Good morning! It’s December 21, which means all of the end-timers are going full-force about the Mayan calendar. I am very unconcerned about this, hence my desire to sit around drinking tea and blogging. I am safely at my parents’ house in North Carolina for the second full day after a flight to Charlotte and subsequent 3+ hour drive to the middle of nowhere I called home for 18 years.
The view from my parents’ porch including their three gardens. It’s hard to see the mountains in the background because it’s starting to snow.
Before our flight on Wednesday, I started my day bright and early to finish packing some last-minute items for our flight to North Carolina. You know, toiletries, snacks for the flight, phone charger, etc. I was still feeling pretty full from all the snacking I did the night before, so I opted for a Luna bar and cup of Choice Tea for breakfast. I’m normally a pretty heavy coffee drinker, but I do love tea as well. I didn’t start drinking hot tea until around middle school when my Aunt Debi introduced me to hot tea with milk and sugar. For a few years I enjoyed it as a special treat on occasion and especially liked to pair it with those Christmas cookies that come in a tin. You know the ones I mean, right?
So maybe they aren’t Christmas cookies per se,
but that’s the only time I have them.
I didn’t really start drinking other kinds of hot tea until college when, on somewhat of a whim, I tried loose leaf Jasmine Green Tea at Burdick’s in Harvard Square. It was my first time having tea without any sweetener and I fell in love. It became my ritual to go to Burdick’s before work and get a large Jasmine tea. From that point forward I haven’t sweetened my tea unless I’m not feeling well and add some honey and lemon to coat my throat.
When I graduated from college I branched out a bit trying some other varieties of tea, but primarily stuck with green and herbal teas. For the past few years I’ve maintained a stock of chamomile tea and green tea, but have found myself drinking more and more coffee.
Back in October I set a goal for myself to cut back on my coffee consumption and switch to tea when possible. In general this meant that I still had a cup of morning coffee, but switched to green tea throughout the day. This came in very handy for me when I started Ultimate Bootcamp and needed to be up at 4:45am (and therefore asleep by 9:30 the night before).
I really loved the switch, but frankly sometimes got bored drinking the same kind of tea over and over. Meg’s love of tea and her posts about different varieties made me want to branch out even further. When I was contacted a few weeks ago by Choice Organic Teas through my Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadorship to try several varieties of their fair trade, organic tea I was super excited because I knew it would be a great opportunity to try something new.
Before I received my tea, I decided to check out the company a bit and really liked what I read on the About Us section of their website:
In 2000, Choice Organic Teas became the first tea crafter in the United States to offer Fair Trade Certified™ tea. Today, we proudly offer more varieties of Fair Trade Certified tea than any other tea company in North America, expanding awareness of a just form of trade with the developing world.
When I received my package I was thrilled to find six different varieties of tea inside: Decaffeinated Green Tea, Rooibos Chai Herbal Tea, Premium Korean Green Tea, Genmaicha Green Tea, Wild Forest Black Tea, and Masala Chai Black Tea.
As I examined the boxes I noticed that each of them had a different brew time. Although I knew that different teas should be steeped for different amounts of time, I had no idea what those times were. Luckily, not only is that information available on the Choice Organic Tea boxes, it’s also printed on each tea bag envelope! I still consider myself a tea newbie in some ways, so having this information is so helpful, especially since I am likely to bring envelopes of this tea with me in my bag and won’t always have the box to check brew times.
I started with the Premium Korean Green Tea because it seemed like the “safest” bet for me. What I noticed immediately was the brief brew time on the green teas and realized that I have been over-brewing my tea for years. Oops! I really loved this tea because it had an almost crisp flavor to it and was bright green when I brewed it for the amount of time the bag suggested.
I tried the Decaffeinated Green Tea next because I wanted to see if I could tell a difference between the two. While I could, I think it is mostly attributable to the fact that the Korean Green Tea is different from a standard green tea anyway (at least different from the green tea I normally drink). The decaf variety was just as smooth as I would have expected from my favorite green teas and didn’t have any sort of funny taste.
While I was on a green tea kick, I decided to try the Genmaicha next. This one tasted very different to me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on how. Its flavor was deeper and seemed to have more dimensions than the other two green teas. I went back to re-examine the box and found that Genmaicha is Japanese tea and toasted brown rice. It was something I had never tried before and I look forward to having it again now that I know exactly what’s in it and what to expect.
I decided to have the Wild Forest Black Tea like I drank hot black tea in my adolescence, but instead of sugar I used agave nectar and instead of regular milk I used almond milk. I didn’t have any Christmas cookies along with it (I’m going to have to work on that while I’m in North Carolina), but it was delicious! A few days later I had it again, this time without any sweetener or creamer, and found the flavor really nice and not overpowering. It also wasn’t bitter at all, which is something I’ve found with a few other black teas.
I left the chai teas for last because I wasn’t really sure what they would taste like. I’ll admit it, I was intimidated. I had chai tea a few times in college, but had never tried Rooibos Chai or even heard of Masala Chai.
I had the Rooibos Chai for the first time while watching a Christmas movie a few nights ago and it was a great choice! I’m not sure if all Rooibos tea has the fruity flavor this one did, but I can only imagine that’s where it came from. The spiciness of the chai mixed with the fruitiness made it almost smell/taste like a spiced cider (but not as sweet). Drinking it made me feel very cozy – perfect for watching a Christmas movie. I think I may have to give it a try with some sweetener one evening when I’m craving dessert.
The last tea I tried was the Masala Chai, which I had for the first time on Wednesday before our flight. I wasn’t sure if it was the same masala as the garam masala in my cabinet, but that’s what it made me think of when I saw the box for the first time. Sure enough, when I opened it this morning it was very reminiscent of the dishes I’ve made with my garam masala. I was excited to have it as a savory substitute for my morning coffee and really enjoyed it. I think it would also be really great to stave off savory cravings in the late afternoon/early evening before I finish cooking dinner. I’m going to have to test that theory out very soon. In reading the website I also learned that it pairs well with sweetener and milk for an “authentic chai” and I look forward to trying that out soon as well.
The most surprising thing for me in trying the Choice Organic Teas is that I preferred the chai teas over all the rest. I had anticipated favoring the green teas, but I think that is mostly because I have primarily only had green tea and was betting on preferring what I already knew. Although the green teas were very good (and I really loved trying new variations of them that I had never tried), the chai teas were by far my favorite and have inspired me to move out of my comfort zone and check out more varieties of tea in the future. In looking at Choice Organic’s website, I am especially excited to try the Rooibos Superfruit and Lemon Lavender Mint teas.
Thank you so much to Choice Organic Tea for sending me these awesome varieties to try and to Girls Gone Sporty for the opportunity.
I received these Choice Organic Teas free of charge, but was not compensated for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.