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Drinking

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!

Product Review: 24 oz. BPA Free Plastic Bottle from Fit Life Tea Company

FitLifeBottleProduct Information:

Where to Buy:  Fit Life Tea Co.

Tea Description:

For the health and safety of you and your loved ones, insist on using containers made only with materials approved by the U.S. FDA as safe for carrying foods and liquids.

Our premium BPA-free drinking bottle has a convenient flip-top handle and a built-in straw. Its slender design makes it easy to always keep plenty of water or Fit Life Tea on hand wherever you are. It measures 9” tall x 2.5“ in diameter, so you can stow it anywhere and hydrate often.

You owe it to your cells to do everything you can to keep unwanted plastic residues from migrating into your fresh food, water and tea. Keep your water and Fit Life Tea tasting pure and delicious with this smart and stylish BPA-free bottle.

Learn more about this product here.

Taster’s Review:

I’m not one to get all excited over a plastic bottle.  I try to avoid all that is plastic when it comes to tea.  My iced tea pitcher is glass and I went through quite a lengthy search to find the one that suited my needs to a T(ea) and when I broke the handle on that pitcher, I went out and got another one just like it.

So a plastic bottle for drinking iced tea?  Not really something I would have been in the market for or bought for myself.  But when Fit Life sent me one of their 24 oz. BPA Free Plastic Bottles, I decided I’d try it.  So, I brewed a couple of Fit Life teas and let them cool completely before pouring them into the bottle and chilling.

And something about that bottle enchanted me.

I don’t know why I love this bottle so much, but it rarely leaves my side now.  This is what I drink my iced tea out of (and not just the teas from Fit Life!) and I also drink my favorite drink – Matcha infused Maple Water – out of this bottle too.  Like I said, my newest favorite cold drink drinking vessel.

I won’t pour hot liquid into this – I still don’t trust the act of ‘heating’ plastic even if it is BPA free.  But I think I can use this for iced tea and water and be OK with that!  In fact, I think I’m very OK with that!  I really love this bottle!