This tea has a special place in my heart. It was one of my very first “breakout” teas when I was struggling with the switch from Colas to Teas. Looking at it more critically now, years later, it is not as magical as it felt at the time, but let’s not forget, it’s still a $2 box of tea 🙂
This is an herbal blend but it also has a number of “natural flavors”, some unspecified. So if you avoid them, you have been warned! The rest of the ingredients are common in many herbal blends you find out there, with none of them really taking over.
The brewing instructions are in a rather unusual place. They are on the inside flap as you open the box. They are not printed on the outside of the box, so you cannot read them before buying it. They are the standard 4-6 minutes of boiling water. The tea can handle overbrewing as well, so you can’t really ruin it. I do not add sweetener!
Check the “Co-Brewing” section below for more ideas on how to brew it…
HOW DOES IT TASTE?
It is a mix of the ingredients you see above, none of them really dominates. The cinnamon undercurrents are definitely there, and hibiscus and its friends contribute to the brightness of the flavor. It is an orange-y tea, the blend of yellow and red and their friends.
It is better served hot, but on occasion I’ve tried it iced. Since it’s a Fall tea, I usually drink it hot, as I cut back on iced teas.
The tea bag is a simple flat square. No tea tags, no string, no staples. Just a square bag. The variety of ingredients give it different colors after it is brewed.
CO-BREWING IT WITH OTHER TEAS
Even if you find this tea a bit too obnoxious on its own, it plays well with others. You can mix and match it with a variety of teas to your liking. Some of my favorite ways to blend it:
With Assam CTC Tea Bags: the black tea cuts into the brightness of the Harvest flavor, and the Harvest flavor gives a more herbal and mild flavor to the black tea. It’s like having flavored black tea on demand. I simply brew both tea bags together in the same tea pot. Since they are two separate tea bags, you can remove the Assam tea bag at your preferred time so it won’t get bitter.
With Peppermint: this is another co-operative blend. The peppermint shaves some of the sharpness of the flavor, while the Harvest makes the mint more fruity.
With Chamomile: likewise, if you like to drink chamomile tea as your last tea of the day to help you wind down and you sometimes find plain chamomile a little boring, brewing them together will get you a more flavored chamomile drinking experience. But the chamomile flavor is still there, it does not disappear.
On the store shelves, the lovely harvest-colored yellow cardboard is shrink-wrapped, common with flavored/aromatic teas to help keep it all inside. The shrink-wrap is clear, but if you look closely, you will notice some of its folds (eg over the “Bags” on the top left corner in the picture below…
The tea bags are stored loose in a gummed waxy pouch that is glued to the bottom of the cardboard. You can remove the waxy pouch if you pull at it gently but persistently. This is a common design with some of the Trader Joe teas, presumably coming from the same supplier.
You can double fold the gummed top of the waxy pouch or for extra freshness, use your favorite kitchen clips to keep it air tight.
For just a $2 box of 20 tea bags, the packaging is nicely made. Not only that, but for anyone into scrapbooking and such, you can cut up some of the cardboard parts and use them in artwork. Why throw this beautiful owl from the inside flap in the recycle bin when you can reuse it?
Every year, this comes with the first wave of Trader Joe holiday season products, the Fall/Pumpkin wave. However, because it is a Fall item, this often disappears before the Holiday shopping season is over, so if you are looking to stock up, start early! It is typically long gone before most of the post-Thanksgiving holiday items are gone. In other words, don’t wait until Christmas to stock up on this!