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For the Eleventh TEA of Christmas, 52Teas sent to me . . .

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Caramel Monkey Bread Rooibos!

Tea Description: This is one of the final teas (tisanes) that Frank crafted during his time with 52Teas and I have a wee confession - I hadn't tried it until a day or two before I blended this batch. I had the tea in my stash - but it was still sealed ... never opened! At the time when I received this tea in my subscription package, I was preparing to take over 52Teas: testing samples from my wholesale sources, setting up the website and blending teas. I was so busy back then I was running around like a crazy woman with her hair on fire and to be honest, I really didn't have time to sit back and enjoy a cuppa. Oh, don't get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed most of the samples that I was sent by my wholesale sources, and I definitely was enjoying the teas that I was blending and then taste testing - but I didn't have any time left to sit back and enjoy a cuppa that wasn't directly related to taking over the operations of 52Teas.

So I stashed this tea away in my tea cupboard and - forgot about it! Yes, I forgot about this blend completely until someone mentioned that they'd like this tea to be reblended as part of this year's 12 Teas of Christmas box. So a few weeks ago, I dug out that pouch and tried it out before I attempted to reblend it - so that I could get a fairly good idea of what I was going to do with this blend.

And as I sit here now, sipping on the results of that blending session, I must say that I'm a little bit impressed with myself. I often worry that I'm just not good enough to be a tea blender - but it's times like now that I realize that I AM good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, I'm worthy of my self-appointed title of "Mad Tea Artist" because this is REALLY GOOD. It's sweet, caramel-y, with a nice cinnamon note and a bread-y note that tastes a lot like ... well, it tastes like freshly-baked monkey bread!

Frank's original description for this tisane went like this:

Oooey, gooey, caramel monkey bread is something I have a serious weakness for, and yet, can’t afford to spend my Weight Watcher’s points on. So instead, I made a rooibos blend that tastes like caramel monkey bread! It’s caffeine-free, delicious hot or iced, and best of all: zero points. =)

Since I just tasted Frank's original blend a few weeks ago, I can say that this tastes pretty much like the original. This might have a little more cinnamon to it, then again, the cinnamon from the original could be weakened a bit from age. This might have a wee bit more caramel flavor to it - again - age could be a factor. 

This tisane is organic, it's naturally caffeine-free, VEGAN, gluten-free and allergen-free - and it's OH so yummy!

organic ingredients: rooibos, cinnamon, calendula petals & natural flavors

I think I am in love with this tea. Now I realize that I say that a lot when I'm writing out these tea taste testing articles/reviews - hey, I love my job and I love the teas that I create as the Mad Tea Artist! What can I say? But I don't really say it a whole lot when it comes to rooibos because of all the different types of tea that I blend - rooibos is one of my very least favorites. I'm just not a huge fan of rooibos - particularly of red rooibos which is why I typically blend more green rooibos blends (or a combination of the two rooibos types). I tend to prefer honeybush or even honeybush blended with rooibos. But rooibos on it's own - not so much. But I do create the blends on occasion because I don't hate rooibos, I just don't particularly love it. So when I fall in love with a rooibos blend - that's saying something. 

And this is really good. The flavors agree with the natural rooibos flavors. Rooibos tends to be nutty and honey-like - and that fits right in with the flavors of monkey bread. The sip starts out with cinnamon and almost immediately thereafter, I pick up on sweet caramel. About mid-sip, I pick up on the bread-y notes. The cinnamon lingers throughout the sip but it's not a hot or spicy cinnamon, it's soft and warm and reminds me a lot of the way the cinnamon from a cinnamon roll tastes. This has that ooey-gooey, fresh-from-the-oven monkey bread sort of flavor. It's really good!

to brew: you want to use a little more leaf than you would with a normal tea because rooibos tends to have less body to it - so it tends to be a little weaker. Instead of a teaspoon, I go with a teaspoon and a half. Or, instead of 3g of tea, I go with 4 1/2 grams to 12 ounces of hot water (heated to 195°F). Let it steep for at least 8 minutes (but you can let this brew longer with no worry of it becoming bitter - it won't!) Strain and then cool for at least 5 minutes before you start sipping. Enjoy!

This tea tastes great without any sweetener at all, but just a wee bit of sugar will bring out the flavors just a wee bit. 

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