Tea is almost more of a staple than coffee at CH HQ and we know we're not alone. We always have a keen eye for new teas, tea-based beverages and gear for making tea. These new products reinvent how we consume the ancient, antioxidant-rich beverage for a generation that can do without the doilies and teacups.
Harney & Sons Bottled Iced Teas
Harney & Sons recently launched a line of bottled organic iced teas (photo above) that please the palate and the eye. Lightly sweetened with organic cane sugar and honey, these teas passed the CH taste test with comments like "nice berry smell," "subtle and tasty" and "well-balanced."
The range includes Organic Peach, Organic Bangkok, Organic Green (our favorite), Organic Black Currant and Organic Plain Pekoe. They're available at retail locations and online (U.S. only) at the Harney & Sons shop. A case of 12 bottles runs $24.
Golden Star White Jasmine Sparkling Tea
We instantly fell in love with Golden Star White Jasmine Sparkling Tea's unique beverage. Made from jasmine silver needle tea from the Fujian province in China, sweetened with raw sugarcane juice and lightly carbonated, Golden Star's refined blend tastes like something royalty would drink. Though some found it "a bit sweet" most liked the color, "complex flavor," "refreshing smell" and "right-sized bubbles."
We also liked the bottle, designed with a photo of the flower that shows through the glass on the inside. It runs $13 per bottle and is currently available at select Whole Foods markets and other retailers in California and the Pacific Northwest, select Whole Foods markets in New York and online (minimum four bottles) from Golden Star Tea.
Qi Tea Liqueurs
San Francisco-based Qi Spirits recently introduced the first tea-based liqueurs of their kind. Pronounced "chi," two versions, Qi White and Qi Black, both earned thumbs up. Qi White, made from white tea and flavored with orange, spices and herbs and lightly sweetened with honey, has a subtle but present tea taste. Less sweet than some other orange liqueurs, we found it refreshing, balanced and crisp, making for a drink that's great on its own or in cocktails. (Our Qi Cup concoction was particularly well-received.)
One whiff of Qi Black quickly identifies Lapsang Souchong in all its smoky glory, foretelling a heartier and stronger taste. We loved it straight up and would have probably enjoyed cooking with it if our interns hadn't finished the bottle so quickly.
At 40% alcohol, both Qi White and Qi Black retail for around $25. Qi Spirits hail from California, making their products at St. George Spirits, who also make Hangar One vodkas. Check with Qi to find a retailer near you.
Fine T Tea Machine
Tea enthusiasts—who know that making tea properly mandates steeping each variety for different spells in water anywhere from 160-212 degrees Fahrenheit—will appreciate the new Fine T automated tea maker. Fill the machine with the desired amount of water, place tea in the brewing basket and select one of seven preset brewing programs. Once the water reaches the specified temperature, it moves to the brewing chamber where it steeps and releases into the carafe below, which keeps tea warm for 30 minutes.
We found the Fine T machine easy to use and very sturdy. We would have liked it even more if it held more than four cups at a time and had a custom brewing mode for those teas that don't fit the pre-programmed modes. It's available for $300 online at Pots and Pans.