Tuesday Tea - Strawberry Cream Cacao Tea - Herbal Infusions

Tea Review: Strawberry Cream Cacao Tea - Herbal Infusions

Tea Description

A fresh and creamy blend of juicy, plump strawberries and vanilla with the goodness of cacao!

Experience the rich, velvety aroma and taste of premium dark chocolate without the calories, caffeine, or fat!  Cacao tea (aka Chocolate Tea) contains hundreds of natural compounds including theobromine (aids in focus and concentration) and antioxidants. 

Other Information

Leaf Type: Herbal

Where to Purchase: Herbal Infusions

Suggested Brewing Tips

Serving Size: 1-2 teaspoons per 8 ounces

Water Temp:  212°F

Steep Time: 3 - 5 minutes

To make cacao milk tea use 1 - 2 teaspoons per 4 ounces of water, steep for 5 minutes, then top with 4 ounces of whole milk. Before serving finish off with several tablespoons of sugar.

Review:

I've always been a chocoholic, but lately my love of all things chocolate hasn't been doing me any favors, I knew I had to give it up. Then I discovered chocolate tea was in fact a thing, so instead I decided to travel down the road of moderation and immediately rushed out to try chocolate teas from half a dozen different vendors. I wanted to find a way to indulge in my love of chocolate without increasing my waistline.

I should have known it was too good to be true.

Most of the chocolate teas I sampled tasted terrible, they were either watery and flavorless or artificial and chemical-like. I wasn't a fan. Then someone introduced me to cacao tea. It had some of the chocolate flavor I was looking for, without the sugar and calories. I wasn't immediately sold on the idea of it as a chocolate replacement, it lacked the creaminess of milk chocolate and the depth of dark chocolate, but it was a start. 

I began the hunt for local vendors and instead discovered a company in Canada selling different flavors of cacao tea— Vanilla, Mint, and Strawberry Cream. I knew they had to be included in my annual Black Friday buying binge, so I snapped up a sample of each (as well as a few other teas) and waited for them to arrive. Then I kept waiting. I emailed the company several times and got no reply. Six weeks later my order finally showed up, some of the items were missing, and still I got no reply from the company. Customer service at Herbal Infusions is really lacking, especially during the holiday season, which is a shame because many of their blends are delicious.

It's still summertime (although just barely) so the combination of strawberry, vanilla, and cacao really hit the spot. The vanilla gave the tea some of the creaminess I that was missing from the original cacao tea that I sampled and mixing it with equal parts of whole milk only made it that much better. The sweetness from the strawberry was just enough that I didn't find myself missing the sugar I opted to leave out, although I did try several cups of it sweetened. I will say that unlike the photo on the website, there were no chunks of strawberry in my sample and the strawberry flavor was rather light, but I felt like it was just enough so that it was present, but didn't overshadow the cacao. Overall, it's an interesting blend and it makes an especially tasty latte, but isn't something I'd drink every day.

My Rating: 70/100

Would I order this again? Probably not. I didn't find this lacking for anything, but it also isn't something you'd find me reaching for frequently.

 

Ruby Red Smoothie

My habit of skipping breakfast has been years in the making. Even when I was younger I'd rush off to school having eaten nothing, only to be starving before the first bell rang. This habit didn't change much as I got older, although I did wise up and start carrying granola bars in my backpack after one of my classmates commented on the fact that the jolt cola I was chugging down like my life depended on it was doing nothing to quiet my grumbling stomach. By college my classes had fewer than 15 people in them, so the whole room knew I'd rolled out of bed just in time to drive to class.

Now that I have a child of my own my eating habits have changed for the better. I've been trying to lead by example (and so far it's working.) If he sees me eating a healthy breakfast, then he's more inclined to eat breakfast as well. And if breakfast happens to include something brightly colored with a fun straw, it doesn't really matter than I've hidden beets and spinach in it, it looks like fun therefore it gets consumed quickly.

If you're not entirely sold on the idea of beets, try adding a little bit more each time you make your smoothie. After a few days you won't even notice that you've been slipping something healthy into your drink. I'll admit, it took me a little while to adjust to their earthy taste, I've never been a fan of beets, but I've been drinking these several times a week for months now and have really come to enjoy them. Hopefully you will too, but if not feel free to leave me a comment below. I love to hear feedback, both good and bad.

Ruby Red Smoothie

Ruby Red Smoothie
makes 1 serving

Ingredients

1 handful fresh spinach
4 - 6 beet slices, frozen (see notes)
4 - 6 whole strawberries, frozen
1 over ripe banana

Directions

  • Combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Notes

I've been buying bags of frozen beets from Whole Foods, they run about $2 for 10 ounces of non-gmo beets. I find that I'm more likely to add them to my smoothie if I don't have to worry about slicing them up myself. 

Strawberry Applesauce + Canning Instructions

I don't typically do much canning this time of year. The warm weather and high humidity don't make for a fun combination when you don't have a working air conditioner, but I ran in to a problem. I went to make my son's breakfast and discovered we were nearly out of applesauce. I'm not even sure how that happened since I spent weeks last fall putting up more than I thought any one family could eat. Then again, my toddler eats it with breakfast every day, so we go through it like crazy in our house. No matter how hard I work during the fall putting up applesauce for the rest of the year I never seem to make enough. We were down to our last few jars when three things happened at once  

  1. The temperature took a nosedive, with highs in the low 40s (perfect canning weather!)
  2. Organic apples went on sale at Whole Foods for less than I pay for regular apples at the local orchard
  3. The first good looking batch of strawberries hit the stores 

I decided to take advantage of this little bit of luck and replenish my dwindling stock of applesauce. It isn't often that I make anything other than plain applesauce, but since we have plenty of fresh spring fruit available right now I thought I would take advantage of it. It looks like we'll be enjoying strawberry applesauce for a while to come.

StrawberryApplesauce.jpg

Easy Crock-Pot Strawberry Applesauce
makes roughly 8 half pints or 4 pints

Ingredients

8 large sized apples, any variety
12 - 16 ounces strawberries
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Equipment

Apple peeler/corer/slicer
potato masher or food processor
water-bath canner or stock pot with lifter
8 - 10 half pint canning jars with lids and rings
jar grabber
magnetic lid lifter
funnel
butter knife
ladle
clean dish towels and cloths 

Directions

  • Thoroughly wash all fruit before beginning and cut away any brown areas.
  • Peel apples and slice strawberries, then cover with lemon juice to prevent browning.

Thinner apples will cook much faster. This is where an apple peeler/corer/slicer comes in handy, it will also cut your time peeling apples in half. Beg or borrow one if you can, you won't regret it.

  • Combine all ingredients in the Crock-Pot and cook on high for 3 - 4 hours, or until apples mash easily. You can also puree the applesauce in a food processor for a finer sauce.
  • While waiting for applesauce to cook, sterilize your canning jars, rings, potato masher, and any other equipment that will come into contact with the applesauce. You can do this easily by putting everything in the dishwasher and running it. Just don't put your equipment in with dirty dishes.
  • While your jars are sterilizing fill your stock pot with water and let it boil. It takes awhile for a large pot of water to boil, so keep this in mind. You don't want to fill your jars before your water is ready.
  • Once you're ready to fill your jars, place a sauce pan on the stove. Add your canning lids and fill pan with several inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer and allow the sealing wax on the lids to soften for several minutes.
  • Fill sterilized jars with hot applesauce leaving 1/2 inch head space at the top. Remove air bubbles with a knife, wipe the rims with a clean damp rag, place lids on top and fasten ring until fingertip tight.

Boiling Water Canning

  • Place sealed jars on a rack in the canner or stock pot. Make sure jars are covered with water and that the waterline is about an inch over the top of the jars, then cover pot with lid.

You do not want the jars coming into contact with the bottom of the canner or stock pot because they will bounce around and likely break.

  • Process half pints and pints for 15 minutes, quarts for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Time starts once the water has come to a complete boil again. You may need to add boiling water to keep the water level up as the jars are processing.
  • Remove jars from canner, set on a clean dish towel and let them rest for several hours until cool. You should hear a popping sound as the lids seal. 
  • To check the seals of your jars press the center gently with your finger. If it moves up and down the jar is not sealed. You can either reprocess using a new lid never reuse an old lid or once the jar is cool, eat the applesauce. You know you want to and you deserve the treat after such hard work!
  • Label with detailed contents and date, then store in a cool, dark, and dry place.

Other Notes

Make sure to experiment with the flavors different types of apples will produce. I used organic Galla apples for this batch because they were on sale at whole foods, but many varieties make a good sauce.