Bonfire Toffee from Bird and Blend Tea Co.

Bonfire Toffee tea from Bird and Blend should be part of everyone’s fall and winter brewing. A full bodied black tea is sweetened with the brown sugar and butter notes of caramel and toffee. The blend stops from being too sweet by the addition of crisp apple and smoky lapsang souchong.

If you aren’t into smoky teas, give this one a try. The smoke is mostly in the scent of the brew, and gets lost beneath black tea and toffee tones in the taste.

This tea feels like taking a walk in the fall. The robust black tea is wrapped around you like a wool scarf, and you can smell the pleasant char of your neighbor’s wood stove on the air. Take a bite out of a fresh apple and follow it up with something sweet, like holiday caramel candy.

I had been curious about trying Bonfire Toffee for its blend of sweet and savory, and the tea does not disappoint. Brew up a cup for your next leaf-peeper trip, or your next winter bonfire.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Bird and Blend
Description:

Traveling tea merchants used to carry tea from east to west,all the way across Russia… well, their horses did anyway! It’s said the campfire smoke would infuse into the loose tea leaves at night creating smoked teas. Add some caramel, apple and toasted cinnamon and you get a spectacular Bonfire Night treat!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

English Breakfast from the Virginia Tea Company . . . .

When you need a tried-and-true pick-me-up in the morning, many of us reach for a cup of English Breakfast black tea.  But each tea company has a little different take on this style of tea. English Breakfast from the Virginia Tea Company is robust in scent, taste, and texture.

This tea is full and malty, almost chewy, with toasty tones of baked bread.  This tea is strong enough to have flavor after being mixed with milk and sugar, and to hold up on its own against the savory flavors of your breakfast.

The first scent and taste are the rich and complex flavors like roasted wheat or leather, followed by the little crisp bite of black tea that we come to expect.  There is a hint of earthy smoke at the back of each sip, along with the the less bitter black tea tannins and thicker mouthfeel.

This is a black tea that makes you feel strong and invigorated, while also giving your palette a full-bodied flavor experience.  For those mornings where it is hard to get your head on straight, be sure to brew up a strong cup of English Breakfast from the Virgina Tea Company and get back on track.


Here’s the scoop!

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

This organic tea is perfect for pairing with your morning meal. The full-bodied flavor can be blended with milk and sugar to create an even better drinking experience.

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!

Bonfire in a Cup: Smoky Spice from 52Teas

As we endure the last cold nights of the season, it seemed the perfect time to brew up a cup of Smoky Spice from 52Teas.  This blend combines two of my favorite cold-weather sensations: woodsmoke and cardamom. Nothing quite makes me feel as cozy and nostalgic as holding a hot cup of spicy tea, with the smell your neighbor’s wood stove on the wind.

Growing up in New England in a family with an Eastern European heritage, it seemed like we were always having winter bonfires and mulled cider or tea, celebrating some equinox or natural deity.  These winter memories hit hard when I stuck my nose in the bag of these tea leaves, and I was caught up in the heat of the fire and the warmth of the spices.

52Teas does a great job with their smoky blends, the smoke is not too savory or bacon-like, just the perfect charcoal-nutty waft of roasting logs on the fire.  The smoke is this blend is balanced, with a solid black tea base and a generous scoop of cardamom pods and vanilla beans, with no one flavor coming on too strong.

Drinking this tea is like sitting next to the fireplace and eating snappy spice cookies, or sipping on a spiced tea from your thermos out in the snow, watching a bonfire crackle away. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for this blend when the weather turns again in the fall and you smell that first wisp of wood smoke on a crisp, cool day.


Here’s the scoop!

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

This tea actually began as my Masterpiece Chai.  While I was blending the spices, I toasted my cumin and I think either the cumin was especially fresh (not a bad thing at all) or I used too much cumin (much more likely) but the resulting blend ended up tasting strongly of smoky cumin.  So I decided to add some Lapsang Souchong to amplify the smoky notes and create a Smoky Spice blend.  This is a chai with a pleasant smoky tone – it’s not overly smoky – which is fine with me because I’m not a huge fan of a strong smoky essence.  This has just the right level of smoke with a pleasant spicy note that isn’t too spicy, and it’s a little sweet and a little savory.  It’s really nice.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Smoky Coconut Packs a Punch!

Smoking Coconut from 52Teas packs a punch!  It has a base of bold Assam black tea, the powerful addition of coconut chips, and the dangerous, dreamy taste of smoke.  I’ve come to seek out smoky teas of the years, so I found this to be an exciting, enjoyable cup.  The coconut is fragrant and buttery throughout the dry leaf and brewing process, while the smoke lingers at the back end of each sip.  With the fatty coconut and hint of smoke, this tea feels more savory than refreshing.  It would pair well with a bold meal like bacon and eggs or a barbeque lunch.

This tea review goes out to a favorite create-a-character from my 2012 wrestling video game: Smoky Coconut.  Smoky was an old school wrestler, big dude, rocking a classic mullet, and throwing down power moves in his blazing white singlet. Pound-for-pound, Smoky had the best mustache in the business. Though he lost the infamous rumble match to SpicyGirlGimlet, Smoky Coconut will always have a place in the hearts of his fans.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: black
Where to Buy: 52Teas
Description: I just wanted a tea that was coconut-y and a little bit smoky. So that’s what I did. Sometimes, that’s what my inspiration is all about. I wanted a coconut-y tea and I thought that the combination of a lightly smoky tea with the creamy, sweet coconut flavor would be really interesting.
I started with a blend of black teas – a rich, malty Assam; a smooth, medium-bodied Ceylon and a tippy, robust Yunnan. Then I added just a teensy bit of Lapsang Souchong to give it a hint of smoke. I wasn’t going for a heavily smoked tea this time around – I didn’t want an overpoweringly smoky presence – just enough smoke to add some contrast to the silky sweet coconut flavor. Then I added a bunch of huge shreds of coconut.
The result is a sublimely yummy cuppa that you’ve gotta try. Sure, it might be a little on the ‘usual’ side especially when compared to some of the teas that we’ve made in the past but it’s no less delicious. Sometimes – going with something a little more ordinary can lead to extraordinary results!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!