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!

Chocolate Candy Cane from PaperBoxGoodies

Just because the holiday season is behind us doesn’t mean that the time for holiday-themed teas is over!  In the spirit of keeping the good holiday vibes going, I brewed up a cup of Chocolate Candy Cane from PaperBoxGoodies.  I don’t see this flavor listed on the PaperBoxGoodies Etsy shop so I’m not sure of the ingredients, but it looks to be an herbal blend with mint, chocolate chips, and licorice root.

 

I was excited about the herbal nature of this blend.  I love candy cane teas, but they all seem to have a black tea base which makes it hard to drink when I don’t need all the caffeine.  Having an herbal decaf option was just the tea I needed when relaxing and recovering from the busy end of the year.

 

Brewed, this blend is smooth, sweet, and minty.  The dry crispness of the mint is lessened by the licorice root.  Any herbal harshness that sometimes comes with pure mint teas is lessened by the rich chocolate chips.  Minty candy cane is the main flavor, followed by a mild cocoa aftertaste.  The licorice root doesn’t impart a specific flavor, but adds a natural sweetness and a smooth mouthfeel.

 

This is one of those teas that would benefit from a strong brewing and then made into a latte with whipped cream.  I didn’t quite have enough in my sample to go the whole latte route, so I’ll have to try it next time.

 

Overall this was a great decaf candy cane blend that I would try again next holiday season.

 

 

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: herbal

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

1st Place Tea: Snowflake from Aromatica Fine Teas

Depending on where you live, you may have seen some snowflakes flying on the air this time of year, which would be the perfect time to brew up a cup of Snowflake tea from Aromatica Fine Teas.

This is an award-winning blend, taking 1st place in the North American Tea Championships in 2011.  Thinking about tea championships puts some silly images in my head, like some kind of tea Olympics, with little packs of tea on a snowy downhill ski slope.  Anyway, the story is getting away from me.

Like beautiful, white, creamy snowdrifts, this black tea is blanketed with extra vanilla and creamy flavors.  This tea is somewhere between a breakfast blend and a dessert blend, so that means it can be brewed up just about any time of day.  In addition to the vanilla, there are coconut flakes, which add their usual creamy, buttery taste. Luckily there’s not too much coconut, and this moderation keeps the brew from getting too oily.

What really sets this blend apart are the real slivers of almond.  These stylish blonde slivers go beyond the typical marzipan flavoring, and add real, sweet, nuttiness from actual nuts as ingredients.  With smooth almond and lush coconut shavings, this tea taste a bit more like a coconut cookie than a simple coconut cream tea.

Overall, Snowflake is a really solid vanilla tea blend, super drinkable and smooth.  I drank it black, but it would amazing as a latte or made hot-cocoa-style, topped with marshmallows.  The blend isn’t too sweet, nor too plain.

I know coconut is traditionally a tropical flavor, but with a name like Snowflake, this can be your next favorite winter brew.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Aromatica Fine Teas
Description:

A fabulous almond coconut tea. Brew it in steamed milk for a Tropical Fog. Ceylon and China black tea, coconut rasps, flavour, almond flakes.

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!

Winter Wonderland Tea from Shanti Tea

Winter WonderlandTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Shanti Tea

Tea Description:

Creamy, spicy, warming with a hint of vanilla and a malty tea base

Ingredients: Black tea, orange peel, clove, cinnamon, ginger root, cornflowers, chrysanthemum petals, natural essences

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Not only is Winter Wonderland Tea from Shanti Tea one of my favorite teas this time of year but I also enjoy it year-round for the delightful quality and taste, too!

The black tea base is of medium strength and combined well with orange peel, clove, cinnamon, ginger, and a variety of flower petals.  It’s pleasing the palate and the eye!  My favorite part of this flavor combo is the orange.  The spices are just an added plus.  This is warming for the heart and soul and is perfect for sharing with friends when the holiday chill is about.  It has a bit of creaminess, spiciness, and malt to it.  I’m curious what this would taste like with the addition of a speck of mint.  Regardless…Winter Wonderland Tea from Shanti Tea is certainly for me!  Could it be for you, too?  I wouldn’t be surprised.