Product Review: The Tsleeve®

TeasleeveProduct Information:

Where to Buy: Tsleeve

Product Description:

The goal of t-sleeve® is to be not only a convenient way to enjoy tea, but to be as eco-friendly as possible. Both the box packaging and t-sleeve® are recyclable. Once t-sleeve®  comes in contact with the moist tea bag, it becomes a compostable product.  Feel good about doing your part for the environment and reducing your carbon footprint.

Learn more about this product here.

Product Review:

When I first received this product to review, I wasn’t quite sure what to think about it.  If you’ve read my reviews for any length of time, you’re already aware of what I think about bagged tea.  I prefer loose leaf – always! – and while I have managed to find some bagged teas that I’m happy with, I still have qualms about the bag.  And here I was with Tsleeves, a product that in essence embraces the tea bag.  Hmm.

As with all things tea, I try to go into the review with an open mind, so I’ll do that wit this product too.

So, what is this product? It’s a sturdy cardstock envelope that’s just a wee bit larger than the average size individually wrapped tea bag.  (For this particular review, I used a Stash tea bag.)  You can also put a packet of your favorite sweetener in the Tsleeve.

The image doesn’t really show it, but there’s a little slit in the back of the Tsleeve that allows you to slide the flap into the slit for a closure.  Then you have a neat little package with your traveling tea needs to take with you wherever you’re headed (a restaurant or hotel that doesn’t serve tea you like, work, or whatever.)  It’s a handy little way to take tea (even though it’s bagged) with you.  You can easily stow the Tsleeve in your purse or briefcase.

Note:  I wouldn’t recommend using an unwrapped tea bag in this product, because of the little rectangular notch at the top of the Tsleeve, the unwrapped tea bag would not be protected from the elements, including the elements in your purse.

Teasleeve1Anyway, when you’re ready to brew, then you remove your tea bag from the Tsleeve, unwrap the tea bag, and then slide the tag and string through the Tsleeve and through the notch at the top, as shown in the picture to the right.

This is probably the most useful part of the Tsleeve, in my opinion.  On the occasions when I’m brewing tea in a tea bag, the tag seems to inevitably end up in the cup with the liquid as it infuses.  Either the string isn’t long enough, or the act of pouring the hot water into the teacup seems to whoosh the teabag right into the cup with the liquid and I either have to try to fish the tag out with a spoon or fork or I burn my fingertips trying to get the tag out with my fingers.  This ‘feature’ offers a larger ‘anchor’ that doesn’t get swept away into the tides of my teacup.

Teasleeve2So, instead of having a dainty little tag on the side of the teacup, you have a rather large, anchoring Tsleeve sitting on the side of your teacup.  This isn’t the most attractive look if you’re at a tea party with fancy teacups and saucers, but, if you’re drinking out of the average hotel room cup, it’ll work fine.

Once your tea is finished brewing, the idea is to hold onto the Tsleeve while you pull the tag up, which will pull the tea bag into the Tsleeve.  Then, they suggest that you squeeze the tea bag into your cup.

I didn’t do this.  Why?  Because you should NEVER squeeze a tea bag into your cup.  This doesn’t squeeze flavor into your tea cup, it squeezes tannins into your tea cup, making it bitter.  This is supposed to be the main function of the Tsleeve – to help you ‘squeeze’ the tea bag and dispose of the tea bag.

Teasleeve3It does give you a little less mess when it comes to disposing of the tea bag.   I never know what to do with that hot tea bag after I’m finished with it when I’m on-the-go, because it is messy.

So, for me, the most useful part of this Tsleeve is that it anchors the tea bag tag so that it doesn’t go floating in my tea and it gives me an easy way to dispose of the tea bag after I’m finished steeping the tea bag.

For me, personally, this product really has a very limited use for me because I don’t drink a lot of bagged tea and because I don’t squeeze the tea bag.  (And neither should you.)

But, I do thank the makers of this product for sending me a sample of it to try.  I can see how this would be a useful tool for the casual sipper who doesn’t know that they shouldn’t squeeze the tea bag.  For those of us who do know better, it could be a handy convenience when we want a cleaner way to dispose of the tea bag when not at home.

Mountain Of Mango Tisane from Inca Tea

MountainofMangoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Fruit/Herbal Blend

Where to Buy:  Inca Tea

Tea Description:

Mango has always been a favorite fruit of the founder so he decided to add a little twist to the original blend. Its a refreshing blend of mango, sweet herbs, and citrus. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As I’ve said (many times!) before, I’m not always thrilled when it comes to trying fruit and/or herbal tisanes.  But because I’ve come to realize that I need to lighten up on the caffeine intake later in the evening, I’ve begun to embrace the tisane even though I’d much rather partake of Camellia Sinensis.  So, when I opened the pouch for this Mountain of Mango tisane, I wasn’t exactly excited about it.

But … wow!  I can definitely smell the mango in the dry leaf.   No other tea/tisane immediately comes to mind where I smelled such a strong, distinct mango aroma.  All of the sudden, my dismay over trying yet another tisane disappeared and I got excited about trying this!

I steeped the silky pyramid sachet in 8 ounces of 195°F water for 6 minutes.  The brewed tisane is a light ruby color (a good sign, it doesn’t look like there’s too much hibiscus in this!) and it offers a light fruity fragrance.  The mango notes are less distinct than in the dry leaf, but they’re still there.

This is pretty good.  The mango isn’t as strong as I hoped for, but, it’s a clear and focused flavor.  It is an obvious mango flavor.  The apple offers subtle hints of sweetness but not a strong apple-y flavor.  I think it’s probably present in this cup mostly to provide some sweet, juicy flavor to the cup without it adding too much to the flavor profile, and that’s what it seems to do here.

The ingredient list does not show any citrus-y ingredients that would provide the citrus that’s suggested in the above description, but I can taste a hint of tangy citrus toward the tail and this flavor lingers into the aftertaste.  I’m not sure where this flavor is coming from unless it’s one of the “natural flavors.”

In the Peruvian Spiced Berry Tisane, I could taste the notes of purple corn, but I’m finding that flavor to be a little less distinct here.  If I slurp the cup, I can pick up on a slight corn-like taste, but it’s much softer than in the Spiced Berry blend.  I kind of liked that purple corn taste, it made that tisane significantly different from any other that I’ve tried, so I was kind of hoping for a little more purple corn flavor in this tisane as well.

That said, I really enjoyed this.  The mango flavor is delicious and authentic and strong, and the hibiscus is not strong.  Two big bonus points for these attributes.  It’s a very tasty served hot, and it’s awesome iced!

Pink Rose Lemonade from The Tea Spot

Tisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Herbal Tisane

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot  –  be sure to check out the coupon code featured just after this review for a limited time offer on this tea!

Tea Description:

Pink Rose Lemonade is a swirling collage of flowers with a hint of lemon and wintergreen. Like a fancy floral confection, this delicately handcrafted tea will refresh and soothe your palate. Pink Rose Lemonade is totally guilt-free, as it has no caffeine and is naturally sweet. Lemon, rose, mint, chamomile, and lavender spring to life in this absolutely fabulous herbal tea. Pink Rose Lemonade tastes distinctively wonderful brewed hot or cold.

Learn more about this caffeine free tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

Along with my Steep & Go, I received three samples of teas that go well using this cold-brew device:  Boulder Blues, Climber’s High, and this tisane.  Of those three, this one is my favorite to use in the Steep & Go. This was really surprising to me, because, I tend to avoid chamomile blends.  I don’t dislike chamomile, but I don’t really like it either.  However, the combination of ingredients in this herbal tisane works together so well, especially when cold-brewed in the Steep & Go.

It’s also quite good when hot-brewed and served warm just before bedtime.   I especially like the aroma of the hot-brewed tisane.  It smells so beautiful – I can smell the rose and the lavender and the combination of the two flowers is absolutely enchanting.

And it tastes pleasant too!  The lavender and chamomile are very relaxing, and I find it tremendously soothing especially after a busy day.  The flavors are sweet and lemony, with a foreground of floral notes and a background note of mint.  The mint is not nearly as strong as I thought it might be, as mint tends to be a rather aggressive herb.  Here, it takes the back seat and allows the other flavors to express themselves in a tasty and calming way.

But as I mentioned above, I really prefer this tea when cold-brewed using the Steep & Go.  I recommend allowing this to steep at least ten minutes, but it really gets good the longer you let it steep.  I found that after about a half an hour, the flavor was just perfect:  light and thirst-quenching.  I found that the bright, lemony notes were very refreshing, the hint of mint brought a cool, crispness to the taste and the floral tones added a pleasing contrast.  It was pleasantly sweet without sweetener – this is the perfect on-the-go beverage.

To be honest, when The Tea Spot sent me this tea to try with the Steep & Go, I had my doubts… I guess I come from the school of thought that believes that the best flavor can be achieved through hot brewing a tea … but I am coming around to the whole idea of cold-brew after trying this tisane cold-brewed!  This one made a believer out of me!

Special, Limited-Time Offer:  Now through October 14, you can save 15% on your purchase of this Pink Rose Lemonade from the Tea Spot!  Just put the Pink Rose Lemonade in your shopping cart, and use the coupon code sororitearose at checkout, and enjoy your savings … and the tea! 

Boulder Blues from The Tea Spot

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot  Be sure to check out the savings on this tea!  Coupon code below!

Tea Description:

Our best selling green tea! This blend of fine Japanese Sencha and high grade Chinese Dragonwell combine to create a rich yet refreshing base, while wild strawberries and rhubarb flavors add a subtle twist. This tea yields a bright liquor with a luxurious aroma and brisk, vivid flavor. The ideal accompaniment to dark chocolate.

Learn more about this green tea blend here.

Taster’s Review:

This isn’t the first time I’ve tasted and reviewed this tea, I have reviewed it previously, but, this is a tea that is so tasty that I am happy to revisit it.  Plus, since receiving a sampling of it along with my Steep & Go, I wanted to mention just how good it is cold-brewed using – you guessed it! – the Steep & Go!

I brewed a cup of it hot, though, just to remind my taste buds of the flavors of this tea.  It still has a wonderful, well-rounded taste because of the blend of teas:  a Japanese Sencha and a Chinese Dragonwell.  The combination of these two delicious teas makes for a lovely base flavor that is sweet, a little creamy and vegetative, but also possessing a lightness that is very refreshing. The strawberry notes are matched well with the rhubarb, offering a sweet yet tantalizingly tart flavor that is very enjoyable.

While I sipped it hot, I had it cold-brewing in my water bottle, and I could hardly wait to see just how great this tea is cold-brewed.  I let it brew for about a half an hour (yes, I know that the instructions say it only needs 10 minutes, but, I wanted to see how much flavor would come from a longer infusion), and I am very pleased with the result.

The color of the liquid is lighter than the hot brewed tea, but not by much.  Even with the extended brew time, I taste no bitterness.  There is virtually no astringency with the cold infusion either.  (There was some astringency with the hot brewed cuppa)  There is a very nice balance between tart and sweet, with tart just narrowly edging out the sweet.  The sweetness of the strawberry acts to buffer the tartness of the rhubarb, but doesn’t mute it – and while I am not normally a big fan of tartness, with this cold-brewed tea, it works.  It is light and refreshing and the tartness invigorates the palate!

As much as I enjoy the Boulder Blues tea as a hot tea, I think it’s even more delightful cold-brewed with the Steep & Go!

The Tea Spot is offering 15% off on this tea until September 29th!  To take advantage of this offer, use the coupon code boulderbsister in the coupon field at checkout!  Your discount will be calculated at final checkout!  Tea + Savings … does it get any better than that?

PRODUCT REVIEW: Steep & Go from The Tea Spot

Product Information:

Where To Buy:  The Tea Spot

*And to save 15% on this product now through August 19th, read the review, and then use the coupon code which is featured at the end of the review!

Product Description:

Steep & Go is designed for the health conscious person on-the-go. It pairs with disposable water bottles and loose leaf teas to make cold-brewed tea on-the-go. With no heat added, in just 10 minutes you’ll brew fresh iced tea packed with antioxidants and great flavor. And with no added sugar or preservatives, you can feel confident knowing exactly what you’re drinking – fresh tea! Simply add more water for multiple infusions, and make this reusable infuser even more economical and eco-friendly. And when cold brewing, tea doesn’t oversteep or get bitter. Steep & Go will transform the way you stay hydrated!

Learn more about this teaware here.

What an awesome little invention, this Steep & Go!  It’s a great way to bring a good, healthy drink with you, so that you’ll avoid those temptations of sweet, not-so-healthy beverages when you’re on the go.

I’ve got a confession to make.  The first time I used this product, I did it wrong.  I did not read the instructions.  I just used it the way I thought it was supposed to work… and FAIL!

You see, this device has a nifty little tube that extends into the water bottle, and it has very tiny holes in it, and I thought that this was the infuser, when actually it is the strainer.  So I put the tea leaves into the little tube, and let it infuse for about an hour, and then started drinking.  It tasted wonderful … except that I was getting tea leaves in every sip.  And, I don’t want to drink tea leaves.  Unless I’m drinking Matcha … and that’s something different entirely, now isn’t it?

But, the tube that extends into the water bottle IS NOT an infuser, it is a strainer.  You put the tea leaves directly into the water bottle, screw on the Steep & Go … and well, go.  Let the tea leaves steep for 10 minutes (I do recommend allowing them to steep a little longer for more flavor:  flavor was there, but only barely at 5 minutes, more flavor at 10 minutes, but wonderfully delicious after about 15 minutes) and you have your favorite iced tea so that you won’t be tempted by sugary drinks.

I was lucky enough to have a Dasani 16.9 oz. bottle here at home, and so I haven’t tried anything else.  However, I do know that TeaEqualsBliss – my SororiTea Sister! – has tried other bottles and they did not work as well, so I do recommend getting your hands on a Dasani bottle, and then just keep re-using it!  It’s a great way to reuse the bottle – saving you money and saving the planet at the same time – and offers you a delicious, flavorful alternative to bottled water, and a healthy alternative to soda or other sugar-laden drinks.

The Tea Spot has a nice variety of teas that would work nicely with the Steep & Go.  Right now, I’m using it with the Bolder Blues tea (which I’ll be reviewing a little later on!)  and it is delicious!  Of course, you can use it with any your favorite loose leaf teas that you’d normally enjoy as cold-brewed tea.

When used properly – yeah, don’t add the leaves to the tube like I did! – this is a very economical and EASY way to enjoy fresh and delicious iced tea any time, any where!  And now through August 19, 2012, you can save 15% on this cool little device!  Just enter the coupon code gosistergo in the coupon field at checkout to take advantage of this discount.