Hello, hope you’re all doing well!
If you’ve kept up with our blog and social channels, you know I’m a tea lover- but not southern sweet tea (ewww, blechhh…). Despite moving to Louisiana years ago, I can’t stand sweetened iced tea- or sweetened tea, or coffee, of any kind. But, when I found out my cholesterol was 223 (see this post), I took an even greater interest in my health than I ever had before.
One step I wanted to take was to stop drinking so much pop, and I didn’t want to use sugar or artificial sweeteners. With a disdain for southern tea, it occurred to me that there’s more to tea than just the orange pekoe iced tea that’s so prevalent down here. I found that not only is there a plethora of loose leaf tea options available, but they seem to have more flavor and greater health benefits than the bagged kind.
Don’t forget to check out our video at the bottom for more info!
Among my favorite loose leaf teas now are second flush Darjeeling, matcha, sencha, aged pu-erh, and several oolongs, including Ti Kuan Yin, Da Hong Pao, and Taiwan High Mountain oolong. If you’re anything like I was when I first ventured into the world of tea, you likely have no idea what most of these are!
I really wish I’d heard of The Whistling Kettle and their Tea of the Month Club when I decided to start drinking tea- it would have made a seemingly intimidating venture much easier! As such, I was so pleased to partner with them to try out their service, and spread the word.
First things first, though- The Whistling Kettle was started in 2004 by Meahgan and Kevin Borowsky. They opened their business as a tea room concept in a small village in upstate New York, also selling their teas online, and starting a monthly subscription service (Borowsky, n.d.).
Eventually, a second location was opened, with additional choices being offered. The Borowskys also found that people wanted different things in their subscriptions. There were purists who only wanted pure loose leaf tea, while some wanted to experiment with flavors and blends, as well as those who wanted non-caffeine options, and some who wanted to try as many teas as possible. This led to many different subscription plans (Borowsky, n.d.).
If you know what you like, there are options that feature one or two different kinds of teas in larger quantities. I received the Tea Tasting Club box, which offers a variety of sample size teas. This is perfect for someone who wants to try as many as possible, or for those who want to try them in small batches. This is exactly what I would have chosen when I started drinking tea- I think the folks at The Whistling Kettle must have mind-reading abilities!
My tea samples arrived in a really neat box that got me excited about what was inside. When I opened it up, it was easy to see that The Whistling Kettle loves their customers, as everything was packaged with great care. The box contained a catalog and tea reference guide, an info card about the teas inside, a welcome card, tea bags, and five re-sealable sample pouches of tea.
In addition to the information card, each tea label listed the ingredients as well as steep time and temperature. With so many options available, I love how The Whistling Kettle makes the world of tea less intimidating, and actually quite pleasant!
I received five samples to try, and the variety couldn’t have been better. I have many various oolongs on-hand, so it was a pleasant surprise that other types were in my box (again, they must be mind-readers!). I received Snowflake, Gojiberry Blueberry Pomegranate, Turmeric Cider, Tru-Grit Energy Tea, and Nine Bend Black Dragon.
This was a perfect selection, with a flavored black tea, flavored green tea, caffeine-free blend, an energy tea, and a black tea that would satisfy any purist. You can use a tea ball, a tea pot, a brewing basket, whatever you prefer to infuse your tea. For those who don’t have any tea ware on hand, they include tea bags for easy infusion. I used a brew mug, also available from The Whistling Kettle, so you can see what each tea looks like when steeping.
The first tea I tried was the Snowflake, which is one of The Whistling Kettle’s most popular teas. It contains black tea, almond and coconut flavor, almond flakes, cinnamon, and coconut flakes. Yes, this tea has actual almonds in it!
As I mentioned in the beginning, I loathe sweet tea, it’s like an abomination to add sugar or sweetener to a perfectly good glass or cup of tea. I grew up on black coffee and black tea, with no flavoring. Being a fan of “pure” teas, I was unsure if I would like this.
As it turns out, my fears were unfounded. There wasn’t anything “artificial” or “fake” about the flavor of this tea, and it wasn’t overwhelming, either. I have a love for sweets, but have been trying to avoid sugar. Strange thing is, I saw a cinnamon roll on a commercial while watching TV, and just happened to be drinking this tea at the same time. I took a sip of the tea while looking at that cinnamon roll, and my craving was completely satisfied. Win!
Tru-Grit Energy Tea
Next, I tried the Tru-Grit Energy Tea, which contains pu-erh tea, purple tea, yerba mate, turmeric, ginger, cocoa, and chili. I love pu-erh, yerba mate, and turmeric tea, and I often use ginger tea when my stomach feels “ooky.” And who doesn’t like cocoa and chili?
Being a busy person who works out and runs a lot, I do tend to drink a lot of energy drinks. So, I was unsure if this would hold up to my go-to can of energy. But thanks to the catalog and reference guide, I found out that yerba mate contains a bit more caffeine than a can of Red Bull, but without the crash!
The spices in this tea kind of reminded me of a chai, which is another type of tea I really like. So the flavor was fantastic, especially with the combination of spices in the pu-erh. I drank a cup of this after an eight mile run and workout, and was able to sit down and write a few blog posts afterward, with no yawning.
After being pleased with the flavored Snowflake black tea I tried, I was excited to try the Turmeric Cider. This blend contains honeybush, rooibos, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, natural lemon and vanilla flavor. I love that this has actual peppercorns in it- seeing them made me smile for some reason.
Did you notice the word “tea” was missing from the ingredients in this sample? A little trivia tidbit- it isn’t technically a “tea” since it doesn’t contain camellia sinensis. If this is a surprise to you- then you should definitely check out The Whistling Kettle’s website and find out more!
The flavor of this was really lively and smooth at the same time; it made my mouth very happy! This is the perfect night time beverage to help relax before heading to bed.
Gojiberry Blueberry Pomegranate
I love fruit, but tend to stay away from fruit juices because of the sugar. So, I really liked the concept of this green tea blend with fruit. It contains green tea, goji berries, lemongrass pomegranate arils, and cornflower blossoms.
As soon as I opened the pouch, I was already in love with this stuff- it smelled SO good! It’s easy to see why this is The Whistling Kettle’s most popular flavored green tea. It was also a World Tea Championship finalist, and deservedly so.
After trying this, I was blown away by the flavor. As the catalog mentions that it makes a great iced tea, I decided to make some. I haven’t cold-brewed any yet, as I usually do with oolong, but I did make some iced tea out of this. This is a great substitute for my pop addiction- it had a slight sweetness from the fruit flavors, but no sugar or sweeteners needed.
Nine Bend Black Dragon
This is described as a top grade Chinese black tea with distinct woody notes. It’s compared to a good scotch, which kind of excited me- as I do like whiskey every now and then.
Although this is “richer” and from a different country, I found that it had a similarity to a first flush Darjeeling I tried recently- in that it has some underlying complexity. If you’re not accustomed to various kinds of tea, I still think you’d be able to tell the difference between this and other types.
If you make a cup of “regular” mainstream orange pekoe black tea, and a cup of this, there’s a definite difference- even Jerry noticed. Be sure to use filtered or bottled water, though, so you can get the full effect of the flavor.
I don’t know that I could name a favorite of those I tried. If I had to pick one, I suppose I would pick the Nine Bend Black Dragon because it’s the one I would drink most regularly. But, this isn’t because it’s better, per say, than the others- it’s kind of like most coffee drinkers choose “regular” coffee over flavored for normal consumption. Overall, I will definitely finish all the tea samples, none of them will go to waste!
I truly enjoyed all the tea samples in this box- they did a great job with the selection. The quality was outstanding, and the materials provided were very informative and easy to understand. I take pride in being honest with negatives as well as positives- and I honestly cannot think of anything negative about my experience with The Whistling Kettle and this Tea of the Month Club box.
Everything from the educational information provided, the selection, the packaging, and the quality has been phenomenal. To top it all off, a box like mine is just $22.00 for a month, less if you prepay for multiple months. They also have options for as low as $16.00 per month.
The Whistling Kettle and their Tea of the Month Clubs are an affordable way to try some fantastic teas. They would also be perfect gifts for yourself or someone else. Head over to The Whistling Kettle for more info!
Borowsky, K. (n.d.). Personal communication. The Whistling Kettle. September, 2017.