DAY 9: Tea Time

As a child of South Asian immigrants, I have been drinking tea (figuratively) since birth. A central part of our culture, it is something that is served with every meal at practically any time of day or night. So I apologize in advance to all of my ancestors for what I’m about to do today.

[Also, just to pause for a second: There is no such thing as “chai tea”. Chai MEANS tea.]

Day 9: Tea Time

Item: Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea
Cost: $3.99
Purchase Location: Trader Joe’s

“Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Tea is warm and inviting, evoking nostalgic memories of autumn with every sip.  This is a carefully selected blend of Rooibos (a red "tea" made from leaves of the Rooibos, aka "red bush," plant) from South Africa, combined with natural pumpkin flavor, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  While your tea is steeping, close your eyes, and like magic your olfactory sense brings you a pumpkin bread just out of the oven. Yet it's no magic trick.  Just terrific tea blending.”

I still can’t get over how moving these Trader Joe’s descriptions are. They manage to describe food in such a poetic way that they evoke emotions in me that are most often reserved for loved ones and fond childhood memories.

After 8 straight days of stuffing myself full of sugary pumpkin spice products, I decided to give my body a break by going with something much lighter for today’s review.

Right away, I like that they chose rooibos for this tea. It is described as having the taste of vanilla in a very full flavor that goes well with added spices.

As soon as the top of the container is off, the warm fragrance of the tea and spices hits you. As I let my water boil, I tried to take in the smell of the tea and pick out each of the flavors. The rooibos is the star here, and is the strongest of the bunch. Next is the cinnamon, with the nutmeg/cloves at about the same level.

I couldn’t really detect much pumpkin, but the tea did have a sweet/fruity smell to it. The closest thing I could liken it to was fig, so I decided to call in the closer: Mom. She agreed, and said it was somewhere between fig and apple (so I was at least partially right).

I brewed the tea according to the instructions, adding only some (unsweetened) condensed/evaporated milk. I didn’t add sugar because I was afraid the sweet would cover up the flavor of the tea itself.
At first sip, the flavor pops. The rooibos is fantastic, and the spices complement it well. It was mellow enough that the spices were present, but didn’t overwhelm. I find that is an issue particularly with cinnamon, but it was just right. I’m happy I didn’t add sugar, because I think it would have wiped out the other flavors.

The flavor held well throughout the cup, although I feel like I could have brewed it a little longer to make it stronger. Overall, the tea was fantastic and the blend of spices was fantastic.

The one note I have is that the pumpkin is nearly absent. It was there as a background flavor, but wasn’t strong enough to stand out over the rooibos base or the pumpkin spices.

I give this 4/5 pumpkins, and I might just buy some for the pumpkin off season.


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