I’ve been drinking a lot of coffee over the past few months. Like a lot (see: Coffee Monday). So when Tea Sparrow reached out and asked me if I wanted to try out their tea delivery service – I was really excited. I like tea, I have a collection of different types of tea in our pantry, and a cup of tea seems to be what I reach for during those twilight hours when I want something warm and comforting. Let’s just call today tea Tuesday….
Tea Sparrow is a monthly mail based tea box, where you receive an assortment of herbal and caffeinated blends for around 35 – 40 cups of tea, depending on the tea, and your style. Tea Sparrow was founded in 2011 by three siblings, and is based out of Vancouver, BC, and spawned out of a love of tea (and a well designed, award winning tea set.)
The idea of curated collections of items really appeals to me. I’m a novelty enthusiast – and while I love discovering things on my own – having someone else that completely nerds out over flavours and aromas, sources, information, and to have people that are actually tea sommelliers pick their favourite teas and shipping them over to me is very exciting. (Please also see The Roasters Pack – if you’re also a coffee enthusiast like me.)
When the Tea Sparrow box arrived I was really impressed with the packaging. The box is quite slim, with their cute logo on the front, but once you open it, it’s full of wonderful goodies.
Once I opened it, there were 4 packets of tea and a tea info card wrapped together in brown tissue paper.
What was in the box
The day the box came, the first tea I tried arrived from tea house I’ve actually been in, but not a variety I had had before – Samovar’s Organic Masala Chai.The first time I was in San Francisco I made a point of going to Samovar for tea at least once, after seeing Kevin Rose (creator of Digg and other nerdery) fawn over them. It’s a unique tea-centered food and drink experience, and it was nice to have the opportunity to have a taste of Samovar at home.
The Masala Chai, as its name implies, has a rich & spicy aroma. It has a blend of organic Chinese black tea, organic cinnamon, organic cardamom, organic ginger, organic black pepper, and organic clove.
Initially I drank this tea without any modifications, but on subsequent steepings I simmered it in almond milk. I would recommend trying it either way, because both are lovely, each just offers a slightly different experience.
If you’re looking for a more rich mouth feel, softer spice notes, and a house that smells of pleasant spicy cardamom, try it on the stove top with an unflavoured milk (unsweetened almond milk provided a nice light base.) I simmered the tea (3 tbsps) in 2 cups of almond milk, until it was a rich brown colour, then added another cup of almond milk. It was enough for two slightly larger than average tea cups.
A few days later JC and I tried tea number 2 together – Tisano’s Cocao Tea. This isn’t my first time trying a cocao bean shell tea – my first one was from the now online-only Herbal Infusions Tea Co when they still had a small cafe on Adelaide in Toronto. Drinking a bit of Tisano’s took me back to that first wonderful and mysterious sip, where I wondered “how can this tea be so rich and chocolatey?”
I usually like a fairly light cocao flavour (around 2tsps/cup), but you can make a stronger tea (1tbsp/cup) with more shell pieces and pair this one with coconut milk for max deliciousness.
The cool thing about Tisano’s Cocao tea, is that from what I can tell from reading too much on the internet, they appear to be the reason my beloved cocao tea appeared in North America in the first place. In 2010, they launched their cocao tea at ExpoWest, people LOVED it, and now there are similar varieties popping up all over the place. Just like my well loved local Chocosol/Herbal Infusions version. (If you’d like to read a background on how Tisano’s came to be, check out Seth Robert’s blog post on it – I’m fond of start up stories.)
Yesterday evening JC and I tried Tea Desire’s White Tea Champagne. It’s a faintly sweet blend of white tea, black and red currants, balm leaves, lemon grass, corn flower and sunflower blossoms.
Goodness what lovely tea. Immediately upon opening the packet the smell danced around with the soft and subtle smell of white tea, followed promptly by the sweet scent of currants. It was equally nice to sip on, but I found myself taking large sniffs of the tea packet a few times as well. I’m trying to hoard this one, but I don’t think it will last the week.
Finally, today I am sipping on Palais des Thés’ Rooibos Du Hammam. Rooibos has everything I think I should want in a tea. Naturally caffeine-free, fruity, rich, with interesting flavour pairings, but I never order it, probably because I forget how to say it (Roy/Bos if you’re wondering). It’s also easy to get lost in reading about Rooibos (thanks Wikipedia), because it’s full of interesting details and history.
How it works normally
- A One Time Tea Box – one Tea Box, one time ($25)
- 3 Month Prepaid Subscription – three tea boxes over three months ($66)
- 6 Month Prepaid Subscription – six tea boxes over six months ($120)
- Ongoing subscription – you can subscribe for ongoing tea boxes at $20 per month.
Tea Sparrow currently has a promo code for a 60% discount off their first Tea Box on an ongoing subscription.
Discount link: http://www.teasparrow.com/promo/
They also have an Ethical Deal going on this month, so I bought one for myself and a couple more as gifts because I dig the idea of a box full of different loose-leaf teas I might otherwise never try or share.
And now, since I want to share this cute tea box experience with you too, feel free to enter the giveaway for one month of tea from me & Tea Sparrow. (Open to US & Canadian residents.)