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!

Don Quixotea by Novelteas

I steeped one very heaping teaspoon of dry leaves in one cup of 210 degree water for about 4.5 minutes. (I decided to be generous with the amount of leaves I put in, probably because it just smelled so amazing and I was in the mood for something strong.) I could see whole cloves and bits of cinnamon bark in the dry leaves of this tea–lots of them.

I always enjoy trying out new chai blends and seeing which spices come to the front and how the chosen spices blend together and so on. This one seems to be heavy on the spice bits and relatively light on the black tea bits, and the spices include plenty of cinnamon and ginger.

After steeping: Cinnamon does seem to be a prominent flavor, going by the smell of the steeped tea. It’s remarkably light in color for a chai, with a sweet rich smell (not just spicy but deeper and sweeter) and has an orangey tint also.

First sip: As foreshadowed by the scent, some of the spices are sweet! The sweet smoothness is what I notice first. The spiciness isn’t overwhelming and doesn’t hit until the sip reaches the back of the mouth. I think I’m mostly tasting clove, cinnamon, and ginger. (There’s pepper in the blend too but not too much.)

With milk: as expected, this delivers a much more well-rounded cup. It’s still not very spicy though. My personal preference would be to steep this one much stronger next time as I consider it fairly mild when steeped to these specs. And I’d probably steep it in milk instead of steeping it first and then adding milk.

Overall, there’s great flavor here, and as a bonus you don’t have to add sugar because it’s so sweet already.  Plus, it’s organic as well.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  NovelTeas
Description

Join book-lovers and tea-lovers alike and take up your arms to a cup of our traditional organic chai spices –  red cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper, and the root of ginger.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Firebird Chai by Wendigo

While sniffing this tea before steeping (what? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who does this) I can definitely pick up a big whiff of ginger in the dry leaves. The leaves are better-looking than average for chai; they also have more of a presence in the blend (as far as fragrance and so on) than some do. I also observed lots of chunks of other stuff (spices?) in there with the tea leaves. The curls of dried ginger were the most noticeable of these. (And also were quite impressive. Don’t most chais just have minced ginger or something? These curls were really cool-looking.)

When steeping, I used a couple of generous spoonfuls for my latte mug and hot water that I poured out just after boiling. I may have been a bit over-lavish with the leaves compared to what the steeping instructions said, but I was feeling like drinking a strong chai. I steeped it four minutes before removing the leaves. The rehydrated pods (I think that’s the cardamom?) and curls of ginger were much more obvious in the tea leaves now. The brewed tea turned out a strongish darkish brown (but not the darkest ever).
Now that the finished product is in hand, I can actually smell the black tea along with the spices. This isn’t always the case with chai, so I appreciated it. Ginger seems the predominant spice (rather than cinnamon) upon first sip. Each sip has a sweet, smooth taste (despite not having any sugar in it yet) and a warming effect.
Certainly it’s exotic as well as pleasant and comforting, with all that ginger and cardamom, and manages to carve a unique flavor profile for itself rather than just being a run-of-the-mill “chai” flavor. I’m unsure where the sweetness is coming from–surely not the ginger or the cinnamon– but I suppose it could be from the black tea itself if it’s as high-quality as it seems.
Overall I’d say this tea is lively, warming, and full and rich without  being cliche. It offers a bright flavor palette that’s not too spicy to enjoy. It’s great with milk and sugar too; they “muffle” the spices a bit, as expected, and enhance the richness of the black tea flavor.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Wendigo Tea
wendigo-teaDescription

FireBird

I, the glorious FireBird, am an imposing beast with the exotic complexity to guide you through a wild adventure of savory, sweet, spicy, and back again. Brace yourself if you think you are ready to experience the wonder of FireBird. I am a Spicy Masala Chai that leaves scorched remnants of other Chai teas far below my ferocious wings.
I am born of the meanest Indian Estate black tea available, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, black pepper & all spice. Where other Chai teas expect you to add milk and heaps of sweetener to balance the bitter taste of inferior ingredients, I stand alone as a unique masterpiece.
My elevated nature is most notable from the refusal of being satisfied with anything but the very best and strongest tasting Premium Indian Estate Tea available. This compliments the spices and will not dare be buried under them, but earthy decadence soaring ahead for the lingering trail of spice and flavor following on your pallet.
Feel the Burn. Love the taste.

 

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Spiced Pumpkin from DAVIDsTEA

spicedpumpkinTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy: DAVIDsTEA

Tea Description:

Is there anything more autumnal than a pumpkin? If there is, we don’t wanna hear about it. Not when pumpkin can taste this good. This sweet and comforting, all-natural blend combines pumpkin, honeybush, cinnamon, cocoa and real maple crystals. The result? A warming taste of fall we just can’t get enough of. And since it’s caffeine-free, you can enjoy it all day and all night. Now that’s pumpkin to get excited about.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I know you’re likely tired of hearing all about pumpkin.. pumpkin spice seems to be taking over every product these days from dairy creamer to cookies. Even though I see pumpkin-themed products on a daily basis, I still can’t seem to stay away. Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors, especially if it’s lightly spiced.

I was so excited to see that DAVIDsTEA had a different pumpkin tea out this year.. one that is caffeine-free, with the addition of actual pumpkin pieces and light on the spices! My cup smells very sweet and spicy. I’m worried that the cinnamon will be too strong, but I’m still encouraged by the ingredients.

Sipping… the first thing I taste is a sweetness that I wasn’t really expecting. I suspect it could be from the maple crystals and cinnamon. There is also a hint of pumpkin in the background.. sort of a starchy, soft flavor. I actually enjoy this blend and its nice balance of flavors. I can taste just about everything… the cinnamon, sugar from the maple crystals and a bit of pumpkin. This blend also has a bit of a mouth-coating finish that lingers. It’s not awful, but sort of spoils the cup.

The Holiday Season Approaches!

 

ChristmasLogo1This isn’t a review but an advertisement (sorry guys!)  No, we don’t usually advertise here on this site – this is an anomaly – but because one of the founding SororiTea Sisters is now the Mad Tea Artist behind 52Teas, she gets the privilege of deviating from the norm.

And 52Teas has a Holiday Pre-Sale going on right now on Kickstarter!  This isn’t a typical “fundraising” Kickstarter campaign, instead, this is a chance for you to get some Christmas shopping done early while it helps us keep things just a little more organized by keeping our pre-sales separate from our day-to-day sales activity.

52Teas is offering 5 unique, limited edition teas for this promotion – these teas will be available only during the season and once they’re sold out, they won’t be reblended until next Christmas!

Here’s the specs on those five VITs (Very Important Teas):

  • Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire – This is a special blend of black teas with a hint of Lapsang Souchong to give it that smoky touch that you’d experience from an open fire.  Flavored with chestnut and caramel and just a hint of spice to give it that winter-y kind of appeal.
  • Gingerbread Houjicha – I love the flavor of gingerbread and I think that the roasty-toasty, nutty flavor of houjicha would offer a delightful base to these flavors.
  • Eggnog Chai – A Chai blend (black tea with a touch of honeybush) flavored with notes of custard-y eggnog with an extra dash of nutmeg to enliven the cup.  This would make a great latte to serve Santa on Christmas Eve!
  • Cranberry Orange Cider – A blend of red and green rooibos that’s been flavored with cranberry, orange and apple with a medley of holiday spices.
  • Peppermint Marshmallow Melting in Hot Chocolate – For this blend, I chose a special black tea blend (crafted with teas from our friends at Verdant Tea) for the base that has a rich, natural cacao flavor with hints of malt.  Peppermint, marshmallow and even more chocolate-y flavor to create a deliciously delightful cuppa.

YUM!  So please take a moment to visit the 52Teas Kickstarter Holiday Pre-Sale and get some of that early Christmas shopping done early!  The campaign closes on October 27th so your card won’t be charged until that date, and the teas will be shipped in plenty of time for gift giving!

Thanks for taking a moment to read this . . . now let’s get back to the reviews!