Tea for Tuesday: Teavana’s Maharaja Chai Oolong Review (and Sale Notes)

All right, tea! It’s this post-Christmas time of year that Teavana digs out what’s left of the year’s batches of tea and puts them on sale for 30-75% off. It’s a good time to stock up if you find a favorite listed. And it may be a good time to try something new too.

Keep in mind, some of the sale teas will be discontinued (most of the tea that’s 75% off), so when these are gone, they’re gone. (I’ve added a partial list of discontinued teas to the end of this post.) It’s good to stock up if a favorite is listed. Some tea is just marked down to make room for fresher batches, so why not try a new blend or some black tea pearls?

You can not only find tea on sale but also lots of tea ware such as tea pots, tea strainers, mugs, and travel tumblers (many of which come with their own tea strainers).

One of my favorite styles of travel tumbler is on sale, the Stainless Steel Tea Tumbler. They call it the “Chai Tumbler” on the website, who knows why “chai,” but you can use it for any kind of tea. A similar model was called simply, “Stainless Steel Tea Tumbler.” Since my old version has lost it’s vacuum seal, and no longer keeps the heat as it once did, I might have to grab a new one. This is my favorite because it doesn’t have a push-button on top (those are hard to clean properly). The one I like has a regular screw-on lid that doesn’t leak and is easy to clean. When mine was newer and insulated properly, tea could stay hot for 6 hours (and warm for even longer). The Teavana store at our mall has this same style of Stainless Steel Tea Tumbler, but different patterns on the outside — one is somewhat holiday specific with words like “tinsel” and “twinkle” emblazoned on a white matte finish, the other is a shiny ombre cranberry red.

Also on sale for 50% off is the ever-popular Maharaja Chai Oolong tea. It’s a flavorful, well-balanced chai made with oolong instead of the more traditional black tea. Oolong is less likely to get bitter and adds a hint of floral fruitiness to the mix.

In this chai, I note pepper, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. Also present is nutmeg and cloves. There’s something that almost sparkles on the palate — a mint-like sensation without any mint. And it’s all mellowed out by the addition of carob (with it’s chocolate-like taste) and chicory for a smooth richness. It has a fair amount of natural sweetness without adding sugar or honey, but you may prefer to add some if you like your chai sweet.

Keep in mind that temperature, how much tea you use in a cup, and brew time make a huge difference in taste, and I especially find that to be true with a lot of chai blends. The volatile components release at different temperatures. If you don’t like it at first, try brewing it differently. Or if chai is too spicy for you, mix it with a little plain tea of your choice to pump up the tea and bring the spice down a few notches.

This is one of those few chai blends where none of the spices seems to overpower the others. It becomes a new whole. A really yummy whole. Nice on a cold winter’s day (which, hopefully, we’ll get a few of).

Enjoy!

Updated to add this note: The discontinued teas include Acai Matetini Mate tea, Toasted Nut Brulee Oolong tea, Tomato Lime Cocktail, My Morning Mate, Grape Wulong Oolong, and Marshmallow Macaron. I’m guessing there are a few other discontinued teas that they simply didn’t have in stock. The list is usually longer. Many of these are no longer offered online, but you may find an actual store with some of these (or others) still in stock for a VERY limited time.

Also, the sale on non-discontinued teas probably ends on January 3 January 10. Traditionally, they only have the sale once or twice per year, so act quickly if you’re interested. Lots of yummy teas are available. Local brick and mortar shops may have a somewhat different selection of sale items from those on the Teavana website. Teavana will roll out with new teas on January 11.

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Merry Happy Christmas 

Every single year since I became an adult, Christmas has compressed the time (from October to December) into a wee little chunk not bigger than a light snack.

When I was 8 years old, 10 days until Christmas seemed to take forever. Now, 10 days fly by in what feels like ten minutes. I scramble to hold on a little longer. Fingers digging in. It’s a desperate attempted to slow it down a little. I’ll brobably break a nail.

Two days ago, I was running errands and I took a photo of a sign at a store screaming out that it was only 2 days ’til Christmas. I felt angst. 

Now, all the things I wasn’t sure I’d get done — all the things I’d planned to do — are either done or not done. Fixed in time for Christmas of 2015.

We had a good one.

It’s unusually warm this year. Our indoor temperature was 80 for a while. Chocolate truffles melted on the inside.

My daughter and I visited Santa yesterday. A camera crew intetviewed the big man just before our turn. Then they got shot of my lovely daughter with Santa. We’ve been going to see him for the past 11 years. He’s s great Santa and always so nice. So It was fun to see her with him on the news channel’s website.

Today I sang:

Oh, the weather outside is frightful [-ly] warm, but the fan is so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go [yet], let it blow, let it blow, let it blow.

This may very well be the warmest Christmas I’ve ever experienced. 

No matter what the temperature on the outside, though, spending time with family and loved ones always feels good on the inside.

We hope your day was a good one filled with many blessings. 

  
In other news, seeing as time was nice and squished this week, I figured, “what the heck,” and tried to squeeze even more stuff in. Probably not enough room in this chunk of time for more. Invariably, I drop  the  ball (or at least “a ball” or, even more accurately, several balls) because of this type of cramming. 

This week I dropped the tea ball (among others). I missed posting a Tea-for-Tuesday tea review. It was Thursday before I realized I’d zipped past Tuesday and was planted in Wednesday. Oops, missed my turn.

So next Tuesday it will be. Enjoy until then. 

Bun Practice

I have a billion things I should be doing this morning. Not a single item on my list has anything to do with trying to create Princess Leia buns again. But that’s exactly what I did.

We have tickets to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens this week.

I don’t know if we really NEED to see it opening day. I’ve gotten a little wishy-washy about seeing movies on opening day. I need my sleep. But there are enough potential surprises in Force Awakens that I don’t want any spoilers. I’ve been purposely avoiding articles on overseas trailers and such to keep myself guessing. I like it that way.

Opening day is also the perfect time to wear Princess-Leia-Cinna Buns.

My hair is totally long enough to pull it off, but not nearly thick enough. So I tried a couple of buns using a pair of socks as a foundation.

It worked a lot better than I thought it would.

I was expecting to have a hard time wrapping my hair to adequately cover the sock, but it wasn’t bad. It took only a few minutes.

It helps that I regularly wear my hair up, and I have gobs of practice putting my daughter’s hair in a bun for her ballet classes. Practice makes perfect (or at least pretty darn good).

One sock is sticking out a little in the back on my right bun, but I’m pretty sure I can fix that kind of thing on the actual day of the movie.

I used dark socks so that bright white bits wouldn’t stick out. Brown or tan socks would probably work best in my hair, but I used black ones with small green dots because that’s what I had handy (and clean).

If a sock pops out it may look more like a green-spotted black slug is hatching from my buns than some form of underwear breaking free. I think that’s better. Ya know, like maybe a space slug or something. It could work.

I was inspired to try the buns again this week when I read a blurb about Billie Lourd. She’s Carrie Fisher’s daughter and will appear in the new Star Wars movie wearing her own rendition of the classic Leia duo buns.

Apparently she’s also in a show called Scream Queens where she regularly wears ear muffs as an homage to her mom’s awesome roll as Princess Leia. (Strongest character in Star Wars!) I’ve never seen Scream Queens but am temped to check it out just to see the ear muffs.

I have to say, the hair feels pretty good. (And my ears are nice and warm right now too.)

I’m pretty happy with the sock-enhanced buns. Now I’m trying to figure out if I should attempt to go out of the house like this today. Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t.



My daughter is helping me make the most of my buns. First with bunny ears, then antlers, then her own awesome silly face. No cinnamon was harmed in the making of these buns.

Tea for Tuesday: Sultry Strawberry 

I’m so glad I tried this one. I almost passed it up. 

Today’s Tea for Tuesday review features Organic Sultry Strawberry from Tazo (Can you tell I shopped a little when Tazo teas were on sale?)

My favorite fruit teas taste like fruit but aren’t too sweet or too fruity. I want my tea to taste like tea and not like a cup of hot fruit juice. “Join me for a cup of hot fruit juice?” Said no one ever. (Not that I know of anyway.)

Sultry Strawberry is so much of what I want in a strawberry tea. There is strawberry flavor along with a soft earthiness as if you can taste the strawberry seeds still on the fruit and a strawberry leaf or two slipped through when you took a bite. 

It contains a blend of black teas which are going to brew a darker and stronger tea than white, green, or oolong. But it holds up well to the strawberry flavor while not overpowering it as long as you don’t steep the tea for too long. It makes for a nice balance.

This tea contains organic black teas, organic licorice root, natural favors, and organic strawberry flavors.

There are no strawberry bits that I can see. 

Don’t let the licorice in the ingredients fool you — licorice root tastes nothing like black licorice candy. Black licorice candy tastes more like anise. Real licorice tastes sweet, earthy, and very slightly nutty. There is no anise flavor.

The licorice works really well here. I think this is where some of that subtle earthy flavor comes from. Licorice root contains a component that is naturally sweet with virtually zero calories. It’s not candy sweet but soft, like a sip of fruit slices in water.

Not found in this tea is hibiscus. I like hibiscus — maybe even love it — but it is found in so many fruit teas. It can be overpowering. It’s nice to find a good fruit tea without it.

This tea comes in bags, and the flavor holds up well even in a large cup with a lot of water. 

Since it’s organic it costs a little more than non-organic Tazo teas, but at about $4 to $5 for 20 filter bags, it’s still reasonable. 

I found this at Whole Foods. I can’t find it in all stores. But this has become one of my favorite Tazo teas ever. I’ll be on the lookout to find it on sale again. I could drink a lot of Tazo’s Sultry Strawberry tea.

  

General Housekeeping

I posted about 11,000 words for November’s NaBloPoMo. Some good. Some not. Kind of a slice of life when I glance at the subjects — food, home, TV repair, world events, laundry, Thanksgiving, eating, drinking, family …

I didn’t get as much done on my story as I wanted, but I definitely learned that I can push to do more than I think I can. I’m continuing to push. This is a good life skill. 

I purchased a domain name to go with this blog. You can now visit alightningbug.org. The old alightningbug.wordpress.com will still bring you here too.

I took a little break from Tea for Tuesday this week. But I plan to continue it every other week going forward into December. Join us again soon for something yummy.