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Decaf Pumpkin Spice/Stash Tea. . . #spookyseasontea

Photo Credit: Stash Tea

I have a confession to make. I don’t really get the pumpkin spice craze, other than the fact that is feels good to welcome autumn and cinnamon is just so nostalgic, evoking lots of warm cozy memories. But I think of these spices more in cake than in beverages.

Add in my love of good black tea to that, and you will see why I expected this decaf to fail. And it did. At least, it failed as a stand alone cup of black tea for me. It was a big old cup of disappointment. It tasted like hot water with cinnamon and spices. I couldn’t taste tea at all.

Realizing that most people add milk and sugar to their flavored tea, I decided to salvage this cup with a tiny splash of milk and just a wee bit of sugar – probably a half teaspoon. Now that’s more like it! This went from blah to ah! Nice! Is it a great black tea? No way. But as a hot, cozy beverage for a chilly night, I could enjoy it this way.

But I really think this is just crying out to be a latte. Next time around, this will be steeped in just hot milk or half water/half milk. It only takes a tiny bit of sugar to sweeten it with the cinnamon and nutmeg that is here, and the ginger is nice and not too hot and spicy.

Plain? No thanks! As a latte? Any chilly night!

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy:  Stash Tea


Leggings, UGGs, foliage, and of course, pumpkin everything. It’s the season you’ve been waiting for and along with it comes our seasonal Pumpkin Spice tea.

You’ll notice forward notes of bold black tea and a smooth aftertaste of–you guessed it, pumpkin. Hints of cinnamon and spices will engage your senses as you sip. This blend is the perfect accompaniment to a slice of pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread. The possibili-teas are endless; you could even try combining it in your favorite pumpkin bread recipe.

This pumpkin spice tea has been scientifically proven (wink) to taste best when consumed on chilly autumn afternoons. But since it’s a decaf tea, really any time of day or night works.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Black Shuck Earl Greay/Wendigo Tea Co

Photo Credit: Wendigo Tea Co.

Continuing with all things Spooky. . . Black Shuck Earl Grey. . . .

I was a little afraid to try this tea, and not because of the legendary hell hound on the logo.

It was because of the bergamot.

Bergamot haters call it blergamot. I’m not a hater, but I am VERY particular about my Earls.
With a name like Black Shuck, I thought this one might run me over.

One of the worst combinations for me is bergamot on high elevation Ceylon tea, which already has loads of lemony notes. The result is SOUR. This tea promised natural bergamot orange zest on a delicate Indian black tea base. it delivered more than it promised.

I was expecting to be manhandled. It is called Black Shuck, after all. The aroma was rich and deep, and the bergamot was…mild? What’s this? Well-behaved bergamot? Not fake perfume to make my tongue curl up in despair?

It took me several minutes to figure out what the base is reminding me of. It smelled and tasted like a Yunnan Dian Hong Golden Tip tea, known for its baked sweet potato aromas. The bergamot is just perfect in this for me. I really don’t like it to be “in my face.”

While they call this a delicate Indian base, I am inclined to call it an elegant Indian base with exactly the right amount of the right kind of natural bergamot.

Now who’s afraid of the big Black Shuck? Not me. Bring it on.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Wendigo Tea Co.


am Black Shuck, and I haunt the graveyard of English Prime Minister Earl Grey. I am the bloodthirsty beast that dwells in the shadows. I am a legendary hell hound, and I’m ready to pounce.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Russian Caravan/Grace Tea Company

Photo Credit: Grace Tea Company

I am a fan of smoky teas, whether they are smoked over a fire like lapsang teas often are, or whether they are teas with natural smoky notes like some Keemun teas.

Russian Caravan teas are usually less smoky than lapsangs. As tea traveled the great distance from China, India, and Ceylon to Russia in camel trains, the evening campfires of the caravans would gradually scent the teas with a light smoky flavor, and this flavor was so delectable and such a part of the tea that it is recreated today.

Too often, tea companies use inferior leaf for teas that are going to be flavored or scented. I find many lapsangs to be weak and watery as far as the base goes, for instance. While I love my smoke, I don’t want to sacrifice quality in the base. Russian Caravan by Grace Tea delivers with this pure China blend, consisting of mostly Keemun with a bit of Lapsang.

Normally I would review this as a fall tea because I always reach for smoky tea on the first chilly or darkish days of autumn. The campfire/fireplace vibe is so comforting. But I made quite the discovery a couple of weeks ago.

SMOKY TEA IS AN AWESOME PAIRING WITH ICE CREAM! Granted, the first ice cream I tried it with was a s’mores flavor one, so there you already have the suggestion of campfires. It was the power of suggestion when eating the ice cream that made me jump up and make a pot of Russian Caravan to have with it. But I have now tried it with other flavors of ice cream and must declare it to be an awesome foil for the rich, cold sweetness. One bite of freezing sugary decadence, one big sip of smoky, hot comfort.

Alas, I have emptied my tea tin before I ran out of ice cream, so tomorrow night I will be trying a nice, strong lapsang with my vanilla chocolate chip.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Grace Tea Company


Being a pure China tea blend, our Russian Caravan black loose leaf tea comes close to the luxury teas that were transported by camel train from the tea-producing areas of India, Ceylon and China to Europe, via Russia during the 18th century.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Bai MuDan/Teavivre

Photo Credit: Teavivre

Someone told me once that white tea just tasted like a cup of hot water to them. I probably would have agreed early on in my tea journey. When your tastebuds are accustomed to strong root beer and sweet, fizzy, highly flavored soda it takes a while to train your palate to find subtle flavors, at least it did for me.

Perhaps the real foodies “get it” right from the start.

I haven’t had unflavored white tea in a while and decided that today would be a good day to take a cup of Bai MuDan outside and enjoy its simplicity while sitting in the sunshine, a rare treat in late winter. Though very windy, it is warm and the sun is welcome after many days of rain.

The packet called for two grams of leaf for twelve ounces of water, which I thought seemed to far too little at first. I used my new Upton Digital Tea Scale since large leaf white tea can be tricky to judge. Teavivre recommends five to eight minutes, and I steeped for about five because I was ready for my break!

First, this is a beautiful golden cup of tea. The color is rich and deep and it actually LOOKS full bodied in the cup. The flavor did not let me down. No one could mistake this for a “cup of hot water!” The flavor lingers for quite a while, too.

I see a lot of white tea described accurately as tasting like sunshine on hay, mainly Shou Mei, but this Bai MuDan tastes like golden stalks with a hint of spring in the air, with the scent of distant flowers laid over, and maybe even a little soft, sweet vegetable like snow pea or sugar snap peas.

I think this is going to be my go-to quiet time cup for a while.

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Teavivre


Mellow and brisk with thick taste, light soybean milk aroma
with a touch of gentle sweet lingering in mouth

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

East Frisian/Harney and Sons

I purchased this tea to use as an enrichment lesson for some young ladies to whom I am teaching elementary German. Tea and cookies make for a fun lesson! And who knew that if East Frisia was a country instead of a region, they would have the highest per capita consumption of black tea in the world?

I wanted to be as authentic as possible and did a test run today. Their “Teetied” is different from any other.

First, a large piece of rock sugar (Kluntje) is put into a porcelain or china cup. Then the rich tea is poured over it and the rock sugar should crackle. After the tea is poured, a small ladle of cream is added to the tea gently, pouring along the side of the cup so that the cream makes a cloud (Wolkje) in the tea. You must never stir!

It is considered polite to drink at least three cups of tea, although more than that is fine. When you finished, you place a spoon (the one you definitely did NOT use to stir your tea!) in your cup or you can turn your cup over on the saucer.

The tea is usually a strong Assam blended with a bit of Darjeeling and some Ceylon. This one is very dark, earthy, and bready. It is a tad brisk but less so than I expected.

The cloud in the tea fascinated me and really made this Teetied a mindfulness session as I watched the cloud roll and change shape after each sip. The cream coats your lips and takes the edge off the strong tea, then the tea dominates, and at the last you get a small sip or two that is incredibly sweet. The rock sugar should be large enough to last through all three cups of tea and each cup that you drink should be finished completely so that the subsequent cup doesn’t look muddy when you add the cream.

I think this lesson will be a success, and I can hardly wait to try it again with some cookies or pastries!

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Harney & Sons 


Fortify yourself with East Frisian, our popular full-bodied black tea blend of Darjeeling, Ceylon and Assam. It’s named for East Frisia, Germany’s cold, wet, and dreary North Sea coast – the ideal spot to drink hot tea, and the East Frisians do! They consume more black tea than anyone else in the world. They do drink it with cream and crystalized sugar.

(Credit- Harney & Sons)

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!