I’m CooCoo for White Coco Choco Chai from Nelson’s Tea

When I’m trying to cut caffeine, but still want some chai spice, I often drink nutty rooibos chais or lemony herbal chais. Depending on the blend and my mood, these alternatives can be tasty, but sometimes I find myself wanting more.  White Coco Choco Chai from Nelson’s Tea is the perfect solution.

This tea has a white tea base along with the usual suspects of chai spice: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom.  But it also has the addition of allspice, black pepper, coconut and chocolate chips.  There’s the same heat I know and love from black tea chais, the kick of ginger and pepper, but there’s also a creaminess from the coconut and chocolate that gives decadence and body where the black tea is absent.  The white tea base is light on the caffeine and astringency, making for a spice-driven cup that’s okay to drink just about any time of day.

This tea is like an x-ray, just the white bones of a chai; spice, distilled.  Even in the bag, it’s lovely to look at with big cardamom clusters, allspice pods, cinnamon bark, and the white curls of coconut shavings.  The tea leaves seem so few in proportion!  The smell of this blend in the bag and while brewing is strong and cozy, filling my kitchen with its spicy scent. This tea has all the comfort of a delicious baked good, livened up with the zing of allspice and pepper.
I got to taste just a few cups from a small tea sample, but I will definitely be stocking up on White Coco Choco Chai from Nelson’s Tea as soon as I can!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: Nelson’s Tea

Spicy chai blend in a warm and sweet white tea base with succulent chocolate and coconut.  It’s dessert in a cup.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Golden Dragon Yellow Tea from Teavana

GoldenDragonYellowTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Yellow

Where to Buy: Teavana

Tea Description:

We are proud to offer one of the rarest teas in the world; our limited edition yellow tea direct from China. The name ‘yellow’ tea refers not only to the unique processing and the lovely, bright golden infusion color, but due to its rarity it is also associated with the imperial yellow worn exclusively by emperors for centuries. Unlike any tea you have tasted before, at first sip it evokes the exquisite pleasure of everyday luxuries. Captivating high floral notes mingle with a smooth honeyed body and a subtle creamy, buttery finish. A perfectly balanced tea curated just for you.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

First a brief disclaimer of sorts;

I am NOT a fan of Teavana. I have never purchased a blend from them and likely never will. However, this has absolutely nothing to do with the blends they sell themselves.While the store serves it’s purpose of acting as an introductory loose leaf tea shop, for which I am grateful (as I’m sure they’ve turned many people on to drinking loose leaf tea) I cannot personally support their business model nor will I give money to a company with such consistently reported poor customer service.

Any of their teas that I’ve ever tried has been received as a sample, and not purchased out of my own pockets. That said, I’ve never let my personal views of the company’s business model affect the way I perceive their teas. This has meant occasionally finding a great blend but not pursuing a revisit, which can be disappointing, but is something I can live with. As for this tea, I’m going to review it as if I didn’t know the company from which it was sourced and give my opinion PURELY about the tea itself.

And so carrying on…

Visually, the dry leaf of this blend looked like somewhat tarnished, lightly browned Yin Zhen (Silver Needle tea) but a little more twisty. Steeped up, the liquor is a very flat, dull golden yellow. It’s very beautiful, even if it’s not a more lively looking liquor. Personally, I’ve only had three or four other plain yellow teas and they’ve been prepared in blue teaware, so I can’t really use my personal experiences to say whether this colour is normal for steeped up yellow tea though. The aroma is interesting; it’s soft with a bit of a buttery vegetal smell and some malt and sweeter notes as well.

Drinking this, it was really apparent to me that the nuances of flavor take after traditional Yin Zhen and Green Tea pretty equally; of course that makes sense given that yellow tea is halfway between white and green tea. I could actually tell it was produced in China without reading the description though; China’s green teas tend to have a more distinct smokey and nutty flavor to them while Japanese greens lean more heavily on the marine side of this (seaweed) and the flavors here weren’t an exception to that. On the greener end of the spectrum, I noticed very gentle smokey notes, buttery vegetal notes, a bit of a peppery flavor leaning towards lemon pepper more so than black pepper (or the actual vegetable; bell pepper, etc.), and some less distinct herbaceous notes as well. That lovely peppery quality definitely falls in line with other yellow teas I’ve been lucky enough to sample.

On the whiter side of things; there was a lovely supple sweetness that reminded me of honey or, combined with the weaker floral tones present, honeysuckle. A more vague hay-like flavour was present, and a flavor that kind of crossed over between malt and cream with a soft fruity edge; very similar to some of the Kenyan white teas I’ve gotten to try. I like to describe that flavor as kind of tasting like a Hot Cross Bun/Easter bun, in a way.

This was a super interesting tea, and I loved all the flavors present that bounced off one another; I’ve only gotten to try a few different yellow teas, and this isn’t my least favourite but it’s not my favourite either: so far Camellia Sinensis’ Meng Ding Huang Ya is my favourite. Both this tea and CS’s heavy big price tags; but with the quality difference I’d go with CS’s yellow tea. However, I think this is definitely worth trying if you get the chance because it WAS lovely.

Vampire’s Kiss Tea from Herbal Alchemy Teahouse

herbal alchemy logoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Herbal Alchemy Teahouse

Tea Description:

This black tea has everything in which to woo an unsuspecting pallet – roses, chocolate, damiana and rich spices, but like every vampire’s kiss this tea is blood red and has a tiny bite…of cayenne red pepper.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about the MidWest Tea Fest here.

Taster’s Review:

This Vampire’s Kiss Tea from Herbal Alchemy Teahouse is the third of the teas that were sent to me by the organizers of the MidWest Tea Fest:  Herbal Alchemy Teahouse is one of the featured vendors at the festival!   After a quick glance at the list of scheduled vendors at the festival, it makes me wish that I was able to attend!  It looks like it’s going to be an awesome tea fest!!!

This blend is a combination of black tea, rose, chocolate and spices.  The tea brews up to be a dark, burgundy red – like a blood red color which makes me wonder if there’s hibiscus in this?  I didn’t see a full ingredient list, so I’m not sure, but if I were to wager a guess, I’d say that there’s either hibiscus or something ‘beet’ in this blend because of the color.

It doesn’t taste strongly of hibiscus, but I do get a slightly thick texture that I would normally experience from hibiscus.  That could also be from beet.  And because of the spicy notes, I’m not detecting anything that’s obviously tart from hibiscus or obviously sweet from the beet, so I’m not really sure what’s supplying the strong color, but I’m suspecting hibiscus because the flavor tastes more like hibiscus to me than it does beet.

So what do I taste?  I taste chocolate.  But it doesn’t taste like a creamy, rich kind of chocolate flavor, it tastes more like cocoa powder that’s been added to a spiced herbal tisane.  Or like cacao nibs/shells that have been added to a spiced herbal tisane.

I taste the spice!  The spices build gradually, staring out rather delicate, but after a few sips, I’m getting a warm burning sensation toward the back of my palate.

I also taste an odd, herb-y sort of flavor that I can’t really describe except to say it tastes sort of medicinal, but not in an unpleasant way.  It tastes like an herbal tea and as I continue to sip, I’m tasting more hibiscus-like flavors too.

But, I’m not complaining because the cocoa and the spice play with these hibiscus-like notes in such a way that it tastes more ‘berry like’ than it does the tart, syrupy flavor that I usually dislike from hibiscus.  It’s odd, it’s different, but somehow, it works!

midwestteafestMy biggest complaint about this tea?  I don’t taste much black tea flavor.  I’m getting a strong presence of the other flavors here, but the black tea seems almost non-existent.  I like that the chocolate is strong, I like that I taste notes of rose and even that hint of spicy cayenne pepper that builds on the palate.  I like that warmth from the spices.  I’m just wishing I had more black tea flavor here.

This seems a lot more like an herbal tisane to me than a black tea.  It’s good, though.  If you’re one who enjoys spicy drinks, this is something worth exploring!

And don’t forget about the Midwest Tea Fest!  If you’re going to be in the Kansas City, Missouri area on June 6th – you should definitely visit!  And if you can make the trip, GO!  It’s a great opportunity for tea lovers to get more information about the beverage they adore and an excellent way for those who are new to tea to learn more!

Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chai from 52Teas

Sri-Lankan-Pumpkin-Chai-with-nutmegTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

So I’m really enjoying this Pettaiagala Extra Long Leaf OP we got in from Sri Lanka, and I know the pumpkin chai blends go over better in the fall, but I couldn’t help thinking that this would make an awesome pumpkin chai. So we blended it with ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, black peppercorns and organic pumpkin and other flavors.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about 52Teas’ subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

When I first saw the announcement for this Sri Lankan Pumpkin Chai from 52Teas I double checked my calendar.  Yep, it’s March.  (Well, it was at the time of this tea’s announcement!)  Pumpkin Chai isn’t exactly a tea that you expect to find in March.  In September, sure.  Maybe even as early as August.  OK.  From August through January, but when February arrives, we’ve pretty much had it up to here with pumpkin.  By that point, we’ve had pumpkin pies, pancakes, cookies, soup, cupcakes and tea.  By February, it’s time to break out the Valentines and extinguish the jack-o-lantern.

So I entered into this tea experience with a certain amount of “meh.”

But I’m really enjoying this chai.  It’s heavy on the nutmeg and I’m liking that.  (Nutmeg is one of my favorite spices.)  Usually when nutmeg is promised as one of the ingredients in a chai, I taste hints of the nutmeg but this is a well pronounced flavor.

I’m also getting a strong dose of cinnamon.  The cardamom is a background note.  The ginger and pepper hit the palate at about mid-sip.  They aren’t overly aggressive, but they do offer a pleasant spicy zing to the cup.  I find myself missing clove here – I think a little clove might help round out the flavors just a little bit better.

Last year (at a more appropriate pumpkin time – September 22) 52Teas offered a Pumpkin Chai that I reviewed in October and I seem to recall that having a nicely defined pumpkin-y flavor to it, but I’m not tasting as much pumpkin with this blend as with the previous chai.  The pumpkin does emerge somewhat as the tea cools a little.

But the lack of clove and pumpkin-y flavor might hide the nutmeg and really, for me, this chai is about the NUTMEG!  I could smell it when I opened the pouch.  Before I smelled the cinnamon or ginger or cardamom or pepper, I smelled nutmeg.  And as I hinted at before, this made me a very happy sipper, indeed.

And because this is the one of the best celebrations of nutmeg in a tea that I’ve had in quite some time, I will let the fact that it’s mid-April and I’m sipping on a pumpkin chai slide.  Just this once.

India’s Original Masala Chai from Golden Tips

IndiasOriginalChaiTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Originating from India, Masala Chai or ‘Spiced Tea’ is one of the most popular black tea blends in the world. This ancient traditional recipe is prepared by blending a strong & robust black tea with an array of fresh & aromatic spices. Our signature ‘Masala Chai Spiced Tea’ is symbolic of the original house blend which has been cherished in India for decades now. A combination of Assam CTC & orthodox leaves blended in a varying ratio is taken as the base. The base tea is then blended with exotic and fresh indian spices including crushed cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, long pepper, dry ginger and clove. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m always so excited to try a new chai – one that I’ve not yet tried.  So, I was happy to find this India’s Original Masala Chai from Golden Tips in my stash of teas waiting for review!

The dry leaf is a very fine CTC.  Even the spices are pretty finely chopped or ground, so it would benefit your teacup to give the pouch a good shake before you open it and measure it out.

To brew it, I measured out one bamboo scoop of the tea and then I shook off just a little bit from the scoop.  Since the chop is so fine, you don’t need a whole scoop of tea!  Then I put the tea into the basket of my Kati tumbler and added 12 ounces of boiling water and let it steep for 2 1/2 minutes.  Again, since this is a finely chopped tea, you don’t want to steep it too long.  2 1/2 minutes produced a very flavorful cuppa for me – I wouldn’t recommend steeping it much longer than that otherwise you may wind up with a bitter tasting tea.

This is really good!  The spices are ‘moderately spiced’ – that is to say that it’s not super spicy, but not what I’d call mild either.  I think that if you typically shy away from a chai because it’s too spicy for you, you might find that this chai is to your liking.  It’s warmly spiced without going overboard.

And I like that the spices are really nicely balanced.  I taste cinnamon, clove, cardamom, ginger and pepper, but I don’t notice that any one or two of these trying to overpower the rest.  It’s warm and zesty, like a delicious spice cake.  All the spices are present and accounted for but they don’t overwhelm the cup or the flavor of the black tea.

And the black tea is the star of this cup.  That doesn’t happen too often in a chai.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a good, spicy chai!  But I also like other ‘chai’ blends that offer a balance of flavors like this one has achieved.

This tea offers a robust, full-flavored taste of black tea.  The tea is an Assam tea so I get a strong malty character that I like.  It’s rich and smooth.  Not too astringent and not bitter (although I suspect it could be bitter if I had oversteeped it!)

And this tea offers a pleasant flavor of spices that tingle on the palate.  The flavor of the spices builds, but it builds in a really pleasant way.  I haven’t felt like “oh, that’s spicy!” Instead, it’s more like … nice!  Warm!  Zesty!  Yum!

A really nice chai!