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Vanilla Bean

Sensibly Script reports back on Thyme Chai by Balcony Tea. . . .

This tea is truly an adventure–and yet warm and comforting at the same time!

I brewed it in freshly boiled water (~8-10 oz) for 3 minutes as suggested. I love loose leaf tea, but the pyramid sachets this tea comes in are super cute and convenient. It’s just one less step (putting the tea into the brew basket) but can make a big difference, especially if you’re in a hurry.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a Thyme tea before, so this was new and exciting to me. This tea doesn’t seem to have any other herbs/spices besides thyme (the ingredients are black tea, thyme, and vanilla) but the flavor is pretty strong and the vanilla gives it more depth and richness. It’s a nice medium-dark, transparent honey-brown when steeped and smells both Thymey and sweet.

First sip: There’s a bit of cognitive dissonance here because I’ve only ever had Thyme in savory dishes so my brain is expecting this tea to be savory rather than sweet. It is sweet, though. I can identify the tannic astringency of the tea base, along the sides of my tongue, while the Thymey bouquet invades my nose. The astringency transitions into a sweetness on the top and back of the tongue that somehow connects it to the flowery herbal fragrance, keeping the whole thing somewhat coherent. So although the black tea flavor is mostly subsumed and the astringent component is the only part of it that really sticks out to me, it still contributes to the overall taste profile.

I next added a bit of sugar (only a little, since it’s so sweet already), which helped the various flavors flow together even better. I then added milk, which worked out great. It made the tea taste warm and strengthening (I mean, it technically already tasted warm, but still) and helped my taste buds get over the funky “no really, this should be savory because it has thyme in it” idea. I think I like it best with milk, but then I usually do with chais and other strong black teas.

This is a very different sort of chai, with a Mediterranean rather than a South Asian inspiration, but I really enjoyed it and I think I could add it to my rotation with great success.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black Tea
Where to Buy:  Balcony Teas

This is what my papa called “a signature tea”: refreshing in summer and protective in winter. We love the distinctly herbaceous, yet sweet and comforting taste of this black tea.

Black Tea – The finest Ceylon tea. Fortifying, yet refreshing.Wild Thyme – Our thyme is wild-harvested in the Mediterranean to ensure its intense aroma and taste. The Romans believed Thyme to be a mood enhancer. My family used to drink it whenever we were feeling under the weather.Vanilla Pieces & Flavour – Smooth, sweet and luxurious.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Bonfire in a Cup: Smoky Spice from 52Teas

As we endure the last cold nights of the season, it seemed the perfect time to brew up a cup of Smoky Spice from 52Teas.  This blend combines two of my favorite cold-weather sensations: woodsmoke and cardamom. Nothing quite makes me feel as cozy and nostalgic as holding a hot cup of spicy tea, with the smell your neighbor’s wood stove on the wind.

Growing up in New England in a family with an Eastern European heritage, it seemed like we were always having winter bonfires and mulled cider or tea, celebrating some equinox or natural deity.  These winter memories hit hard when I stuck my nose in the bag of these tea leaves, and I was caught up in the heat of the fire and the warmth of the spices.

52Teas does a great job with their smoky blends, the smoke is not too savory or bacon-like, just the perfect charcoal-nutty waft of roasting logs on the fire.  The smoke is this blend is balanced, with a solid black tea base and a generous scoop of cardamom pods and vanilla beans, with no one flavor coming on too strong.

Drinking this tea is like sitting next to the fireplace and eating snappy spice cookies, or sipping on a spiced tea from your thermos out in the snow, watching a bonfire crackle away. I know I’ll be keeping an eye out for this blend when the weather turns again in the fall and you smell that first wisp of wood smoke on a crisp, cool day.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: 52Teas

This tea actually began as my Masterpiece Chai.  While I was blending the spices, I toasted my cumin and I think either the cumin was especially fresh (not a bad thing at all) or I used too much cumin (much more likely) but the resulting blend ended up tasting strongly of smoky cumin.  So I decided to add some Lapsang Souchong to amplify the smoky notes and create a Smoky Spice blend.  This is a chai with a pleasant smoky tone – it’s not overly smoky – which is fine with me because I’m not a huge fan of a strong smoky essence.  This has just the right level of smoke with a pleasant spicy note that isn’t too spicy, and it’s a little sweet and a little savory.  It’s really nice.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Devotion from Red Clover Teas and Herbs

devotionTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy: Red Clover Teas and Herbs

Tea Description:

When love is good, pure and unconditional, we experience true bliss, joy and happiness. It fulfills us, leaves us nourished. This tea is dedicated to two very dear friends who tied the knot after 16 years of devotion to each other!   It’s a celebration of love, life and integrity! 

Organic/Fair Trade Honeybush Red tea, organic Taza Mexican Cinnamon Dark Chocolate pieces, organic Vanilla bean, organic Orange pieces and organic Cinnamon. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Picture the scene from Oliver. You know the heart wrenching one where Oliver walks up and asks for more to eat? But instead of Oliver asking for more to eat. . It is me asking for more of this tea.

This tea has blown me away! Or should I say this herbal has.

Made up of chocolate bits, honeybush, cinnamon, orange pieces and vanilla bean, this tea has everything a sweet tooth could want and more. I seriously can taste each ingredient on its own while co-mingling with the rest of the lot.  Amazing.

The dark chocolate isn’t so dark chocolate tasting that I can’t enjoy it (I am not a chocolate fan) while the honeybush and vanilla bean add in notes of creaminess.  The orange pieces provide this heaping citrus lovely background while the cinnamon kicks in a hint of spice.   I can’t get enough of this tea. This tea has such a lovely richness and creaminess to the feel of the tea.  Sweet chocolate orange love is what this herbal is.

While writing this review, I actually had to slow myself down from chugging this tea.  I haven’t had a tea hit me with the Wow factor like this in a while.

Do yourself a favor and check this herbal out.  I’m sad it is all gone now, but there will be more of this tea in my future!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread from sTEAp Shoppe

Cinnamon Swirl Bread from sTEAp Shoppe
Cinnamon Swirl Bread from sTEAp Shoppe

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Puerh, Black

Where to Buy: sTEAp Shoppe 

Tea Description:

Cinnamon Swirl Bread Puerh & Black Teas touches your tongue with a rich depth of flavor and the bright embrace of cinnamon. Aromatic cinnamon, combined with rich bread like puerh and the sweet honey notes of gold bud black tea. This combination of tea and spice creates the perfect cup to wake up with or as a dessert. Full bodied with a smooth buttery goodness embraced by bright ribbons of cinnamon.

Pu-erh tea is a post-fermented tea, specifically Dark tea, produced in Yunnan province, China. The difference between this and all other teas is that, Pu erh tea undergoes the standard process of rolling and drying, after which it will then undergo a microbial fermentation. This style of processing tea is unique to China. A process created by the Chinese and produced in Yunnan, a leader in quality Chinese teas.

Taster’s Review:
Learn more about this tea here.

Janet does it again with her Cinnamon Swirl Bread from sTEAp Shoppe. Her blend of 2008 Loose Puerh and Yunnan Gold Needle Black tea, with just the right mix of cinnamon, cocoa nibs, vanilla bean, and maple crystals make this tea taste like you just toasted up some sweet cinnamon bread!

I love her use of organic ingredients and that the tea is not overly sweet, nor overly spicy. This blend is balanced perfectly.

The aroma that fills your home when you steep it is nothing short of delicious.

Earthy puerh gives a flavor and mouthfeel of whole grain bread, while the Yunnan Gold Needle provides provides a smoothness to support the zippy cinnamon. The vanilla plays a supporting role that compliments the maple crystals, leaving a lightly sweet taste on the tongue.

The resulting effect is a delicious lingering flavor on the palate of sweet spicy cinnamon, and a toasty flavor.

Janet really does a great job with her blended teas. She takes great time and care in making sure she has them perfected before putting them up for sale. Her selection has grown slowly but steadily over time and I can say that this blend is masterful. I am not generally a big fan of cinnamon teas, or spicy teas, with the exception of an occasional chai latte, but this Cinnamon Swirl Bread tea is a stash staple.

Eggnog from Trail Lodge Tea

Eggnog from Trail Lodge Tea
Eggnog from Trail Lodge Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: White and Green

Where to Buy: Trail Lodge Tea

Tea Description:

This is our own holiday creation; green and white tea combined with the flavors of eggnog. The combination of China Green and white tea brews up to a light and sweet liquid that combines perfectly with the flavor of eggnog. Real pieces of vanilla beans and nutmeg turns it into a truly guilt free decadent treat. Be sure to get some for gifts and to sip while you decorate the tree and listen to holiday music. Ingredients: Fair Trade Certified TM Organic China Green Tea, Fair Trade CertifiedTM Organic Pai Mu Tan, and Organic Vanilla, Organic Nutmeg, and Organic Natural Flavoring

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Eggnog from Trail Lodge Tea has a distinct aroma of spices and custard when steeped. From the visual aspect, white tea, is my favorite tea. The dry leaf is beautiful, downy, and whole.

The cup steeps to a golden yellow and is clear.

Trail Lodge Teas are organic and Fair Trade Certified which is always a plus in my book!

Fair Trade Certified
Fair Trade Certified

The flavor is quite creamy, but the spiced notes do not come out in the taste as much as in the aroma. There is a nutmeg spice in the flavor, its not strong, but there is enough. In the aroma I get more of the clove spice as well.

There is a lacking in the sweetness for me personally, yet I did not try it with any added sugar, so I can’t say if that would have helped or not.

I keep looking for the white or green tea base flavor to jump out at me because it is not as if the spice or other flavorings are overdone, and I do get a touch of vanilla in the flavor, yet I keep straining to find the base tea. I get a tad more of the green base than the white, but I think I would enjoy the tea more if the base were a bit more outstanding.

Overall this is a good eggnog blend and it does indeed taste like eggnog. Its creamy, and it has the right flavors with the spice and vanilla bean. I don’t know if this is one I would personally go right out and order, yet I would suggest if you enjoy this flavor profile to try some. I know Trail Lodge Teas has several other teas in their arsenal that I adore, so now and then I would probably add this to my cart before checking out.