Sunday, September 06, 2015

Tea Sparrow August 2015 Review


Another delicious month of Tea Sparrow! It is so exciting when this package lands in my mailbox :)

If you haven't heard of this sub, for $20 CAD per month (including shipping), Tea Sparrow sends 4 different types of loose leaf tea (so yes, you need some way to brew loose leaf  - tea balls are an inexpensive option) - usually a green, a black, a rooibos and an herbal but sometimes they mix it up.  The teas are separately packaged and are each approximately 0.6oz for a total of about 35 cups of tea per month (less if you use a lot of tea in brewing, maybe more if you're willing to brew twice using the same tea). 
If you want to try Tea Sparrow, check out this 60% off offer and get your first month for only $8! When you click the above link, you will be taken to a password-protected page.  Enter "teas" as your password and you will be offered the promotional discount.  Please be aware that this will start a recurring monthly subscription but Tea Sparrow allows you to skip any month through their website (although why would you want to?) and you can cancel at any time.  Enjoy!

Again this month, Tea Sparrow opted for summery teas perfect for brewing up some iced tea (or hot tea, if you so choose).  While there are lots of ways to brew iced tea from loose-leaf, my favourite is a cold brew method as I find it easiest.  I add as much tea as desired to a pitcher (anywhere from a few tsps to a few tbsps depending on the tea) and top up with water from my Brita.  The pitcher then sits in my fridge for anywhere from a few hours to overnight (again, depending on the tea and how it seems to be brewing) then I strain out the leaves and it's done :)

Here are this month's selections:

Earl Grey Vanilla Rooibos (rooibos, calendula petals, almond slices, vanilla and bergamot)

Earl Grey Vanilla Rooibos:
For some people, Orange Pekoe is Tea.  In my house, it was always the Earl so I love getting fancy teas with an Earl Grey flavour profile and this one is fancy and delicious.  While rooibos, despite being naturally caffeine-free, isn't usually my favourite type of "tea" (air quotes since it isn't, strictly, tea - different plant), Tea Sparrow seems to be working hard to change that.  This might be my favourite selection this month, equally delicious hot and cold.  Yum!

Pineapple Coconut Oolong (organic oolong tea from Taiwan, organic coconut flakes, organic pineapple flavour and organic coconut flavour)

Pineapple Coconut Oolong:
Awesome tropical flavour! Perfect for a batch of iced tea (I don't even think it needs sweetening. . . then again, I rarely think any tea needs sweetening so there's that).  I also tried this hot. . . not the best.  There's something a little strange for me about hot pineapple.  But so good, iced!

Mandarin Rose Tea (black tea, longan fruit and rose petals)

Mandarin Rose Tea:
Firstly, this is probably one of the most beautiful teas I've had.  Look at those rose petals! And it's also delicious.  I wasn't sure whether the rose would be off-putting as a flavour but this doesn't taste overly flowery and the fruitiness is quite pleasant.  I didn't get a chance to try this one hot yet (we just bought a Keurig so I've been taste-testing my way through a variety of coffees this month), but it makes a fresh, summery iced tea.  I even used it in a martini! Here's the recipe if you're into tea with your booze:
Rose Mar-tea-ni
1 1/2 oz Dillon's Rose Gin
1 oz brewed Mandarin Rose Tea
splash lemon juice

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.  Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Seriously good.  I linked to Dillon's website if you've never heard of them or their awesome brews.  They have a "Where to get it" link if you're interested in trying the Rose Gin. . . and you should be - it's so delicious and unique!  But, back to the teas. . .

Citrus Sunburst (papaya cubes, mango bits, apple pieces, hibiscus blossoms, orange slices, pomegranate arils, and safflowers)

Citrus Sunburst:
Not my favourite this month.  While I have had great fruit teas from Tea Sparrow in the past (the Maracuja Orange from June in particular), this one just didn't hit quite the right note for me.  Where the Maracuja Orange offered almost an autumnal flavour to me, warming and bright, this one doesn't seem to have the same depth of flavour.  It's tasty but. . . just. . . not the one I'm reaching for this month.  I think it's better as an iced tea than a warm cup but did have a few issues brewing it - large pieces of fruit.  As you can see in the pic, I received a pretty much full-size orange slice.  In trying to brew a balanced cup using only 2 tsp as recommended, this was a bit of a pain - it took up too much space! I ended up biting it in half (it was hard!) to reserve some of the orange for later.  It looks nice but wasn't very practical unless I were brewing a large amount of tea.

As always, Tea Sparrow is consistently one of my favourite subs.  While I wasn't crazy on the fruit tea this month, the other 3 were all huge hits and I'm happy with that.  Unlike past months, there didn't seem to be a "plain" or "neutral" option this month either and I really appreciate that.  While I like the more conventional blends I've received, they aren't the ones I'm most excited about. . . and they tend to linger in my cupboard a little longer.

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