Holiday Cheer Tea – A Downton Abbey Ltd. Edition

Since the new Downton Abbey movie was released this past weekend, I thought this would be a good time to review a limited edition tea that was gifted to me a couple of years ago. While it was made by The Republic of Tea it was purchased at TJMaxx. Sadly the tea is not showing as a current offering on The Republic’s website, BUT they are showing a Christmas themed tea that you’ll probably want to snag before it’s gone. I’d be surprised if it isn’t just as good as the one that I’m sharing with you today. They’re also offering free shipping on U.S. orders over $25. That makes it a great time to get your Christmas shopping done for those tea drinkers on your list, which includes yourself of course.
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The Holiday Cheer tea of Christmas’s Past is a caffeine-free red rooibos with natural vanilla and cinnamon flavours. While I did not add milk to this tea, it is said, according to the description on the canister, to be lovely when added. The smell that emanates from the container when opened gives you a slight hint at the treat in store for you. Once steeped, it does not fail to deliver a lovely rich flavour that can be savored not only at Christmas time but all year long. The balance of cinnamon and vanilla is just right with neither overwhelming the other. I did add honey to my tea and greatly enjoyed it after a long day. A day when I welcomed cheer of any kind be it holiday or otherwise.

The only other Downton tea that I have on hand is the Bates Brambleberry tea. It is another good choice for those who enjoy a bit of tang with their tea. It’s not too tart but not sweet either. Great for those times when you need to add a little zing to your day without overwhelming your tastebuds.

NOTE: Non of the links given are affiliate links. They are given for the ease of use only.

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Christmas Tea by Darvilles of Windsor

It’s time for another tea review! So far, I’ve given you positive reviews about Christmas tea blends that I’ve enjoyed. Now, however, I am going to give you a review of one that I did not enjoy. It’s only fair that I give you the opposite side of the spectrum since life in general is not always rosy.
Pic-Darvilles Christmas Tea
When searching for Christmas teas a few years ago, I ran across this brand on one of my favorite sites for ordering tea, teadog.com. I decided to give it a try since the description said it was “a very special blend of tea to celebrate Christmas.” At that time, there was one review on the site that said it was “heavenly” and figuring out how to make it last through the year would be a challenge for that buyer. Sounded like a positive endorsement to me so I was all for giving it a try.

It took a couple of seasons of watching the site before I managed to secure a box of this tea since Christmas blends are often made in smaller quantities. I guess some tea vendors think that we who enjoy drinking tea only want to drink Christmas blends around the holidays. How wrong they are, at least where I’m concerned anyhow. Finally my vigil paid off and a box of this tea found its way into my home.

Getting a box of tea selections in the mail is always exciting, and I couldn’t wait to make my first cup of the long-waited for Christmas Tea from Darvilles. I read the information on the side of the box and was thrilled to see that I would soon be enjoying “An irresistible blend of fine black teas flavoured with warming winter spices, orange and cinnamon, creating a truly festive experience.” I’m all for festive experiences and since I like spiced teas and orange flavoured teas I thought this would be a winner.

When I opened the foil packaging inside the box, I was greeted with a mild aroma of spices. Even thought it wasn’t a strong aroma, I thought, “So far, so good.” Once the tea had been steeped, however, I no longer smelled the expected aroma. The first sip took me by surprise. What I was expecting and what I tasted were two totally different things. There was very little spiciness at all. Talk about a let down.

Never let it be said that I give up easily. I decided to try the tea a second time just in case I had done something wrong in making it the first time. I reread the instructions on the box and on the second go-around I didn’t bring the water to a full boil, steeping the tea for less time than the first try. While it was a little better the second go around, it still did not live up to my expectations of a spicy, warm flavoured Christmas tea. In other words, no festive experience for me.

What went wrong? Maybe it’s just my taste buds. Or, maybe the fact that the blend is 98% black tea and 2% spiced orange flavour is the answer to why this blend did not wow me. Needless to say I still have the box of Darvilles Christmas Tea sitting on my shelf even though the “best by” date came and went almost two years ago now. I hate throwing away tea, unless it’s really bad, and this wasn’t a bad tea. It just wasn’t what I had expected it to be. I had thought of throwing one of the teabags in with another spicy tea that I do enjoy to see if it toned down the very powerful taste of cinnamon. A bit of experimentation might be just what this tea needs in order to jazz it up and insure that it doesn’t go to waste. After all, experimentation is the spice of life…right?

NOTE: There are no affiliate links in this post. Links given are for ease of use only.

Photo credit: Teadog.com

Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons

It’s July 25. I know, I’m stating the obvious here, but that means that today is the day I talk about another Christmas tea that I enjoyed this past season. It also means that Christmas is now only five, yes, only five, more months away. That’s not long at all if you stop and think how quickly the first five months went by. As if we needed a reminder, the last couple of days have been pleasantly cooler here than normal for the end of July in the south. Ahhh, if only all of summer could be like that.

The tea I’d like to share with you today is Holiday Tea by Harney & Sons. I discovered this tea a few years back when it was on sale after WP-Pic-Holiday TeaChristmas at Barnes & Noble. At that time, I wasn’t as adventuresome where tea was concerned as I am now, so being able to try a tea that was marked 50% off and use my membership discount as well seemed a safe enough way to try something different. All it took was one cup, and I was hooked. Needless to say, I went back to Barnes & Noble as soon as I could to buy more. That’s not as easy for me as it might be for some folks either. The closest Barnes & Noble to us is in Huntsville, AL. We’re talking about an hour drive one way just to buy this new-to-me tea. That should give you a better idea of how much I liked it. It reminded me a bit of spiced cider without the whang that spiced cider has because of the juices used to make it. Holiday Tea is a black tea which has citrus, red safflowers, vanilla flavour, almond, clove, and cinnamon. The tin contains 30 sachets. This tea is part of their Historic Royal Palaces group. You can read more about that on their site. One of the plus factors with this tea is that you can buy it year round! No need to wait for Christmas displays to be set up at the bookstore. Just order directly from Harney & Sons and start enjoying this spiced tea within the week.

July is the month that many businesses use to get your attention by focusing on Christmas in hopes of boosting their bottom line during the summer sales slump. I thought I’d follow their lead and share with you a special item that I bought myself for Christmas last year. Actually, since Rick’s not much of a shopper I bought it so that he could give it to me and I’d be extremely pleased with “his” choice. I know, what a good and helpful wife I am…

Because I was in need of some replacement teas from Harney & Sons just before Christmas, I sat down one evening and took advantage of that need, coupled with a coupon that I’d received from them via e-mail. As I was looking through their treasures, I came upon a listing for a 12 Days of Christmas gift set. Now, we celebrate Christmas over a 12 day timeframe, so this sounded interesting. You can read about that here. After reading through the list of teas that were included, I was thrilled to see that it contained four of the ones that I needed to replenish and a fifth one that I enjoy drinking. Perfect! I could kill two birds with one stone. The bonus was that the tins were in three 16AAA03F-0C25-494C-B590-1B0513566579different colours, each sporting a different wintery design, and better still, the set was marked down. That made each tin of tea a real bargain. The fact that there were also some that I’d never tried appealed to my now adventuresome side which is still almost always tempered with caution. Since the set was reduced, and I was allowed to use my coupon, I knew I wouldn’t feel too badly if I tried a new variety and determined it wasn’t to my liking.

When the box arrived I decided to actually wait for Christmas before opening it. Oh, yes. That took a lot of willpower believe you me. I also decided that it would 6B3B6848-C6D5-42D1-BDAC-A1B165684212go with me to Fort Morgan, AL for my winter vacation. Since it was so nicely packed into a lovely presentation box which came protected in a sturdy cardboard box I knew it would travel well and arrive undamaged. I must admit that while I was thrilled with the set there was a bit of a let down when I opened the box and found that the lovely wintery designs on the tins weren’t actually printed on the container but were labels that had been placed on plain silver tins. I guess I was so excited with my great find that I didn’t look at the photo on their website very closely. If it was mentioned in the description that the tins only had printed labels I didn’t notice that either. As a tin collector I’d much rather have had the design printed on the tin, but I realize that those tins aren’t cheap, especially if they only offer a limited number of sets which means they wouldn’t be buying in huge quantities to get the price per tin lower. No matter. It was just one little glitch in an otherwise lovely box of teas.

The reason that I’m sharing about the gift set with you today is in hopes of giving you a heads-up so you can be on the lookout over the next few months in the event that Harney & Sons offer this gift set again this year. I have no idea just when it appeared on their sight last year, but I believe I ordered it in November. You might want to check from time to time so you don’t miss it. I’m guessing that this might be a limited selection item too. Even if you don’t like all the teas that are included you can use the ones you know you won’t drink as inexpensive, but impressive, gifts for some of those hard-to-buy-for folks on your Christmas list. Or, maybe you have a friend who loves trying new teas. Any one of the ones I received would be a welcomed addition to her, or his, tea stash. Find a nice basket in which to place the tin of tea, a winter themed mug, some cookies, preferably homemade with recipe written out, and maybe a mug rug. That would be one nice gift that would make anyone’s Christmas merry and bright…not to mention flavourful.

Christmas Night from English Tea Shop

This past Christmas season I decided to try some new Christmas teas. While we were back home visiting for Christmas, I had the opportunity to go to TJMaxx with the excuse that I needed just a couple more items to complete my shopping list. That was true by the way, but as I looked for just the right items I ran across this organic tea in its clip-on lidded canister. Sadly, the graphics are only paper, but that might make DDD15282-C013-4A49-BD45-A623F6DC18E5them easier to remove once all the tea is gone, leaving me with the perfect container for another of my loose leaf teas.

According to the description on the front, this particular blend is said to be “bursting with festive cheer” having black tea that has been combined with cinnamon, ginger, and caramel. The back of the label adds to that cocoa, cloves, licorice, and vanilla pods, all of which are organic.

This loose leaf tea has a lovely subtle scent before steeping and an equally subtle aroma when poured into your cup. I add a generous dollop of honey to my tea, so the D914658D-DA82-4F64-9CA2-5307D0130ECBflavour I enjoy might be a bit diffent when a different sweetener, or no sweetener at all, is added. What I enjoy once the tea has steeped is thoughts of a winter evening sitting by a warm fire while having my feet and legs wrapped up in a flannel-backed quilt. No one spice overpowers another, although you can sometimes feel a bite of the cinnamon at the back of your tongue just before swallowing. Best of all, at least for me, is that the taste of licorice is not noticeable at all.

I looked on the English Tea Shop’s website to see if this tea is still available. It shows up under their seasonal offerings in the 3.5 oz. (100g) clip tin like mine. Their site shows that they sell on Amazon, a site from which I never purchase. I’ll just have to look again at TJMaxx, Homegoods, or Marshall’s when I need more of this tea and cross my fingers that they’ll have it. I will definitely buy more when I run out, probably beforehand actually if I can, as I’d rather not be without this option come tea drinking time.

The cup you see here is from the Winter Greetings collection by Lenox. 1DBFA776-56A8-4FB8-AEA6-4E3DBB9C26D1 I’ve been fortunate enough to have added to my collection this year and can’t wait to set a table this upcoming season with this beautiful china. Speaking of the upcoming season, we’re now only six months away from Christmas Day. Hope you’ve been cracking along on your gift-giving projects because the year is half over. If not, get going!

NOTE: None of the links provided here are affiliate links. They are provided solely for your convenience.

Holiday Spice Tea from Tea of Life

The Christmas tea that I’d like to share with you this month is from Tea of Life. This is their Holiday Spice Tea which I purchased from TJMaxx in 2017. Try as we might, neither I nor my girls could find this tea again for Christmas 2018, and we looked every chance we got. We looked at not only TJMaxx but also Marshall’s, Home Goods, and even Tuesdays as they tend to carry a lot of Tea of Life tea varieties.3ACE3D3A-2AD7-4E8C-829A-E4ADD52066E2

When I originally purchased this tea I wasn’t really sure I’d like it, but knew if I didn’t there would be a good chance that either Victoria or Julia would. Why did I think I wouldn’t like it? Because it contains vanilla flavour, of which I’m not really a fan, but even more questionable in my mind was the spice star anise, which to me smells and tastes like licorice, and I hate licorice. That being said, I’ve read that this spice has many benefits which include the killing off of bacteria and fungus, providing a concentrated dose of antioxidants which may aid with heart health, and it keeps blood sugar levels steady. It is also a natural way to fight off the flu. In fact, the active ingredient in flu medications like Tamiflu is shikimic acid which is extracted from star anise. (Source)

I decided that for $3.99 I would take a chance since I liked the other spices in this pure Ceylon black tea which are cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, all of which have their own list of health benefits. Suffice it to say, I’m glad I bought this tea, and although I’ve shared it with my girls, who love it, I didn’t give either of them all of it. Since we were unable to find more this past Christmas, I drink it sparingly, which isn’t hard given all the various varieties of tea I have on hand.

There were two sealed foil bags inside the tin each of which contained twenty teabags. The minute I opened the first foil bag I could smell licorice. While there’s a hint of the other spices as well, the overwhelming scent of licorice hit my nose first. That made me even more skeptical. However, I’m glad to say that once it had steeped I really liked the overall taste of this tea. The combination of spices and vanilla flavour was perfect and the aroma was lovely. Just the thing to have in hand when you’re curled up in front of a fireplace with a roaring fire, a comfy quilt, and a good book. And yes, I like it well enough that I do drink it on even not so cold winter days. It’s such a treat!

Just as a reminder, three months in this new year have come and gone. The gift giving season is only nine months away. If you’ve not started on at least a list of things to make, and people for whom to make them, you’d best grab a cup of tea, a pad of paper, and get on it. Time’s a wastin’!

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