52Teas’ the 12 Teas of Christmas – Day 11-Spoilers!

Day 11!

Christmas Eve already: are you excited?  The penultimate tea of the 12 Teas of Christmas is Caramel Monkey Bread Rooibos.  Monkey Bread is known for its cinnamon sugar and bouncy yeast bread base. This tea has plenty of cinnamon scent as soon as you open the bag.  But the cinnamon is sweet, not too hot or spicy, just the comforting warmth of a kitchen spice cabinet.

Brewed, the caramel notes come forward, enhanced by the natural toasted-sweet flavor of the rooibos.  If I were blind folded, I might guess that this tea flavor was snickerdoodle, with all the cinnamon sugar goodness that I taste.  There is that hint of caramel or caramelized sugar among all the spice. Is there such a thing as caramel- drizzled-snickerdoodles?  If not, this tea is making me think that maybe there should be.

The great part about this blend is that it is a decaf rooibos base, so you can drink it before bed (or as you are setting out the cookies for Santa), and still get some sleep before Christmas morning.  Well, as much sleep as you can with all the excitement and sugar plums dancing in your head!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Red Rooibos
Where to Buy: 52Teas

This is one of the final teas (tisanes) that Frank crafted during his time with 52Teas and I have a wee confession – I hadn’t tried it until a day or two before I blended this batch. I had the tea in my stash – but it was still sealed … never opened! At the time when I received this tea in my subscription package, I was preparing to take over 52Teas: testing samples from my wholesale sources, setting up the website and blending teas. I was so busy back then I was running around like a crazy woman with her hair on fire and to be honest, I really didn’t have time to sit back and enjoy a cuppa. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed most of the samples that I was sent by my wholesale sources, and I definitely was enjoying the teas that I was blending and then taste testing – but I didn’t have any time left to sit back and enjoy a cuppa that wasn’t directly related to taking over the operations of 52Teas.

So I stashed this tea away in my tea cupboard and – forgot about it! Yes, I forgot about this blend completely until someone mentioned that they’d like this tea to be reblended as part of this year’s 12 Teas of Christmas box. So a few weeks ago, I dug out that pouch and tried it out before I attempted to reblend it – so that I could get a fairly good idea of what I was going to do with this blend.

And as I sit here now, sipping on the results of that blending session, I must say that I’m a little bit impressed with myself. I often worry that I’m just not good enough to be a tea blender – but it’s times like now that I realize that I AM good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, I’m worthy of my self-appointed title of “Mad Tea Artist” because this is REALLY GOOD. It’s sweet, caramel-y, with a nice cinnamon note and a bread-y note that tastes a lot like … well, it tastes like freshly-baked monkey bread!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Rooibos Apple Tea Recipe courtesey of Rooi Life

I have to be honest and start this review off with a disclaimer. I’ve never been a fan of red rooibos. I’ve tried so many different varieties and different brands, hoping to find the right red rooibos that will work with my taste buds. To me, red rooibos has this distinct medicinal woodsy flavor that I just can’t get past or can really describe very well.  I have yet to find that perfect red rooibos blend that works for me.

What is kind of funny is that green rooibos and I are best buds. We hang out all the time and really enjoy each other’s company.  I seek out green rooibos blends all the time and have to restrain myself for buying them all up and having a primarily green rooibos tea stash.

So when our samples for Rooi Life Red Rooibos arrived at my door, I thought I would put on my big girl pants and try again.  I took a whiff of the blend itself and just couldn’t bring myself to brew the tea up straight.  Took another moment to gather myself and sat down to check out their website to learn more about Rooi Life. As I was looking at all of the information they offer about red rooibos- I noticed they had a link for their blog with red rooibos iced tea recipes.  I started to wonder if maybe that was the ticket for me liking red rooibos.  So I brewed up their tea using their Rooibos Apple Tea Recipe. 

Basically, the recipe is incredibly easy.

Mix the following ingredients in a large pitcher:

2 cups of Rooi Life Red Rooibos brewed & chilled.  (I cold brewed mine)

1 cup apple juice

1/2 lemon, thinly sliced

Fresh Mint Leaves

2 apples thinly sliced

After mixing all the ingredients, I put the pitcher back in the fridge and allowed the concoction to develop the flavors for a bit. About an hour later, I again, put on my big girl pants yet again and poured myself and my husband a glass of this iced tea.

My husband really enjoyed the beverage and I have to admit, as red rooibos teas go, this one isn’t too bad. What I love is that the apple juice, apples, mint, and lemon notes do wonders to mute the red rooibos medicinal woodsy like flavor that I am not a fan of.  I’m wondering if maybe I added in a bit more apple juice or hadn’t cold brewed the tea to begin with- if I wouldn’t have been happier with the blend.

All in all, I’m happy with how the brew turned out.  Not sure if this is something I would make all the time or just on occasion, but it is always nice to change things up in your tea drinking routine every now and again. I never would have thought about adding in different fruits or juices to help make the red rooibos herb a bit more pleasing to my taste buds. Now I’m sure excited to see what other fun iced teas I can possible brew up and enjoy poolside this summer.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Red Rooibos
Where to Buy:  Rooi Life

We sell Organic South African Rooibos Tea. Rooibos is a natural herb that is full of health! It is caffeine-free and low in tannin. It contains no additives or artificial preservatives. It contains a high concentration of anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins, with several health benefits to it.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Lola from Sicilian Tea Company. . . . .

Lola from Sicilian Tea Company. I can’t say it’s my FAVORITE tisane but what I can tell you is that I was pleasantly surprised by the aftertaste and I’m glad I was able to have a cup for that sole purpose. I know I am working a little bit backwards here but let me tell you why…

The ingredients in Lola from Sicilian Tea Company are Red Rooibos, Cinnamon, Licorice, and Lavender. I sometimes find companies are overusing red Rooibos the last few years in often mediocre flavor combinations which leave the flavor unmemorable or just don’t seem to jive with my own personal palate. When I saw the additional ingredients within this Rooibos I thought I would give it a try – although – I’m not overly fond of licorice in teas or tisanes – and seem to be hot and cold when it comes to the use of Lavender in tisanes and teas, too!

Having said that…this tea was alright. While it wasn’t my most favorite or favorites upfront while sipping it – my delight was more in the aftertaste and the linger of it all.

All of the ingredients were blended well in this offering. Nothing was too over powering and especially when it came to the Licorice and Lavender I was thrilled that it wasn’t.

The aftertaste is what caught my attention. It lingered nicely. The cinnamon was warming – as was the Licorice. The Licorice offered a subtle sweetness but it didn’t give off a weird aftertaste either. The Lavender seemed to smooth it out and hinted at a bit of floral goodness.

I found this to be very good after a meal or as a treat in the evening! Because Sicilian Tea Company had a winner with this ballsy flavor combo I’m interested in trying more of their offerings! Kudos!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Rooibos
Where to Buy:  Sicilian Tea Company

Lola is a sweet treat that’s safe to have before bedtime. South African Red Rooibos is rich in antioxidants. Organic lavender, licorice root and cinnamon make for a yummy treat (without the guilt).

Brew at least twice to get the most out of your blend.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Teana Colada from Tea Geek’ery

Teana Colada from Tea Geek’ery was one of the featured teas in the Amoda Curated Selection we were sent recently. After taking a look at The Tea Geek’ery’s website I noticed MANY of the teas are currently sold out and after tasting this tea I can see why!

The only 3 ingredients this Rooibos Tisane contains is Red Rooibos, Vanilla, and Coconut. I have to give credit were credit is due…the amount and quality of the large shaved and dried coconut is AMAZING! They are certainly the focal point of this dry mix to the eye. With the sweet and creamy notes of the coconut playing a HUGE part of this flavor it seems to tone down the stereotypical taste of red rooibos and I have to say I am overly fond of this outcome! If you are a person who tends to shy away from Red Rooibos based tisanes you might want to give this one a shot…it’s pretty incredible!

Teana Colada from Tea Geek’ery is a very easy cup to drink. It’s sweet, nutty, smooth, creamy, and just terrific! Based on this flavored red rooibos I cannot wait to try other teas and tisanes from Tea Geek’ery!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Rooibos
Where to Buy: Tea Geek’ery

This herbal tea is naturally sweet with hints of cream & nuts. Phenomenal blended with ice & your favorite coconuttie adult beverage

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Rooibos Mango from Adagio Teas

I was lucky to receive a fairly large sample of this tea. That meant I could try it a whole variety of ways. I landed on three different brew methods: a standard hot cup of tea, a cold brew, and a teapop. It was fun to drink them all side-by-side to see just how different each one was.

The hot cup worked as my control sample, since it is the method that follows Adagio’s suggested brewing parameters of steeping 1 tsp/cup for 5 minutes in boiling water. This is how I believe Adagio intends their tea to taste and thus it was the logical place to start off with my sampling. The tea brewed up a dark amber and had a full, rounded mouthfeel. With that comes some nice honey notes from the rooibos base and just a subtle hint of mango sweetness. Unfortunately the mango flavor dissipates as it cools so this is best drank when hotter, something I don’t usually find with other teas.

The cold brew I set up last night, leaving the tea to sit in the fridge overnight (approximately 12 hours). Since the tea is never actually heated, different flavors tend to come out when using this method. Normally I find that with rooibos and honeybush blends, cold brewing tames the base, leaving the flavor to stand out more than it would in the hot tea. This cold brew didn’t really work out that way. It is honestly quite bland. It’s predominantly water with some sweet/wood at the end of the sip. The aftertaste is just a generic sweetness that lingers after the drink is done. Definitely not as good as the hot cup and really not that good in general. So cold brewing this tea is not something I would recommend.

Finally, we have the teapop. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is when you brew your tea really strong, ice it, and then top it up with a carbonated beverage to make the tea more like a soda. I topped this tea up with Nestle Purelife’s Mango, Peach & Pineapple Sparkling Water. I figured that would help highlight the mango of the tea itself. The end result is a pretty juicy teapop. The mango is really drawn out more and tends to take center stage while also mixing nicely with the other flavors of the water. I should mention there is a little bit of an artificial sweetener component to this, though that is a result of the sparkling water and not something the tea is contributing. The whole thing is bright and refreshing and has a distinctly tropical vibe that is interestingly juxtaposed with the cold and rainy weather outside. However, I think that tropical element may be more from the sparkling water than the tea itself. Nonetheless, I do think the tea is contributing to it all and elevating it just a teensy bit.

All in all, this tea is simple but nice. It isn’t an in-your-face/”WOW!” sort of flavor but I don’t think it is trying to be. Plus, sometimes its nice to have something more subtle and relaxed. Of the methods I tried, the teapop was probably my preferred but the hot cup was pleasant as well. As I said before, cold brewing is a method I would stay away from because I think the flavors of this tea are just too faint to really stand out when prepped in that way. Still, if you are looking for a more plain tea to have every now and then when you just want something tame, this isn’t a bad one to have around.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Rooibos
Where to Buy: Adagio Teas

A lush, fruity and mellow cup of caffeine free goodness. The tropical aroma pairs perfectly with the naturally sweet organic rooibos. Delicate deep fruity notes from the rooibos, against the creamy texture and floral nose of the mango. Juicy and soft, dry finish. A lovely tropical escape any time of day, or season!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!