Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The last big tea roundup

Every time we talk about tea on here, the tea collection has grown. It's been a guilty pleasure for a long time- not candles, not lotions, not lipsticks, just boxes and boxes of teas. But this really is going to be the last big tea roundup. Enjoy!

Favorite Winter Teas

This is D's pick for the winter. It tastes like campfire ashes. In a good way, of course. Must be a Ukrainian thing ;)

Perhaps equally odd: the mint + chocolate + lavender of Christmas in Paris. I ADORE IT. It tastes like candy plus dignity. For real.

Plum Deluxe

Hooray for local teas!

I like Plum Deluxe. Their teas are organic and creative. Black tea with chamomile? Genius! Also, there's a weekly tea newsletter and a tea-of-the-month club. You can check their teas out here.


We discovered the Stash tea shop on Mississippi Ave not so long ago. Right by the door there's always a half-price shelf, obviously my favorite shelf in the store ;)

Here are a few things that I'd grab in a heartbeat if they showed up on that shelf:

This box of 7 teas is meant to inspire wisdom, creativity, strength and all that blah blah blah but I've never had anything mystical happen while drinking them. Yet. Better keep trying just in case.

These loose-leaf beauties are Breakfast in Paris (black tea w/ lavender) and Root Beer iced tea (whaaaat? it's the one in the back). 

The Root Beer remains untested but it smells EXACTLY LIKE the real thing. I'm hoarding it until iced tea weather returns. Can't wait to try it!

And bonus points to Stash for designing these favorite winter mugs:

Doesn't that cat crack you up?


Zingiber Ginger Coconut.
Caramel Almond Amaretti.  
Chocolate Banana Foster.
Coco Caramel Sea Salt.

Sounds awesome, doesn't it?

It's not. Talk about a letdown. Let it be known that when something is called "Slimful Chocolate Decadence", there will be NO actual chocolate decadence. These Teavana teas look and smell gorgeous... and then brew into a cup of greasy sludge.

We wandered into a Teavana store over a year ago and wound up with this massive holiday set. There were the tasty samples, the sales clerk who followed us around, a sale price, the sales clerk again... it all led to the purchase of The Very Big Box.

Opening The Very Big Box was exciting. All these burnished orange packets with exotic names, a cute little embellished tin for each flavor... it felt like we had levelled up our tea game.

But this was not a level up. This is like McDonalds selling you a milkshake: our base ingredients are real strawberries and fresh milk!and a bunch of other crap but shhh... It's a trap! All those pretty little chocolate and carob bits dissolve into a greasy film. There's artificial flavoring left and right. Sugar has been added to everything. Every. Thing.

Later I heard the rumors about Teavana's brewing tactics, which leads to my caveat: maybe these teas would rock with a 1/2 cup of sugar. (Granted, what wouldn't rock with a 1/2 cup of sugar?) Even though there's sugar in almost every ingredient, I didn't add any additional sweeteners after brewing and the taste was always ugh. Am now down to the very last teaspoon of Toasted Nut Brûlée and that will wrap up the year-long Teavana Dessert Tea Experiment.

It sounded cool... 

These weren't quite as epic a failure as the Teavana box but they didn't stand out much in the hot water test. Our kitchen is like America's Next Top Model for teas: Twelve beautiful boxes of tea stand before me... but only nine have what it takes to be America's Next Top Breakfast Tea.

(Russian Twilight excluded)

Chamomile Citrus: Once upon a time (aka college) I would meet friends at a coffee shop and order this tea. It was such a special treat back then. I still think the citrus is a fun addition to plain old chamomile.

Orange Chiffon: Forgettable.

Lemon Lavender Mint: Seriously forgettable.

Decaf Lotus Blossom Green: There was a lotus blossom tea in Ukraine that was WOW. As in, time to study Buddhism and start hanging out with Ajahn Brahm. This is a poor translation of that tea.

Tea in 2016

This picture is from two months ago. Our local tea population has gone down in size since then. That trend is going to continue.

I've realized a lot of tea is just marketing. Trendy packaging, promises of amazing health benefits or "drinking experiences", flavors that sound too good to be true. Things like white chocolate ginger are meant to be ice creams, not teas*. If you don't load your cup up with sugar, it usually doesn't taste good (or at least not as good as the ice cream would). As for what actually goes in the tea, better to have real dried lavender to steep than a lavender tea with "artificial and natural flavors". What do those words even mean?

 * but the Salted Caramel stays!! $3 a box and it's better than ice cream!

It's also a little bit of The Toothpaste Syndrome- that reaction people have when they get to the US and spend 20 minutes standing in the dental aisle trying to pick a flavor. This was my tea collection in Ukraine, for example.

It seemed pretty extravagant at the time.

One last thing- this beautiful video:

Like someone said in the comments, tea will sadly never be this epic again.

More tea goodies:
Tea Tour
Stash Tea Haul

Spring Republic of Tea Haul
Fall Republic of Tea Haul 
Tea with a Texan


  1. The Paris Christmas tea sounds interesting, but some of those just sound awful! I've heard similar things about those sneaky Teavana teas. This post is tempting me to make a visit to our local tea shop!

    1. It'd be really interesting to hear about the tea scene in Germany! If you go, could you share what it was like on your blog? Pretty please? :)

  2. These pictures are things of beauty!

    1. Thanks, Leah!! It's so much fun to play around with tea.