Festively Flavored

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I teased it last week and knew I was going to go back for a couple more from my old pals at Trader Joe’s.

When browsing their tea section, and looking for anything new I can get my hands on,  something told me to just walk around some more.  And when you’re at a store as captivating as Trader Joe’s, that’s not hard to do.

But after grabbing some free samples, at the corner of my eye in in the refrigerated beverage area, I spotted something new, something hopefully something inspiring, and most important of all, something perfect for the holiday, and the season.

They have recently introduced Kombucha to their already impressive repertoire of teas, and for that matter many of their food and drink products.   It was only a matter of time.  It never crossed my mind to think they would carry Kombucha until now.

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When I saw the two on display basically begging to be purchased, I didn’t hesitate one second.

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I will admit that when I saw the Gently Gingered Kombucha Tea, I thought it read Gently Gingerbread, which would be quite ambitious.  Could you in theory make gingerbread flavored Kombucha?  Of course you can.  But that’ll have to wait.   This is…

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This wasn’t good.  This is about as flat as a Kombucha I’ve ever had.  And it’s not that it was terrible.  Take out hoping that this would taste like the flavors of the season you love so much, it doesn’t take like much.

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If you’re not into fermented drinks, this is not where you want to go.  These are meant to be sipped, savored, appreciated, and and drank slowly like you would have a cup of tea.  But this was a struggle.   I usually save my Kombuchas for a while if they’re in protected packaging.  This is the first I’ve had in a can, and I don’t think that’s anything to really expound upon, other than the fact is I’m going to have a hard time wanting to drink this again.  But if was able to be sealed I may give it another chance.   And  you know what, I still might?

You taste ginger but it’s light, it’s lacking, and it’s missing the heart and soul I want from a tea and now the Kombucha I drink.   This was about $2-$2.50, so I wouldn’t dissuade you from not trying it.  You might love it.  But I would say proceed with caution.

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The Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s you see here and in the next display of sweet treats are mainly for display, as I still want to celebrate all the deliciousness that Trader Joe’s has to offer.

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All is forgiven and all is glorious, because their current offering, just in time for the holidays, the Organic Cranberry Spiced Apple Kombucha represents everything that’s right with the world, and that includes Christmas.  Especially Christmas and the holidays.

This makes me so happy.  The color tells one story, but the combination of cranberry juice, apple juice, and cinnamon within this black tea work-of-art is just what you want this month.  I would say you could have this year round.  Yes you can.

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Again, while this one is easy to drink, it’s one you take your time with.   The amount you see poured here is the amount I had.  Yet this one was kinder to my stomach , so you know the probiotics are working! I can’t rave about this one enough.   And at a little under $3, it’s worth splurging a bit on this.

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Can’t forget those Peppermint Joe Joe’s.  Again, this is not really a pairing but more so an homage to all the joys of this holiday.

This will not be it for Trader Joe’s, as my history has shown, I will always be on the lookout for whatever awesome item they will introduce next.  Just when I think I’ve done it all, I know I never will, nor do I want to.

This is a journey, it’s a marathon, and anything but a race.  It’s not a race against time or anything else.  Though the holidays may feel like all of the above and then some, it’s about enjoying all the moments you can, with amazing food, drink, and of course the people.   We’ve got a lot holiday left and I look forward to what’s next.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

Walking In A Winter Wake Up Tea

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I honestly thought I went through so many of the teas at Trader Joe’s, that I thought it would be a while till I got around to talking about one of my favorite stores in any capacity.   My fear is that this would go past the holidays and they would be left out in the cold.

Not a chance.  And there’s no need to worry.  Everything is going to be alright.  After all it’s the holidays.  This is where magic, hope, joy, peace, prosperity, and a universal feeling of love means the best of what’s around.  Yes I did just quote someone.

Here’s my Trader Joe’s history lesson.

Maybe a break was needed.  There’s so many teas from so many companies I’ve yet to get around to.  I may never get around too.  I have my favorites, I have my sentiments, and I have a soft spot for traditions and celebrations around this time of year.  Sometimes I share tea with the ones I love.  For this one, I went at it alone.   Well there were plenty of props and snacks too.

These two debuting teas are the Apple Cranberry and the Winter Wake Up.

But with the holidays that also means loads of sweet treats, unhealthy eats, and hopefully no feelings of guilt.

You will see some of the sweet treats I purchased pictured below.  Not all of them were used with these teas, and they may be used at a later time.  I just wanted to share with a little sampling of how creative and charming the flavors of the season can truly be.

In honor of the full moon that was this past weekend, I will be working backwards, but not really, as it only makes sense.   I think (no I know) the full moon had me going a little cuckoo as well.

First is the Apple Cranberry.  What stands out is that this is not actually tea.  The description even says so.  Yet it’s all natural and full of such life.  It tastes like hot autumn, but I think this would work chilled, and if you felt the need to add a little libation to it, that would work too.  But I didn’t tell you to do that.

No tea leaves are used, so there is no caffeine.  It’s the perfect drink to relax with and maybe even ease you into a lovely nap or deep sleep.  I feel quite comfortable as I write about this now.  Not quite tired but peaceful just the same.    The combinations of apples and cranberry stand out to make this a winner.  Throw in a little cinnamon and this screams autumn, the holidays, and all is right with the world.

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Well at least in the world of tea, this is the best non tea I’ve ever had.  It might be the only non-tea, tea, I’ve ever had but that’s besides the point.  As of this past weekend I saw this at my local Trader Joe’s, but it seems to headed towards clearance if not already.  So get on it if you have a chance.

The chocolate stars are a perfect complement to your home, and for any gathering.  Mine were simply for display.  Well maybe I had one or two, oops.

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And yes this display you might as well call Christmas Commotion!

The Winter Wake Up tastes and feels like breakfast, but could be had any time.  I’d be lying if I said I had it in the morning.  But it tasted good just the same.  Yes this is more in line of your traditional black teas with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, orange peel, and licorice.

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This is a great tea, but I’ve had so many recently, that I don’t know where to rank this.  It’s not fair to rank it.  What I’m saying this, if I had this in a different context, I may think this is up there with all the awesome teas I’ve had this year, and especially this season.  I may be over analyzing a bit, but I think I’ve been spoiled.   Nevertheless, I’ll be drinking this a lot this year.

And as soon as I say all this, the flavors that came out from this cup when shared with these Speculoos Cookies made this an incredible combination.  So in a way everything I said in the previous paragraph becomes augmented to a significant extent.  These cookies are incredible, and I need to revisit these again while paired with another Trader Joe’s tea or some kind of holiday themed beverage.

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We go from Christmas Commotion to a more relaxed affair.  But both teas helped relaxed me, but I found myself settled a bit with this display.  Hence the full moon and working backwards stuff I was referring to.

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So if you can get your hands on either of these teas, and I’d say grab a few.  At $2.50 it’s not going to hurt you too much. Hopefully there is a Trader Joe’s near YOU.

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With that being said, I’m hopeful and in all likelihood going to explore a couple more tasty delights from this store I love so much.   There’s a lot of time and a lot of holiday themed teas and drinks to explore, from Trader Joe’s and many other magical places. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you.

I hope you’re having a great holiday season up to this point, and wish you many great days ahead.

Peace Be With You.

Ideen

 

 

 

 

 

I Love Trader Joe’s

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A couple of things.  If I try too hard to come up with a creative title, it’ll likely end up feeling forced, inauthentic, and insincere.  And that has happened.  So I kept it simple. Because I love Trader Joe’s.  It has my heart and its had it for years.

So when I look back at my past posts and realize I’ve gone over six months (so nothing in the Spring up to now) without writing about them, it’s been long overdue.

What’s also been going on is like you, like me, like everyone, we get busy.   The places we love to go to, the things we want to do, and the people we want to see become a bit more challenging because life happens, it goes on, and new interests, new places, new things, and new friends emerge.

But a friend like Trader Joe’s you never want to take for granted.  It’s been there for me in the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows, and all the good stuff in between and peripherally.

I’ve been back several times recently to do some shopping of course, seek inspiration for future posts, and to soak in all the good vibes.  Because it’s always been about the good vibrations.

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You know what always draws people in?  Free samples.  And TJ’s is always so generous with a charming sample of foods, coffee, tea, and a tea lemonade.   This is what introduced me to their Organic Tea & Lemonade.  And with its ever-so-charming golf inspired label, how can you not be drawn to it?

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The reasons for the golf design are fairly obvious.  But even if you or I wasn’t aware, the art is still mesmerizing.  And you got some nifty golf terms on the back to impress some people with.  It’s all new to me!

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And how was the drink?  I mean it’s not going to set the world on fire.  But that’s just a personal opinion.  It’s a refreshing, filling, yet light summertime and anytime beverage.  I wanted to go this in town while its still Summer because it only makes sense.  But as long as you’re going golfing, or just enjoying life in general, this is as good as beverage as any.

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This is premature, and a bit sad in a way, but it may have been too soon for the Five Seed Almond Bars to be paired with this beverage, or any.  If you read the ingredients this will make sense.  I know to some that’s exciting, but to me its bittersweet in a way.  I love Summer, and wish it could go on forever.

As a bonus, I also discovered the Organic Green Tea Lemonade, not on any special display, but hidden in plain sight with a whole bunch of other tea and tea inspired beverages, that I hope to get to periodically.   I keep thinking that I”ll run out of idea and things to talk about when it comes to this store, but I should never doubt.

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I think I liked the Green Tea Lemonade even better.  Simply for the fact that it’s more my speed.  It’s not as sweet as the aforementioned Tea/Lemonade, and it had that genuine green tea taste that we’ve all grown to love.  Mix that in with a lighter (at least to me) tasting lemonade, you’ve got a winning combination.  No, not the most creative of labels, but this is why you should never judge anything by its over…

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…well unless you judge the Honey Butter Potato Chips, because they look even and taste even better than its portrayal on the bag.  What a perfect complement to a beverage that I think is even more custom made for all seasons versus the Tea Lemonade.

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Nevertheless, both drinks are only $3.00 for these 64 oz. bottles, so you’re not risking much for such a great reward.  The chips were only $2, and the almond bars were about $5-6.

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Ah this is so exciting. Oh how I’ve missed you and missed writing about you Trader Joe’s.

To find a store near you, click here.

Drinks like this, posts like this, and visits to one of my favorite grocery stores is always a treat and can be invigorating.   More is always coming and who knows what the future holds.   Who knows what next week holds, who knows what tomorrow holds.

More to come.

Thanks so much.

Ideen

 

 

Charming Candy Canes

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This post is due in part by a suggestion from a dear friend.  They had mentioned I should compare the Candy Cane Green Tea from Trader Joe’s versus the Candy Cane Lane I reviewed nearly one year ago from Celestial Seasonings.  That review can be found here.

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It felt like weeks, not years ago where I was celebrating holiday themed teas throughout December.  Time flies when you’re having tea I guess.   And this week it’ll be of the decaffeinated variety.

I’ve mentioned it numerous times before.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  I felt like it was meant to write about this and write about this today.  I’m a lover of the holidays and welcome this time of year.  I love that it spring up on us so quickly, but would also like time to slow down so I can enjoy every moment of it.

Trader Joe’s and the holidays have always gone hand-in-hand for me.  Each time I walk into one of their stores I love seeing the flyer items on display, which always coincide with the time of year.   I did grab some sweet treats for display.  I’ll get to that in a bit.

I made it to the tea section and to my pleasant surprise, I found one of the last boxes.   The way the season is going, a lot of items I’ve been looking for are not always available when I want them.   Of course, more tea would resurface with each new shipment, but I, along with so many others adore our holiday themed anything.

My intent was to find a fresh package of Candy Cane Lane so the comparison would be fair and untarnished.  The dilemma was that I actually never bought this tea from the get go. This was a gift from Celestial Seasoning’s as part of an amazing care package after I reviewed another one of their teas, and they sent me a variety of their holiday-themed teas to try and review.   I look back fondly at those times.  And after a search of a few local grocers and shops, I couldn’t find the Candy Cane Lane anywhere.

It didn’t matter because even a year later, the Candy Cane Lane has aged well.  Can a tea age well?  I  think so.  And when the best by date isn’t till late Summer 2017, I think this is a safe comparison.

Where as the Celestial Seasoning’s version is still a pleaser, the Trader Joe’s version tastes just a tad sweeter.  I told my friend that it was like drinking hot liquid peppermint bark. And that’s not an insult.  It tastes like this time of year.  I cherish this time of year.

I literally took photos side-by-side of the two teas from open to final brew.  And if you look closely, the same exact ingredients are in both.  Yet, the Celestial Seasoning’s version seems like it was prepared with just a little more soul and feeling.  Maybe that’s all in my head.

And that’s not to say that TJ’s version is bad.  I actually like it a lot, but it didn’t blow me away like previous Trader Joe’s holiday selections I’ve tried.  But I’m glad it’s part of my tea collection and I’m grateful that Trader Joe’s continues to come up with new teas for me to try.  That’s all I can ask for.

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The Celestial Seasoning’s candy cane tea also seems more balanced.  All the flavors mesh well together and nothing overpowers one where another ingredients gets lost in the shuffle.  That’s where my peppermint comment on the Trader Joe’s version applies.  I feel that sticks out and not much else shines through.  I do taste some cinnamon but not much else.  But that’s being a bit more picky than necessary.  I did both but I’d give the edge to Celestial.

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I incorporated some of the sweet treats I purchased from Trader Joe’s to pair with both.  I have to laugh because in my post from last year you can see one of those same treats.  This may not be the biggest source of serendipity or clairvoyance.  But the holiday spirits and connections are not an accident.  So that makes me feel good.

If you tries these teas, I hope they make you feel good too.  They’re perfect representatives of what this season is all about.

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The packaging on both are hits on all fronts.  The comforting images of animals will always draw people in.

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We got loads of time so I hope more inspirational and spiritual selections will be presented to you, starting next week.

This is my history with Celestial Seasoning’s and Trader Joe’s.  A lot of good stuff for the season can be found there, and is still relevant today.  I get goose bumps looking back on it. Ah the holidays can strike a chord with us in so many ways.

Here’s hoping you’ve been having a happy and blessed holiday season,

Ideen

Olympic Tea Party!

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I’m a softy for the Olympics.  I’m sure many of you may share that same sentiment.  It just makes me feel good.  What makes feel so warm and fuzzy?  I want to believe there’s still genuine competition and sportsmanship on an international level.  In a way by saying that, I’m showing my cynical side.  Most certainly.  But I’m an idealist at heart.  I’m enjoying an inspiring event as I write this.  I sense the good vibrations, the good energy, and I feel the love.

You know where else I’ve always felt love?   Trader Joe’s has always been good to me.  It’s been so clutch to this (for more TJ posts click here) blog.  And even if the results have not always been the most positive, I still find many without trying too hard.

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An Olympic themed tea was not necessarily what I was seeking out.  Though that would be nice.  Maybe I’ll get to that next week.  My visits to this store have shrunk and I need to fix that.  So I fixed it today and a lovely display rack of their Sweet Tea and Bollywood popcorn did the trick.  Yes you read that right, Bollywood popcorn  with Vegan Tikka Masala seasoning.   I didn’t know any of this existed.  I grabbed a bag of course.

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This pairing may not make sense but if their featured in front of the store then why quibble?  If Trader Joe’s says its ok then who am I to dispute?  There is a hint of sarcasm here. Not to be outdone, as I strolled around the aisles I discovered Mango Coconut Popcorn.   This looks scary and potentially habit-forming.   However,  if you’ve noticed my posts I’ve been in a mango kick this summer.  And I don’t see why not. Oh how I love summer. And I’m loving the Summer Olympics.  And we’re only getting started.

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None of this screams the Olympics.  None of this is remotely good for you.  I put my little spread together and started feeling gross.  These athletes are in shape and inspiring.  This is not quite like going to the movies but it’s a monumental event that only happens every two years.

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I’ll get the negatives out of the way.  I’ve never loved sweet tea.  This will hardly change that.  But, pure cane sugar and no high fructose corn syrup could lead me to change my mind at some point.  Many of you are going to love it.  But this isn’t me.

But both flavored popcorns’ are so bad for you and oh-so habit forming.  Be careful, the caloric and fat content is high.  I already feel like more of a non-athlete versus these Olympians.  This Olympics party spread won’t do anything to dispel that.

I put most of it back in their bags.  But beforehand I took some fun shots, and even some of my animal friends joined, and were looking for some foodies.  They slowly crawled their way to get some eats but this wouldn’t be right.  But just like any athlete, they never gave up.  They put up a fight.  But I did them a favor.  The most important fact that should not go unnoticed is that they worked together.  They looked out for each other and motivated each other every step of the way.  This is the true spirit of the games of the 31st Olympiad!

But yeah, the tea and snacks should only  be taken in small doses.

And who puts iced tea in a mug?  Well I think this particular mug would be a viable exception.

Next time you’re at your local Trader Joe’s be on the look out for these treats.  I think most of you will enjoy.  And speaking of enjoyment, we have two weeks of thrilling Olympic coverage.  I hope you get a chance to be captivated.  I already have been.  And more is coming.

If I can keep the Olympic Spirit going, I’ll continue next week.

Best,

Ideen

Mango Times Three

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It’s been several months since I’ve set foot inside a Trader Joe’s.  Oh how I’ve missed thee. And in theory, I found myself here for no reason at all.  I just had a bunch of errands piling up and needed to get some out of the way.  And lo and behold the store found me.

Once again, I sort of had an idea of what I was going to write about.  Last summer I focused on a lot of iced teas.  There were brands I’d never heard of.   Many were personal sized.  I looked back as to avoid repeating if I can do so.   Little did I know that this visit would also lead me to one of the more refreshing teas I’ve had in a while.

And after a few minutes of poking around the store, this mega display was my answer. And this week I proudly get to review the Trader Joe’s Mango Green Tea.

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However, there are drawbacks.   The green tea and mango are not easy to taste.  The pear juice is what gives it flavor and not much else.  It makes me think are the tea and mango able to taste right simply as a duo?  That’s a question for the ages.  Well nowhere near that dramatic but it’s fun to speculate.

I love mango.  It’s a fruit that reminds us of the good times of summer, or maybe an island you’ve visited.  And to mix it with something as bitter as green tea may be the ultimate clash of universes.  So lets throw in some pear juice to shake things up a bit.

I’m a purist in many ways.  I want my teas to be as natural as possible.  There are additives, like extra sugar to make the taste for palatable.  And more palatable to the general public seems to be the goal.  I can’t disagree with that.  I also can’t be too serious.  It’s a seasonal beverage that’s meant to be enjoyed and not over-analyzed by the likes of me.

I liked it but with the understanding that the heart and soul of the tea seems to be an afterthought.

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Since this beverage is a bit out there, the pairings could fall in the same category.   But at the same display rack were the Mango Joe-Joe’s sandwich cookies that taste a mix of real and artificial that at this point it doesn’t matter.

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They’re good but best in small doses.  No I didn’t eat all of these pictured, that would be absurd.

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For a healthier alternative, the apple and (you guessed it) mango bar is a bit more up my alley, and maybe yours as well.  This is what inspired this title.  Things sometimes go in threes.

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I love Summer and everything about these sweet treats screams as such.  If you’re in the mood this tea and the accompanying treats will make for quite the sugar rush.  If that’s what you’re into then I say go for it.  Otherwise, proceed with caution.

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I had one cookie and just one, I promise.  The rest I stored away for future snacking or to share with pals.   Portion control is a powerful thing.

Ah I love summer and I wish I could write that every week.  I will at least be doing so for a while.  Yay!

Kindest,

Ideen

 

 

Happy National Pumpkin Day!

I know this pumpkin thing has seemed over-the-top too many.  I love it.   I am not big on the consumerism aspect of it but I am in love with this festive time of year. It’s a teaser for the month of November and all the fun that comes with it.

Unfortunately, I started seeing pumpkin stuff as early as mid-to-late August.  I understand companies want to get a jump on it but that’s where this becomes just business and less about the spiritual aspect of this time.

Now I love all the amazing foods and drinks that can come from this.  But we’re seeing it added to everything; bread, chips, coffee, tea, alcoholic beverages and everything in between.  I used to just think it was in a pie on Thanksgiving and that was it.

A friend of mine recently sent me a photo of pumpkin spiced cat litter.  Seems a bit extreme?  But if it makes my cat happier I’d be tempted to buy it.  So the consumer bug has gotten to me too.   Speaking of which…

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Need I say more?   The visual is beautiful and you can’t help but be mesmerized by the choices.  It could be a pumpkin-themed display or something on the opposite end of the spectrum and we’d still be enthralled.

I take it back to Trader Joe’s for this week’s tea assessment.  It’s the Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea and it’s an interesting one.

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I like rooibos and the health benefits have been presented to you in these two respective links.  But if I wanted a regular rooibos I’d have purchased one.   I purchased this expecting more pumpkin and the autumn themed flavors.  I got none of that.  The flavor is fine if they didn’t mention the spice.  So this is not as advertised.

Maybe it’s my taste buds but I don’t think so.  I really gave this a shot.  I steeped this for the suggested amount of time and I didn’t get much.

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However, the smell from the sachet was absolutely terrific.  But that scent did not translate when brewed. The aromas of cinnamon and nutmeg definitely hit me when I opened up the tin.   Why did it not permeate after steeping?  Could it be that it’s artificial?  That’s just my speculation.

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The reddish-pumpkin color after steeping is also stunning which ordinarily correspond with a masterful tasting cup.

I really wanted to love this tea but it didn’t happen.  It’s ok otherwise but the promotion that this is a pumpkin spice tea I feel is misleading.

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In the spirit of this day I did enjoy a bowl of pumpkin-themed pecan oatmeal that was really good but also not as powerful as maybe implied.

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I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from trying this.   Many may prefer this tea exactly as it.  Hopefully you’ll be able to detect the flavors that I couldn’t.  I wasn’t even trying too hard which usually leads to positive results.   But they can’t all be masterpieces.

Nevertheless, I highly recommend this gem from Trader Joe’s that captures what this season is all about.  I hope to end the TJ’s posts on a high note, so I envision this is not the last time I write about them this year.

Happy Holidays!

Best,

Ideen