Anne Has Returned – What Can I Say? I Love Subscriptions!

Greetings – it’s been a while since I last posted a review here – as it’s now coming up on my 3rd year as the Mad Tea Artist over at 52Teas, it’s been almost that same amount of time that I’ve not written a review! Many things kept me from writing here: a lack of available time and feeling a little unsure if I can be an unbiased reviewer since I am now – once again – a tea vendor. I’ve missed reviewing though and I’ve also missed receiving boxes of tea in my mailbox.

But recently, I caved and subscribed to Tea Box Express. I have received one box from them in the past – it was their debut subscription box and they sent both Jennifer (aka TeaEqualsBliss) and me a box to review here.  (I wrote that review in two parts. To check out part 1, click here. To check out part 2, click here.) I loved that box and have considered subscribing many times, but for one reason or another, I never did. Finally, I caved and treated myself to a 3-month subscription.

So let’s get down to it! Five items were tucked into this month’s box, including a stamped teaspoon; a white chocolate dipped fortune cookie; a pouch of raspberry hibiscus flavored S’mores; a pouch or raw cookie dough and of course, it wouldn’t be a tea box without some tea, would it? This box contained one 2 ounce pouch of flavored green tea.

If I’m being totally honest, I wasn’t all that excited after opening the box. A fortune cookie? Hibiscus flavored S’mores? The two redeeming things (or so I thought) were the beautiful spoon (which I do love) and the cookie dough . . . which turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. But more on that later.

My favorite item in the box was the first thing that I examined closer – the stamped teaspoon from Mountain Bird Banners. This is one of those things that I’ve wanted for a while but could never justify getting for myself, so what a joy it was for me to find it in this month’s box. The spoon came tucked inside a colorful burlap wrap – I was charmed by the presentation. This spoon is stamped with the words: “Tea Time is Me Time”. Beautiful!

At that point I decided it was time for a cuppa, so I decided to try the tea that was included in this month’s box: Walnut Cake from Polar Tea Co.  It’s a blend of Chinese Sencha, pineapple, coconut, walnut, brittle pieces, almonds and natural flavors. I steeped roughly 3 grams of tea in 12 ounces of hot water (175°F is my go-to temperature for green teas) for 2 minutes. I taste walnut and pineapple and a sweetness from both the brittle and candied pineapple. I didn’t get much ‘cake’ flavor so I put my new spoon to use and added about half a teaspoon of raw sugar to the cup to see if it helped bring out more of the flavor. It did – I could taste a subtle cake-y background. Overall, a decent cup.

As for the sweet treats that were included in this month’s box, my favorite – hands down – was the Raspberry Hibiscus S’mores from Malvi. I was originally not all that excited about this confection because of the hibiscus, but I found that the contrast of tart and sweet tasted fantastic. I also didn’t have high hopes for the Fancy Fortune Cookie but I am happy to say that I it exceeded any expectations I may have had. The cookie was fresh and crisp and the white chocolate coating was not heavy – I was worried this might prove to be something a bit too sweet for my liking but the light shell of white chocolate was not at all cloying. The one thing that I thought I would like – the coconut chocolate chip raw cookie dough from Ello Raw – turned out to be the one thing that disappointed me. This isn’t really ‘raw cookie dough’ like what you might expect – it’s more like a soft, less dense granola bar made of cashews, coconut, oats, coconut oil, cacao nibs and raw honey. It tasted like cookie dough trying to be health food – and when I indulge in cookie dough, I’m not thinking health food! It was good – it just was not what I was expecting  . . . or hoping for.

Overall, I’m much happier with this box of tea time goodies than I originally thought I’d be.  Sure, the cookie dough didn’t turn out to be exactly what I expected, but I didn’t hate it either, so I don’t consider it a loss – but perhaps a draw? Everything else gets a thumbs up from me.

Here’s the scoop!

Where to Buy: Tea Box Express

Each box includes 4 to 6 curated gifts. The contents are a surprise but subscribers can look forward to a tea care package that contains:

  • Whole leaf tea that is high quality, fresh, and flavorful.
  • Items such as cookies, honey, specialty sugars, chocolate, and infusers.
  • A new selection of tea and unique artisan treats every month.
  • Your very own tea party in a box! 

Brigita’s Daylight from Lauku Tea. . . November’s Sips by Box. .

Sips by is an amazing monthly tea box.  They curate teas for you based off of a profile you put together.  So there isn’t a fear of getting a ginger tea if you aren’t into ginger teas.

What’s really cool about Sips by, is that they have collaborated with some amazing tea companies so each month you are presented with this wonderful variety of teas.  From Matcha to organic herbals, Sips by delivers fabulous teas each and every month.

In my November box, I had an herbal tea from Lauku Tea-Brigita’s Daylight.  Herbals are very hit or miss for me. I crave and yearn to adore more of herbal blends, but it just isn’t in the cards for me. A lot of herbals are incredibly spiced or have chai like elements that my taste buds are not fans of.  So I was insanely giddy when I saw the ingredients for Brigita’s Daylight were all right up my alley.

Brigita’s Daylight is a gorgeous blend of fermented apple leaves, black currant leaves, dried apples, meadow clover flowers, lemon balm, and mountain ash berries. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this blend but I was eager to find out. I brewed up a huge pot full of this herbal and allowed the tea to steep for about 7 minutes. Allowed the tea to cool for a few moments and took my first sip.

This is probably one of the best herbal teas I’ve ever had. This tea tastes like fresh apples with a floral and citrus note and a subtle berry finish.  The freshness is what I adore the most from this tea.  All of the flavors pop easily and wonderfully.

The fermented apple leaves and dried apples provide this almost apple juice like flavor while the lemon balm and meadow clover flowers yield a seductive floral citrus twist that I want more of.  The berry finish just nicely ties this tea all together.

I downed this herbal hand blended creation- and when I saw downed it, I mean that I couldn’t stop drinking this tea. I drank several pots full and am now in the process of ordering more, even though I need to seriously stop buying tea because my personal tea stash is getting out of hand.

With how stressful my day is, I love the fact that I’ll have this tea in my tumbler helping me get through the day.  This tea gives you all the warm tea feels with all the love of being an herbal. Thank you Sips by for introducing me to this amazing blend!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy:  Lauku Tea/Sips by

Sunny and stimulating with the subtle sweetness of dried apple and the earthy green of meadow clover flowers. For those who need a clear head and good spirits for a day full of possibilities. Pairs well with a refreshing walk outdoors and a morning muffin.

Who is Brigita?

Ingredients: fermented organic apple leaves, organic black currant leaves, dried organic apples, organic meadow clover flowers, organic lemon balm, organic mountain ash berries

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Lumbini Opa from Story of My Tea. . . A Monthly Tea Experience. . . .


If you haven’t heard of Story of My Tea’s monthly subscription service, I implore you to check this monthly box out.  This monthly subscription box may be a bit more expensive than the others out there, but this tea box delivers a monthly tea experience.  A curated monthly tea experience into regions and tea depths that you may not be familiar with.  Other tea boxes do the same, yes, but with each tea that Story of My Tea delivers to your doorstep, there is also an added learning experience.

On the back of every pouch is more information regarding the tea and even an interactive bar code that you scan with your phone to learn more.  I just love that feature.

This go around, I brewed up Lumbini Opa, a black tea from the Lumbini estate in Sri Lanka.  From what I’m understanding, this particular estate is considered to be one of the finest tea producing estates in the region.  Lumbini Opa is described as being very fragrant, rich and malty with a full bodied taste with complex flavors and hints of spicy sweetness.

Another great point to Story of My Tea’s packaging is that feature prominently on each package are the steeping parameters. No need to guess with their teas. The steeping guide lines are laid out for you.  Steeping parameters for this tea are 190F and a steep time of 3-4 minutes. Story of My Tea also suggests adding in ginger slices, mint leaves or a stick of cinnamon. I love all of those suggestions and will end up trying those next go around with this tea.

After allowing the tea to cool for a few moments, I took my first sip. I haven’t had a black tea in a while and this tea is making me wonder why.  Warm malty tones with a tiny bit of an earthy hint provide this wonderful loving tea a great start.  The spicy hint kicks in more towards the end of the sip and contributes to this delicious after taste. Each sip is soothing and warming to the soul.  This is one of those teas you need around for when you are cold to the bone and need warmed up. Like those winter days that are creeping every so slowly towards us.   This tea has “Sweater Weather” written all over it.

I love those scenarios when a tea reminds you of how great a variety can be.  I have been neglecting my black teas for far too long. I need to brew up a few and show them some love.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Story of My Tea

A tea subscription for the explorer in your heart!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Peach Black Blend from Zen Tea Bar. . . .

In my recent July tea box from Zen TeaBar, there were four main teas to enjoy.  One particular blend caught my eye instantly, Peach Black Blend, a blend from Zen TeaBar themselves.  So far from what I’ve experienced from Zen TeaBar, they cultivate a tea box for you, allowing you the chance to check out teas from companies you may have never heard of or just haven’t taken the plunge and made an order from.

Peach Black Blend is a brilliant Sri Lankan black tea, dried fruit like papaya and peach, blackberry leaves, and calendula petals.  When I first opened up the pouch of tea, rich peachy notes instantly filled the air.  Team that up with a malty black tea and papaya, you have yourself a wonderful treat.

Brewed with fresh boiled water and allowed to steep for a 3 minutes and allowed to cool for about 5, this tea is a peach lover’s dream.  First sip in and you are greeted with this sweet definite peach flavor with a wonderfully seductive malty black tea background.   Really nice and a great balance between the added in flavor components and the black tea itself.

As an iced tea, I greedily gobbled this tea down.  Still those same black tea malty notes but the peach notes are amped up and really are the driving force yielding such a sweet flavor that makes you want to enjoy the last few days of summer we have in style.

I’m super excited about this tea blend and am sad to say, this pouch didn’t last very long.  But I am quite excited to see if my September box will also feature a Zen TeaBar blend. . .I sure hope so!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Zen TeaBar

Chill out with this beautiful blend of premium Sri Lankan black tea, dried papaya, dried peach, blackberry leaves, sunflower and calendula peals.  It’s wonderful when iced and elegant when hot.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Formosa Oolong from Simple Loose Leaf. . . . .

Most oolongs taste like either greens or blacks to me, but this one’s a perfect in-betweener. It’s got that lighter, vegetal green, but throws in a dash of that sexy deep note that I love about black.

There are also other notes here, some sort of a plum/raisin sugar-tartness that really kicks it up a notch. If I were going to going to assign this tea an aura color, it would be a warm autumn purple.

This is the sort of tea that I would sip while exploring an attic while wearing an oversized woolen sweater. Knowing my luck, that attic would be haunted as EFF. I’d open a yearbook from 1934 and be possessed by some girl who died of — I don’t know — polio? The vapors? What did people die of back then?

I wouldn’t be possessed long. In movies, ghosts LOVE their new bodies, but in reality, a ghost from 1934 wouldn’t know how to use my car, phone, or computer at work. She’d probably go “the hell with this” and bounce of her own accord. If our grandparents are any indication, people of that generation loathe the digital area. She’d cross over.

Back to the tea.

I really enjoy this tea. It’s just the right afternoon lift without making my heart dive-bomb out of my chest.

The outside of the bag says Formosa Oolong is a “perfect introduction to the world of Taiwanese tea.”

Okay, Taiwan. You have me interested. I’m ready for a second date.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Oolong
Where to Buy:  Simple Loose Leaf 

This semi-fermented tea from Taiwan, gets its name from the Portuguese explorers who called the island Formosa, meaning ‘beautiful’. The copper-red leaves with tips of silver brew into a beautiful bright golden brisk cup with peach undertones. Delicious hot or cold.

Ingredients: Taiwanese Oolong Tea

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!