Rooibos Nutcracker from Georgia Tea Company: This tea, perfect for the young and the young at heart, is as much fun to drink as it is to look at it, with its dark red rooibos, white candy snowflakes , tiny silver ball dragees and almond slivers. It has a soft marzipan vibe with its almond-cherry-vanilla undertones and has been my go-to red tea quite often lately. I dare you not to pick out and munch on at least one of the candy bits when you’re scooping this into your tea bag or ball. And as I’ve mentioned before, I love that this company sells samples; it’s so nice to be able to try before you buy large amounts, and the customer service is top-notch.
Teavana’s White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos: I likened my cup of this to hot chocolate lite — smooth, with a creamy mouthfeel and well-balanced flavors, but without the caffeine, so a perfect after-dinner or bedtime sip. This one was a hit with several of my co-workers; all four of us drinking it created a lovely aroma wafting through the office. And this one, like the Nutcracker above, might have you tempted to snack a bit from the bag.
Tea Forte Rum Raisin Biscotti: Now I don’t think I’ve ever had rum-soaked raisins, so wasn’t sure what to expect, but this black tea was subtly flavorful with a bit of a pastry accord and a slightly nutty feel. If you’re looking for a hearty A.M. wake-up tea with a wallop of flavor, this likely won’t be your cuppa, but could work well to gently ease you into your morning. And I think it would be perfect for an afternoon tea ritual, with or without biscotti, scones and the like.
Stash White Chai: A co-worker turned me on to this one, a nice little brew that will please those of you who want the convenience of tea bags. I generally don’t add milk to white teas but with the chai flavoring here, it might just work. I love that the very low level of caffeine means you can have a gently spiced, warming cup any time of day; another plus is that it’s available at grocery stores.
Mariage Freres Marco Polo Rouge: I’m so happy that this cult favorite comes in caffeine-free red tea, just wish I’d discovered it sooner. I adore the delicate floral-fruity flavor of the black but didn’t dare drink it later than early afternoon. I got mine from the Cultured Cup in Dallas which sells small bags of various teas (particularly the Mariages) so you can try them without spending $$ on a full tin. The gourmet food mecca that is Market Hall Foods in Oakland, Calif., also sells refill bags of some MFs, this one included, but I went with CC this time around because there were some coffee samplers I wanted for DH’s stocking.
And since it’s that time of year, tea makes a nice gift, which you can personalize by finding out your giftee’s favorite flavors and tea types. Get a pretty tin, box or decorative bag to pack it in (I like to put loose tea in a zip-top plastic baggie first for extra freshness) and then tie it up with festive ribbon or trim. I also like to mark the package with the tea’s name, its caffeine level, what kind (black, green, white, etc.) and how to brew it. Of course, if you’re doing pre-packaged tea bags, it’s even easier to put together a sampler.
So what about you? Please share with me — would love to know what teas are you enjoying now or which ones are you hoping to try. You all have mentioned some great teas before and I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions.