Christmas in September: Winter Cheer from Virginia Tea Company

I’m a bit out of season to review Winter Cheer from Virginia Tea Company, but today is a grey and dreary day so a cup of tea with “cheer” in the name feels like a good fit.

This blend features black tea, peppermint, and cinnamon.  Even in the dry leaf you can smell all three distinct flavors.

Having peppermint and cinnamon in the same blend is like sitting in a snowbank next to a campfire: there are both cooling and warming elements happening at the same time.  I enjoy blends that make use of these flavors. Beyond their flavor profiles, both peppermint and cinnamon bring their own type of sweetness.

Peppermint has a creaminess beneath all its icy mint, almost tasting like vanilla.  Cinnamon has a more earthy, herbal sweetness, more in line with cloves or licorice.

With both of these flavors set against the robust backdrop of black tea, you get a full-bodied brew with a very tactile mouthfeel, both cooling and warming. This is a fresh take on the “spiced black tea” trend that pops up every fall and winter.  The mint and cinnamon together really make this unique and festive.

I’m feeling full of cheer already!


Here’s the scoop!

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

Sit back and relax with your family this holiday season while sharing this delicious, guilt-free tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Hot Cross Bun Rooibos and Black Tea Blend By Bluebird Tea Co.

HotCrossBunTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea & Rooibos Blend

Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.

Tea Description:

Yes you heard us right, our Limited Edition Easter tea tastes of Hot Cross Buns!

At Easter time there are few things better than the aroma of currants, cinnamon and freshly baked buns wafting across the kitchen. When creating our Spring Collection we knew we had to pay homage to our favourite Easter treat, so here you have it – Hot Cross Bun tea! Don’t say we don’t treat you every now and again! 

Ingredients: Rooibos, Ceylon black tea, Cinnamon, Hibiscus, Apple, Rosehip, Orange peel, Lapsang Souchong, Vanilla, Cranberry, Flavour. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Easter time has long since passed but holiday teas are forever. At least that is what my Hot Cross Bun craving is telling me right now. It’s the same with most holidays, I end up hoarding seasonal teas for those yearnings throughout the year that can only be fixed by tea. You want Halloween in Summer, there’s a tea for that. You want Christmas in the Spring, there is a tea for that too! Well now I want Easter. Perhaps because I didn’t actually manage to eat any Hot Cross Buns this year due to my strict diet (boo!).

Looking at the ingredients for this is inspiring, Rooibos and Ceylon and Lapsang Souchong…woah! That is one heck of a base for this blend.

In scent the orange is waxy and rather strong with some dark fruit (like raisin but not quite) bitter tones and a hint of cinnamon. It is Hot Cross Bun like but not completely, only missing the sweetness, but a good start so far.

The loose leaf appearance reminds me of Autumn, it’s rather dark and dry with mostly brown colours and a hint of red.

Sampled without milk or sweetener.

Steeped scent is sour, waxy and very orange. Also some warm cinnamon tones. Similar to the raw scent but actually nicer and more Bun like.

Flavour matches the scent rather well, the orange is waxy and dominant at first before the cinnamon kicks in and the whole flavour becomes toasty and extremely Hot Cross Bun like. The cranberries that smelled particularly sour in the raw scent now resemble raisins almost perfectly. The Lapsang Souchong offers it’s smoky flavour to be toasty and warm. It also has some sweetness which I mentioned it lacked previously in scent. Despite the archive of ingredients this is a nice strength, not too bitter nor strong and with enough flavour whilst remaining fairly light in clarity.

It is rather like a Hot Cross Bun, though there is one thing missing for me. Butter. I always have butter on my Bun whether it be toasted or plain. Though I must admit this is not a bad attempt at all, by any means.

So there we have it, Easter is available at the click of the kettle. It also helps to close your eyes and imagine those nostalgic holiday times.

Hot Cross Bun today, Candy Cane tomorrow. What a wonderful tea world we live in!

Pumpkin Spice Chai from The Tea Spot


pumpkin-spice-chai-teaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Tea Description:

Our NEW seasonal Pumpkin Spice Chai may soon become your favorite tea to look forward to each Fall! This chai blend boasts a perfectly-balanced full leaf Assam black tea base with cinnamon, clove, cardamom, allspice, and pumpkin flavor to get you warmed up for Fall. This tea makes an amazing pumpkin latte with the simple addition of steamed milk. This seasonal treat will have you jumping in piles of rainbow-colored leaves in no time!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This year (at least this time of the year this year) seems like it’s been the year of the pumpkin chai!  I’ve reviewed quite a few different pumpkin chai teas this year!  I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve tried (nothing comes to mind immediately that I did not enjoy, but some I definitely enjoyed more than others), but I think I’m saving the best for last!  This one – this!  This is one of the very best pumpkin chai teas that I’ve ever tasted.

The first thing that really impressed me when I opened the pouch of this tea is the aroma!  Wow!  I can really smell the pumpkin!  It is a distinct pumpkin-y fragrance.  It smells like the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning when the pies are baking!  I smell notes of spice and black tea too, but the pumpkin notes are prominent!

The aromatic pumpkin notes are there in the brewed tea too.   The fragrance wafting out of my teacup right now are scrumptious!   To brew this, I used my Kati Tumbler and measured 1 heaping bamboo scoop of tea into the basket.  I like to use just a little more leaf when I’m brewing a chai!  This is especially important if you plan on going latte, because you want to accommodate for the heavier flavor of the dairy – or whatever product you’re using to make it a latte.

I brought 12 ounces of water to boiling and poured it into the tumbler and let this tea steep for 3 1/2 minutes.  I usually stop at 3 minutes with a black tea (and especially an Assam, which this is!) but because of the spices, I wanted to give them a little more time to develop so I crossed my fingers and hoped that the Assam would let me steep it a little longer!

Fortunately, the Assam didn’t seem to mind the slightly longer steep.

This is a really delicious pumpkin chai.  The pumpkin notes are distinct.  They are THERE.  There’s no mistaking the pumpkin here!  This isn’t a pumpkin pie spice type chai where you’re tasting the spices of a pumpkin pie but no pumpkin flavor.  This is PUMPKIN!

And even though the pumpkin flavor is strong, it is a true-to-the-squash type of flavor.  It doesn’t taste artificial.  It tastes like someone liquefied pumpkin puree and added it to my teacup.

The spices are nice.  They’re good and strong – flavorful – without pushing it to the spicy level!  It’s a distinct, spiced blend.  Not just warmly spiced, but not quite “spicy” either.  It’s somewhere between.  Consider the amount of spice that you’d find in the typical pumpkin pie.  Let’s call that mild spice.  And then there’s the super zesty, spicy level … this is somewhere in between.  This tastes like a chai that is also a pumpkin tea.

And I like that the spices are so thoughtfully balanced.  I like that this tastes like a chai!  I taste each of the spices:  cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger.  I am also tasting the allspice which is nice (and not always something that’s added to chai!)  It’s warm, it’s cozy, but it’s also got a certain zippy invigorating quality that I get from a well-spiced chai.

You might think that with all that pumpkin and spice, that the tea winds up on the short end of the stick.  But no!  This is an Assam tea and it’s got some gusto!  It is a rich, malty tea and the sweet, caramel-y notes together with the malt really play nicely with the flavors of pumpkin and spice.

For the purposes of this review, I didn’t go latte with this chai.  I wanted to experience the tea straight up, with just a little bit of raw sugar added to enhance the spices a little.  (This would also be amazing with honey!)  After I finished writing my thoughts about the non-latte chai, I decided to add some steamed milk and it’s awesome like that too!  So rich and creamy and yum!  Better than what you’d find in the local coffee stop!

This is a very clever, well-crafted pumpkin chai.  This is the best of the pumpkin patch!

White Vanilla Peppermint Black Tea from M&K’s Tea Company

whitevanillapeppermintTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

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

Tea Description:

Polar bears? Candy canes? It’s that time of the year again! Yay consumerism! Yay tasty things! So hop on board the capitalism train, and try out a bag of our exclusive limited-edition White Vanilla Peppermint black tea blend! It has tea from Australia if you can even believe it. It tastes like a polar bear got into a fight with a mint plant that exploded all over your face. Seriously, try it.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m really enjoying the teas this company I found on Etsy!  The holiday blends are really unique.  I love that they didn’t go the standard orange spice holiday blend route.  Don’t get me wrong!  I enjoy those orange spice blends, but, it’s nice to find something that ventures off the beaten path, you know?

And this blend is different from any other holiday blend I’ve yet to try.  Mint is a popular “holiday” flavor, but M&K’s decided to change the mint a bit by adding licorice to the blend.  I like the way the licorice cuts through some of those strong minty notes to give this more of a candy-like flavor than a mouthwash-y one.  The sweet candy-ish taste is enhanced further with the addition of creamy vanilla.

And let’s not forget the black tea in this – because M&K’s didn’t!  This has a strong, full-flavored black tea base that’s rich and has a hefty impact.  It’s the kind of tea that I imagine I’d want for Christmas morning when my daughter wakes me up at the crack of dawn to open presents.

I like the way everything comes together in this blend.  The peppermint is cool and refreshing.  The licorice adds a sharp, snappy flavor that I like.  The vanilla softens the sharper edges of the licorice and tones down the peppermint a little bit.

The black tea offers a lot of interest to this blend too, I’m tasting hints of smoke.  I like the way that wisp of smoke melds with these other flavors, it sort of tastes like Christmas Day:  it’s around 9 am.  All the presents have been opened and you’re relaxing before you start working on that holiday dinner.  There’s a fire roaring in your fireplace and you’re curled up next to the warmth of the fire and sipping on tea and enjoying something sweet that Santa left you in your stocking.  That’s what this tea tastes like!

It’s a nice (and different) holiday blend!

24 Days of Tea Holiday Countdown – Day 22 from Teanzo 1856

The big day is almost here.  Just two days left to shop for it!

Day8Today’s artistic inspiration comes from another 12 Days of Christmas swap.  This ornament was created by Autumn.  (Sorry, Autumn, I didn’t take note of your last name!)  This is really a cool ornament.  It’s difficult to tell from the photo (and the photo isn’t the greatest anyway!) but the base of the ornament is a juice concentrate lid.  You know, the stuff you get in the freezer section of the grocery store in the cardboard cylinders with metal ends?  Autumn took the metal ends and made ornaments!  Really cool!

It’s not only a beautiful ornament that adds a lot of sparkle to my tree, but I love that it was made out of something upcycled – something that was otherwise destined for the landfill!  Day8-1

Here is an up close view of the ornament…

Like I said, very cool.

I love doing the 12 days of Christmas mail art swaps for things like this – I find it very inspiring to see what other artists are doing with everyday “throwaway” items like juice can lids!  Pieces like this really get the creative juices flowing!

Today’s teas is one of my favorites thus far.  This is one tea I’m likely to buy again from Teanzo, because I suspect I’ll be wanting more of it soon!

Earl Grey Green Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Teanzo 1856

Tea Description:

If you love Earl Grey Tea, then try our Earl Grey Green Tea.  You get all the health benefits of green tea, with that familiar Earl Grey flavor that you already love.  A perfect gift for Earl Grey lovers!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve reviewed quite a few Earl Grey black teas (an understatement!) but significantly less Earl Grey green teas.  There are a couple of reasons for this:  the first is that there are far fewer Earl Grey green teas available out there.  With just about any tea company out there, you’re likely to find an Earl Grey black.  Most tea companies has at least one black variety of Earl Grey.  But, only a fraction of those actually carry an Earl Grey green tea.

Earl-Grey-GreenThe second reason is that as much as I love an Earl Grey black tea, I’ve not found a lot of Earl Grey green teas that I’ve enjoyed as much.  I’ve enjoyed a few, but if it came down to a choice between an Earl Grey black and an Earl Grey green, I’d choose the black version every time.  Bergamot just seems to meld better with the flavor of black tea better than the green tea.

BUT!

I think I may have found an Earl Grey green tea that I enjoy as much as I enjoy some of my favorite Earl Grey blacks.  Maybe not as much as those Earl Grey black teas that are at the very top of my list, but, this Earl Grey green even when placed among the black teas would be somewhere in the top ten.  Yep.  I said it.  This is a GOOD Earl Grey green.  Really good!

I’m not sure what makes this one so much better than the other Earl Grey green teas that I’ve tried.  The bergamot?  Perhaps.  This is a flavorful bergamot, tangy with just a little contrasting sweetness, it’s bright and invigorating.  A nice, sunny citrus note that isn’t overly floral or perfume-y, but still very distinctly bergamot.

Perhaps it’s the tea itself?  The green tea here looks like large gunpowder pellets and it has a pleasantly sweet flavor.  It’s not overly vegetative.  It’s a little earthy, it has hints of buttery notes.  It’s a mild tasting green tea and it blends in a very agreeable way with the notes of bergamot.  It has a slight creaminess to it that softens some of the sharper notes of the bergamot.

Together, this is a delightful match.  The tea resteeps nicely too, I find that the bergamot notes soften somewhat in the second infusion but the softer notes are quite pleasant too.

This tea was one of the most pleasant of surprises discovered in this Advent Calender from Teanzo!