Welcome back to a new edition of Tea Time at Reverie! One quick note before we get started: You’ll notice an addition to our Recommendations section at the end of this review. Going forward, I’ll offer possible book pairings with each subject tea. And why not? A Bibliophile’s Reverie is first and foremost a book review blog, so these suggestions will tie our Tea Times more closely with ABR’s primary purpose. If you have your own book pairings that may fit our reviewed teas, feel free to post them in your comments. We always enjoy hearing from you!
Today, we’ve got something a little bolder than our two previous drinks: Stash Tea Company’s Vanilla Nut Creme, a flavored, decaffeinated black tea that’s advertised as a terrific choice after dinner or with dessert. A number of reviewers on Stash’s website have made the same recommendation. But, how does it hold up to our Tea Time test?
Stash’s Description: “Premium decaf black tea blended with pure vanilla extract and natural hazelnut flavor. The result, a smooth, rich black tea with the wonderful aroma and taste of high-quality vanilla. This tea is good any time of the day but with a touch of sugar makes a delicious after-dinner treat.”
Ingredients: Naturally decaffeinated black tea, vanilla extract, sarsaparilla, and hazelnut flavor.
Steeping Instructions: Use 1 tsp of tea or 1 bag per 8oz of water. Heat water to boiling (190 to 209 degrees Fahrenheit / 87 to 98 degrees Celsius) and steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Both
This review of Vanilla Nut Creme is sort of an experiment. Stash sells the tea either bagged or loose-leaf, and I have only the bagged version. Since loose-leaf tea exudes more flavor, I decided to brew Vanilla Nut Creme both ways and see if I noticed a difference in taste. Cutting the teabag open and measuring a teaspoonful (see below) seemed… amusing? *laughs* I don’t know any drinkers who’ve admitted to doing the same. But, it’s all in the name of reviewing tea, so I guess I’m allowed some nerdy moments, right?
The first waft of Vanilla Nut Creme confused me. It’s pleasant… but I was prepared for vanilla to be the prevailing aroma. Instead, it’s the sarsaparilla, an herb used in soft drinks such as root beer and (what else?) sarsaparilla. The tea itself has a strong, sweet fragrance reminiscent of those beverages. There’s a whiff of hazelnut in there, too – and no vanilla scent to speak of. Hmmmm. I’ll reserve judgment until after the first few sips.
And I’m glad I did. The flavors comprising Vanilla Nut Creme balance out nicely in this dark brown brew. Hazelnut and sarsaparilla overtones make a sweet, earthy cup that’s followed by a warm, lingering, subtly vanilla finish. And when steeped for the shorter end of the recommended time (3 to 4 minutes), I don’t get that sharp taste of tannins that often occurs in black tea.
There are also hints of nostalgia and playfulness in Vanilla Nut Creme. By “playful,” I don’t mean a zing of caffeine. Rather, this tea reminds me of being a kid, lazing by the pool and having an ice cream sundae or a root beer float. (Remember what I said about the sarsaparilla?) This tea really is a lot like drinking root beer, but with a more nutty taste. In fact, I wonder how this tea would taste if chilled and used in a root beer float.
I wouldn’t call Vanilla Nut Creme an “after-dinner treat,” however. Au naturel, the tea is tasty but lacks the indulgent creaminess that pairs so well with nighttime or dessert. Adding sugar and a splash of milk does help with this, though; and the fact that Vanilla Nut Creme is decaffeinated makes it an attractive option for anyone who’s sensitive to a late-day jolt of energy. But with the sarsaparilla’s dominance and the absence of vanilla, the only seasonal evening ambiance this tea fits would be summer.
By the way, the brewing experiment worked. The loose-leaf version of Vanilla Nut Creme brings out more of the sarsaparilla and hazelnut flavors than the bags do. But remember that my “loose-leaf” tea was poured from the bag. I bet the true loose-leaf Vanilla Nut Creme boasts an even stronger palette.
Overall, Stash’s Vanilla Nut Creme was a sensory rollercoaster with a surprisingly calm ending. I enjoyed its mix of earthy, sweet, and nutty tones and would gladly drink it again if offered. However, I wouldn’t recommend Vanilla Nut Creme as an after-dinner or dessert tea because of its combination of ingredients. The lack of the vanilla aroma or taste as advertised by the teaseller also. If the word “vanilla” wasn’t so upfront in the tea’s name, my reaction probably would have more positive and the overall grading a bit higher.
Grade: 8 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Like flavored black teas without the spice kick or caffeine, or soft drinks such as root beer or sarsaparilla
- Time of Day and Year: Summer afternoons and evenings, autumn or winter mornings or afternoons
- Possible Book Pairings: Contemporary stories of summertime fun, or youthful / teenage / coming-of-age novels
You can purchase Vanilla Nut Creme Decaf Black Tea at Stash Tea’s website or at select grocery stores in the United States that sell Stash Tea.
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In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes CD reviews, book reviews, and occasional articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works avaiable in print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Facebook, or Twitter.
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