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Tea Spot

Keemun Chinese Black Tea from The Tea Spot

I love the discovery of new tea flavors, finding their nuances, comparing and contrasting from a baseline. I started educating myself on tea with subscription boxes, and still have a soft spot for them. Looks like Tea Spot will be my next choice. They offer a monthly subscription box for $16 for about an ounce worth of 5-6 teas and also a quarterly loose leaf club at $45 for 3+ teas of one chosen style, in larger portions obviously. This selection seems to be from the former.

The dry Keemun smells very gentle, a bit like the coriander in my cupboard. There are uniformly tight, straight, leaves, appearing medium on the spectrum of browns. I see some broken bits in wet leaves and a tamarind color brew. It smells subtly sweet, and reminds me of cherries – cheerful but with a slightly tart finish.  1 heaping tsp per 8 oz from the brewing instructions, does not make a strong tea, which some people prefer. I’m not the type to drink this flavor straight, because tannins and I are frenemies.  I think it is It may leave a slight orange taste in my mouth but, this tea is still excellent at its job of caffeinating me!

Just like the Beastie Boys, I like my Sugar with [Keemun] and cream, too sweet to be sour, too nice to be mean.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot

A splendor of toasty flavor and aroma! The most refined and perhaps the most well-known of Chinese black teas, this Keemun is handpicked in Anhui Province. This tea has an indescribable flavor, with the most delicate hints of smoky pine, orchid, crushed apple and a rich, sweet body.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Morning Mojo from The Tea Spot. . . . .

Have you ever taken one sip of a tea and been like “yuuuup, I’m going to have to buy a vat of this and keep it in an armed fortress just for myself”?

That’s how I felt about this tea, a super-creamy vanilla/orange pu’erh/black confection. It’s perfectly balanced, like a ninja poised to strike another ninja. (Because that obviously requires extra stealth). There’s the sweetness of the vanilla against the tangy of the orange and the earthy of the pu’erh and the depth of the black.

The flavors are like constructive criticism, which starts and ends with a compliment, and offers helpful advice in the middle. It’s like hearing “hey, sweetie, honeydew, WAKE THE HELL UP, lovely. Today’s going to be fine.”

And you know what? Today is, as promised, just fine so far.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Wake up, Buttercup! Morning Mojo’s boost will help you take charge of the day. This breakfast blend pairs pu-erh with the ideal black teas to create a perfectly rounded morning cuppa. Pu-erh, known for its effective caffeine punch, has been used traditionally for centuries as a slimming and beauty tea, as well as a hangover cure. With added vanilla to smooth out your morning routine, and citrus peels for a cleansing glow.


Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Pumpkin Spice Chai from The Tea Spot

pumpkin-spice-chai-teaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Tea Description:

Our NEW seasonal Pumpkin Spice Chai may soon become your favorite tea to look forward to each Fall! This chai blend boasts a perfectly-balanced full leaf Assam black tea base with cinnamon, clove, cardamom, allspice, and pumpkin flavor to get you warmed up for Fall. This tea makes an amazing pumpkin latte with the simple addition of steamed milk. This seasonal treat will have you jumping in piles of rainbow-colored leaves in no time!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This year (at least this time of the year this year) seems like it’s been the year of the pumpkin chai!  I’ve reviewed quite a few different pumpkin chai teas this year!  I’ve enjoyed most of what I’ve tried (nothing comes to mind immediately that I did not enjoy, but some I definitely enjoyed more than others), but I think I’m saving the best for last!  This one – this!  This is one of the very best pumpkin chai teas that I’ve ever tasted.

The first thing that really impressed me when I opened the pouch of this tea is the aroma!  Wow!  I can really smell the pumpkin!  It is a distinct pumpkin-y fragrance.  It smells like the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning when the pies are baking!  I smell notes of spice and black tea too, but the pumpkin notes are prominent!

The aromatic pumpkin notes are there in the brewed tea too.   The fragrance wafting out of my teacup right now are scrumptious!   To brew this, I used my Kati Tumbler and measured 1 heaping bamboo scoop of tea into the basket.  I like to use just a little more leaf when I’m brewing a chai!  This is especially important if you plan on going latte, because you want to accommodate for the heavier flavor of the dairy – or whatever product you’re using to make it a latte.

I brought 12 ounces of water to boiling and poured it into the tumbler and let this tea steep for 3 1/2 minutes.  I usually stop at 3 minutes with a black tea (and especially an Assam, which this is!) but because of the spices, I wanted to give them a little more time to develop so I crossed my fingers and hoped that the Assam would let me steep it a little longer!

Fortunately, the Assam didn’t seem to mind the slightly longer steep.

This is a really delicious pumpkin chai.  The pumpkin notes are distinct.  They are THERE.  There’s no mistaking the pumpkin here!  This isn’t a pumpkin pie spice type chai where you’re tasting the spices of a pumpkin pie but no pumpkin flavor.  This is PUMPKIN!

And even though the pumpkin flavor is strong, it is a true-to-the-squash type of flavor.  It doesn’t taste artificial.  It tastes like someone liquefied pumpkin puree and added it to my teacup.

The spices are nice.  They’re good and strong – flavorful – without pushing it to the spicy level!  It’s a distinct, spiced blend.  Not just warmly spiced, but not quite “spicy” either.  It’s somewhere between.  Consider the amount of spice that you’d find in the typical pumpkin pie.  Let’s call that mild spice.  And then there’s the super zesty, spicy level … this is somewhere in between.  This tastes like a chai that is also a pumpkin tea.

And I like that the spices are so thoughtfully balanced.  I like that this tastes like a chai!  I taste each of the spices:  cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger.  I am also tasting the allspice which is nice (and not always something that’s added to chai!)  It’s warm, it’s cozy, but it’s also got a certain zippy invigorating quality that I get from a well-spiced chai.

You might think that with all that pumpkin and spice, that the tea winds up on the short end of the stick.  But no!  This is an Assam tea and it’s got some gusto!  It is a rich, malty tea and the sweet, caramel-y notes together with the malt really play nicely with the flavors of pumpkin and spice.

For the purposes of this review, I didn’t go latte with this chai.  I wanted to experience the tea straight up, with just a little bit of raw sugar added to enhance the spices a little.  (This would also be amazing with honey!)  After I finished writing my thoughts about the non-latte chai, I decided to add some steamed milk and it’s awesome like that too!  So rich and creamy and yum!  Better than what you’d find in the local coffee stop!

This is a very clever, well-crafted pumpkin chai.  This is the best of the pumpkin patch!

Bolder Breakfast Blend from The Tea Spot

bolder-breakfast-teaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black & Pu-erh Teas

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Tea Description:

This new American black tea blend combines bold flavor, rich color, & full body with hints of chocolate. This robust breakfast blend is made from our favorite strong black teas from high altitude estates in China, India and Sri Lanka. We have combined these black teas with pu’erh, an aged black tea from Yunnan China, and dark chocolate essence. This tea yields a rich, dark liquor and a warm, well-rounded flavor that takes very well to milk and even better in the form of a tea latte. The high caffeine content and robust flavor makes this the perfect tea to help kick your coffee habit!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve tried quite a few different teas from The Tea Spot, so I was kind of surprised that this is one that I hadn’t yet tried.  I mean, it has chocolate and The Tea Spot seems to understand that more chocolate = better.  Check out their Chocolate “O” and Chocolate Cherry Bomb! if you don’t believe me.

Since this blend has pu-erh in it, I decided to brew it in my Kati Tumbler so that I could do my usual pu-erh rinse.  I heated the water to 200°F and added a heaping bamboo scoop to the basket.  Then I poured the water over the tea, allowing it to steep for about 15 seconds, and then strained off the liquid, discarding it.  Then I refilled the tumbler with the heated water and steeped for 2 1/2 minutes and strained.

Wow!  This is an interesting breakfast blend and I mean that in the best way possible.  It’s a very GOOD interesting!

What makes it interesting?  Well, first of all, The Tea Spot has got the right idea by adding CHOCOLATE to a breakfast blend.  That’s my kind of breakfast blend.  They should just call this the Chocoholic’s Breakfast Blend.

But when they do that, they should also consider adding more chocolate.  Not saying that this doesn’t have enough chocolate, because it’s a rich and chocolate-y flavor.  But really, is there ever “enough” chocolate?  That’s like saying there’s enough bacon on a BLT.  Uh … no.  The rule when it comes to chocolate is more chocolate = better.  That said, this does have a really wonderful, chocolate-y flavor and it’s a strong chocolate note.

The second thing that makes it interesting is the base.  The base is a blend of black teas and pu-erh.  And it’s what the pu-erh DOES to this particular blend that makes it so amazing.  (Yeah, I didn’t think that I’d ever say those words in that particular order in a sentence either.)  The earthiness of the pu-erh complements the earthy notes of the chocolate really nicely – it adds depth to the chocolate.  It makes the chocolate taste even better.  And the presence of the pu-erh also adds a deep, mellow flavor to the black tea.  It makes the base taste fuller and better rounded.  It’s a deeply satisfying cuppa.

The black tea in this blend adds notes of malt and caramel-y undertones.  The pu-erh adds an earthy richness without tasting too much like earth.  I think that the pu-erh also mellows out the black teas a bit, softening the edge enough so that you don’t need milk and sugar (or honey) in this tea to reduce the harshness like you might in a typical breakfast blend.  This isn’t harsh.  It isn’t bitter.  It isn’t astringent.

It’s just pleasant and yummy.  And as extraordinarily yummy as it is, it still has that hefty flavor that you want in a breakfast blend.  This still has that vigor to get you off and running.  It’s a much nicer way to deliver that kick in the butt that you need.  It’s like a best friend kicking your butt instead of a stranger.  And at least this best friend will share chocolate with you while it’s kicking your butt.

And that paragraph qualifies as the most times I’ve used the word “butt” in a paragraph this year.  I apologize if it offended anyone.

A really, really good breakfast blend.  I don’t really have a top list of breakfast blends, but if I did, this one would be somewhere in the top three.  Yeah, it’s that good.

Red Hot Chai Rooibos Blend from The Tea Spot

red-hot-chai-herbalTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Rooibos

Where to Buy:  The Tea Spot

Tisane Description:

This strong spiced chai kicks the cold away with the season’s boldest flavors: red rooibos, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, chai spices and a kiss of vanilla come together in this complex yet balanced herbal chai tea. Naturally caffeine-free and high in antioxidants and minerals, Red Hot Chai’s rooibos base provides health benefits and a mild honey sweetness to compliment the bold flavors of a traditional masala chai. Absolutely decadent when made with steamed milk as a chai tea latte (click here and then click on the “recipe” tab toward the bottom right of the page for the chai latte recipe!), Red Hot Chai is sure to please palates any time of day this season.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

You might have noticed that I’ve been drinking a lot more chai teas lately.  The reason is simple:  chai blends are my favorite teas this time of year.  The heat from the spices warm me from the inside out, and when it’s chilly outside, I need something warm and tasty to sip!  And this Red Hot Chai Rooibos Blend from the Tea Spot fills the bill.

This is a very cinnamon-y blend, reminding me a lot of the red hot candies.  But I’m not minding that because I love those little red hots!  I also notice notes of ginger and cardamom as I sip, and there is a creamy undertone from the vanilla.  I think that the vanilla note is my favorite thing about this blend … I like the way it melds with the spicy to give the cup a sweet, creamy yet spicy taste.

I don’t taste a heavy “rooibos” flavor here, and that’s just fine with me.  I do taste a little bit of nutty background notes, but none of that weird sweetness or the sour wood note that I sometimes taste with rooibos.  This is a really tasty tisane, the kind of tisane I like to curl up to on a chilly autumn evening.  And The Tea Spot is one of my favorite companies to deal with as a consumer, because their customer service is TOP notch!

As a special incentive to our readers, you can get 15% savings off any order placed with The Tea Spot between now and December 15th!  Just use the coupon code hotTEAs in the coupon field at check out and enjoy your savings!  That’s a great way to save a little bit of green this holiday season!

And … check this out!  Right now, The Tea Spot is currently offering a FREE sample giveaway!   Awesome right?  They are also running a Facebook promotion where you can win Free Tea for a Year!  Now, that’s the way to kick off the new year … with FREE TEA!