In order to best compare them all, I tasted all seven teas in one caffeine-crazy session. I kept brewing consistent by using 1-1/2 teaspoons of tea per 8 ounces of water and steeping for 5 minutes each. I did notice that some teas, particularly the Tealish teas, were too strong and retested those again afterwards with only 1 teaspoon of tea.
Ok. Tea time.
I'm pretty pleased that my favourite of them all was the Christmas Candle Tea by Parkermann's Fine Tea Co., a Hamiltonian company! Cafe Oranje was kind enough to package up a bag for me, as you can see. The black tea (quite lovely on its own) is the focus in this blend, with cinnamon spice and floral notes on the subtler side. A well-balanced tea — the best of both worlds.
My next favourite was Oh Christmas Tea by Tealish. This is another black tea but with stronger holiday spices, like cinnamon, coriander and cardamom. It also has apple pieces in there which give it a cider-like nose and flavour. Funny story: this is one of the first looseleaf teas that I ever tried. Mike bought it for me about 5 years ago. I loved it at the time and was curious to see if I still would, now that I'm a regular looseleaf-tea drinker, and I'm happy to report that I do!
Now this one surprised me. My third choice was a fruity herbal tea from David's Tea called Sleigh Ride. Like I said earlier, I normally don't go for teas without a black tea base, but I really liked this one. There is a lot going on and you can truly taste it all. Apple and cinnamon are the main flavours, but there are also notes of roasted almond, hibiscus, and tropical fruit. I'm not sure what makes it's "Christmasy", but it's still nice.
Initially, I only wanted to list my top three teas, but I couldn't not include Santa's Secret because of the adorable little candy canes! Just look at them! You can't help but smile when you see those little guys twirling around in your cup. However, cuteness aside, I thought it tasted like artificial chocolate mint flavouring, the black tea didn't stand out as anything particularly nice and there were numerous stems in the mix. Those candy canes, though!
The other two teas that I tried were the Winter Blend by Tealish and Eggnog by David's Tea. The Winter Blend was strikingly similar to Sleigh Ride, but with less complexity. I found the hibiscus and blackberry were a little overpowering and tart, and the citrus notes made it taste kind of like cold medecine. The Eggnog was completely undrinkable for me. It tasted more like hay and tabacco than anything. I immediately threw it in the trash and made a real eggnog!
So there you have it — the contents of my Christmas tea cupboard! Honestly, I would've loved to try more brands, especially local companies like Steeped Tea or Terra's Tea. But I didn't have the time, cash, or storage space. Maybe next year I'll try seven more! What are your favourites? Are there any festive teas that you love (or love to hate)? Please share in the comment below!