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.

Pumpkin Spice Chai from The Tea Spot


pumpkin-spice-chai-teaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Tea Description:

Our NEW seasonal Pumpkin Spice Chai may soon become your favorite tea to look forward to each Fall! This chai blend boasts a perfectly-balanced full leaf Assam black tea base with cinnamon, clove, cardamom, allspice, and pumpkin flavor to get you warmed up for Fall. This tea makes an amazing pumpkin latte with the simple addition of steamed milk. This seasonal treat will have you jumping in piles of rainbow-colored leaves in no time!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This year (at least this time of the year this year) seems like it’s been the year of the pumpkin chai!  I’ve reviewed quite a few different pumpkin chai teas this year!  I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve tried (nothing comes to mind immediately that I did not enjoy, but some I definitely enjoyed more than others), but I think I’m saving the best for last!  This one – this!  This is one of the very best pumpkin chai teas that I’ve ever tasted.

The first thing that really impressed me when I opened the pouch of this tea is the aroma!  Wow!  I can really smell the pumpkin!  It is a distinct pumpkin-y fragrance.  It smells like the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning when the pies are baking!  I smell notes of spice and black tea too, but the pumpkin notes are prominent!

The aromatic pumpkin notes are there in the brewed tea too.   The fragrance wafting out of my teacup right now are scrumptious!   To brew this, I used my Kati Tumbler and measured 1 heaping bamboo scoop of tea into the basket.  I like to use just a little more leaf when I’m brewing a chai!  This is especially important if you plan on going latte, because you want to accommodate for the heavier flavor of the dairy – or whatever product you’re using to make it a latte.

I brought 12 ounces of water to boiling and poured it into the tumbler and let this tea steep for 3 1/2 minutes.  I usually stop at 3 minutes with a black tea (and especially an Assam, which this is!) but because of the spices, I wanted to give them a little more time to develop so I crossed my fingers and hoped that the Assam would let me steep it a little longer!

Fortunately, the Assam didn’t seem to mind the slightly longer steep.

This is a really delicious pumpkin chai.  The pumpkin notes are distinct.  They are THERE.  There’s no mistaking the pumpkin here!  This isn’t a pumpkin pie spice type chai where you’re tasting the spices of a pumpkin pie but no pumpkin flavor.  This is PUMPKIN!

And even though the pumpkin flavor is strong, it is a true-to-the-squash type of flavor.  It doesn’t taste artificial.  It tastes like someone liquefied pumpkin puree and added it to my teacup.

The spices are nice.  They’re good and strong – flavorful – without pushing it to the spicy level!  It’s a distinct, spiced blend.  Not just warmly spiced, but not quite “spicy” either.  It’s somewhere between.  Consider the amount of spice that you’d find in the typical pumpkin pie.  Let’s call that mild spice.  And then there’s the super zesty, spicy level … this is somewhere in between.  This tastes like a chai that is also a pumpkin tea.

And I like that the spices are so thoughtfully balanced.  I like that this tastes like a chai!  I taste each of the spices:  cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger.  I am also tasting the allspice which is nice (and not always something that’s added to chai!)  It’s warm, it’s cozy, but it’s also got a certain zippy invigorating quality that I get from a well-spiced chai.

You might think that with all that pumpkin and spice, that the tea winds up on the short end of the stick.  But no!  This is an Assam tea and it’s got some gusto!  It is a rich, malty tea and the sweet, caramel-y notes together with the malt really play nicely with the flavors of pumpkin and spice.

For the purposes of this review, I didn’t go latte with this chai.  I wanted to experience the tea straight up, with just a little bit of raw sugar added to enhance the spices a little.  (This would also be amazing with honey!)  After I finished writing my thoughts about the non-latte chai, I decided to add some steamed milk and it’s awesome like that too!  So rich and creamy and yum!  Better than what you’d find in the local coffee stop!

This is a very clever, well-crafted pumpkin chai.  This is the best of the pumpkin patch!