Tea for Tuesday: Just Peachy II

This is part II of my journey to finding a good, traditional, southern, peach tea. I made the real stuff, here, using Lipton or Luzianne tea and real peaches. But in this post I investigate using only flavored tea bags to make peach tea.

In my search, I purchased gobs of peach-flavored tea bags thinking that one of them would yield enough peachy tea flavor to make a good, classic peach tea without harming any fruit in the process.

Sadly, I was unsuccessful. Mostly.

You’d think:

Tea + peach = peach tea. No problem, right? It didn’t exactly turn out that way, though many of teas yielded something yummy. And they all call themselves peach and are tea. Or are they?

The rundown of suspects:

Bigelow, Perfect Peach

Lipton, White Mangosteen Peach

Celestial Seasonings, Country Peach Passion

Lipton, Peach Mango

Celestial Seasonings, Sleepytime Peach

Bigelow, Green Tea with Peach

English Tea Shop, Ginger Peach Tea

I’ve also tried some loose-leaf teas, but I’ll stick to tea bags for this blog post.

Bigelow, Perfect Peach

I should have known this wouldn’t taste like classic peach tea from the fact that the label said “herbal.” It has no actual tea leaves. So it lacks tea flavor. It has a nice peach aroma and some peach flavor, but it’s mixed with cinnamon flavor too. It claims to taste like peach pie. It might, if you use a lot of cinnamon in your peach pie. That said, it is pretty yummy. It is a nice alternative to the classic apples and cinnamon tea. I can see myself drinking more of this as the days get cooler this fall. So yum, but not classic peach-tea yum.

Lipton, White Mangosteen Peach

It’s like they got it right, but then they said, “wait, no. Instead of  traditional tea-flavored peach tea we’re going to swap out the black tea leaves and replace them with white tea leaves. Won’t that be nice?”

Wait. What?! Black leaves matter! (Did I just go there?)  And on top of it, I just noticed that it’s a green tea, yet they call it white. They need to get their colors correct. I have nothing against white or green tea, and this actually has a really pleasant peach taste. I’m not sure what a mangosteen is (maybe it’s what’s white), but it doesn’t mess up the peach. It can stay. I just miss the classic tea flavor it might have had if it used black tea leaves. That said, I like it, and I’m on my second box. That’s saying something. I just have to ignore the fact that it’s not the tea I was looking for.

Celestial Seasonings, Country Peach Passion

I knew going into this one that there would be no tea flavor because Celestial Seasonings is an herbal tea (or tisane) company. I was hoping for a solid, country peach flavor though. This one tastes mostly fruity to me. Fruity and herbal with some peach flavor. That’s about it.

Lipton, Peach Mango

This has peach flavor. And it’s not bad. It also has mango flavor and a good bit of hibiscus. I like mango and hibiscus, so I like this one. But it turns out it is also an herbal tea, so it doesn’t actually taste like the tea part of peach tea. I may or may not have known this when I purchased it.

Celestial Seasonings, Sleepytime Peach

I knew this one didn’t contain any tea leaves. It’s an herbal Sleepytime tea, so no caffeine. I was hoping for more peach flavor. I probably knew it wouldn’t have much, but it was on sale, and I was deeply entrenched in this peach-tea obsession. I was bad. It’s more herbal tasting with spearmint and lemongrass and a little bit fruity. It’s like drinking Sleepytime tea right after you took a bite of a peach, but you already finished eating the peach. It’s not a bad bedtime tea (if you need to use it up).

Bigelow, Green Tea with Peach 

This one has some of the same problems that the White Mangosteen Peach tea has. I don’t get a classic peach tea flavor because it uses green tea instead of black. That said, it has a pretty good overall flavor. It somehow manages to taste like peach and pit fruit without tasting especially fruity. I like it. It’s it tastes like green tea with peach (so the name is super fitting), but it doesn’t taste like a traditional southern peach tea either.

English Tea Shop, Ginger Peach Tea

I actually purchased this one at a Mashalls (or T.J. Maxx), so who knows if I’ll ever be able to find it again. But I had to try it. It was only about $4 for 60 tea bags. And it turned out to be pretty darn yummy. It actually uses black tea leaves so it tastes like there’s traditional tea in it. It has a nice peach aroma and some of that comes through in each sip. This would be quite a win … except that it also has ginger in it. It’s fairly similar to Republic of Tea’s Ginger Peach Longevity Tea. I’ve purchased that one several times too, and it is very good even though the ginger makes it a gingery peach tea instead of just peachy. So it’s almost classic peach tea! But not quite. Another one so close in my search for classic peach tea using only tea bags.

A Little Success

So after sampling each individual tea, I tried mixing them all together and adding an extra bag or two of classic black tea (because clearly that’s part of the equation) and voila a pretty darn good tea! I’d leave out the Sleepytime tea because it’s a bit too herbal. But the others resulted in something quite good. The cinnamon and ginger were softened by all the other stuff, so those flavors became a nice accent flavor while the peach and tea flavors shined through. Because normally I don’t add 7 or 8 tea bags to a cup when I make tea, I find I can simplify this combo by using a traditional black tea like Lipton or Luzianne plus Lipton’s Peach Mango or White Mangosteen Peach. Simple. And yummy. A bag of  Ginger Peach or Perfect Peach add a nice twist of spice when I want something different. Sweeten to taste and enjoy!

Copyright 2016 Debora Kapke (but feel free to share as long as you link back and give credit).

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Tea for Tuesday: Tea for Health and Wellness

Teavana finished up many sale items and rolled out with seven new tea blends this week as part of a new “Wellness” line. Each new tea has a specific health benefit as well as a lovely aroma and presumably good flavor too. I got to try one of them.

Their new blends are Defense, Purify, Rejuvenate, Recover, Rev Up, Comfort, and Serenity. These are mostly blends of actual tea as well as fruit or fruit flavors and sometimes herbs. I’m not sure if any of the ingredients are organic. The store folks said, “yes,” but I don’t see that on the website right now (I could be missing it). For blends containing citrus peels organic is the better way to go. Sprays sit on the outside of the fruit and can leach into the peel.

While you can’t tell much about taste from any of the Wellness tea names, you can tell more from the descriptions and the ingredient lists.

For example Rev Up is a blend of black, oolong, and green teas mixed with mango, apples and passion fruit for a lot of tea flavor enhanced with a tropical kick. It claims to boost your metabolism with the blend of tea. With black tea and oolong, it certainly has caffeine so there’s at least some real potential for boost there. I like that it’s a blend of real tea and a nice, but not overpowering, fruit flavor.

I was able to try Rev Up as an iced tea. It tasted like a real-tea iced tea along with tropical fruit. I most noted the mango flavor, but I’d say there’s certainly a blend. I think I’d like this one in the summer, but I could see drinking it hot in the winter as well. It is similar to their Limited Edition Holiday tea called Joy but mixed with a bit more tropical fruit instead of just apricot.

The new blend called Comfort contains ginger, orange peel, lemon, rooibos, chamomile, spearmint, fennel, peppermint, and more. Teavana claims these can help you balance yourself and feel good. I’m not sure how well that claim is going to sit with the FDA (we shall see), but I do know that many of those ingredients — ginger, fennel, and mint — can help settle nausea or an upset stomach. I certainly feel better when my stomach is not upset. This is one of the few Wellness blends with no actual tea in the mix. That’s good if you have an upset stomach as the caffeine of real tea can be rough on a stomach. Plus caffeine can make some folks feel unsettled emotionally too. Chamomile, on the other hand, is very gentile and soothing. My grandmother let me drink chamomile ea when I was a kid.

Other teas are Defense with extra vitamin C (I have no idea how much) and white tea along with spices, pineapple, lemongrass, and blackberry leaves.

Purify with jasmine-scented white tea, apples, hibiscus, rose hip, beetroot, orange, and rose petals. It says these ingredients will help to keep you hydrated. Well, drinking liquids certainly helps to keep you hydrated, so there’s that. The red from hibiscus and beetroots makes it a really pretty blend. The pigments in those are also good anti-oxidants.

Rejuvenate with gobs of caffeine (for a tea) from black tea and yerba mate is energizing along with spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom.

Recover claims a detox affect with citrus, mint, and green tea.

Serenity is their relaxing blend with chamomile, blackberry leaves, lemongrass, lavender, rose, apple, lemon balm, beetroot, and orange. This is the other blend with no real tea or caffeine. It’s another pretty one to look at. Chamomile and lavender are usually considered soothing and relaxing. Lemon balm may help releave depression in some people.

I’ll look forward to trying some more.

On a side note, my order for sale items I purchased online at Teavana.com are all listed as “on hold.” Apparently, if one item ends up out-of-stock, the warehouse puts the entire order on hold (not their official policy according to their website, but that’s what’s happening to me and many other folks). We shall see if I get any of my order. Ugh! I may have to drink some Serenity or Comfort if this doesn’t go well (or check out some other tea vendors).

I hope all is well with all of you.

 

 

Tea for Tuesday – Caramel Almond Amaretti Herbal Tea: a mini review

Tea for Tuesday (should I make that Tea for Twos-day?)

Caramel Almond Amaretti Herbal Tea from Teavana: a mini tea review

If you like cookies, coffee cake, nuts and sweets but don’t want all the calories that go along with eating those yummy things then this might be a good tea for you (and me too). 

Right now I’m pretty tempted to scarf down several more pieces of Halloween candy. There’s a pumpkin filled with candy sitting about eight feet from my mouth. I am trying to be good. I made a cup of tea instead.

Caramel Almond Amaretti may help satisfy the urge to indulge in sweets or baked goods without actually indulging in any sweet baked goods. This ability was my favorite thing about Teavana’s Toasted Nut Brûlée tea which has been discontinued. Caramel Almond Amaretti tastes somewhat like coffee cake to me. 

Unsweetened, Caramel Almond Amaretti has a light nutty fruity taste. I don’t find the taste to be especially of almonds, maybe some candied almonds with an overall nuttiness. 

The color is beautiful! It’s a light red blush. Natural beet root gives it this color. I steeped for about five minutes in good hot water.

The flavor seems a little watered down before adding any sweetener. But adding a little something sweet really kicks up the flavor. It brings out the caramel taste and enhances the sweet nut, cinnamon, and fruit flavors. The good side is that you can add as much or little of any sweetener you like — real raw sugar, honey, stevia, sucralose, agave nectar or others. 

I added a couple of drops of a liquid stevia and monk fruit blend. It did the trick and I didn’t eat any more Halloween candy (for now)!

Teavana’s Caramel Almond Amaretti contains:

Apple pieces, cinnamon, coconut chips, beetroot pieces, and artificial flavoring.

So there is a down side. You may notice that there are no nuts except coconut listed in the ingredients. And no caramel either. That’s where the artificial flavoring comes in. 

I’ve suspected the coconut chips of containing other flavors before in Teavana. In another Teavana tea they tasted like citrus. 

Taste a fresh dry coconut chip from this tea. Notice that those coconut pieces do not have much coconut flavor instead they taste strongly of nuts and some caramel. If you hate the idea of artificial flavoring this may be a big turn off for you. If you’re on the fence, you may not mind. The flavor is pretty good. 

One more downside, I only get one cup of good flavor out of this tea. I can get an okay second cup, but it tastes different. After that it just tastes like beets. While the cost of $7.98 per 2 ounces makes it one of the less expensive teas from Teavana,  it’s still on the pricy side. I’ll drink it as a dessert tea rather than a daily brew.

To some it up, I was looking for a possible replacement for the discontinued Toasted Nut Brûlée from Teavana. Caramel Almond smelled like a good candidate. Dry it smells like cake. Toasted Nut Brûlée reminded me a lot of an oatmeal cookie with cinnamon and raisins. There were several teas that I thought were worth trying based on ingredients. This is the closest so far, though it lacks some of the raisin flavor in Toasted Nut Brûlée. But it does help me satisfy a sweet tooth and that’s a big win in my book.

[Edited on 7-4-15 to add info on price and clarity]

I think I’m going to try to have a new tea review each Tuesday in November for Tea for Tuesday. I’ll try to post them earlier in the day than this one (it’s now 11:28 as I finish this up). The is also a post for my Day 3 of NaBloPoMo.

Poached Pear Cider Herbal Tea: A mini tea review

Poached Pear Cider Tea from Teavana: a mini tea review

I was looking for a tea to replace Teavana’s discontinued Toasted Nut Brûlée for those times that I want dessert without eating dessert — ya know, have my cake (or cookie) and not eat it too! In the case of Toasted Nut Brûlée it tasted like a cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookie with chopped nuts.
Teavana’s new Poached Pear Cider herbal tea, while nicely spiced and lightly fruity, is not the replacement I was hoping for, but it is very yummy. I was plenty happy to drink my entire cupful, and I’d do it again too.
Fresh, fruit-from-the-tree pears can be both fruity and a little floral. So it should come as no surprise that Poached Pear Cider tea brings a lightly floral aroma and taste to the mix of fruit and spices in this herbal tisane. I find it both refreshing and warmly comforting. It’s like a mashup of a clean floral tea blend with a spiced cider.
Poached Pear Cider’s spices are not overwhelming. They are milder than those in, say, chai. But the cinnamon and cardamom make themselves known enough to add a nice accent to the floral fruitiness of the pear.
As I glance at the ingredients, it would appear that most of the pear flavor comes from added natural flavoring as opposed to bits of dried pear, but it works nicely. This probably makes the pear taste somewhat fresher than bits of dried pear. There is also an overall light taste of dried fruits (apples and raisins) and lemongrass with citrus peal without being overly fruity or citrusy. I find it nicely balanced.
The color of the brewed tisane is beautiful light amber and my cup seemed to have a hint of blush too.
I will be looking forward to more of it this autumn as a refreshing alternative to anything pumpkin or to actual hot spiced ciders.
As I drink more of it, I’ll add comments on brew time, temperature, and whether or not I’m able to brew more than one cup from the same bits. I know from past tea blends, temperature can make a huge difference with tea leaves and especially some spices, so it will be interesting to see what happens with this one.

Harbor Breeze by Capital Teas: a mini review

Harbor Breeze by Capital Teas is a refreshing fruity tisane. It contains a good bit of hibiscus so it’s a win if you like hibiscus but not so great if you don’t. It also contains apples, rosehips and other dried fruit, along with lovely calendula petals. The calendula petals are a beautifully sunny contrast to the deep magenta hibiscus, but don’t do much for taste. The apple bits, however, add a softer fruity flavor that mellows the hibiscus giving it better balance than some I’ve tried. It’s tart but not too tart. I find this to be a really satisfying combination when I’m craving a fruity hibiscus tisane.

Acai Matetini from Teavana

Crisp, tart, sweet taste. Hot or iced, I really like this one. Even though the ingredient list is a mile long, the flavor isn’t at all muddy. Clean and refreshing, it reminds me of a hibiscus and rosehip herbal tisane I got from the local German Deli years ago. But this one is even nicer as it’s well balanced with a veritable fruit salad of berries, citrus, apples, and pineapple along with a hint of minty cool finish. Think minty-garnish-on-a-fruit-salad not full-on minty flavor like a Mojito. While Acai Matetini is a listed as a mate, I don’t really taste any mate and I’m hard pressed to find even pieces of mate in with the beautiful, large chunks of fruit. They ARE there, though. I *think* I felt a little pick-me-up from the mate, but it could have just been the tart flavor inspiring my taste buds to provide that little burst of energy. I actually found a second steeping was not bad. It is different — not as tart and bright, but still pleasantly fruity. I blended it with a couple of oolongs so far and it held up nicely. Yummy!

http://steepster.com/teas/teavana/22558-acai-matetini-mate-tea?post=96507

Toasted Nut Brûlée Oolong Tea

I was checking out Teavana’s latest offerings when Toasted Nut Brûlée Oolong got my attention. It isn’t a new tea, but it is one I’d wanted to try but never did.

After the yummy sounding name, the aroma is what attracted me enough to make a purchase. It smells of an amazing lightly spiced nutty praline or beautifully caramelized brûlée with cinnamon.

The taste is a sweet comfort food in a cup. We’re talkin’ warm oatmeal cookie with raisins and a few chopped nuts. There are no raisins in it, but the ample amounts of dried apples, candied pineapple and papaya meld for a bounty of dried fruit flavor. I was kind of sad to find so much less nutty flavor in the brew than there is nutty smell. But the cinnamon & spice comes through nicely much as it would in an oatmeal cookie or a freshly baked rock cake. So, truly, if you love oatmeal cookies, but don’t care for the calories then pull up a chair and I’ll get you a plate er cup. With a little sugar or honey along with the tea’s own natural sweetness you can almost feel the chewy goodness of a few raisins getting stuck in your teeth and the light, sweet crunch of a nut or two. Not an everyday cup for me, but with a book on a chilly day — yum!

Of note, i love that it contains oolong, but oolong is only a small portion of the total mix and I notice virtually no oolong fragrance or flavor. Rooibos is in there too and if I close my eyes I think it adds a smooth cookie dough like sweetness. Hopefully a few health benefits from the mix.

Orange Blossom, organic green tea by Rishi

A refreshing, fruity green tea. The orange, lime and tangerine oils are quite evident in fragrance, but the ingredient I most taste is lemongrass. That’s not a bad thing. The lemongrass is well complimented with citrus aromas, flavors, lemon myrtle and the green tea itself. The tiny golden osthmanthus flowers are visually lovely and complement the taste with a hint of light floral apricot. Yummy hot or iced. I’m looking forward to more of this one as the days get warmer!

Orange Blossom, organic green, fair trade tea by Rishi
http://steepster.com/alightningbug/posts/76537

Tulsi Dosha Chai, rooibos tea from Teavana

This tea is a bit of a puzzlement. It takes on very different character just by changing a few variables. Use water that isn’t as hot (195 degrees) and this chai has a fruitier, lighter flavor. Use hotter water (208) with added sweetener and the taste & aroma morph into the chai liquid equivalent of Red Hot candy. There are large pieces of Indonesian Cinnamon stick (the thicker kind of cinnamon as opposed to the thinner Ceylon), so I’m not surprised by that flavor. And even if you leave out the cinnamon stick there’s a nice amount of cinnamon and spice permeating the brew with the cloves, ginger, cardamom, tulsi herb and beautiful pink peppercorns–I love their almost floral, peppery taste. But I’m stumped by the fruit flavor that I taste because there isn’t anything fruity in the ingredients. “Flavoring” is, however, listed. Coconut rasps, coconut and coconut fat are all listed as ingredients, yet there is scant little coconut flavor whatsoever. In fact the coconut rasps taste more like fruit with citrusy tropical notes. Go figure! So while I really enjoy the taste (and even the potential health benefits of tulsi), I wish I knew more about what exactly I was tasting. Strange but yummy.

Dokudami Umami Herbal Tea from Teavana

I’d best describe the flavor of Dokudami Umami Tea from Teavana as roasted earthiness with a hint of intriguing sweetness that tastes better than it smells (which is even more earthy). Brown rice similar to that found in Genmaicha along with soybeans and the subtle slow sweet flavor of natural licorice root (not to be confused with licorice candy) combine to create a brew reminiscent of a yummy dish from my favorite Asian Take-out. Comfort food with sweet sauce! Added sweetener brings out additional toffee or caramel notes. I think this tisane has the potential to add depth to other teas and I’m looking forward to trying several combinations. The health benefits are compelling as dokudami is purported to have many. So far it seemed to help my morning sinuses and the hearty roasted notes were nice to wake up to. This is not a tea for everybody, but can be really enjoyable and deeply satisfying.

http://steepster.com/teas/teavana/16231-dokudami-umami-herbal-tea?post=67508

Updating on 02/18/12 to add that this tea has been discontinued by Teavana. I found an “herb tea” at a nearby Asian grocery store. Dokudami Kenso Chogo-Cha brews to a similar savory beverage with a hint of sweetness. I like it with added sweetener.