Saturday, June 1, 2013

Time for Tea - Teavana Review

Hi friends,

You  probably have read somewhere in this blog about my crazy addiction to tea, in particular loose leaf teas! I would much rather pay top dollars for a high quality tea than have a so-so experience with some of those bags (cough cough, Lipton) where more powder is to be found, not to mention that their tea (as with many other bag brands) is from China and loaded with lead.
Last year, I discovered Teavana and quite frankly, I don't think I will ever go back to drinking regular tea ever again!

If you are new to Teavana, here is the least you need to know:



Teavana.com - Homepage

Teavana teas area always fresh.
Teavana uses only premium ingredients.
Teavana only sells loose-leaf teas.



(Image Source)

Teavana stores can be found in Malls or specialty shops. I strongly recommend you do visit one of their stores as they always offer free samples (at least 4 different kinds are available at all times). If you are looking for a Teavana store, check this Find a Store link.


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Why chose loose leaf teas? Most tea companies who sell their tea in bags, use tea leaves of poor quality and at times, powdered tea or tea dust. They often enhance the flavor with artificial or natural flavors and fragrance. You can always tell a poor quality tea by the color of the bag. If you are buying tea from bags, and the bags are opaque and white, it is not just by design, it is also meant to hide the poor quality of the ingredients inside the bags. These teas, for the most part are imported from China where mass production and export of tea has always been big business. However, and with recent news, Chinese teas have come under scrutiny because of the high levels of lead found in them, not to mention their breaking labor laws and not so safe work environments. For that reason, I have always leaned towards loose leaf teas. Those that come in the triangular silk bags (Harney & Son for example, which you can find at Barnes and Noble) are actually very good teas and one of my favorites is their Imperial Earl Grey.

Teavana teas are imported from Japan where production is taken more seriously, and is also a national treasure of sorts. I think it goes without saying that we all have heard of the famous Tea Ceremony.
Their teas are made fresh, with real ingredients you can actually see, for instance this 

Cranberry Singapore Sling Rooibos Tea



Because their teas are packed with ingredients and flavor, they do take a lot of space in a tin, and will weight more. As a result, you will think that you are paying a lot (average $7 / 2 oz) for not much. Not so at all, Teavana teas are so intense with flavor that a little goes a long way, at least this has been my experience, thus far.

If you do not have a Teavana store near you, their website offers user friendly navigation and all the information you will ever need before purchasing your first tea(s).  In this post I will share my last shipping experience from Teavana. I had ordered two specific teas and tins:

Samourai Chai Mate and Tranquil Dream Herbal Tea.

Teavana Samurai Chai Mate, 4oz

Teavana Tranquil Dream Loose-Leaf Herbal Tea, 8oz




When you order Teavana, I recommend you also order their tins. The basic (logo) tins come in three sizes  (1lb, 8oz and 6oz). I ordered two 6 oz tins, but also have one 8 oz at home where I keep their Earl Grey.



Basic Teavana Tin

If you feel a bit more fancy, why not order some of their decorative tins, they follow the same design/sealed lid but offer a variety of colors. The ones below are obviously designed after Japanese patterns.

Teavana Medium Washi Tea Storage Tin, 5oz



I had ordered the two teas mentioned above and they arrived within days in this labeled box.




The contents were nicely tucked in and kept in place by this huge wad of paper...In addition, Teavana sent one of their latest catalog.




In all, I had ordered 4 oz of each tea which came in sealed and air tight  2 oz bags. The bags are resealable but I also ordered small tins to keep them fresh.




Here are the ingredients for the Samurai Chai Mate:




Green Mate, Green Rooibos(tea), cinnamon, Candied pineapple pieces, candied papaya pieces, orange peels, lemongrass, anise seed, coriander, cardamom, almond flakes. Doesn't it sound yummy?



This tea is so fragrant and one of my favorites from Teavana. Just a fair warning to all, it does have a large amount of candied fruit in it and as a result, it is naturally sweetened. I would not recommend that you add either honey or sugar to this tea. You may also check on the calories (if any) and blood sugar issues before drinking it, though I would assume it is minimal.




Since I ordered  4oz, there was plenty left in the tin (which is 6 oz).




These are the ingredients for the Tranquil Dream (a "Sleepy Time" type tea):




Rosehip peels, citrus peels, chamomile flowers, lemongrass, orange petals, hibiscus flowers, spearmint, flavoring (orange, vanilla, tangerine).





This herbal tea has such a wonderful scent, you almost want to make sachets out of it! look at the ingredients: full chamomile buds! I had not seen these since my grandmother was making chamomile tea directly from her garden!




Now this tea is more voluminous than the Chai Mate and as a result my 4 oz almost filled the entire 6 oz tin. It's good to know, had I ordered 6 oz of the Tranquil dream, I would have needed another tin!





I had to make my own labels in order to identify the tins and wish that Teavana would send labels for their tins with each order or better yet, make a space available on the front of the tins for labels or handwriting with a Sharpie. One great thing though, is that each Logo Tin comes with instructions on the back for steep time, temperature and amount of tea needed for all teas varieties. That is a great reference chart and before seeing it, I had no idea that temperature was that important when it came to teas (apparently green and black teas need to steep at different temperatures).


 


Preparation:

In this post, I am making Samurai Chai Mate. And instructions read as follows: Heat water to just at boiling (208 degrees/98 degrees Celsius) and steep for 5 minutes. I don't have a way to check temperature on my kettle and really wish that I had this gizmo - if only it was not so darn expensive!




Breville - One Touch Tea Maker 

The Breville One-Touch Tea Maker is the ultimate tea drinker's gadget. It provides accurate and programmable temperature, tea steeping levels from light to dark and a basket that is magnetized and will automatically lower itself into the water once it reached temperature, stay for the required steeping time and automatically move back up, once the tea has reached both time and desired darkness level. Are you kidding me? I so want this! But at $249? No way!

So until I win the lottery, I will continue to boil water in my modest stove top tea kettle...





I could have used my regular tea pot but for the purpose of this post, but used my French Coffee Press to show you what the tea looks like when it is steeping (and by the way, I love making tea in the French Press since it provides a built in strainer).










During steeping, you will see pieces of the tea slowly drop to the bottom and for the most part, the heaviest ones such as the candied papaya and pineapple will go down first. After five minutes I shook the carafe a bit to let all the leaves drop to the bottom and then pressed my tea.







The Samurai Chai Mate comes out as a clear and golden brew. Very fragrant and again, naturally sweetened. I love the cardamom, lemongrass and orange peels flavors. This is a mix of Mate and Rooibos teas, therefore it is "caffeinated" and not to be considered for a late evening brew. When I have leftover, I place it into an opaque water bottle (the subzero type) into the fridge. it lasts for days and is actually very good as an iced tea as well.







The Tranquil Dream, however, comes out much clearer and slightly yellow. It is wonderful tea to relax before heading to bed. I can't say that it helps me sleep but I find the fragrance very delicate and relaxing.

On a sad (and disappointing) note, I do not find Teavana's Earl Grey (which is my favorite variety of black tea) to be as amazing as their other ones. Also, I have only tried the basic Earl Grey and cannot review the flavored ones as I understand that there is a vanilla variety that sounds really yummy.


I hope you have enjoyed this review and are looking forward to trying Teavana. If you do, I would love to read your impressions.


Thank you for liking and sharing my post.Sophia, NJ

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*This site contains affiliate advertising. I am  affiliated with Teavana but was not solicited to review their products.  I purchased all products with my own funds and all opinions are strictly my own.




2 comments:

  1. Hi Sophia, I was watching one of your youtube video's and you had a cup that strained tea into you tea cup. Forgot what video and the name of that particular cup was? If you can let me know it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your help with this. Take Care!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Did you know you can shorten your links with Shortest and get $$$$ from every visit to your shortened links.

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I welcome your feedback and comments. If you have a question or a specific request, do not hesitate, I am here to help! Thanks, S.

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