When someone gives me a Target gift card for Christmas, it is guaranteed that I will spend at least a quarter of it on tea. And that is precisely what ensued at Target this afternoon. Please note that many of these product descriptions given below are written by a dimwitted college student-turned-tea-enthusiast. There is a plethora of flowery verbiage. I bet you don’t even know what a plethora means. Anyway, take this as ironically as you will.
Bring in the boxes!
Since they were on sale 2/$6, I decided to grab Tazo’s Sweet Cinnamon Spice and Wild Sweet Orange. I also picked up a canister of Harney and Sons’ Green Tea with Coconut. I had already tried their Hot Cinnamon Spice and fell consummately in love with the perfect melding of sweet and spicy and comforting warmth. I realize green tea is probably best enjoyed in the warmer summer months due to its refreshing mellowness, but I couldn’t resist trying out a new flavor.
Below is the brewed green tea with coconut in a fairly small cup.
This tea is very light and refreshing. The main body of flavoring is of a regular green tea, but the underlying citrus-y lemongrass and earthy coconut is very prevalent and complimentary. There does seem to be a smooth vanilla component that tries to balance out the inherent grittiness of the green tea leaves and the acidity from the lemongrass. This tea is by definition a loose-leaf version, and the leaves are rather large and green with speckles of coconut shavings. I can’t seem to see the vanilla (understandably). The labeling of the back states:
“The rich flavors of Thailand are the inspiration for this tasty blend. A combination of green tea, lemongrass, vanilla, coconut and ginger.
Character: A light green tea with a perfect blend of smooth coconut and spice.
Ingredients: Green tea is carefully blended with lemongrass, shredded coconut, natural coconut, vanilla, and ginger flavors.”
This tea has an estimated 30-50 mg of caffeine per serving (per tea sash, presumably), is kosher, and has apparent “transporting” effects. Personally, I tend to prefer black and herbal tea to green tea due solely to that gritiness it so unavoidably exudes, but this would still make a tremendous gift to any green tea lover. The packaging on these are delicate and vintage, and the quality is surprisingly high for tea you can buy at a department store.
On to brew the next flavor: Tazo wild sweet orange herbal tea.
This one was interesting. The leaves are, by definition, tea fannings or dust, and look strikingly similar to those of camomile tea (i.e. very fine leaves and blossoms). The tea sash instantly turned the near-boiling temperature water a very bright orange that unleashed an aroma of citrus and orange. Despite added sweetener, this tea was still quite pungently acidic. The flavor is akin to hot, steaming lemon juice. The trace caffeine content will not awaken you (it’s caffeine-free), but the piercing acidity and aromatic orange tones will. The front of the box purports the wild sweet orange variety is
“A juicy herbal infusion of orange peel, lemongrass, citrus herbs and licorice root.
Ingredients: Lemongrass, blackberry leaves, citric acid, rose hips, spearmint leaves, color (turmeric, riboflavin), orange peel, hibiscus flowers, natural flavor, rose petals, natural orange essence, ginger root, licorice root, licorice extract.”
So we are dissapointed to learn that this vibrant orange color is not due to the orange or the citrus herbs or any main tea notes, but turmeric. I will note that I did not taste any licorice, but perhaps that was due to an overpowering citrus flavor. I overall wasn’t in any way put off with this tea, but it was unusual. It’s another refreshing tea flavor, and probably also best experienced in warmer months. I don’t think I’d recommend this as a gift unless you know someone who specifically goes for citrus and orange notes in their tea. I’m sure it’s not for everyone.
Last tea exploration: Tazo’s Sweet Cinnamon Spice.
My phone’s high tech camera is clearly complex enough to distinguish the colors of these last two teas. So, just for clarification, the wild sweet orange tea produced a bright orange color, and this sweet cinnamon spice produced more of a light brown, cinnamon-colored cup of tea. This was actually very pleasant and warm. I suspected it would be very similar in taste to Harney and Son’s Hot Cinnamon Spice tea without the spicy heat, and I was on the money. You can taste a pleasurable amount of cinnamon and star anise, which is perfect for a cold post-Christmas December evening. I hate winter as it is, so having this type of tea on hand is comforting enough to keep me from suicide. And as mentioned, it’s spiced, but not spicy. There is a difference The leaves aren’t anything unusual, and I’m surprised that this isn’t classified as a black tea. As usual, the packaging says this is
“An herbal infusion swirling with warm, sweet cinnamon and spicy star anise.
Ingredients: cinnamon, licorice root, orange peel, indian sarsaparilla, chicory root, rooibos, natural flavors, star anise, almond extract.”
I could taste a hint of licorice in this one, which is probably because it is more complimentary to cinnamon than it is to orange peel. This one makes a great winter gift, and is also perfect in solutitude.
And this is how I spend my winter breaks.