Kombucha appears to be all the rage right now, with stores stocking more companies and flavors than I’ve ever noticed before, even outside the shelves of my local health food store. What is kombucha? Kombucha is fermented black tea. The fermentation process gives the brew carbonation and bacteria, the good kind of bacteria like in yogurt, which helps the digestive system. Due to the fermentation process, some kombuchas are contain alcohol, and others have gone through processes to filter out this excess alcohol and make it safer for those who don’t partake. Check on the alcohol content of the next bottle of kombucha that you pick up to make sure it’s at a level you prefer.
My favorite Kombucha brand at the moment is GT’s Living Foods, specifically their Enlightened and Synergy series. These teas come in heavy glass bottles with well-designed labels, and those with a white cap contain only trace amounts of alcohol. Not to mention, these teas are available in seemingly every flavor imaginable. Each time I find a store that stock’s GT’s Kombucha, I find a new flavor I haven’t seen before.
The best flavor I’ve tasted is their Synergy Trilogy flavor, which I see most often on the shelves. Trilogy features a trio of fruits and spices, blending raspberries, lemon, and ginger with the bubbly black tea base. This is the perfect balance of sweet and tart that compliments the sour bite of the fermented tea. The fizziness makes this feel like a sweet treat, but it has far less sugar than a can of soda, and more natural ingredients. With black tea, bubbles, and that perfect touch of tartness, this kombucha always makes me feel like celebrating. I can’t speak to how the good bacteria has helped my stomach, as I haven’t noticed a drastic change, but drinking the tea does do wonders for my morale.
Some of the other flavors I’ve had an opportunity try include:
- Trilogy – I’ve already waxed poetic about this flavor, see above.
- Gingerade – Less fruity, with more lemon and a spicier ginger kick, a great flavor for fans of ginger beer soda.
- Limited Edition Liberty – This blend came out for 4th of July, and features a blend of watermelon, cherry, and lime. It’s a fun limited edition, but the fruit is a bit too delicate to hold up against the bold tea base. I think it would have been better with a stronger lime-ade presence.
- Guava Goddess – Tasty, tropical, and pink, this was one of the sweeter blends available with the guava powering through the black tea base.
- Gingerberry – Very similar to the Trilogy flavor, but slightly sweeter with blueberry instead of raspberry, and still a hint of ginger spice.
- Cosmic Cranberry – The tartness of the cranberries work well with the sour tea base. It’s similar to the Trilogy flavor but with more tart zing.
- Multi-Green – Surprisingly nutty and not too grassy at all. Much more savory than the other flavors. Definitely an acquired taste.
- Lavender Love – The brew is almost purple in color from all the lavender. The soft, fragrant florals dance over the top of the sweet/sour tea.
- Lemonade – Most of the blends feature some lemon notes, but this blend is all-lemon, the sour citrus pairing perfectly with the tart tea.
- Mystic Mango – This blend is bright and opaque, full of fresh mango fruitiness. This is like a kicked-up orangina, with hearty sweetness and a burst of bubbles.
Even looking at their website now, I see additional flavors I’m intrigued to try. They even have a whole chia-seed series I haven’t seen before. I’ll have to keep an eye out at my local stores.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of kombucha, give one of GT’s Living Foods many delectable flavors a try and see what new avenues of tea await you.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: GT’s Living Foods (or at your local grocery/health food store)
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
As I delved into my tea cabinet recently, I realized I had been stockpiling oolong teas. Where did they all come from?!
Since the season is finally starting to turn, and oolong teas always make me think of spring, it seemed like a good time to try them all.
So I had an Oolong-A-Thon and brewed ten samples from my stores. The numbers below aren’t a “best-of” ranking, but they roughly move from most delicate in flavor to the most potent in flavor. . . . .
- Alishan High Mountain from Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf – The dry leaf smells sweet and nutty, and this sweet-oat flavor is echoed in the first steep with additional notes of green melon. The second steep is nuttier still more oat than fruit, though a bit of the green flavor lingers on the aftertaste. (See a review from my fellow Sororitea Sister).
- Alishan High Mountain Eco First Pluck from Terrior Tea Merchant – The dry leaf smells like sweet grass and sour fruit. The first steep is not sour at all, but very green and buttery, with more interesting notes like citrus or bok choy coming out on later steepings.
- Ding Dong Oolong from Eco-Cha – Prior to brewing, this tea smells dry and earthy, like hay or dried grass. Brewed, the first steep is roasty and savory, with just a hint of starchy sweetness in the aftertaste. The second steep has nutty, brown rice flavors, but still remains light and drinkable. (See a review from my fellow Sororitea Sister).
- Ding Ding Oolong from Cloud Nine (Spring 2015) – The first steep features fruit notes like plum, grape, and currant. There are almost red wine or acai berry flavors. This potent fruit flavor drops off in the second steep, with more green notes and fewer berries, more like green grapes and white wine, though the brew never got too bitter or dark even with longer steep times.
- Ping Lin Pouchong from Cameron Taiwan Premium Loose Leaf – These long dark tea leaves smelled like caramel or burnt sugar when dry, but their first steep was surprisingly green and floral. The brew turned out to be slightly buttery, with almost-seaweed notes. The second steep wasn’t distinctly different, with similar savory tones and a smooth, buttery aftertaste.
- Jin Xuan Milk Oolong from Teavivre – The first steep of this tea ended up tasting like sour grapes and bright florals, with a hint of roasted nuts and a supremely smooth mouthfeel. The second steep increased the almost-honey flavor and feeling of the tea, and brought forward some either, grassier notes to the brew, and maintained the milky smooth texture.
- Tie Kwan Yin Oolong from Tea Ave – The first steep was surprisingly roasty, with notes like warm toast or freshly baked bread. There were no green or floral flavors, but the starchiness was well-balanced with an herbaceous earthiness. The second steep brought out a stronger roast, and slightly bitter, dry hay notes, though the flavors were still balanced and very drinkable.
- Shui Xian Oolong from Origins Tea – The tightly rolled dark leaves, smelled like hay and earth slightly bitter, though the first steep had a pop of tart currant, quickly buried under strong, roasted almond flavors. This tea had a dry mouthfeel, very nutty and savory, with even a hint of smoke, like an oolong for lapsang-lovers. The second steep brought out even more sweet, starchy, marzipan flavors.
- Alishan Charcoal Fire Heavy Roast from T-Oolong Tea (Spring 2012) – Despite the name the first steep of this tea did have some bright notes like a greener alishan oolong but with a distinct, roasted, malty depth. There are some charcoal notes: mineral and toasted. Both steeps brew up dark in color, the second steep maintains the toasted rice and malt flavors as the first steep, but develops a smoother mouthfeel. (See a review from my fellow Sororitea Sister).
- Gingseng Oolong from Enjoying Tea – I tried this tea last, because it was the only flavored oolong in this grouping. Anything with added flavor was bound to be more potent than just the leaves alone. This tea smells sweet in the dry leaf, and brews sweet and sour with a very strong passionfruit flavor: green and slightly tropical. The second steep is earthier, less sweet and more like wet foliage, still some lingering passionfruit notes, especially on the aftertaste.
And there you have it– the results of my Oolong-A-Thon!
Like black or green teas, there are many variations and flavors to be had from trying a variety of oolong teas. From my point of view, there wasn’t a bad tea in the bunch, and each had its own flavors to suit the changing weather or my variable tea cravings.
There is certainly an oolong out there that will fit your tastes as well. Happy oolong brewing!
- Slimming Tea from Cha Tale
- Muse from Tay Tea
- Homestead Peach by Winterwoods Tea
- Colonial Remedy No. 6 Lemon Balm from Oliver Pluff & Co.
- North from Metolius Artisan Tea
- Golden West by Pacific Tea
- Tummy Mint from Yerba Buena Tea Co
- Tomato Tornado from Stylin’ Tea Blends
- Wild Jujube from Teasenz
- Mediterranean Mint from Armeniac Teas
Herbal Teas aren’t REALLY teas as many of us know…they are actually called Tisanes…regardless in this post I will be featuring my personal TOP TEN favorites over the past couple of months. Of course my taste buds are totally different from the next tea lover but these are what fit my fancy as of late. When it comes to herbal I tend of LOVE them or can live without them. These are 10 I would highly recommend. My Top Ten Herbal Teas or Herbal Tisanes, that is! If you don’t see your favorite on the list let us know why you love your favorites in comments!
- Winter Morning Earl Grey from Sunshine Cottage
- French No.7 from Blue Hour Tea
- Green of London – Earl Grey Mao Feng from Le Palais des Thes
- Girlie Grey Tea from Jeeves & Jericho
- Rose Earl Grey from Red Leaf Tea
- William Shakespeare’s Black Tea Blend from Simpson and Vail
- Sir Stuart Black & Green Tea from Kent & Sussex Tea & Coffee
- Persian Rose from Tay Tea
- Luna Tea from Moongleam Tea
- London Fog from Harlow Tea
LiberTeas will forever be the reigning champion of Earl Greys but I decided to take a stab at naming my Top Ten FLAVORED Earl Greys of the Moment – just for kicks! These Earl Greys are FLAVORED and when I mean FLAVORED I mean they have additional or more-than-just-your-regular-Earl-Grey-flavorings going on! They have additional or unique flavors that you wouldn’t find in a straight-up EG. Some mentioned above even have a non-black tea base but have EG flavors so those also qualified for my FLAVORED list. Of course MY taste buds differ from everyone elses and yours differ from mine. These are just 10 of them that really stood out to me and I thought deserved an additional mention. A few even went back a year or two in the archives. If you do not see your favorites on this list – let us know in comments and we will try and locate them – and try them – if possible.