tea really shines and shows off its quality, tippy tea leaf origins.  Somehow both smooth and tart, it makes the pepper and orange pop on my tongue but without any spicy after-burn on my throat.  There is still a very full-flavored scent in my mug with cloves and ginger, but it’s not sweat-inducing spicy in taste, very drinkable.  No honey or milk needed (though you can always add them if you love it), the blend is well-balanced right out of the bag.

I ordered the sample size but I’ve already finished it, so I’ll have to put the full size bag in my shopping cart soon.  This is a tasty, unique chai for spicy tea lovers everywhere.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description:

Since China is a very important part of what I do (since most of my tea comes from China!), I decided it was important to do something to celebrate the ringing in of the Chinese New Year this year (The Year of the Dog)! I started with two black Yunnan teas – a Yunnan Black Gold and a tippy Assamica grown in the Yunnan Province – and added dried mandarin wedges and the whole spices of a Chinese 5 Spice blend: Cinnamon, Cloves, Star Anise, Fennel and Szechwan peppercorns. Then I added just a wee bit of ginger to enhance the peppery notes just a little. The result is a cuppa that is a little bit sweet, a little bit savory and a little bit spicy! It’s a really nice, round flavor! The mandarin orange flavor is bright and adds a nice touch to the spices here. It’s kind of like an orange flavored chai – Chinese style! I’m really happy with how this one came out – the spices are strong enough to be inviting but don’t blow out the taste buds with the spice – and the mandarin is really lovely: sweet and juicy!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Green Tea Chai by Vahdam Teas

Steeped with a heaping tablespoon of leaves at 175 degrees in about 1 cup of water.

This tea was a new experience for me! I’ve tried lots of flavored green teas, but never one where the green tea was a substitute for black tea in a chai blend. As a result of this tea, I’ve realized how different these spices are outside of a conventional chai context and how much I take the black tea base for granted in chai blends!

As it steeps, I can detect a fragrance of spices; it smells like cinnamon and possibly cloves. The tea liquid isn’t very dark. In fact it’s only achieved a pale honeylike color after it’s finished steeping; it’s a little viscous, with nearly invisible flecks (of cinnamon, perhaps?) swimming in it.

The flavor is very different from any chai I’ve ever tried. The spices, instead of melding with a malty black tea flavor to form a rounded flavor profile, are instead mingling with the bright astringent green tea notes (grassy almost, but not much on the floral side that I can detect). This makes for a very focused flavor overall. It’s highly concentrated in the bright and forward flavor notes and not so much rounded out with the deeper tones that a black tea normally imparts to a chai (in my experience). It’s almost bitter, but then again, I may have oversteeped it a bit–I like my chais strong.

With milk, it’s suddenly not very strong at all. It still has spice flavors, but I’m really missing the black tea base here. And I know you aren’t really “supposed” to put milk in green tea, but that’s what I normally do with chai so I figured why not?

So to sum up, don’t expect this to taste like a more conventional chai! Instead, expect a bright, spicy, focused flavor that’s intended to be enjoyed alone or with a little sweetener; I recommend trying it without milk. In fact, I bet this would make a great iced tea!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy:  Vahdam Teas
Description

A superior blend of fresh green tea from Darjeeling blended with choicest Indian spices like Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove & Black Peppercorns. Discover a smooth fulfilling aroma of fresh greens with delicious undertones of raw spices in every sip. The liquor is bright green with an energizing aroma. A unique chai tea which can be served with or without milk.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Healthy Wellness Tea from Simpson and Vail. . . . Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana) – Yoga Herbal Tea

I’ve been wanting to try Simpson & Vail’s Yoga Teas for a while so when a bag labeled “Swadhisthana” was in the most recent shipment from S&V I did a little ‘Snoopy Dance’ for sure!

The Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana), the seat of life, is located in the center of the abdomen. It is associated with the color orange and symbolized by the six-petal lotus flower. The Sacral Chakra is the seat of our creative and sexual energy and is associated with what our bodies need.

When in balance, the Sacral Chakra, will enable us to accept and solve the challenges of life in a creative manner and allow us to feel compassionate and friendly. It will enable us to express our emotions and connect us to others through feeling, desire, sensation, and movement.

I have done a lot with a trio of chakras the past year or two. My personal trio is the Red, Orange, and Yellow! I have plant based resin coated balance crystals that I have necklaces made out of and also have the yellow and orange balancing cones on each end of my desk.

Some may think this is all ‘hippie dippie’ stuff but I don’t mind. I’ve been called a hippie on more than one occasion and I wear the label others give me with a smile on my face!

What I will say about this herbal tisane and yoga tea is that it’s a harmonious blend of herbs that features a golden cup with a light earthy, spicy flavor and a delicate lemon and mint aftertaste. Simpson and Vail suggests says to connect to this energy center by trying new ways of expressing yourself creatively through dance, art, writing or music which is pretty much my daily life in both work and play.

Ingredients include Orange Peel, Rosehips, Annatto Seed, Cloves, Allspice, Organic Peppermint & Organic Lemon Grass.

The Orange is what shines here – first and foremost – and rightfully-so! The seed, clove, and spice are prominent as well. The Peppermint and Lemongrass pair up for a creative take of its own. This was incredibly satisfying, comforting, bright, juicy, and energizing! LOVED IT!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy:  Simpson and Vail
Description

The Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana), the seat of life, is located in the center of the abdomen. It is associated with the color orange and symbolized by the six-petal lotus flower. The Sacral Chakra is the seat of our creative and sexual energy and is associated with what our bodies need.

When in balance, the Sacral Chakra will enable us to accept and solve the challenges of life in a creative manner and allow us to feel compassionate and friendly. It will enable us to express our emotions and connect us to others through feeling, desire, sensation, and movement.

This harmonious blend of herbs has a golden cup with a light earthy, spicy flavor and a delicate lemon and mint aftertaste. Connect to this energy center by trying new ways of expressing yourself creatively through dance, art, writing or music. 3 oz. box.

Ingredients:
Orange Peel, Rosehips, Annatto Seed, Cloves, Allspice, Organic Peppermint & Organic Lemon Grass.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea by New Mexico Tea Company

I steeped 1 tsp of this tea for 5 minutes in one cup of 212 degree water.

First of all, this tea isn’t kidding when it says “hot.” (Currently I’m able to smell the cinnamon flavor through the bag even though I double-bagged it, which means it has about the same strength as lapsang souchong). You can clearly see, when measuring it out, that there’s tons of cinnamon in the tea leaves. The ingredients list says it has natural and artificial flavorings too in addition to the three types of cinnamon–I didn’t know three types of cinnamon existed, did you? But apparently they do.

I don’t expect the black tea flavor to come through much at all at this point (it’s probably mainly there for caffeination purposes.)

It smells very spicy and strong as it steeps, too. After steeping I note that it has a very dark brown, fittingly cinnamon-ish color. It’s nearly opaque and has bits of dissolved cinnamon in it. Kind of like spiced cider. It also has a faintly sweet cider-ish smell, but of coursewithout the apple factor. (It does have clove and orange peel though, so that’s probably why it’s reminding me of cider.)

First sip: yes, it’s quite sweet and quite spicy. And no, I don’t really taste the black tea at all. There is a slight bit of astringency, but I’m not sure if it’s from the black tea or from the cinnamon. There’s a depth to the cinnamon flavor, which is probably caused by the blending of several types of cinnamon and cinnamon flavorings to create a more complex cinnamon blend rather than one that hits you all in a wave. It’s very effective, too. It’s like a tour of cinnamon.

With milk (no sugar needed as it’s already sweet): it’s creamier, of course, but the milk doesn’t really bring out the tea flavor the way it usually does with spicy teas (though maybe there’s a hint). The excellently warming, invigorating cinnamon flavor isn’t quelled by the milk either, though perhaps a bit tamed.

Overall I like this tea very much both with milk and without. I’d recommend trying it both ways to see which strikes your fancy the most.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  New Mexico Tea Company
Description

.This blend brews very sweet even though no sugar is added. A cinnamon lover’s dream come true. A combination of hearty Chinese and Indian black tea and invigorating cinnamon.
Many cinnamon teas have a watery aftertaste due to the use of low grade teas. The black tea here has the stamina to last through the whole tasting process

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Sensiblyscript’s Take on Lapsang Chai by Bluebird Tea Company. . . .

Steeping specs: One teaspoon at 212 degrees for 4 minutes in 1 cup of water.

This was an exciting idea for a tea. I’ve tried actual lapsang souchong once and couldn’t get through my mugful (maybe it was a bad idea to add milk, but I couldn’t stand it without milk either so I figured it couldn’t hurt anything). It’s not because I don’t like smoky flavors, either. I love smoked meat (I mean, BACON, right?), and I love campfires although it’s true I don’t eat them. But combining smoky tea with other strong spices that I know I like sounds like a very clever idea. I only wish I’d had it. In fact, I think I might have the rest of that sample packet of Lapsang somewhere; maybe I should go experiment with mixing it with various chais.

But I digress. . . .

After steeping for four minutes I took a good whiff–it smells tantalizingly smoky. This could be either a good thing or a problem, as mentioned above. The color is amber-ish–on the light side for a chai, I think (and I do have the unfortunate tendency to judge my tea’s strength by its color! I’ve been known to waaaaay over-steep my tea just because it didn’t look dark enough to me). A few crumbs of leaf have escaped my basket, so maybe I’ll use the finer mesh next time I steep this. What’s really exciting is that although the smell is smoky, I can smell spices too! Cinnamon, ginger, and possibly clove, I think.

First taste: it’s definitely not tasting like liquid smoke here, which is good! The flavor combo is hard to describe, though. The smoky tang and the warmth from the spices hit me at approximately the same time with each sip, which means it really has a kick! It’s not a super spicy chai, though, so if you’re sensitive to spice that probably won’t be a problem (depending on just how sensitive you are, of course. Some people manage to complain of spiciness in foods that taste basically bland to me).

The smokiness combines especially well with the ginger notes for some reason. Does ginger have a smoky component normally? I don’t know. I just know that this tastes really, really good. The smoke lingers a bit after each sip, but like I said, it’s not overpowering.

I also tried this tea with milk and sugar and found it still enjoyable, although less unique. That could just be due to the fact that I have a tendency to put milk and sugar in all my tea, though the milk does seem to muffle the brightness of the spice notes a bit too.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.
Description

We like to do things a bit differently at Bluebird. Our latest infusion is a thoughtful blend of Lapsang Souchong, malty Assam + aromatic masala chai spices. A BREWtiful blend of tea + culture alike!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!