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Melange

Aniseed Balls Tisane from Bluebird Tea Co.

aniseed_ballsTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Spice Melange

Where to Buy:  Bluebird Tea Co.

Tisane Description:

Award-winning nostalgic aniseed, star anise + liquorice herbal tea blend

This blend won the highest food award in the country. The judges said: ‘Truly original and delicious infusion that packs a true punch.. finally a blend that’s blokey’! It’s also the nation’s favourite childhood sweet. Not just our opinion, it’s fact. There was a survey, questionnaire and everything.

Learn more about this blend here.

Taster’s Review:

When Bluebird Tea Co. asked me what teas I’d like to try, this one was near the top of my list.  After reading the ingredient list, you might wonder why it was that this was one of the teas I requested…

Ingredients: Liquorice, Aniseed, Star Anise, Hibiscus, Stevia, Chilli. 

I mean, this tisane has two of my “I’d rather this tisane not have this ingredient” ingredients:  hibiscus and stevia.  So you might be wondering why I’d choose this tea.  But this tisane also has three of the ingredients that I love to see in teas/tisanes:  Licorice, Aniseed and Star Anise!  And I guess my requesting this tisane proves that my love for these three ingredients overpowers my disdain for the hibiscus and stevia.

Oh, I’m still wishing that the hibiscus and stevia weren’t in there.  Before even taking a sip, I’m thinking that it would be a better tisane without them, although it isn’t really a fair assessment because I haven’t yet taken a sip.

StarAnise
Star Anise – one of my favorite spices. Photo from Wikipedia. Click on the pic to go there.

The dry leaf is gorgeous.  Lots of whole pieces of star anise!  They’re so pretty.  It smells delightful too:  sweet, warm and zesty.

To steep this tisane, I used my Kati Tumbler.  (I prefer to use this device when I’m brewing a spiced tea/tisane like this because when I brew a spiced tea in my Breville, the spices become “embedded” in the tea maker and it requires a soak in baking soda to get the odors to release.  Then again, I need to soak my Breville anyway, so maybe I should have used it to steep this!)  I measured out 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of the tisane into the basket of the Kati and then poured hot water (195°F) over the tisane and let it steep for 8 minutes.

Ordinarily, when brewing a tisane with hibiscus, I steep it for 6 minutes or less.  However, I could see very little hibiscus in the loose leaf blend so I figured that this tisane could benefit from a little more time.  Spices need time to get their flavors to release fully.

OK!  So now it’ sip time.  I can definitely taste the hibiscus.  Next time I try this tisane, I might go with 6 1/2 or 7 minutes rather than a full 8 minutes.  That said, it doesn’t taste too hibiscus-y.  But I’m still wishing it wasn’t there.

That said, this is really quite nice despite the presence of hibiscus and stevia.  And for those who don’t really mind hibiscus quite so much, it does add an interesting tart, berry like flavor to the cup.  It’s a little bit tart and I can feel the insides of my cheeks pucker slightly as I take a sip, but because there is enough going on with this blend from the warmth of the chili to the zesty sweetness from the licorice-y notes, I find that the tartness doesn’t upset me.

The stevia adds sweetness (obviously) and this is a nice contrast to the spicy chili tone.  And take note:  even though chili is listed as the last ingredient, this tisane has a real spicy kick to it from the chili!  I can feel the heat at the back of my throat.  It’s not too spicy or hot.  I’m not running to the kitchen to find something to temper the heat.  But it is warm enough to alert the sensors in the mouth that something spicy is dancing around the palate.

But the three real stars of this cup are the licorice, star anise and aniseed!  This has a really lovely licorice-y flavor!  If you are a fan of black licorice, this tisane should be at the top of your must try list!  This has a lot of snappy licorice flavor!  Sweet and zesty.  It reminds me so much of the black licorice candy that I love.  In fact, it tastes as though someone liquefied some black licorice candy and then served that in a cup with a splash of hibiscus, a pinch or two of chili pepper and a little bit of sweetener.

I like this served straight up without additions but it would also be quite nice with a cinnamon stick garnish.  (I like the combination of cinnamon and licorice.)  Really, it doesn’t need anything other than that.  It could do without the hibiscus, although I’m not hating that the hibiscus is there.  The same goes for the stevia.  I like the little bit of sweetness that the stevia adds to this.  It’s enough sweetness without getting that funky flavor that I sometimes taste from stevia in teas.  Bonus!

Yet another huge win for Bluebird Tea Company!

Mayan Cocoa Spice Tisane from Yogi

MayanCocoaSpiceTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Spice Melange

Where to Buy:  Yogi

Tisane Description:

Embark on a journey to the ancient Mayan temples, where prized cocoa beans were ground and mixed with spices to create a sacred beverage that symbolized fertility and prosperity. We’ve taken this combination into the modern era by combining Organic Cocoa Shells, which supply antioxidants, with the traditional Ayurvedic warming and invigorating spices of organic Cardamom, Clove and Cinnamon Bark. Enjoy this rich tasting and enlivening blend any time of day for a delicious treat.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

Even though this Mayan Cocoa Spice Tisane from Yogi isn’t marketed as a “chai” … because it has many of the “usual” spices of a masala chai blend, I decided to categorize it as a chai.  And even though this is a tea that can be purchased at my local Chuck’s Produce and it’s a bagged tea, it’s not too bad.

It’s actually pretty good.

Perhaps it’s the cacao that won me over here.  I love the spiced chocolate taste of this, it reminds me a bit of a mild Mexican hot chocolate.  The chocolate is good and strong (which makes the chocoholic in me very happy) and the spices don’t overwhelm the chocolate, instead, they enhance the chocolate-y flavor.  Especially nice is the chicory, which lends a “coffee-esque” sort of flavor to the cup without coffee’s bitterness, and coffee and chocolate seem to go together very well.  And so it would seem that chocolate and chicory work equally as well together.

The other spices are well portrayed in this melange too.  The cinnamon is the strongest of the spices, but it isn’t an overpowering taste.  The cardamom and clove add a nice background of warmth, and the ginger and black pepper add just enough “kick” to this to spice it up without becoming too spicy (although, I can’t help but think what an interesting taste it would be if there was just a hint of cayenne or something stronger in this!)

My biggest issue with this blend is the stevia in the blend.  I don’t like it when any tea or tisane includes stevia or other sweetener in it, because I like to decide how sweet or not sweet I want my beverage to be.  I don’t like that predetermined for me.  And the stevia does impart a slightly “funky” taste to the cup, fortunately, the spices are strong enough to curb this funkiness a little bit, so I’m just getting a wee bit of funky, and its not enough funky to stop me from sipping on this spicy chocolate drink.  

Not a bad beverage.  It’s not something I’d buy again, but, if it were offered me, it’s not something I’d turn down.  I liked it.

White Tea Rose Melange from The London Tea Room

LTR

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green & White Teas

Where to Buy:  The London Tea Room

Tea Description:

Organic; a blend of dreamy jasmine and wild roses, with green and white Chinese teas, rejuvenating peppermint and calm-as-hell lavender.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This White Tea Rose Melange from the London Tea Room is really quite lovely!  I love that I can taste each of the components of this tea.  Each is well represented, but, none is too overpowering.

The first flavor I notice is that of the rose.  It is sweet and very distinctly rose, but as I said, it doesn’t overwhelm.  It’s quite smooth and pleasant, and I love the way it melds with the jasmine and the lavender to create a medley of floral tastes.  These three flowers accentuate each other beautifully to create a soft, luxurious flowery note without tasting soapy.  It’s just really smooth.

In keeping with the softness of the floral tones, the green and white teas are also on the delicate side, offering lush fresh tones with hints of vegetation and a sort of “airy” quality that evokes thoughts of flowers floating in the breeze.

The one component that worried me when I read the list of ingredients was the peppermint, because peppermint can sometimes throw off the balance of a tea like this, especially when the other components are so delicate in taste.  But, whomever blended this seemed to take this into consideration (a skillful blender, indeed!) and added the peppermint with care.  There are mere whispers of a minty crispness to the background notes of this tea.  Just a hint of something to add some dimension.  I love that!

This is a truly delightful tea!

Nutty Enough Tisane from Naked Teas Galore

Nutty_Enough

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal/Spice Melange (And a lot of nuts!)

Where to Buy:  Amoda Tea

Tisane Description:

We taste the brazil nuts upfront and the almond/marzipan near the end. It finishes with apple that is mouthwatering and nicely tart. Similar to opening a can of mixed nuts and snacking, this cup of tea is hard to put down.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Learn how to subscribe to Amoda’s Monthly Tea Tasting Box here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the third tea/tisane from my April Amoda Tea Tasting Box.  And as you can see from the above information, Nutty Enough is a tisane from Naked Teas Galore.  The dry leaf looks a lot like (and smells a lot like!) what you might experience if you were to open a jar of mixed nuts.  Sure, there are some other components to this as well, like dried apple bits and cinnamon and cacao nibs … but it still looks like a bunch of nuts … and it smells like it too.

I taste the brazil nut right off the bat.  Then the cinnamon starts to come through as well as notes of apple.  I taste a hint of honey.  The cacao flavor is a little less distinct and I find that this is better experienced if you slurp the tea, which allows for maximum aeration of the tea and the palate can pick up those subtle notes of cocoa.

Now that I’m about halfway through my cup, this tastes a lot like what I’d imagine a cup of apple cider that’s been simmered with a handful of nuts instead of a bunch of spices.  The cinnamon is mild, and just enough to really accentuate the apple in a very pleasant way.  It’s really quite tasty – different, certainly! – but I like it.

As I am finishing this cup, I look forward to what teas Amoda Tea will be putting in my mailbox this month!  Have you subscribed yet?  Why not?  Click here to learn more.

Xocolatl From Bird’s Eye Tea

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Spice Melangé

Where to Buy:  Bird’s Eye Tea

Tisane Description:

This lovely blend will get your day off to a great start or can be perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up. It satisfies a chocolate craving without overwhelming your body with processed sugars. All it takes is a little honey or agave added to the brewed tea to create a healthy treat for yourself. Calming chamomile and mints in the blend help relax and calm the nervous system while the chocolate gives its characteristic energy kick and mood boost. Rose petals were added to bring out the subtle floral character in chocolate. Chipotle powder increases circulation and adds a slight smokiness to the overall tea flavor. Cinnamon, ginger, and star anise add a dessert like quality, but also support healthy immune function.

To learn more about this tisane, click here.

To learn more about subscribing to Bird’s Eye Tea, click here.

Taster’s Review:

Recently, the SororiTea Sisters were introduced to a new tea company that is LOCAL for me – well, kind of local (the same state, anyway!) and I was so excited to learn about them!  The company:  Bird’s Eye Tea!

They are a subscription tea service – which means that for just $22. every month, they send a box with several different selections of teas in it.  This Xocolatl is from the October box, and it is a yummy blend of raw cacao powder, chamomile, rose, mint, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, chipotle powder and roasted cacao nibs.  I know, it sounds amazing, right?

Because the ingredients are so different from any other tisane that I can remember drinking, and because it LOOKS so different too, I followed the directions precisely … I even got out a measuring cup and spoon!  I measured 3/4 cup of hot water to steep with 2 teaspoons of the tisane, and I steeped it for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, I heated 3/4 cup of milk, and I added the steeped liquid to the warm milk and I frothed it a bit with my handheld frothing tool.  I did add a little bit of turbinado sugar to the cup just to enhance the spices, and it created the most delightful tasting cup of Xocolatl!

Oh, my… I have GOT to get some more of this!  This is amazing.  This tastes so much like the hot chocolate that my Latina friends would serve in their homes!  Sweet and chocolate-y, but with just the right amount of warm spice.  The rose offers hints of flavor and an interesting dimension to the overall cup.  It isn’t too spicy, and it is a gently comforting heat rather than an invigorating spicy-hot taste.  Every one of the ingredients is represented in the flavor, but at the same time, they all come together to form an amazing taste that is greater than the individual parts.

Like I said, I want more.  MORE of this, please!!!