Suggested Brewing Tips:
Serving Size: 1 teaspoon per 8oz serving
Water Temp: 212°F
Steep Time: 3 - 5 minutes
When I was selected by Simple Loose Leaf to try out their new customizable tea service I had a hard time deciding which teas to select. They offer over 130 different types of tea and I only got to choose 6-7 of them, talk about a tough decision. I waffled about for awhile adding teas to my wish list, taking them off again, only to add them back later. This was a vicious cycle for a few days. Eventually I had to stop being indecisive and subscribe, so I did, and I've really enjoyed the convenience of the service over the last three months.
One thing I knew that I wanted to include in my subscription was a holiday theme tea since I plan on dedicating the month of December to reviewing some of my favorite seasonal teas. Luckily for me Simple Loose Leaf has a holiday section, but it isn't really much of a selection. It has two teas.
For the whole holiday season.
Can you tell I was shocked and more than a little disappointed?
I briefly discussed this with Andrew, one of the owners, several months back because I feel that this is an area that they really need to concentrate on expanding. Seasonal offerings draw in a lot of customers, especially those looking to purchase holiday gifts for friends and family. From November to January holiday teas draw in big money for tea companies small and large. Just take a look at the following smaller companies such as Butiki and Della Terra or larger companies such as DAVIDsTEA and Teavana have for their holiday selections.
Some of these companies have a cult following in regards to their seasonal teas.
Unfortunately, several months later the holiday section of the website still only has two holiday themed teas, even though as Andrew told me during our correspondence, there are teas listed in other sections that would fit well into the holiday theme. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us this was a huge missed opportunity for increased sales, although they did have a spectacular Cyber Monday sale. Did any of you have an opportunity to take advantage of it? I mentioned it in yesterday's Cyber Monday good deal alert.
Anyway, back to talking about the tea.
As I mentioned before, there were two choices when it came to the holiday section.
Holiday Blend Black which is a lightly spiced black tea with hints of citrus, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Santa's Gingerbread Holiday which is a seasonal flavor of gingerbread that meets a strong Assam Black Tea for a delicious, nutty holiday blend reminiscent of a cookie flavor in a cup.
This was one of the easiest decisions I had to make regarding my six month subscription. I don't like citrus teas and as I've mentioned before I love gingerbread, so today I'll be reviewing Santa's Gingerbread Holiday. I'm really excited that Thanksgiving is officially over since it means I have a week or two off before things get crazy around here again. I'm nursing a really bad cold right now so I could really use the time off, but it also means I can pull out all of my holiday teas. Please tell me that I'm not the only one out there who thinks the highlight of the holiday season is drinking teas with catchy names like Candy Cane Lane, Sugar Plum Spice, or Santa's Gingerbread Holiday.
This ended up being one of those teas that I was a little biased about before drinking it. I make some killer gingerbread cookies every year and I wasn't entirely convinced this was going to hold up to my high expectations. I was also left wondering what Irish Creme flavoring could possibly contribute to the flavor of a gingerbread tea. I was really surprised to see it in the ingredient list, at first I thought it may have been a typo, but after double checking, this does indeed have Irish Creme flavoring in it. Am I alone in thinking this is an odd addition?
This tea didn't immediately wow me, in fact, I found it a little lacking at first. It had a subtle creamy texture, likely from the aforementioned Irish Creme flavoring, but the Assam base seemed to mask the flavor of the cloves, ginger, and cinnamon. I was disappointed because I really expected those to be the dominant flavors of the tea, they certainly are in the gingerbread I make. Despite this, there was one thing that really blew my mind, especially since it's something I find lacking in most gingerbread teas. I could taste a molasses-like flavor in this tea and it wasn't even listed in the ingredients. Are you wondering why this is important? Molasses is one of the key ingredients in making gingerbread cookies, without it all you have is a nice spiced cookie. I really enjoyed the deep earthy flavors of this tea and its strong resemblance to mild flavored molasses. This fact certainly changed my opinion of this tea, but it wasn't the only thing.
Had I reviewed this tea several weeks ago when I first received it I might have written something completely different about it, but there is something special that changed my opinion. I received a tin of cookies in the mail as part of a holiday swap, they were the most delightful tasting gingerbread cookies I've had in awhile. And guess what, they tasted just like this tea. They also tasted completely different than the gingerbread cookies I make myself. This is where personal bias really comes into my tea reviews. Sometimes I have an idea in my head of what I want a tea to taste like, but am disappointed when it doesn't resemble the idea I have in my head. As a writer it can be very difficult to distinguish between what is bias, what is fact, and what is opinion. I try to be as honest as possible in my writings regarding all of these things and honestly, I really enjoyed this tea. I think it is a great addition to my already full holiday line-up.
My Rating: 85/100
Would I order this again? Yes. I could absolutely see myself ordering this again for the holidays. This is the first gingerbread tea that has really tasted like gingerbread and the molasses-like flavor makes all of the difference in the world.
In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that Simple Loose Leaf has provided me with a $50 credit to use towards their subscription service. It did not cover the cost of everything and I paid $9.54 out of pocket. As always, all opinions are my own. If you are a company and would like to send me an item for review feel free to drop me an email.