Category Archives: decaf or hearbal tea

Little Red Cup Tea Co. Tasting at Black Cat Coffee

I was hoping to get the posted yesterday, but life.

Anyway, yesterday Black Cat Coffee on Stevens Ave. in Portland, ME hosted a Little Red Cup tea tasting from 11-1. Luckily I heard about it in time to scoot over there for a few tea samples. The Little Red Cup Tea Co. is a family run tea outfit hailing from Brunswick, Maine. Yay, Maine! They offer fair trade and organic Chinese teas. Sounds pretty great, huh?!

Little Red Cup

Today I  sampled an oolong and a gunpowder green tea. Martin, from Little Red Cup had other samples available as well, but I didn’t get a chance to try them. The oolong steeps to a lovely, rich yellow and was very hearty and flavorful. The gunpowder green was actually quite dark for a green tea, but was also good with grass and nutty flavors. In addition to being available at Black Cat Coffee, these teas can be found at the Portland food Co-Op and at most Rosemont markets.

Before leaving Black Cat, the owner offered some of the other tea available in her shop. She carries teas from Montana Tea and Spice and had three herbal blends for me to try:

Evening in Missoula – a blend of chamomile, lemongrass and other flowers and spices. Typically, I’m not a fan of chamomile, but I found this tea to be quite good and the complexity of it was interesting.

Montana Gold – roobios, cinnamon, orange and clove. A perfect tea for the season. The cinnamon is warming and spicy and the sweet roobios flavor is kept in check by the clove.

Purple Mountain Majesty – floral! This tea taste like drinking a cup of flowers. It would make a nice spring tea and would work well iced. It was a little too much for me, but I still enjoyed trying it.

Montana Tea and Spice

Overall, it was a great Sunday afternoon teatime. I’m already looking forward to trying some other teas from Little Red Cup and can see myself stopping in to Black Cat Coffee for more Montana Tea and Spice teas! If you are looking for tea in Deering, head on over and check it out!

Advertisements

Review: Allegro Fine Tea Organic Decaf Black

Allegro Fine Tea

Overall rating: 

Taste: 3.75 of 5 leaves — quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Tea Type: Bagged tea
Temperature: @ 200+
Steeped: 4 minutes
Served: Nothing added

This is my first taste of Allegro tea and sometime I find it hard to judge a decaf tea when I haven’t first had the caffeinated version yet. I have to say, though, that I was pleasantly surprised by my experience!  No caffeinated version needed, obviously I need to check my tea-review self and be reminded that tea that tastes good, is tea that tastes good – end of story. This Organic Decaf Black steeped to a nice dark brown as any black tea should and the aroma was nice and lively. The flavor was good too!  This tea really does taste like a good strong black tea – and without the caffeine, how nice! There are dark chocolate and nutty hints along with a touch of sweetness.

As I always say when I review teas – I LOVE that it’s organic!  Tea you can feel good about drinking.

Try this tea if you are trying to lighten-up on the caffeine, but can’t part with the bold black tea flavors.

Taste: 4 of 5 tea leaves — quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

Allegro black tea

Katie says:

Tea Type: Bagged tea
Temperature: @ 200+
Steeped: 4 minutes
Served with milk & honey

I like a good strong black tea! That being said, this is a pretty darn good substitute. I bought this, and drank it quite a bit while pregnant. As Abby said, if you are trying to cut back on caffeine this is a really good choice. Most decaf black tea tastes like dirty water but this one has some nice tea flavor. It’s certainly weaker than a regular black tea, but of the decaf I’ve tasted this is the only one I keep in my tea stash! Be sure to keep it on hand for whenever you want black tea taste without thee caffeine.

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves — quite a good cuppa
Steepability: 5 of 5 — this tea is easy to make!

Review: Tega Masala Chai Roobios

Overall Rating:

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves – This tea is easy to make.

Abby says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: Boiling
Steeped: Left in mug
Served: Nothing added, then with unsweetened almond milk

I’m always looking for a good decaf tea. Caffeine takes its tole on me if I drink it too late in the day or evening, but I often want a cup of tea at the end of the day. Typically roobios isn’t my favorite decaf option, but in this case, the Tega roobios blends well with the chai spices. For a chai, the spice level is mild  – I also like this for an evening tea. The addition of almond milk helped to make this tea creamy and relaxing.  The toasty almond flavor paired well with the spicy cinnamon and cardamom in the tea. As Katie, points out below, this tea was initially appealing because it is certified organic and fair trade! We love that and it tastes good too!

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves – This tea is easy to make.

Katie says:

Tea Type: bagged
Temperature: boiling
Steeped: left in cup
Served: milk & honey

This is a great tea for when you’re craving the taste of chai but want to skip the caffeine. The chai spices are very present but not overwhelming. My favorite way to have tea is with milk & honey and this was delicious served this way! This tea is also Fair trade and organic, double win! Good tea that is also good for the earth? How can you not love that?

Fun fact: Tega is a 10 year old family owned company. All of their teas are fair trade and most are organic too.

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves. Quite a good cuppa.
Steepability: 5 of 5 This tea is easy to make.

Review: The Spice & Tea Exchange Mango Green

Overall Rating:

20140514-203955.jpg

Taste: 3.75 of 5 leaves. A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 3 of 5 leaves — this tea is a bit delicate. (be careful not to oversteep or use water that is too hot)

Abby says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf tea
Temperature: @ 180 (below boiling)
Steeped: 2 minutes
Served: Nothing added

 Words that come to mind to describe this tea are tropical and summertime. I sampled this tea hot, but I think it would make a great iced tea. In fact, I recently made some ice cubes with frozen mango pieces in them for white sangria and I think they could work well added to this as an iced tea too!

The flavors in this tea are simple, but refreshing: grassy green tea and fresh mango. The combination works well to give just a little sweetness to the green tea.  I don’t like teas that are too sweet, so this tea gives just enough of it to make me happy.

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 3 of 5 leaves — this tea is a bit delicate. (be careful not to oversteep or use water that is too hot)

20140514-204006.jpg

Katie says:

Tea Type: Loose leaf tea
Temperature: @ 180 (below boiling)
Steeped: 2 minutes
Served: Honey

When steeped this tea has a lovely golden-orange color. First I made it in a ceramic mug but I really loves the look of this tea in my clear travel
Mug. Very pretty! Speaking of travel mugs, if you make this tea “to-go” be sure to use a mug that allows you to remove the leaves from the water. Most green teas have a tendency to become bitter. This was one of the less forgiving green teas I’ve had.

This tea has a grassy Green mango flavor, with no real sweetness. This tea smells wonderful. However, I wish the strong notes of mango that I could smell came across more in the steeped cuppa. This is a good standby. Know that this is not a light & mild green; instead it is a full bodied gassy green taste.  

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves. A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 3 of 5 leaves — this tea is a bit delicate. (be careful not to oversteep or use water that is too hot)

Review: Republic of Tea Downton Abbey English Rose Tea

Downton Abbey Tea

Overall Rating

Taste: 3.75 of 5 tea leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 5 of 5 tea leaves – this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Temperature: @200 (just shy of boiling)
Steeped: 6 minutes
Served: Nothing added

In honor of the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey on PBS last Sunday we have decided to review this limited edition tea! This English Rose tea is a blend of hibiscus,  rosehips, apples, stevia with natural raspberry, rose and vanilla flavors with rose petals. For me, the hibiscus, stevia and raspberry were the prominent flavors with hints of rose. For those you you who haven’t been yet been swept up the Downton Abbey Saga, let me just fill you in. The show is a British period drama set in Yorkshire county at the fictional estate of Downton Abbey written by Julian Fellows. Oh the drama!  It just sucks you right in.

This tea is good and I enjoyed drinking it, especially while re-watching season 3 of Downton Abbey. However, I thought it was a little too sweet.  I think it would work better if it didn’t have sweetener added, because for me it was too much.  It is easy enough to add some sweetness after steeping, if needed, but if a tea is too sweet to start out, there isn’t much that can be done to change that. Although, a little too sweet for me, this tea had a delicate quality (the rose?) that I really like and that’s what has kept me drinking it. As an herbal tea, it has no caffeine, so I can drink it every Sunday night as the newest Downton Abbey season rolls on.  BTW, I am also sipping it from my new, English Tea mug from Edgecome Pottery that I got for Christmas. That’s fun, right?  Yeah, it is!

Taste: 3.75 of 5 tea leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 5 of 5 tea leaves – this tea is easy to make!

Katie says:

Temperature: boil then cool for a minute
Steeped: left bag in the mug
Served: with a touch of honey

OMG, Downton is back! And this time with a specialty tea? Stop it. Too, much, awesome! Needless to say I was excited to learn about this tea.

Fruit tea isn’t typically my favorite but since I do like many teas from the republic of tea this seemed interesting. Abby gave me this sample and after reading the ingredients the taste makes much more sense. I was wondering how I overdid it on the honey! Now I understand that with the stevia it was sweet to begin with.

Ingredients: Nigerian hibiscus, rosehip peels, apples, stevia, natural raspberry, natural rose and vanilla flavors and rose petals

Overall this has nice flavors, especially if you like herbal teas. Minus points for stevia but I can’t help give bonus points for Downton!

Taste: 3.75 of 5 tea leaves – Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 5 of 5 tea leaves – this tea is easy to make!

Champagne and Tea

Happy New Year, everyone!  Cheers to a hopeful and happy 2014!

Champagne and Tea

To help you ring in the new year i have developed a tasty cocktail with our favorite ingredient!  You guessed, we’re using tea! This bubbly drink is simple, but delicious!  My favorite part, aside from that fact that we’ve got some tea in there, is that is isn’t sweet at all, but is still fun and festive!

Here is what you will need:

– A bottle of your go-to Champagne

– Chilled cranberry herbal tea, I used Stash Cranberry Pomegranate herbal tea.  I made the tea yesterday and put it in the fridge to chill.

– Whole cranberries

– Mint leaves

Ingredients

Directions:

Put a few cranberries in the bottom of a champagne glass. Grab a few mint leaves, tear them up and put them on top of the cranberries in the glass.  Add one to two ounces of the chilled tea.  Then top if off by adding two ounces of champagne.  The more mint you add, the more the mint flavor will come through.  This also goes for the tea.  If you want more tea flavor add more, but if you want just a hint only add about one ounce. Then sit back and enjoy!

Review: Stash Christmas in Paris

20131224-214342.jpg

Happy holidays everyone!

Overall Rating:

Taste: 3.75 of 5 leaves – a decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Katie says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @ boiling
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: With milk & honey

It is Christmas Eve and I’m drinking a cup a Stash Christmas in Paris tea with my Dad. (He likes it too) As usual, I’m writing my blog post at the last minute! (Love ya Abby)  This is my favorite of the holiday teas that Stash sent us. The tastes of mint lavender & chocolate go well together with some chocolate candy. I have to say, the vanilla flyavor is so mild you might miss it! I’m using a coconut milk creamer, and that adds a nice flavor as well.

My favorite part about this tea is the cool feeling of the mint mixed with the warmth. Very refreshing! The lavender makes it unique. Perhaps I’ve found a new Christmas Eve tradition? Merry Chistmas to our wonderful readers and gratitude to the awesome companies who’ve sent us tea throughout the year!

Taste: 4 of 4 leaves – quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @ boiling
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: Nothing to start then added milk & honey

Nothing compares to a hot cuppa and freshly baked christmas cookies on a cold winter evening. Baking, and the of course eating, Christmas cookies is one of my favorite holiday traditions.  This year my husband (the true baker in the family) and I made traditional sugar cookies, snickerdoodles and Hershey’s kiss cookies. Serious yum!

This year I ate a few of these fresh-out-of-the oven beauties and sipped on a nice hot cup of Stash Christmas in Paris tea. This tea combines two classic flavors, peppermint and chocolate in a light caffeine-free package!  To round out the flavors, lavender and vanilla extract are also added.  Though I couldn’t identify them on their own, they added a little complexity to the overall taste. This sweet and minty blend goes so well with well with the seasons sweets, but had enough body that it is worth drinking by itself too! Adding milk and honey helped bring out the sweetness and made it all the more comforting and cozy, as an evening tea should be.

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Review: Stash Spice Dragon Red Chai Herbal Tea

Overall Rating:

Taste: 3 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @ boiling
Steeped: Left tea bag in cup
Served: Nothing added

Typically, red tea blends are not my favorite because I don’t like how that distinct rooibos flavors pairs with a lot of things. In this case I think the red tea mixes well with the spices added, particularly the cinnamon. I think chai spices and red tea go together well and that holds true for this tea.  Though I found this tea a little week for chai, I still liked drinking it.

Taste: 3 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Katie says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @ boiling
Steeped: Left tea bag in cup
Served: Nothing added at first then unsweetneded coconut dream & agave

I agree with Abby, while red tea is not typically my favorite this is a nice blend. To agree again, I find that this tea’s only fault is it’s strength…or lack there of.  Either make it in a small teacup or use two bags for a big mug. I tried this tea on it’s own but, as with most chais, I found  this really benefits from some sugar & sweetener. I’m currently off dairy so I’ve been using non-dairy milks in my tea as you might have read in a previous post. I actually really liked this tea with the hint of coconut flavor that came from the unsweetened coconut dream. It gave the tea a very slight coconut taste that blended well with the red tea and chai spices. The agave has a distinct taste as well that I thought worked nicely with this tea.

Taste: 3 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Review: Stash Maple Apple Cider Herbal Tea

Stash Tea was kind enough to send us samples of their new holiday teas for us to review.* Thank you!

20131003-215749.jpg

Overall Rating:

Taste: 3.25 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 tea leaves — this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @ boiling
Steeped: Left teabag in the cup
Served: Nothing added at first, then a little honey

Stash has a new line of herbal/caffeine free teas for fall. Now that its October all I want to drink are warm comforting teas. Maple Apple Cider herbal tea hits the mark there. The name is a bit confusing because although you get the sense of apple cider, this tea isn’t apple cider. For me, it seems more like apple herbal tea. That being said, I like it. Because I left the teabag in my cup to get the most flavor from the tea, the fruit notes became a little bitter. However, adding a little honey balanced the apple flavor and helped to bring out more of the sweetness and spices.

Because it is caffeine-free this can be anytime tea. I love having an option for chilly nights here in Maine. I think this tea would work well for most people. Roobios has a very distinct flavor that not everyone loves, but in this tea it is more complimentary with the other flavors and doesn’t stand out too much.

Taste: 3 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 tea leaves — this tea is easy to make!

20131003-220532.jpg

Katie says:

Tea Type: Bagged
Temperature: @ boiling
Steeped: Left teabag in the cup
Served: Nothing added

Maple flavored tea is a popular item in parts of Canada and New England. In sugar shack gift shops it can often be found as a souvenir. The mention of this tea makes me think or growing up in New Hampshire and eating breakfasts at Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, NH. Pancakes, french toast & waffles…oh my! 🙂

20131003-223556.jpg

Maple tea comes in caffeinated and herbal. Stash’s version has an added twist with apple flavor and hints is cider spice. The strongest flavor in this tea is apple, followed by maple, with a spice finish. The apple and maple flavors work well with the rooibos tea base making this a tasty tea. It is perfect for fall; especially after a visit to a maple sugar house or a trip apple picking. If you want to taste fall in New England just have a sip!

Taste: 3.5 of 5 leaves – A decent tasty tea.
Steepability: 5 of 5 tea leaves — this tea is easy to make!

*Please note that we are just as critical of free teas as the ones we purchase. If we get a sample we don’t like we won’t include it on our blog.

Review: Stash Orange Cranberry Herbal Iced Tea

20130709-212516.jpg

Overall Rating:

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves: Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 4.75 of 5 this tea is easy to make!

Abby says:

Tea Type: Herbal, Oversized tea bag for iced tea
Temperature: @212 (boiling)
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: Nothing added

For me, iced tea needs to be fairly easy to make, refreshing and tasty. Stash hit the mark on all three of these requirements with their Orange Cranberry Herbal iced tea. It comes with directions on the package, but basically you just steep their large teabag in two cups of boiling water, then remove the tea bag and add two cups of cold water. Done. I served it unsweetened, over ice at a BBQ this past weekend. It was a hit! I put out some sweetener (both sugar and honey) but everyone was happy to drink it unsweetened.

This iced tea works because it is easy to drink with the tartness of the cranberry mixed with the citrus of the orange flavor. This will definitely make an appearance at summer time gatherings in the future!

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves: Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 4.5 of 5 — this tea requires very little effort.

20130709-212704.jpg

Katie says:

Tea Type: Herbal, Oversized tea bag for iced tea
Temperature: Cold brewed in fridge overnight
Steeped: 5 minutes
Served: with a little sugar (@ 4 teaspoons for 4 cups)

I agree with Abby, this tea is super easy to make! Although I used the fridge method. Just toss the teabag in 4 cups of water, refrigerate overnight, and voila! Tea! Side note: a standard nalgene bottle is 32 ounces and the perfect size to brew your tea and then take it to go!

I like just a touch of sweet in my iced tea and this worked really well with just a little sugar. Be careful not to over sweeten or iced herbal teas can start to taste more like kool-aid than tea! I found the cranberry flavor to be stronger than the orange but still really enjoyed the combination. This tea was also very tasty mixed with plain coconut water. If you like coconut water mixed with juice try mixing it with an herbal iced tea like this for nice flavor with less sugar!

Taste: 4 of 5 leaves: Quite a good cuppa!
Steepability: 5 of 5 this tea is easy to make!