Pumpkin spice drinks are huge in coffee shops this time of year, and coffee is a flavor that goes very well with pumpkin. Tea, however, can be an even better match for those distinctive pumpkin pie spices and it is a shame that you won’t see more pumpkin spice tea drinks on those menu boards. Fortunately, they are easy to make at home as long as you have some tea, milk and pumpkin spice syrup on hand.
You can buy a bottle of Pumpkin Spice Syrup from companies like Torani and keep them at home so that you can easily add a hint of pumpkin spice to any coffee and tea drinks during the holidays. I prefer to make my own syrup so that I know it is all natural and contains just the right blend of spices that I like. I start my drinks with a spicy, flavorful tea. Rooibus teas often work very well, as chai chai teas, though they give you a very strong spice baseline to build upon. I sweeten the tea with my pumpkin spice syrup, top it with steamed milk and serve.
The Chocolate Chai Tea Latte is one of Starbucks’ newest seasonal offerings – and it is pretty delicious if you are a chai tea fan. The drink is essentially half hot chocolate and half chai tea, and the end result is pretty similar to a spicy Mexican Mocha, without the coffee in it. They serve it both hot and iced, but I’m partial to the hot version – and since I happen to have some chai tea latte mix at home, I decided to work on a homemade version.
The chai tea latte mix – I used Tazo, but there are different brands – is a strong, spicy tea that comes sweetened. It’s definitely a nice thing to have on hand if you like chai lattes! If you don’t have the mix, you can brew up some strong chai tea and sweeten it to taste, then use that as the base of the drink. I would opt for a double strength tea with that option, just to ensure that you get enough spice in your drink.
The rest of the drink is easy to put together: chai latte mix combines with cocoa powder, sugar and vanilla, and the whole thing is topped of with steamed milk. I used Rodelle vanilla extract and cocoa powder, since that is my go-to brand, but you can make this work with any brands you have at home. Hot, spicy and a fantastic drink to warm up with on a cool day. Continue reading »
One of my favorite iced teas is the japanese cherry tea that they carry at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf here in LA. It has a very well-balanced combination of green tea and cherry flavors, and manages to taste slightly sweet even though there is no sugar in it. Most teas that have a cherry element either contain cherry flavoring or dried cherries, but I wanted to boost the cherry flavor a little more and play around until I had a iced tea that made cherries the star of the show.
My Cherry Green Tea Iced Tea starts with freshly brewed green tea (not matcha, just any good quality green tea that you like) and I add fresh cherry juice to it. The result is a slightly pink tea with a great balance of green tea and cherry flavors. I added a little bit of sugar to mine to further highlight the sweetness of the cherries and serve it over ice. Not all fruit flavors work well with green tea, but cherry is definitely an exception. It has a rich sweetness to it that covers some of the grassy notes in the tea, making the tea milder and the drink as a whole even more refreshing.
My cherry juice (use real juice or high quality juice from concentrate) provided a lot of sweetness, so I didn’t need to add too much sugar to my tea. Feel free to adjust the amount to your tastes. Store the tea in the refrigerator after you mix it up so you can serve it ice cold without having to water it down with too much ice! Continue reading »
I am a fan of oranges and strawberries together. It must not be a trendy combination at the moment because I don’t feel like I see orange strawberry things too often these days. Loaded up with fresh strawberries from my local farmer’s market, I decided to experiment a little bit one day to create a summery strawberry orange drink – and the result was this Ice Blended Orange Strawberry Refresher.
I combined fresh strawberries, ice and a packet of Starbucks Valencia Orange VIA Refresher in the blender, along with some water and orange juice. The Valencia Orange Via has a nice sweetness to it and a bright orange flavor. In this particular drink, I liked the added energy boost from the green coffee extract along with the fruit flavors. The Via can be a little too sweet if you don’t add the appropriate amount of water to it, which is why I opted for a blend of water and fresh orange juice to blend up the berries and ice. This drink recipe will serve two, although with smaller glasses you can easily stretch it to serve four.
It doesn’t look like Starbucks will be offering blended Refreshers drinks anytime soon, but maybe a drink like this one will inspire them. The strawberry orange combination was sweet, zesty and refreshing – a drink to relax with on a hot summer afternoon. Continue reading »