Teatime Tuesday #48: Nutty Teas Pt. 2

Hello, and welcome back for another very nutty time here on Teatime Tuesday, as this week we finish up our special two week feature on nut-flavored teas for this autumn season! So snuggle up and try some of these roasty and toasty nutty tea flavors as the temperatures get chilly! (Unless you have nut allergies, in which case you should probably stick with the cranberries!)

First up is Roasted Chestnut from TeaSource. This tea was voted the customer favorite tea for 2016, and is described as “a deep, dark, rich black tea blend with a delicious aroma. It has a roasty nut flavor with a little sweet silkiness. This is a perfect cooler weather black tea blend.”

This tea is called a “black tea” on TeaSource’s website, but the ingredients are actually a combination of several types of tea leaves. It contains China black tea, roasted yerba mate, houjicha (a roasted Japanese green tea), flavor, and sliced almonds. I’m familiar with roasted mate and houjicha (we’ll be looking at some later!), both of which produce a natural warm, sort of “toasty” flavor, and as far as black teas go, Chinese blacks are my favorite for a base, so this blend really piqued my interest. I’m not sure exactly what flavors they’ve added to the tea, but the scent of the leaves is really something; it has a deep nutty profile, but there are also sweeter notes that play on my nose, like dark chocolate and perhaps something lighter, like honey, maple, or dates.

I first sampled this tea at Twin Beans Coffee, where I spend my lunch break about once a week. They have a small selection of TeaSource teas in house. On a snowy day last year the owner Paul recommended this tea, and I really enjoyed it, so I bought a bag from TeaSource’s website for my home collection. I still grab a pot during my lunch break when I feel in the mood. It steeps up a maple-color to a rich, dark chocolately brown, depending on how dark you like your tea. On this particular visit, I felt the nutty tea would be a nice accompaniment to my pumpkin chocolate chip cookie! Mmmm!

When I prepare this tea at home, I tend to use a heaping teaspoon of leaf and steep it for about four minutes in boiling water. The tea tends to come out a bit lighter and more of a maple tone when prepared this way. The smallest teapots used at Twin Beans hold 16 oz. of water, so the baristas use double leaf, and I let a black tea steep a bit longer using the 3 minute hourglass they supply (flipping it over to allow a 6 minute steep to account for having a bit more leaf and water than when I’m at home). This creates a much darker steep, as pictured above.

I usually find when I let my black teas “go darker” I get a more astringent taste that I’m not a fan of, but not with this tea! It is a very rounded and smooth tea that tastes great brewed both with a lighter and a darker flavor. This tea has a very thick, roasted nut flavor. The tea has a nice natural sweetness, but doesn’t come off syrupy or overbearing at all… the flavor reads more as a warm, smooth, breakfast tea with toasty and nutty notes, not a dessert blend, which makes it quite different from the flavor of the Almond Oolong and Phoenix Rising from last week. I’d say the sweetness that is there reminds me of some slight maple notes that offset any astringincies in the black tea, helping to balance out the cup. It’s really nice, and I have a feeling it would make a great tea for lattes as well!

If you are looking for a good nut-flavored tea that doesn’t have a lot of marzipan flavor, extra sweetness, or otherwise tastes more “desserty,” then I think this blend is your winner!

This next tea was a free sample kindly provided by Beleave Teas! Thank you, Beleave Teas! I found that the customer service and shipping speed when I ordered from this site was exceptional, and when the owner said that she would be including a free sampler, I was excited to open my order and see it was Pistachio Almond, since I knew I had some nut-themed tea reviews coming up! This is a black tea and it is described as “smooth, rich and silky. The pistachio and almond notes give it the intoxicating aroma of a warm cookie.”

This tea is made with China black tea leaves, pistachios, rose petals, marzipan drops, and natural almond flavor. I’m expecting this tea, unlike Roasted Chestnut, to taste a lot more like the almond teas featured last week, as the leaves have that sweet marzipan smell that reminds me of amaretto; the nuttiness of almonds, a sweetness like honey, and a slight hint of cherry. I am curious how the sweetness of the rose petals and the taste of the pistachios will balance out the blend, however. Pistachios aren’t my nut of choice to eat plain, but I’m more than willing to try them out in a tea blend! I have to admit that there is something very cookie-like about the scent of the leaves… there is certainly no doubt from a simple sniff that this is going to be an indulgent dessert tea!

I steeped a teaspoon of leaf for five minutes in boiling water. The resulting brew was a lovely maple brown with some cherry tones. The brewed tea smelled very much like the leaf, with a warm, sweet, marzipan scent. The tea has a warm nutty flavor and a very smooth mouthfeel, with a sweet, almond dessert flavor to the finish. The tea smelled very sweet, but it is surprisingly very well balanced. It certainly has a dessert appeal, but the black tea and nutty flavors hold up enough that this tea could pass itself off as something heartier. And the pistachio is surprisingly quite nice… the flavor is noticeable, but blends well with the other flavors.

While this is entirely a matter of personal preferences, though I really enjoyed the Phoenix Rising tea from last week which had a very similar flavor, I actually like this tea a bit more, which I’d say could be attributed to the Chinese black base; I’ve found my personal palette prefers Chinese blacks more than Indian blacks, and the Phoenix Rising used a Ceylon base mixed with green tea, which I found a bit astringent even using a shorter steep, and I found my prefered way to take that tea was with some almond milk to balance out the astringent notes. This tea has no astringency, and I can take it just fine plain. And while I don’t really like pistachios plain, I think the pistachios in the blend help balance out the marzipan and almond flavorings a bit, and add a more rounded nutty flavor, while still allowing the tea a nice sweetness. A nicely balanced nutty blend that could easily double as a warm morning drink or an indulgent sweet dessert drink!

This next tea is from TeaSource, but they only offered it during Winter 2016 and then discontinued it. It makes me sooooo sad when tea companies discontinue teas, because then I always feel like I can only drink them on special occassions, knowing that once they are gone, I will never be able to drink them again… *sad face*

The tea, Toasted Maple Green, is a houjicha blend. Houjicha is a Japanese green tea that is typically made from bancha (though some varieties are made from sencha or kukicha) which is roasted over charcoals, causing the leaves to turn a brown color. The tea has a toasty flavor and is very different than the sort of vegetal flavor that comes to mind when most folks think of green tea. Knowing my friend Todd is a huge houjicha fan (you could say it is his ultimate “cup of tea”) and a fan of maple syrup, I mentioned it to him at the time and he bought a pound of it. I asked for a sample as my finder’s fee. *wink* He brought me a few sandwich bags of the tea when we met up for a vacation, and the scent was so strong our whole hotel room smelled of maple syrup! (Which honestly isn’t a bad thing… I have to wonder what the housekeepers must have thought, though!)

Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that sandwich bags are not tea-storage friendly, since I simply left the tea in said bags when I got home and stashed them away with my other teas. Over time, the tea lost its nice scent. Now, of course I know that a nice, sturdy, solid tin is the best storage option for tea; but I have a kitchen smaller than most walk-in closets in this tiny apartment, and I store many of my teas in drawers where tins aren’t feasible. While I may invest on moving some of my teas to tins in the future (they can at least stack, giving me more vertical storage space), at the moment I keep my teas mostly in the nice, aluminium-lined zip-seal bags the tea ships in, and it stays very fresh and never gets descented. In a sandwich bag, however, the plastic is too thin, and lets a bit of air in over time, which descents the tea. Which is what happened to my nice houjicha.

So I invested in these nice aluminium foil zip lock food pouches to keep my tea fresh in the future, and moved my houjicha as soon as they arrived. They work great, and are great for sharing tea in your stash with friends, too. Though my houjicha has admittedly lost a lot of its nice fragrance from the blending, the base tea has been salvagable, and it does still have some maple flavors, albeit not as strong. Live and learn, right? And this is why tea is a journey, with many mistakes along the way!

This tea includes houjicha (from the look of the leaf, it appears to be the typical bancha variety), sliced almonds, calendula petals, and natural maple flavoring. As I mentioned previously, when I first got this tea, it smelled so strongly of maple syrup it was staggering! It was my own poor storage that allowed the tea to lose the strong scent over time. Currently, it still has some maple notes to the leaf, though not nearly as sweet. Now it smells far more nutty, and more of the scent of the houjicha is coming through, which has sort of a toasty, roasted nut scent.

The leaf in houjicha is lighter due to the roasting process, so it is recommended to use a bit more. You might have to experiment to find your own preferred amount for your tastes, but I like to use two teaspoons of leaf for an 8-10 oz. single-serve cup of tea. Another difference compared to other types of green tea, is that the roasted leaves are not as delicate as steamed green teas, and can be brewed at much warmer water temperatures without risk of burning the leaves, with temperatures around 185-190 degrees F recommended. I use 190 degrees F water. Steeping times vary from 30 seconds to 1:30 depending on tastes, though some people will steep houjicha as long as 3 minutes. It is said that shorter infusions may produce a slightly “fresher” spectrum of flavors, while longer infusions will be nuttier and more developed. It is worth experimenting and seeing how you personally prefer the flavor! I really enjoyed the flavor of a brisk 30 second steep, but for this particular blend, with its nutty and maple flavors, I opted to steep for a full minute and a half, which is recommended to give houjicha a “robust flavor with sweet elements.”

The tea steeps a warm caramel color… surprising that this is a green tea, isn’t it? The flavor of this tea is a bit like roasted nuts, with notes of earthy bark, that finishes with some subtle sweet caramel and molasses hints that linger on the tongue. This particular blend has added almonds and maple flavoring, but since my tea was descented, these flavors are a lot more subtle than they used to be; there are still some warm maple notes in the scent and a slight maple flavor and sweetness that lingers in the finish, but mostly what remains is the taste of the houjicha itself. The houjicha appears to be of good quality and has a nice flavor that holds up on its own. The tea itself has such a naturally nutty flavor, that the almonds don’t seem to add much here; the houjicha just lends this nice warm, roasted nut flavor. It is an entirely different flavor profile from what most people think of when they think of “green tea,” so if you don’t like the taste of green tea, it really is worth trying out some houjicha. I really enjoy the flavor as a breakfast tea (it pairs so nicely with toast and cereals!), but the tea is very naturally low in caffeine (the roasting process makes it lower in caffeine than traditional green tea), so you may opt to make it an evening drink for cold nights! I find it a very savory sort of tea. If it isn’t sweet enough for your tastes, it does go well with maple, as this blend proves, so you might try using a little maple syrup as a sweetener to sweeten to your tastes!

Hopefully some of the nutty samplings from this week and last week will be to your liking, providing a variety of both savory and sweet offerings! With the exception of that Almond Oolong, I really enjoyed these teas, and have found that nut flavors are definitely to my liking, especially during the cold weather… they just feel so warm and comforting, and I’ll definitely be enjoying these teas throughout the cold winter months!

Did you know that next Tuesday is National Gingerbread Day? Yum! In honor of the occassion we’ll be taking a look at a gingerbread tea, so be sure to join us for tea time next week!

About Mastress Alita

I'm a fulltime librarian, a chronic migraineur, a tea addict, and an avid Simmer that writes SimLit and maintains the Stories and Legacies Index, a link directory of SimLit on Wordpress. Though I obviously love cats, I actually don't own one! (Blame my apartment lease for that!) I do have a charming old cockatiel, Kali, that has been my companion for the last seventeen years!
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2 Responses to Teatime Tuesday #48: Nutty Teas Pt. 2

  1. cathytea says:

    Yum! My mouth watered reading this !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I need this tea in my life! :)

    Liked by 1 person

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