Smart Tea from Wild Leaf Active Teas. . . .

I am a sucker for a tea with a magical claim, friends.

This one is a delightful green, with hints of berry and mint at the forefront. Now, I’ll be honest– I may have brewed this one up a bit too hot, as I hadn’t realized it was a green until after my water went a’boilin’. (Not my– wait for it– *smart*est moment, but I digress.)

But regardless, it was everything I love greens to be– fruity, light, grassy– and nothing I dislike– bitter, or vegetal.

Did it make me any smarter?

I can’t say for sure (and my flub on the boiling temp would surely suggest otherwise), but it was great afternoon sipping, and gave me just enough pep to make it through til the end of the day.

If I’m smart enough to know what’s good for me, I’ll be brewing this one again!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Green
Where to Buy: Wild Leaf
Description

Channel your inner Einstein with mental stimulating Ginkgo Biloba, Peppermint and Gotu Kola. Whether you need to tackle a job interview, a test or just figure out what’s for dinner, drink this minty flavored tea to bring out the most brilliant you!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

On the First Day of Christmas, 52Teas sent to me. . . . .

Every December we happily look forward to the Christmas teas that 52Teas puts together for their Christmas box. Our Sister will be giving us the daily low down on which teas made their way into the box this year .  . . . .

The First Day of Christmas

Coconut French Toast with Cardamom Maple Syrup Black Tea

For the First Day of Christmas, 52 Teas gave to me….coconut crusted French toast with cardamom syrup! This was the tea of the week for June 15, 2015 and at that time I had not yet heard of 52 Teas, so I am really excited to have the chance to try this. It sounds like pure Heaven!

The dry leaf smell is creamy, maple-y, and coconut-y! There are big chunks of coconut and cardamom pods. Maple and cardamom tend to go well together and, in my humble opinion, coconut just goes well with almost anything!

I steeped this tea for about 3 minutes with very hot water and I also added just a tad bit of agave. This is so, so good! The cardamom shines through so well, its not overpowering though. Sometimes I feel that cardamom can add such an intense flavor and end up outshining the other ingredients, but here it just accents everything. The combination of coconut and maple add this nutty sweet and creaminess. I am very much enjoying this one, so this holiday TEAson (see what I did there?) is off to a fantastic start! I am going to enjoy the rest of this cup now and also finish the entire sample bag- and can I be honest with you guys? I feel like I haven’t done that in a really long time. I mean yeah I’ve found the teas I’ve been ordering to be very enjoyable, but to finish off the cup and the rest of the tea leaves? That’s rare for me these days so i’m really happy to be loving this tea so much.

So cheers to you and yours, enjoy this lovely symphony of flavor, and come on back tomorrow to see what I have to say about Day #2!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  52Teas
Description

I think we should kick off this holiday countdown with some BREAKFAST – don’t you? How about some delicious coconut crusted French Toast with a touch of butter and some sweet maple syrup that’s been infused with the warmth of cardamom? Sound good? Yeah, it sounds good to me too!

Here’s our original description for this tea:

This tea was inspired by a very memorable breakfast. Coconut crusted French toast that was topped with melted butter and a cardamom syrup. I went a step further and added maple flavoring because it sounded like a good idea. It tastes even better than it sounds!

I stuck close to the recipe here although there’s a bit more cardamom here than in my past versions. I wanted to highlight the cardamom!

organic ingredients: black teas, toasted coconut flakes, cardamom pods & natural flavors

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

As American As Apple Pie from CatSpring Tea

Yaupon, as a tea varietal, is entirely new to me, At first glance, it looks a lot more like a mate or a guayusa; flakes of greenish-brown leaf that put me in mind (albeit fleetingly) of fish food. Closer inspection reveals that they’re actually quite sizable chunks of (very shiny) tea leaves, although not as oxidized as I expected given that they’re referring to this as a “black” tea. Generously scattered among the leaves are cubes of dried apple, almond slivers, small pieces of beetroot, and cinnamon chips. Even dry, the scent is pretty amazing – spot-on apple pie spices!

Yaupon is the only caffeinated tea plant native to North America, and was used by Native Americans during male-only purification rituals. Despite a wane in popularity, CatSpring now farm  Yaupon sustainably on their family-owned land in Texas. They’ve also got sound ecological credentials, as they’re producing without the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or synthetic weed control.

I used 1.5 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 4 minutes in boiling water. The recommendation is 4-7, so it’s probable that this could be extended if that’s what you prefer, but I’d likely reduce to 1 tsp of leaf if I were brewing for over 4 minutes. The resulting liquor is a medium golden brown, with a distinctive orangey tint. The apple pie scent isn’t as strong once brewed, and there’s a light underlying dankness, like wet leaves in autumn. Once again, I’m reminded of guayusa.

As it turns out, there’s a reason for this. Rather than the usual Camellia Sinensis, Yaupon tea is actually produced from the dried leaves of Ilex Vomitoria, which is a species of holly. Yerba Mate (Ilex Paraguariensis) and Guayusa (Ilex Guayusa) are both closely related plants, and all contain high levels of caffeine and theobromine. The flavours of all three are, to me, rather similar. Dank, slightly vegetal, very reminiscent of forest floor. They’re not tea varieties I would typically look to drink often unflavoured, and they’re a bit of a change from “normal” black or green teas if they’re what you’re used to.

Fortunately for me, this blend is flavoured, and it’s flavouring that works well with the choice of base tea. The apple is floral rather than crisp and sharp, but it manages to conjure a delicious, slightly mushy, “baked” flavour that’s very suggestive of apple pie. The cinnamon adds the requisite spicing, and the almonds round things out with a slightly savoury, slightly creamy nuttiness. I wasn’t expecting to be able to taste the beetroot, but it’s there in the background and it adds an edge of sour tartness that brings the whole thing together nicely. All told, it really does taste like apple pie.

The base tea is slightly distracting, because it’s quite a strong flavour. At times, it almost feels like a fight between the Yaupon and the other ingredients to establish prominence. A longer brew time might have helped to increase the strength of the flavouring, but it might also increase the strength of the base tea, and I’m not convinced that would be a good thing here. Still, experimentation is everything, and I’ll probably adjust my parameters until I find a combination I’m happier with.

On the whole, I’d say it just about works. The Yaupon is a very “autumnal” flavour, to put it politely, and apple pie makes me think of autumn anyway so it’s not as jarring as it could have been (a strawberries and cream Yaupon blend would make me nervous, let’s say.) It’s a very smooth blend, with no bitterness or astringency, and the flavours come over clearly. Tasting this, you’d be in no doubt as to what it was supposed to replicate – it definitely lives up to its name! I’d drink this again, and I’d try more teas from CatSpring in the future. Their offering is definitely unique, and it’s nice that it has a strong family heritage – it’s the exact opposite of the more faceless bigger brands. I’ll be interested to see where CatSpring go from here.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Yaupon
Where to Buy:  Cat Spring Tea

catspringteaDescription:

As American As Apple Pie is our comforting black yaupon tea loose leaf blend as delicious as a slice of apple pie. Take a trip to grandma’s kitchen with every cup.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Ararat Basil Infusion from Armeniac Teas

It’s usually hit and miss with herbal tisanes for me but this combo of Ararat dark opal basil and wild mint in Ararat Basil Infusion from Armeniac Teas is truly something special.  Eventho herbal tisanes usually are not my thing I tend to gravitate towards anything minty.  This didn’t disappoint!

Not only does this Ararat Basil Infusion from Armeniac Teas has the perfect ratio of basil to mint to please the nose and the taste buds – it’s also pretty pleasing to the eyes!  Upon opening the bag I saw fluffy, springy mint and basil that were VERY fresh and ready to infuse!

Personally the mint takes it to the next level for me but I have to mention the Ararat Basil, specifically, here!  Ararat Basil is a beautiful bi-color basil (usually shades of purple and green).  It has a slight licorice aroma and flavor to it, too!

Ararat Basil Infusion from Armeniac Teas is pretty impressive and makes me change my mind about herbal tisanes.  If you are anything like me and want to find the BETTER tisanes out there give Ararat Basil Infusion from Armeniac Teas a whirl.  If you already adore herbals then Ararat Basil Infusion from Armeniac Teas might be right up your alley!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Tisane

Where to Buy: Armeniac Teas

Description:

This pungent infusion has the extraordinary aroma and fresh flavor of dark opal basil and notes of wild mint, mentioned in old texts as a stress reducer and positive mood enhancer.

Ingredients: Ararat dark opal basil and wild mint

Type: Herbal, Natural, Caffeine Free, GMO Free, No artificial colors or fragrances

Directions: Place 1 heaping teaspoon of tea blend per each cup in a teapot, add freshly boiled water and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain into a teacup and serve hot or iced, without sugar.

Learn more about this tea and tea company here.

Leatherbound from August Uncommon Tea

leatherboundTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: August Uncommon Tea

Tea Description:

Dark wooden walls shoulder the weight of endless rows of well-loved books. The brooding tannins and rich, buttery aroma of this tea mimic the inviting yet austere atmosphere of an old library. Hints of cocoa and sweet almond enliven the mix like the occasional contemporary novel whose glossy cover puts the leatherbound classics into relief. A drop of milk tips the flavor towards a dark creamy stout. Like sinking into a crackled leather club chair to ponder the pages between your hands.

Learn more about this tea here

Taster’s Review:

I am really eager to try this blend as I’ve never had a tea blend with caraway included. It sounds like such an interesting combination – assam tea, caraway, cacao.. so unique! Plus, I love the idea of this tea bringing to mind a library and old books.

Sipping… hm, the first thing that I taste is the smooth black tea base and the cacao. It reminds me of other chocolate and black tea blends I’ve had in the past. There is a tiny bit of astringency as well. A strange thing happens after I’ve sipped.. a bit of a buttery flavor blossoms on the tongue. It reminds me of caramel squares and buttered toast. I also pick up on hazelnuts and very lightly, cherries in syrup. The finish is very drying,  but it’s still drinkable despite being slightly unpleasant. I can’t seem to pick up on the caraway flavor… but then again, I’ve never had caraway in a tea.. so I could be tasting it, but just not know it.

Overall, I enjoyed this tea and I appreciate that it had many different flavors to discover. I’m not sure that I really experienced the library comparison just by taste… perhaps the description is slightly far-fetched, but it was certainly interesting. I’m excited to see how my next cup will be when I add a bit of milk!