• Lisa Hodorovych

Teatime with Mrs. Joho - Review of 2021's National Hot Tea Month

On January 1, 2021, I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight and I didn’t shout from the mountain tops that this was going to be my year. No, instead I sat down and enjoyed my first of 31 cups of tea I would be trying throughout the month. Why? Because January is National Hot Tea Month!

I can’t remember when exactly, but in 2020, my publisher and friend, Colette of Serial Writer Productions, posted on Facebook something about January being National Hot Tea Month. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought to myself, “There’s not just a day dedicated to this amazing and beneficial drink, but an entire month?! I must celebrate it!”

That’s when I started listing the teas I had and asked around for ones I should be trying.

Thankfully, by the time January 1st rolled around, I had 31 teas listed to try and then some. At least my list has already started for next year!

Following the same outline I’m doing for the Twinings sample box article, I will do brief discussions under each tea instead of writing 31 separate articles and linking them to this one. I will first give my initial reaction from when I originally tried it (which I’ll pretty much take from my posts on social media) and then I’ll give my final take when I try it again.

Make sure to check back here to see which tea I had and gave my final reaction to.

If you’ve had any of these teas (or all of them), I would love to hear what you think. If there’s a tea you love and don’t see it on this list, please tell me about it, so I can add it for next year. You can do so by contacting me at qtwreviews@gmail.com. Also, don’t forget, I'm not getting paid to promote any of these products or any articles or books that may be used in this post. To learn more, please check out my Policies page. Lastly, any photos used in this post are mine, unless noted.

Take care and drink on!

National Hot Tea Month - January 2021

Barry's Tea - Irish Breakfast

Initial Reaction: Now, I will admit that when my buddy, Marc, recommended this tea to me I was a little hesitant in trying it. Sometime ago, I had black tea from England that I did not enjoy at all. However, after taking the first sip of this tea, I was definitely proven wrong! (Maybe because it was from Ireland! Haha! Just kidding!) It still had that burnt/bitterness taste of black tea, but it wasn’t overpowering. And I got a nice little jolt from it!

Final Take: I love this tea! I mainly drink it when I need to wake up and get work done after a sleepless/restless night because it does just that, it wakes me up! According to an article on TeaPursuit.com, the types of black teas used in Irish Breakfast are stronger than its English counterpart. This means it has “a stronger amount of caffeine” in it, but it has some other great benefits as well including: lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, strengthening your immune system, and improving blood circulation.

However, this isn’t the only reason why I love this tea. I love it because it also reminds me of my time in England. My tea drinking journey didn’t start until after I studied abroad in England, unfortunately, but I do remember the smell during teatime. Barry’s Irish Breakfast tea always brings me back to such a wonderful time in my life!

Bigelow Lavender Chamomile Plus Probiotics

Initial Reaction: As I stated before, I love chamomile tea, but Bigelow “kicked it up a notch” by adding lavender and probiotics to this already amazing tea. Now, I have always loved the smell of lavender, but I never knew it was an edible flower until maybe a couple of years ago. (I know, I’ve been living under a rock!) If you love the smell of lavender, then you’ll most likely love its taste as they match. This tea was so good, and I’ve been enjoying it again and again since trying it.

This tea I tried thanks to a recommendation from a good friend of mine.

Final Take: This has become my go-to tea at night right before bed. It helps me relax, it helps me fall asleep pretty quickly, and it helps me sleep through the night. I truly notice a difference from when I do drink it to when I don’t and – excuse the pun – it’s night and day. The combination of the chamomile flower with lavender is not only delicious, but very beneficial; especially to aid with sleeping (obviously) and your mood. However, with Bigelow adding probiotics to this tea, it has the extra benefits of aiding with your gut health.

Tazo Zen

*This tea I did write a post about with my reaction to it and its amazing benefits. Please check it out here.*

Yamamotoyama Oolong Tea

Initial Reaction: This one I really liked. It kind of reminded me of black tea. It had an earthy/bitter taste to it, which I’m starting to fall in love with thanks to this journey. It was one of the teas I picked up during my second shopping spree and I’m so glad I did.

Final Take: Yeah, I’m love with Yamamotoyama's Oolong Tea! Again, it has that earthy/bitter/burnt taste like black tea, which I have fallen in love with. However, I learned something interesting as I researched this tea…it is a combination of black and green tea! How fascinating is that?! Might explain why it’s not as strong tasting as black tea. But what’s even better is the fact that you get the benefits of not just one, but TWO incredible teas. You get the nice little jolt of black tea with the stress relief and weight loss aid of green tea.

To learn a little bit more about the benefits of black tea, check out my discussion on Twinings Cold Brewed Iced Tea – Peach. To learn a little bit more about the benefits of green tea, check out my discussion on Twinings Green Tea – Pomegranate, Raspberry, Strawberry or my discussion on Tazo Zen tea.

Lipton Stress Therapy Caffeine-Free Herbal Supplement

Initial Reaction: This was another tea I picked up during my second shopping spree because the box was absolutely beautiful, and it proclaimed to help with stress relief. Yeah, I was sold! I am constantly stressed out (who isn’t?), but one thing I have found to help me relieve that stress – other than listening to music and watching movies – is drinking tea, especially chamomile tea. This tea has both chamomile and lavender in it, and it has been helping me relax whenever I need it.

Final Take: Lipton’s Stress Therapy tea is delicious and calming. In my “Initial Reaction” I forgot to mention that this tea also includes cinnamon, and you can definitely taste that as well as the lavender and chamomile with every sip. I mainly like drinking this tea at night to help me relax before bed, but I have drank it during the day to help me calm down after a long day or help me prepare for what could be a long day.

The benefits of this tea are incredible. With cinnamon, you get a plethora of benefits, including: anti-inflammatory properties, protecting against heart disease, lowering blood sugars for anybody who suffers from diabetes, and helping to “protect neurons, normalize neurotransmitter levels, and improve motor function” for anyone who suffers from neurodegenerative diseases (according to healthline.com). Lavender can help reduce stress, cure insomnia, protect your heart, protect your digestive system, and so much more while chamomile, similar to lavender, can help improve your sleep quality, protect against certain cancers, and protect against heart disease.

Celestial Seasonings Citrus Sunrise

Initial Reaction: As I stated in the introduction to this post, before I started this 31-day journey, I asked around for any tea recommendations and boy did I get some. One of my friend’s, Lindsay, recommended this tea as it’s one of her go-to teas and I can see why. Between its delicious taste and the amount of Vitamin C in it, it’s definitely going to be the tea I drink when I feel a cold coming on. It kind of reminded me of Emergen-C, but tastier. It also reminded me of an orange-flavored Starburst, just way healthier.

Final Take: I kind of forgot how delicious and awesome smelling this tea was. It really does remind me of an orange-flavored Starburst, but instead of being filled with sugar, it’s filled with Vitamin C and other great benefits. According to its ingredients list, Celestial Seasonings Citrus Sunrise is made with rosehips, orange peel, tangerine, orange and blood orange flavors, hibiscus, blackberry leaves, and, of course, Vitamin C. Well, we already know that Vitamin C helps to boost and protect our immune system, but what about everything else?

According to an article on ZeroCater.com – which I discussed in my Red Rose Immunity Strawberry Rose tea post – rosehips are “vitamin-packed and antioxidant rich, and a strong astringent. … The elevated concentration of vitamin C in rosehip tea makes it a good immunity-booster. It is also vital for collagen production, so regularly drinking rosehip tea may help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles in aging skin.”

But when it comes to hibiscus, it “may be beneficial to people who want to lower their ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and boost their ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.” It could also help anyone who is looking to lose weight.

Wow, this tea is extremely beneficial, not just for your immune system, but, literally, every part of your body, inside and out!

Twinings English Afternoon

Initial Reaction: Thirteen years ago, I traveled to England to study abroad for a semester. At that time, my tea drinking journey wasn’t even a glimmer in my eyes, unfortunately. One of the plethora of teas recommended to me was this one, thanks to a fellow classmate and friend, and I knew which day I wanted to have it in order to celebrate the beginning of such a memorable trip. It truly breaks my heart that at the time I didn’t participate in daily afternoon tea, but I do plan on going back in order to do so.

This tea was really good as well. For a black tea, it wasn’t overly bitter or overly burnt. It was actually kind of “light”. The perfect afternoon tea!

Final Take: On Monday, August 23rd, I was flipping through my list of teas I drank during National Hot Tea Month and pondered which tea to talk about next when I laid my eyes on Twinings English Afternoon tea. As I was in the mood for a black tea – hey, I needed a little pick me up – and it was around 12:30 in the afternoon, I decided this would be the perfect tea.

I mentioned in my initial reaction that this tea “wasn’t overly bitter or overly burnt” which is still true. It’s not as strong as a “normal” black tea, or at least the ones I’ve tried. But the question becomes “What’s the difference between English Breakfast, English Afternoon, Irish Breakfast, and all the other black teas out there?”

Well, according to the product details under Twinings English Afternoon tea, this tea “combines carefully selected Keemun tea from the Anhui Province in China with Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka. Keemun teas are light- to medium-bodied, smooth and slightly sweet in taste. Ceylon teas are bright in colour, crisp and refreshing. Blended together, these two varieties provide a modern twist to a storied tea that is as perfect as an afternoon pick-me-up or whenever you need a little lift.”

So, this particular tea is a combination of two amazing teas that you can see and taste. As I noted, this is a “lighter” tea, which must be the Keemun coming through, and when brewed, the color of this tea is beautiful. To me, it reminds me of that fall brown-red color and I love it! I felt like I was in the fall season for a second and then stepped outside and was reminded nope, not there…yet!

Upon doing some research to learn more about them, I found out that Keemun tea “is rich in minerals, which give it a unique color, flavor, and aroma. Keemun tea can be drunk to relieve fever and as a preventative to cancer.” (Healthy Teas: Green, Black, Herbal, Fruit by Tammy Safi)

It also helps, according to TeaPursuit.com, to improve blood flow, lower bad cholesterol, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, support a healthy digestive system, and so much more. Ceylon tea pretty much has the same benefits since they are both black teas, just grown in different parts of the world and have slightly different tastes.

You can also check out my Twinings Sample Box post to see all the other teas from this amazing brand – or at least 47 other ones. At some point I will be having this tea again, so make sure to check it often and see when I do.

Tazo Classic Chai

Initial Reaction: This is my first time having plain chai tea and it was delicious. I think what I liked most about it was the fact that I tasted the cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, but then tasted the black tea toward the end. It was like an “endnote”. Plus, it smelled amazing! It reminded me so much of Spiced Apple Toddy or Leaves from Bath & Body Works…just this lovely cinnamon scent.

This tea I tried thanks to a recommendation from my friend, Julie.

Final Take: Oh, gosh, I love the smell of Tazo’s Classic Chai tea! This is another one I would love to bottle up or make into a candle, so I can smell it every day! And this is still a delicious tea! As I took my first sip – my “reminder sip” as I’m now calling it – I mainly tasted the spices: cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc. However, as it sat, I started to taste the black tea a little more. I didn’t really taste the black pepper, but that could be just me. I could just taste the spices while someone else could taste the black pepper. Either way, this is still a great tea to drink with a lot of great benefits to it.

I may have already gone into significant detail about the benefits of black tea in this post and in my Twinings Sample Box post, but what about ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, and black pepper? Ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom you can learn about in my Ginger + Probiotics post, but here are some interesting facts about black pepper and star anise.

Black pepper, according to an article I found on healthline.com, isn’t “just a kitchen staple.” It’s known as “the ‘king of the spices’ and used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years due to its high concentration of potent, beneficial plant compounds.”

It may protect you from free radical damage since black pepper is high in antioxidants. It may also help decrease inflammation in your joints, help absorb important nutrients like calcium, and “increase the good bacteria in your gut.” Who would’ve thought a spice that is used in practically every recipe (that I know of) would be so beneficial to your health?

Now star anise, a spice which is used in many different dishes around the world but can also be found in toothpaste and mouthwash, has “many medicinal compounds that contribute to its long list of health benefits.” According to an article on draxe.com, star anise can help kill bacteria (the bad kind), boost your heart health, and fight against the flu. Actually, “star anise contains a compound called shikimic acid, which is commonly found in medications used to treat influenza, such as Tamiflu.”

In other words, if you ever feel like you may be getting the flu (muscle aches, fever, fatigue, chills), have a cup or two of Tazo’s Classic Chai tea and you just might feel better.

Stash Mango Passionfruit

Initial Reaction: This one was really good; however, it didn’t have the fruity taste of mango and passionfruit that I was expecting. It was more of a floral taste, which could be because of the rosehips and hibiscus that’s in it, but still it was good.

This one I tried because I saw it at the supermarket and thought, “I need to have this in my life!”

Final Take: I know I always start with the way the tea smells, but that’s what happens when you first pour the hot water over the tea bag; you smell it, and Stash’s Mango Passionfruit tea smells delicious. It definitely has the fruity scent of mango and all I want to do now is eat mangoes! However, as I stated in my initial reaction, it definitely has more of a floral/tart flavor then fruity, which is a little disappointing to me. I was really hoping to drink this and taste mangoes, but at the same time that doesn’t mean it tastes bad. On the contrary, it’s still really good. The tart flavor is not overpowering. It kind of reminds me of cranberries, which I love. And its benefits are amazing!

Stash Mango Passionfruit tea includes rosehips, orange peel, lemongrass, hibiscus, as well as mango and passionfruit. We already know the incredible benefits of orange peel thanks to Twinings Lady Grey tea, but what about everything else? Well, according to an article sent to me from ZeroCater.com, hibiscus “may be beneficial to people who want to lower their ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol and boost their ‘good’ HDL cholesterol.” It may also help with weight loss while rosehip has a higher concentration of Vitamin C, which “makes it a good immunity-booster”, and it may help with fine lines and wrinkles.

A tea that can fight the signs of aging? Awesome!

When it comes to lemongrass, though, according to WebMD.com, “Lemongrass reportedly has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It has traditionally been used as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Lemongrass [also] contains citral, a natural plant compound with anti-inflammatory effects.”

Lastly, when you add in the fruits, mango and passionfruit, you get a tea that really covers all of your bases. Mangoes may protect against cancers, aid with blood sugar levels, and have some of the same benefits as other ingredients, but the main difference is the fact that this fruit may help with your eye health. According to an article on health.com, mangoes have two antioxidants (lutein and zeaxanthin) that can help “increase visual range, lessen discomfort from glare, enhance visual contrast, and reduce the time it takes the eyes to recover from the stress of bright lights.”

I better start eating more mangoes!

However, passion fruits are a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, Provitamin A, and polyphenols. Actually, according to an article on healthline.com, it is “richer in polyphenols than many other tropical fruits, including banana, lychee, mango, papaya, and pineapple.” Polyphenols are compounds found in plants that may help reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease.

In other words, this tea can help take care of pretty much every part of your body.

Bigelow Earl Grey Green Tea

*This one I did write a post about with my reaction to the tea and its amazing benefits. Please check it out here.*

Twinings Lady Grey

Initial Reaction: I think I found my new favorite tea with this one, it was so good! It’s Earl Grey (black tea) with orange peel in it, which is something I definitely smelled when I poured the hot water over it. However, there was another (familiar) scent I smelled as well. It was Fruit Loops! That’s right, in my opinion, Earl Grey tea smells and tastes a little like Fruit Loops – or Trix, either fruity cereal works.

This one I tried because one of my best friends and another dear friend of mine told me I needed to. When you have two people telling you to try the same tea, guess what…you try it!

Final Take: I swear, I must’ve been an Englishman in a past life because any and all teas that represent England (or Ireland) I love! I don’t know which Earl Grey tea I love more, but Twinings Lady Grey is definitely up there. I do like the addition of the citrus flavor in this tea, which probably makes it one of the most beneficial teas I have in my “arsenal”. To find out what I mean, check out my Twinings Sample Box post.