Is there a tea that can compete with coffee?

We are definitely not a coffee family in my house. But with kids, work, school, life…there are times when we need that jolt of caffeine that only coffee or Red Bull seem to give – and I hate the taste of both! Caramel Black HiCaf Tea - The Republic of TeaSo when a free sample from The Republic of Tea arrived in the mail with some of the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea in the box I was a little  little skeptical. Was it really going to be as strong as any coffee or an energy drink? Is it going to taste like sludge? If it does have a lot of caffeine am I going to get a migraine? (It happens some time.) I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

So I let it sit in the cabinet for a week until my 3-year-old daughter decided that wouldn’t it be nice to wake mommy and daddy up at 6 am on a Saturday. Sun’s up, so we all must be up. I could barely keep my eyes open. Then I remembered – the tea! So I made a cup for my husband and myself.

Taste  – It’s a smooth slightly sweet caramel on top of a nice traditional black. If you like sweet, you will LOVE this tea with a touch of sugar. It was fine without any sugar, not overly sweet. My husband and his big sweet tooth (and sugar cubes) thought this was the bee’s knees. He should be writing this review he loved it so much, but alas he’s too busy.

Caffeine content - Hi Cafe Tea - The Republic of TeaBuzz – So I was raring to go after this one cup, but without being jittery like I get with coffee. It kept me going until the afternoon. I got through all the cleaning in the house, some projects and went to the park on one cup of tea. Usually I need 3 cups.  There’s 123 mg of caffeine in a properly brewed 6 oz cup of this HiCaf Tea! Wow! It even has a warning on the label.  And I was buzzing about like the busy little bee that’s on their label. My husband on the other hand was not feeling as pumped up as me – awake but not exactly ready to conquer the world and the moon like me. But he’s not as sensitive to caffeine as I am. I could have used this tea at university when I needed to stay up late writing a paper but still needed to think coherently.

The Next Day

Hi Caf Tea - The Republic of TeaMy husband got to the kitchen first on Sunday morning and decided to brew a pot of tea – the nice husband that he is. You can probably guess where this is going. He put in the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea, because he loved the taste of it so much. Also, he failed to tell me that he put that in the pot. I thought it was another caramel that we had in the cabinet. Silly me! This did not bode well for me. Since I’m more sensitive to caffeine I was seeing the effects of drinking 3 cups of it. Needless to say when I realized what happened, I was downing water to flush it out. I was okay. But I could see if you have kids in the house who drink tea and might not understand that this one has too much caffeine for them, you’re going to want to put this tin in an odd/out-of-the-way place.

Verdict

If you like slightly sweet teas and you need a quick jolt of energy – get the Caramel Black HiCaf Tea from The Republic of Tea stat! It will save you on the weariest of mornings. And it tastes good to boot. Not a combination that you always get – one that you definitely don’t get with Red Bull (imho).  But be aware of just how much caffeine you’re taking in.

I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

Alice’s Tea Cup

Given that we’re in New York for a wedding with a 10 month old in tow, we haven’t had a lot of time to explore tea houses as I would have wanted (excuse for another visit). But we did make it to Alice’s Tea Cup yesterday.

20111110-195430.jpgAlice’s has been recommended to me by many people, probably because I’m a huge Alice in Wonderland fan. It’s a cozy yet roomy tea house – as only a Lewis Carroll inspired restaurant could be. We went to ‘chapter ii’ on E 64th. There’s another location on the upper east side and one on the upper west. don’t expect it to be full on Alice a la Disney. It’s tastefully whimsical with a Victorian flare and quotes from the story on the walls.

The staff were incredibly welcoming and accommodating. We had our small umbrella stroller and left it downstairs at the tiny entrance, while baby was with us in a high chair upstairs. I got the impression that while they appreciate smaller strollers they would do their best to accommodated the SUV-esque ones that are popular. But there is very little room-you’re warned!

We arrived fairly early and breakfast was still being served. And guess what! They have a Mad Hatter breakfast tea – 3 tiers of breakfast favorites: a scone, eggs (mostly eaten in picture), and homemade granola with yogurt. Where else can you get a proper morning tea?
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It was more delicious than expected. I had the buttermilk scone and hubby had the vegan coconut lemon scone – both were moist and yummy. Eggs were scrambled to perfection. The granola was slightly more browned than I’m used to but was flaky and nutty (how apropos for a Mad Hatter tea). All in all I give it an A.

Now for the tea. Their tea menu is a book. So when you sit down decide what kind of tea you want ( black, green, red, flavored, scented, decaf, etc.) and go from there. Since it was my first time I went with the house blend – Alice’s tea. It’s a black blend with a bit of green in it. I thought it was slighty floral, but maybe that was the jet lag. Either way, it was a nice compliment to the breakfast. Hubby had a vanilla caramel blend and it satisfied his sweet tooth. Baby is still too little for tea.

Will I go back? Yes. And I may make it a tradition for my daughter and me. Afterward we strolled over to the park for photos in front of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture.

Today’s tea: Viennese Blend

It’s number 996 in the TeaGschwendner Book of Tea. 20110714-025054.jpgIt describes it as

An Austrian specialty steeped in the tradition of Vienna’s famous baked delicacies, most notably the “sacher torte”. Selected teas from Darjeeling and Ceylon are treated to a hint of bergamot and jasmine. Ingredients: black teas from Darjeeling and Ceylon, jasmine blossoms and natural flavor.

It’s a nice golden orange color after brewing it the recommended 2 minutes. There’s just a hint of bergamot and doesn’t overwhelm the palate as some Earl Greys can. And there’s more than a hint of jasmine, which I love. The stronger jasmine flavor/aroma could be due to the fact that the use full blossoms, not pieces as can be seen in other brands. It is slightly on the bitter side.