The Good: Amazing aroma, Calming, Tastes good
The Bad: Caffeine Free, Tastes best with sugar
The Basics: Surprisingly good, Vanilla Hazelnut actually embodies the flavors (especially hazelnut!) that it claims to making it a good Celestial Seasonings dessert tea!
Every now and then, I get surprised while trying a new to me tea. I love Celestial Seasonings teas and I have been consistently trying their various flavors and getting through a significant amount of their menu. So when I was at the factory in Boulder two years ago, I was especially eager to try their new line of Dessert teas. In fact, I was quite eager to try English Toffee and I found myself a little disappointed in that one. So, I think I lowered my expectations when I broke open the box of Vanilla Hazelnut the other day. I was astonished by how good it was.
Of course, it could have been that I was sharing that first pot with someone I suspected I was falling in love with (and I did!) so now that I have returned to my fortress of solitude, I have brewed a few more pots to be sure it wasn't just the stars in my eyes that were making me consider the tea that way. It wasn't; Vanilla Hazelnut is a strangely delightful tea that is real good when hot and continues to intrigue me.
Vanilla Hazelnut is a 100% Natural Dessert Tea from Celestial Seasonings. This carob-based tea is 100% natural and is lacking in caffeine simply because all of the all-natural ingredients come without caffeine naturally. This means that it did not undergo any process to strip the caffeine out of it and makes it a generally more healthy tea.
Vanilla Hazelnut comes in Celestial Seasonings's standard stringless tea bags, which are paired together with easy to separate perforations that allow one to separate the tea bags. When I make pots of tea, I tend to use two bags and leave them connected. A box of Vanilla Hazelnut comes with ten pairs (20 individual) of tea bags.
Ease Of Preparation
Vanilla Hazelnut is like a standard black tea as far as the preparation goes. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea. The tea bag could be reused and make a second cup of Vanilla Hazelnut, though this is not the ideal flavor for that. The second cup or pot, does not come out as strong as the first, but provided the first steeping was not more than the recommended upper recommended steeping time of six minutes, a second use can come out with about 1/2 strength. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well for both a first and second steeping.
To prepare Vanilla Hazelnut tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. I brew mine at full strength in the pot and decide about alterations when I pour into my mug! This tea takes four to six minutes to steep and when the water is actually boiling, it comes out strong at the four minute point without needing any additional time. After six minutes, though, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that.
Vanilla Hazelnut Tea is a good tea, which surprised me quite a bit when I started drinking it. After all, vanilla is a less-than-potent flavor and hazelnut is pretty much the generic coffee additive for flavoring that beverage (because, what a bean needs is a nut!). Either way, they are two fairly weak flavors. But in Vanilla Hazelnut, they work, creating a tea that is surprisingly delicious.
This starts with the aroma. Vanilla Hazelnut has a smooth scent that pours right out of the mug and is actually reminiscent of caramel. It may seem odd that it smells so unlike what it is supposed to be, but it works!
Then, there is the actual taste. Vanilla Hazelnut, ungarnished, is exactly what it claims to be. There is a tea taste that is somewhat generic and fills the general parameters of "vanilla," but the hazelnut is surprisingly potent and recognizable. This takes the form of a nutty, bitter aftertaste that is quite distinct to anyone who has had hazelnuts. In fact, without anything else in the tea, this instantly takes me back to Christmas mornings as a child when we'd have nuts, like hazelnuts in our stockings.
With sugar Vanilla Hazelnut becomes even more flavorful. First, oddly enough, the aroma becomes more overtly "vanilla" when sugar is added. I found this odd, but it works! Second, the taste takes on more of a vanilla bean flavor which precedes the hazelnut flavor. As for the hazelnut, the bitterness from that flavor is appropriately cut by the sugar and the two tastes blend wonderfully together.
With a little milk, the vanilla flavor is also accented and the result is a creamy tea beverage reminiscent of what one finds at a coffee or tea house. Vanilla Hazelnut is a little sweeter than some teas, despite the slightly bitter aftertaste. However, it makes for a wonderful dessert tea!
Cold, however, the tea is bitter and very dry, making it ideal as a hot tea only.
This tea has more ingredients than many of Celestial Seasonings's teas and people who simply must know all of the ingredients before purchasing something are encouraged to check out the manufacturer's website. The top three ingredients, though, are Roasted carob, roasted chicory and milk thistle. Given that vanilla and hazelnut flavorings are so far down the ingredient list, it is almost surprising it is such a flavorful tea! There is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural. It is noted that this tea contains gluten, but is Kosher.
In terms of nutrition, like most teas, Vanilla Hazelnut is not something you want to try to live on. An 8 oz. mug of this tea provides nothing of nutritional value to the drinker; there are no calories (save what one adds from sugar or milk), no fat, sodium, nor protein. This dessert tea also has no caffeine, which makes it idea for a drink at night or whenever one has dessert.
Vanilla Hazelnut tea is very easy to clean up after - the tea bags may be disposed in the garbage, or composted if you have a good garden and/or compost pile. The tea itself is not a very dark tea, but will probably stain light fabrics if left on them. Vanilla Hazelnut tea does not stain mugs or tea pots or leave any offensive odors that might make one want to wash it away quickly.
Vanilla Hazelnut is a surprisingly good tea, especially if one needs something late at night for romantic conversations in the Michigan wintertime. This will keep one warm and loved. It's a wonderful, social, dessert tea!
For other Celestial Seasonings tea reviews, please check out how I weigh in on:
Cranberry Pomegranate Green
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© 2010, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.