I’m on my second month with Sips by™, and that means another round of reviews! For those who missed my last article, the idea is simple; you answer a few questions, so they have a baseline for your preferences, they send you four varieties per month, you review what they send you and then adjust your profile based on the feedback.
My first month was a rousing success; I discovered two teas that I’ve grown to love, one that I like given the right circumstances and, as expected, found one that I won’t be buying at any point in the future (though I do still recommend trying it; it’s a good tea, just not my style). So, with that spectacular track record in mind, here’s my review of month two!
#1 Thrive by ORGANIC INDIA
I’ll admit that I’m new to “wellness” teas, and holy basil in particular. That said, this tea does provide a unique experience. I can’t say much about the aroma… it’s herbal for sure, but I can’t place what it reminds me of. The flavor isn’t what I expected at all. It does taste like what I’d expect from basil (though I don’t know the difference between basil and holy basil), but it’s a bit on the sweet side; almost tastes like it has mint in it.
While I haven’t had enough of this tea to notice any significant health benefits, I can say with certainty that I do tend to feel… something after drinking this. I’m not sure how to describe it, but the closest I’ve come up with so far is “rejuvenated.” However, I’ve found other herbal teas that have a similar effect with a flavor that I prefer, so this won’t be making it into my collection on any consistent basis.
#2 Organic Assam Black Tea by Mana Organics
The flavor of this tea reminded me of something from my first sip, but what eluded me for quite a while. It wasn’t until I sat down and read the official description that I finally figured out what it was. The Mana Organics website indicates that it is “a blend of malt and sweet.” This description couldn’t be more accurate. Back when I used to drink, I briefly experimented with home-brewing. It is from this experience that I had my introduction to the flavor that this tea is reminiscent of. Indeed, the flavor is distinctly reminiscent of a sweet malt beer.
The official description also indicates that the aroma is of “dates, almonds, and parsley.” I can’t say I smell almonds, but I do detect a bit of the promised dates and parsley. I find that the aroma and flavor clash a bit, but that could just be me. I’d prefer to taste the dates but, alas, they’re noticeably missing from this blend. I can appreciate the flavor of this tea, but I can’t quite bring myself to like it. If I wanted malt, I’d drink a beer.
#3 Organic Jasmine Green Tea by OLLTco
I’m not sure what I was expecting from this tea, but it isn’t what I expected. I did expect a floral aroma, and I got one. It smells like jasmine, but not JUST jasmine. It almost seems like a jasmine/dandelion blend to me. Similarly, the flavor isn’t a true jasmine, and certainly isn’t what I expect from a green tea.
I honestly try to give everything a fair shake, but this is the first tea that I legitimately couldn’t stomach. While I want to drink what I received, I found this to taste too much like drinking grass. Whatever else it might be, this tea is the first thing I would consider a complete failure from what Sips by™ has sent me. Note that I don’t find this a failure on their part; a significant portion of their service is trial and error as they adjust to your tastes. In this case, they have an easy adjustment; I don’t like drinking grass!
#4 Darjeeling Earl Grey by teapigs
As far as breakfast teas go, I’ve always been a fan of Earl Grey. That said, I do have my favorites, and many companies don’t seem to do Earl Grey justice. While this isn’t my favorite, it is an excellent option. It’s smooth but with a smoky/sweet flavor, not unexpected from a Darjeeling tea. This particular tea gets almost perfect reviews across the board, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a very well blended tea, that is a pleasure to drink. Especially for the price, it’s well worth buying; my traditional Earl Grey is slightly more expensive. I haven’t decided if it will become a mainstay, but it has been a pleasure to try!
Bonus: Lemon Yaupon by Asheville Tea Co
For those who missed my last Sips by™ review, I was supposed to receive this last month, but didn’t. They were kind enough to throw it into this months’ box as recompense.
This one might take a little explanation. I know I had no clue what I was looking at when I first received this. If you don’t already know, yaupon is a type of tea made from the yaupon holly, or Ilex vomitoria. Yaupon has a long heritage, particularly in the southwest United States. It is reputed to have been used for centuries by the natives of the southwest in making what they called “black drink.”
Interestingly, the yaupon holly is the only plant native to North America that contains caffeine and, unfortunate name notwithstanding can be used to make a very mellow, quite drinkable tea. Tea drinkers may well know its close cousin, yerba mate, though yaupon-based teas don’t tend to have the bitterness common in yerba mate teas.
Such a subtle tea blended with lemon balm, lemongrass and lemon peel (that’s a LOT of lemon flavors!) seems like it would be overpowering, but I found it to be beautifully blended. I’m on the fence when it comes to lemon… anything. A great many lemon-flavored foods and drinks come across as overly tart in my opinion. Somehow, however, this tea pulls if off expertly; particularly impressive given the company that produces is, Asheville Tea Company, has only been around for two years and change.
I recently reviewed another tea (Viking Moxie by MoxTea) and concluded that it was an excellent alternative to a morning cup of coffee – providing a decent energy boost, without the unfortunate side effects that coffee presents. I haven’t decided if this tea trumps Viking Moxie yet, but I can say that it has a similar effect and a wonderful flavor that makes it more than worth keeping on hand. MAJOR props to a small tea shop in North Carolina!
Sips by™ Tea - Month 2
While this box wasn’t quite as impressive a win as my first month, I do understand that there is a learning curve for Sips by™ even more so than for me. Thrive will quite probably be purchased again, though not as a mainstay. Much like last month, the “bonus” I received this month, the missing Lemon Yaupon from last month, was the star of the show. Additionally, Sips by™ earned a ton of respect for not only reading my review, but noting that I was missing something from my shipment that I was interested in, and sending it in addition to my regular shipment this month. That’s a level of personalized service that I don’t generally expect in this day and age.
I should note that I’ve adjusted my reviews a tiny bit; the Sips by™ site asks you to review each tea you try but restricts reviews to whole-star increments. I’ve decided that I’m going to rate each tea the same on my site that I do on theirs, even though this means slight adjustments may sometimes be necessary.