A cup of black tea contains roughly half the caffeine as a cup of black coffee. This means that people who aren’t looking for a lot of caffeine can rely on tea as a way to perk themselves up in the morning, but it also means that there are people who drink coffee just for that caffeine rush and might prefer to be drinking tea instead. I’m a fan of both coffee and tea, of course, but this is exactly why The Republic of Tea created a line of new HiCaf Teas so tea-lovers could get the pick-me-up they want without having to reach for a cup of coffee. The boose in caffeine comes from green tea extract, which is added to all of the teas in the lineup.
I recently tried the new HiCaf Caramel Black Tea and it is absolutely delicious. It has a very smooth, full bodied classic black tea flavor and just enough sweetness from the natural caramel flavor to take that slightly dry edge present in some black teas completely out of the picture. It has a hint of burnt sugar to it and it seems sweet enough on its own that I didn’t want to add any sugar to the hot tea. When served over ice, the tea was excellent with a little sugar added to boost those caramel notes and help them stand out more. I’m a fan and I’ll be trying the other teas in the line, as well.
The “new items” shelf in Trader Joe’s is always where I start when I want to find new products there. Granted, the items in the frozen or refrigerated sections aren’t going to hold up at room temperature, but I always see things that I might otherwise overlook – like a new tea offering. Trader Joe’s Spiced Chai is a colorful new tea that I picked up on my last Trader Joe’s run. The bright box caught my eye, but the list of spices on the back reeled me in.
The tea is flavored with cinnamon, ginger, cloves cardamom, Chinese star anise, black pepper, nutmeg chicory and vanilla bean. With all those spices, you would expect it to be complex – and this tea definitely delivers on that. You get a hint of every spice, with some lingering notes from the cloves and anise, as well as a slightly creamy flavor from the vanilla. It’s not aggressively spicy, like some chai teas are, and can be enjoyed either plain or with sweeteners added. I particularly like it with honey, which brings out some of the sweetness in the cinnamon and ginger a bit more.
I’ve been suffering through a cold for the past couple of days, which means that I’ve been drinking an inordinate amount of tea. So much tea, in fact, that I actually had to trek out to the store for a new selection because I ran through almost everything I had on hand. And drinking that much tea does help a cold move on more quickly, in case you are wondering. I prefer strongly spiced teas when I have a cold because it can be difficult to taste the subtleties in more delicate teas, and one of my favorites has been Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Tempest Tea. This tea is a holiday tea that TJ’s just put out in the past few weeks. I originally picked it up because I liked the collectible tin that it came packaged in, as well as the fact that I enjoy cinnamon as a spice in tea.
This tea, as you might guess from the name, has a very strong cinnamon flavor to it. It’s made with black tea, cinnamon, cloves and orange peel. You can clearly see the orange peel in the lovely triangular tea bags, but the cinnamon still dominates in the brewed tea. It might be a bit strong for people who don’t usually go in for heavily spiced teas, but if you like chai tea and other teas with strong spices, this will brew up a cup that you will definitely like. The strong spices lend themselves to sweeteners, like honey, and milk.
What spices come to mind when you think of the fall? I tend to think about cinnamon, ginger and cloves – things that you find in pumpkin pie – as well as apples, oranges and cranberries, even though those are fruits and not spices. I love mixing and matching these flavors in my fall baking, and Trader Joe’s managed to put most of them together in their seasonal Harvest Blend Herbal Tea. The caffeine free tea really captures the spice and flavor of fall, which means it might very well be the perfect thing to warm up with on a fall night. I confess that I say that about a lot of seasonally spiced teas and coffees, but you can tell this one fits the season perfectly with just one whiff of a fresh cup. The base of this tea is chamomile, and it also has cinnamon, ginger, hibiscus, chicory, orange peel and apples in the mix. The cinnamon is probably the strongest flavor, but no one single element dominates the tea. They all blend together surprisingly well – and the combination is so addictive that you’ll find you’ve gone through a few cups without even knowing it.
This tea is also a great base for spiced tea lattes, but if you are going to add milk, be sure to brew the tea at double or triple strength so it keeps its potency!