Welcome to a new year of tea reviews, teaple! I’m so glad to have you! I’m not going to lie, 2017 was not the greatest for this blog, but the truth of the matter is, I love tea, and I love writing about tea, so I see little reason to stop writing about tea. Right? Right. So write on! Ahem. Though I am putting a lot more focus into my Steepster account this year, so please go check me out over there if you haven’t already! Steepster is a community that is designed for tea lovers to share their tea-tasting experiences — you can make an account, follow others, and see their tasting notes in your Steepster dashboard, which you can Like and Comment. I’m working on adding “abridged” versions of all my blog posts over to Steepster (these also have numerical ratings and a quick flavor notes section, which are unique to Steepster and not in my blog reviews), and I may start adding unique reviews to Steepster, since I drink a lot of tea and there is only so much I can cover in a weekly column. Steepster reviews are quicker, more succint, and don’t use photography, thus are much easier to get quick tasting thoughts down and provide more content more often, so if you want bonus tea content, please check me out on Steepster!
Though this winter has not been as terrible as last year, snow is frequent enough in this area to really play a number on my chronic migraines at this time of year, and I’m already looking forward to the spring! Ah, so many months yet to go… *sigh* Today’s tea is an homage to my fellow tea drinkers stuck in frosty parts of the world… it is even decorated with little sugar snowflakes! (And to my fellow tea drinkers not stuck in frosty parts of the world… can we trade weather? Please?)
This tea, Frosted Evergreen, is a seasonal green tea that I picked up from Beleave Teas as a sampler size last fall. Since the holidays have already passed, it has been pulled from their inventory, unfortunately, but I will say that I had a very lovely experience ordering from this vendor! They offered me a free sample to review (check out my Nutty Teas Pt. 2 review!), had very prompt and quick shipping, and were just very pleasant!
This tea is comprised of green tea leaves, cinnamon stick, marshmallows, sugar ice crystals, orange slices, and natural flavors. I cannot find any specific information about the type of marshmallow used in this tea blend, so I’m going to assume that this tea is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. (That said, I will say there were not very many marshmallows in the blend in the sampler I received, so if you are a vegetarian or vegan, simply plucking them out of your teaspoon before steeping, while mildly inconvenient, would not be unfeasible. Since the sugar crystals are also used for sweetening, the overall flavor profile shouldn’t change too much without their presence… you could even substitute with a few vegan-friendly marshmallows!)
My first scent of the leaves is very orangey, making me think of orange juice, though there is a very sugary sweet aroma too. A second sniff more of the sweetness and something a bit creamy or vanilla-like is present beneath the orange, and I get a lot more spiciness tickling my nose as well. I have a suspicion this may be another creamsicle-tasting tea… and again, I’m still perplexed as to when orange and vanilla became “winter seasonal” flavors. Was I the only one that didn’t get the memo? Mandarins make me think of winter (mmm, mandarins!) but vanilla-orange flavor tends to just make me think of creamsicle ice cream bars, a summer treat! Guess the only way to find out is to steep and see!
Remembering my problem with the “bulky” ingredients of the Winter Solstice tea a few weeks ago, I decided to go a bit heavy on the leaf this time! I shook the bag well and used two heaping teaspoons of leaf, making sure I got a good mix of leafy green tea and the bulkier blended additions. This is where using an infuser that allows free-floating steeping is really handy, and I can’t speak highly enough of the gravity-well style of infusers, but even a French press for coffee will do the job — small tea balls simply don’t have the space for large ingredients like this to properly fit, let alone really make contact with the water, expand, and really flavor the full tea! Ah, I just love seeing that marshmallow melt!
I used water at 175 degrees F and let the tea steep for two minutes, and then I was ready to sample!
Wow! I know I said the leaf smelled like orange juice, but I wasn’t expecting the steeped tea to look like orange juice as well! The steeped brew was such a vivid yellow-orange color, and had a very strong sweet-orange scent! And surprisingly enough, it didn’t just taste like all the other creamsicle teas I’ve had this winter season! The tea has a very silky, smooth mouthfeel, and there is, perhaps, a mild hint of vanilla present in the sweetness, but it is too subtle to come off as a “vanilla-orange” flavor. It tastes more like an orange spice tea, with a softer, more gentle touch than I’ve ever felt from an orange spice tea, which tend to always be black tea blends. There is a very full, citrusy orange body, but it rounds out into a very soft, sweet, almost creamy dessert-like flavor, and then right at the finish there is a sudden warm burst of spicy cinnamon that brings the tongue full-circle back into the citrus notes. It’s very good! The tea tastes like a warm orange-flavored spiced cider, but it is balanced with a lot of natural sweetness to keep the citrus and spice from being too overpowered.
Being a seasonal tea with the holiday season now behind us, this tea is a bit harder to find online, but the ingredients aren’t so sensational that I don’t think this should be too hard to prepare if one was interested. The flavor might not be so strong without the natural flavorings in the leaf, but simmering some green tea with some orange slices, cinnamon stick, and a bit of sweetener of your choice will probably give a nice orange cider flavor to your green tea!
Well, that was my first cuppa for 2018, and I can’t say that I was disappointed! I wonder just how many cups of tea someone like me drinks over the course of a single year? Seems far too ambitious to try to keep track of something that specific, but perhaps I can at least try to keep track of how many new types of tea I try within 2018… or how much I spend on tea within the year! (Oh dear, now that might be a scary statistic! Hahaha!)