Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tea Time

Okay, I'll admit it — I don't really like hot tea. I've tried and tried and tried to get into hot tea, but it always tastes like hot weak flavored water. I'm much more of a strong coffee girl. When I did a 26-day whole foods/low caffeine cleanse in January, I forced myself to switch out my morning java for hot tea, and my disdain for the flavored water only grew stronger when burnout kicked in.

So when Kungaloosh, a gourmet online tea company, asked me to review their products, I was more than a little hesitant. Thankfully, the company offers iced tea blends. And being the proper Southern girl I am, y'all know I like sweet iced tea.

Using a discount code, I shopped around the company's website and first chose this Mango Black Iced Tea:

Wow! Though I'm a fan of plain ole' pekoe, this tropical fruit tea really stepped up my iced tea game. Perfect for sippin' on the porch on a humid Memphis summer day. I sweetened the gallon with a generous squirt of agave instead of sugar.

I also picked out the Bella Coola Iced Tea:

The company's website describes this tea as a "fruit basket in a glass" and that sounds about right. The herbal tea has hints of tart berries, orange, apples, rosehips, and chicory. The only flaw — it's caffeine free. If I'd realized that, I wouldn't have chosen this tea. Despite the yummy flavor, teas and coffees free of caffeine are an abomination. Of course, this isn't Kungaloosh's fault. I should have realized that herbal teas don't contain caffeine. Duh.

Even though I'm not a fan of hot tea, I figured I should pick out a couple of smaller hot tea bags to provide a more rounded review. When I do drink hot tea, I prefer creamier, caffeinated black teas like chai. So this Karma Kream sounded right up my alley:

Karma Kream is their signature chai with Sri Lankan orange pekoe and a bevy of spices including cardamom, cloves, coriander, cumin seed, sweet cumin seeds, curry leaves, lemongrass, rampe leaves, cinnamon, and aniseed. Served with soymilk and agave, it was actually some of the tastiest hot tea I've ever had.

Sticking with my creamy tea safe-zone, I also picked out the Vanilla Cream tea:

Kungaloosh's website described the tea as tasting a little like French vanilla ice cream. And um, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, right? In fact, it did taste very vanilla-y, which made me very happy. I didn't even need to add soymilk to make it taste creamy.

Those were all my selections, but when my review package arrived, I found an extra free sample of Lizanne's Black Currant Tea:

Named for one of Kungaloosh's first customers, this decaf tea (yea, yea, I know ... but hey, it was a free surprise gift. I can't complain) has a hint of currant flavor without being too tart. Dolled up with a little soymilk (not pictured here), it wasn't so bad for a decaf hot tea.

Did Kungaloosh make me a hot tea convert? Not quite. But I do love their chai. And the iced teas — especially that mango — are worth ordering over and over again.


Anonymous said...

My oh my they all sound delicious. I became an herbal tea lover when I was nursing Guppy (so long ago!), and now I think they are great iced in lieu of water all day.
All the varieties sound just delicious, lucky you!

The Voracious Vegan said...

I can't handle coffee because of the caffeine and I only like the flavor when I add tons of sugar, so I try to steer clear and sip tea instead. Actually, I'm not much of a hot drink person, and I'll have tea maybe once a month at the most. But I do like it occasionally and the ones that you have reviewed look delicious. The fruit basket in a glass looks SO refreshing, but those creamy hot teas at the end look so cozy and beautiful. Great review, Bianca!

Anna said...

I try to drink herbal tea because I know it's good for me, but every 6 months or so I have to go through and compost all the teabags that are out of date...

The ice teas sound nice, it's hard to find a good ice tea over here. I was really excited to find some chai teabags a few years back as the craze had just hit and almost every vegan blog was raving about chai. Needless to say I absolutely hated it with a passion and will never drink it again, had I known it had my nemisis the clove in it I never would have gone near it!

Anonymous said...

It took me a while to get used to tea but now I'm hooked!
The tea in the jar looks so sweet. :) That is exactly how my step dad drinks his every night.

Chocolate-Covered Katie said...

I want to come over for a Tea Party!
What do you think? a la Alice in Wonderland? :) :)
We can have scones too!! Cuz everyone knows it's the pastries that are more fun than the boring hot tea (but cold tea is fun, like you said). :)

Julie said...

I'm with you that some hot tea can just taste like hot water that sat on a counter *next* to a tea bag. If I wanted a mug of hot water, I would have poured a mug of hot water.

But I've found some teas that have a good punch of flavor. I don't go for fruit or herbs in my tea, either, so these are just some
'plain' teas that Taste Like Something:
-Hojicha (Japanese toasted green tea) (I recommend Eden brand);
-Kukicha (twig tea) (I recommend Eden brand again);
-Lapsang Souchong (smoked black tea) (get this fresh from a tea seller; don't buy the old stuff on the shelf in the grocery store);
-Russian Caravan (a combination of black teas including the aforementioned Lapsang Souchong);
-Honeybush tea (not really a tea at all, but one of the few non-tea beverages I like).

If you can find a single tea bag of these, they're worth a try. But since you're not much of a tea drinker, I wouldn't recommend buying a whole box up front, in case you don't like them. but if you want flavor, that Lapsang Souchong is awesome!

Keri - I Eat Trees said...

I'm an iced tea girl as well and could never get myself to like the hot variety.
When I was growing, my grandma had those same mugs (the one you used for the black currant tea). Such happy memories! :)

Sarah @ See Sarah Eat said...

Great reviews! I am a huge tea fan, hot or iced, so I would like to try those.

Lauren said...

Ooh they are sound delicious! I am a huge tea drinker, hot and ice.

Mihl said...

You should try some east frisian black tea, it's really strong. Not as strong as an espresso but strong enough it needs soymilk and sugar.
I like all kinds of tea, but in the morning I need my espresso :)

Dianne said...

That bella coola looks so pretty! Makes me even more impatient for summer. Coincidentally, I've been sipping an Earl Grey as I read this post!

Nicci@NiftyEats said...

Mango Black Tea has to be my all time favorite tea. I love TJ's brand. I prefer my tea cold, so nice to sip during the summer.

Anonymous said...

Ooh I love those they sound so good. Vanilla Cream sounds awesome! And the way you iced those looks so good.

Tiffany said...

I love both tea and coffee, hot or iced...well except for herbal (they're okay on occasion) and anything decaf (especially decaf coffee--I'll take regular coffee, please). Those cream teas are really intriguing. Thanks for the review, Bianca!

Anonymous said...

You are so funny--I *love* tea (hot and cold) and my faves are decaf, lol! In fact, I only drink decaf coffee too (don't hate me!)...

Glad you liked what you got--the vanilla tea sounds amazing!


Trinity (of haiku tofu) said...

Mmm- the mango tea looks delish. I need to order some of that!

I also prefer iced tea to hot, but I can definitely go for a nice cup of Earl Grey in the winter.

Carol said...

I drink coffee with organic sugar and WildWood Soy Creamer, or SO Delicious plain Coconut Creamer. I do like certain teas, too, and what's nice about tea is that there is an incredibly diverse array from which to choose.
One of my favorites is TAZO Brambleberry - it's full, rich, and tasty. I do know, though, that for many folks tea just doesn't cut it, taste-wise. Great article, thanks.