Fall Tea Haul: Tasting + Review

I am a huge tea lover. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but I can’t talk about it enough. Since I’ve had to give up coffee, I had to replace it with something.. and that something is warm, scrumptious flavored teas.

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Fall is the best time for pretty much everything (opinion), and tea is no exception. There is something so cozy about a hot cup tea on a crisp, cool fall night.

My boyfriend Tom and I have teamed up to give you a thorough review of 6 Fall teas from DAVIDsTEA. We made sure to only select ones that we would want to drink during the cold-weather months. We are both pretty skilled in tea tasting (according to us). We had a wonderful help from the super kind employees in picking out some flavors.

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There is a new Fall collection that they offered us to taste in store and they were all pretty great, but we decided to take home a few that we didn’t have the chance to try.

The six teas we decided to review are: Pumpkin Chai, Cranberry Orange Muffin, Honeycrisp Apple, Forever Nuts, Oh Canada! and Peanut Butter Cup.

So, we filled our mugs up and here we go:


Pumpkin Chai 

Tea Type: Chai (obviously)

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Like a fresh baked batch of pumpkin squares. Super strong scent that you can smell across the room.

Taste: A warm, cinnamon pumpkin flavor. This is super nice for Fall. It made us so warm and giggly. We laughed for about 20 minutes. This is Tom’s favorite Chai he’s had (that’s saying something). I’m a big fan of Chai tea, and this one certainly tickled my fancy. I’d suggest giving it a go.

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EMILY: 7/10

TOM: 6/10


Cranberry Orange Muffin

Tea Type: Herbal 

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Subtle cranberry, certainly more muffin. Calming.

Taste: You get an orangey taste all over the buds at first sip, but it then mellows out into a final cranberry taste. The smell was misleading with the strength of the muffin; we only got a slight muffin taste at the very end. Very good tea, we agreed this is one of the best. It’s good for pretty much all the time because of how mellow it is. Muffins you can always have (can’t say no to that!).

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EMILY: 7.5/10

TOM: 8.5/10


Honeycrisp Apple

Tea Type: Green

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Fruity and strong apple smell. Fresh outta the orchard.

Taste: If you love apple juice or cider, this is FOR YOU. I am a huge apple fan, so please note that this may be a little bias, and I could drink this all day everyday. It has a sweet, crisp deliciousness. Tom, however, was not a huge fan (he’s not big on apples). So, if you’re into those fall-time fruits, go grab yourself a cup of this.

**The only tea listed that contains caffeine

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EMILY: 8.5/10

TOM: 5/10


Forever Nuts

Tea Type: Herbal

Bestseller 

Smell: Straight up Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Taste: We were right, it tastes like liquified Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The balance of flavors is literally perfect. The cinnamon isn’t overpowering at all. This is probably the best one of the bunch. It is PERFECT for cooler weather. Super impressed. TRY IT.

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EMILY: 8.5/10

TOM: 8.5/10


Oh Canada!

Tea Type: Rooibos 

Rooibos Collection

Smell: Aunt Jemima syrup… mixed with butter.

Taste: Saves you a trip across the border, aye? Subtle, delicious maple syrup flavor. This is pretty grade A. It’s an interesting flavor explosion, but we decided that this wouldn’t be an everyday tea. It would be nice to have for once in a while, like when you’re sitting next to a fire.. or going to a pancake convention.

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EMILY: 7/10

TOM: 6.5/10


Peanut Butter Cup

Tea Type: Herbal

Fall Collection (limited)

Smell: Melted peanut butter…. nothing is better than that

Taste: Hugely disappointed by this one, especially with us both being pretty big Reese’s PB Cup fans. The entire taste is basically peanut.. virtually no ‘cup’ (aka chocolate) can be detected. If you are a peanut fanatic, definitely give it a try. It’s a little overpowering and rough.

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EMILY: 4/10

TOM: 4/10

OVERALL:

Super impressed with DAVIDsTEA. Every flavor was pretty good, and they have a super wide variety. Would definitely go back and try out more.

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Thanks so much for reading!

I hope you guys grab some tea to try for the upcoming season.

xoxo Emily + Tom

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I LOVE ANIMALS (Plus: Experience Being A Vegan)

I am obsessed with animals. My main love is dogs, but I am completely in awe of almost every animal I see. I’ve been this way since I was little, constantly begging my parents to let me have another animal to add to my gang (they would then tell me I could get a stuffed version of whatever I had asked for). I’ll never forget the day, after months of online searching and begging, that we got my first dog Tiger, a very small Shih-Tzu. He unfortunately didn’t have a very long life due to health problems from being inbred (I know, sad).

Then, shortly after, we got my best friend: My beloved Shih-Tzu named Oliver Twist. He came to us sassy, un-cuddly and sort of distant. He has a very big ego still to this day. I think that’s what has always made me love and adore him.. He’s the dog version of me (minus the big ego).

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Oliver (right) and Peanut, my brothers dog (left) on Halloween

I also had a brief stint with a hamster named Charlie. I thought he was the coolest thing ever (turns out HE was a SHE) until I tried to pick him up and he bit me. After that, I was a little distant from Charlie. I’d occasionally put him in his hamster ball and show him some love, but I was too afraid to pick him up again. One night, Charlie escaped from his hamster home and ran across my room. I jumped onto my bed, too scared that if I got down, he would bite me.  I was terrified of a miniature, dwarf hamster. He was found and returned to his cage. To my surprise, my Mom decided to give Charlie away one day to a family friend. I cried my eyes out, but later learned that this was a better decision.

I was soon okay.. because we still had my Shnubby-Wubby (Oliver).

In Spring 2014, I was living in Chicago for school. I had been quite bored during the day in-between classes and had started watching some Netflix documentaries about animal-free diets. I had been kind of big on eating healthy for a good year-and-a-half before that so I figured it was something I could easily do. I had heard of several students around campus who followed this diet and they seemed healthy and fine.  But, this time I wasn’t just doing it to maintain a healthy lifestyle, I was doing it for the animals; my fluffy little friends.

So, that was it. I made my decision. My roommate Taylor decided to join me in this journey. We cold-turkey (hehe) gave up meat and animal products in exchange for veggies, fruits, beans, whole grains and nuts. It’s basically totally amped-up vegetarianism. I shopped at Trader Joes for everything (I 10/10 recommend Trader Joes even if you’re not vegan) since it keeps things pretty natural and cheap. Below is some food I ate while vegan:

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I lasted total about 1 month. I must say, it’s a lot harder to do then it sounds. I have a lot of respect for those who choose this a life-long thing because it’s awesome. If I wasn’t so weak, I would still be doing it, but I am a huge foodie who loves chicken.

If you’re curious how Taylor and I broke the vegan-life, she was taken over by the cheese fry demons, and I (soon after) was taken over by the cupcake demons. We just weren’t meant to be, BUT WE DID TRY VERY HARD.

Some great things that came out of being vegan: my hair was super shiny, my face was clear and smooth, I felt great about myself and I ate at home more.

Chicago is home to some pretty delicious vegan places to eat (even if you aren’t vegan normally, still amazing to give it a try) like The Chicago Diner and Native Foods Cafe. Chicago Diner is if you’re looking for some (normally) unhealthy meals like burgers and shakes. Native Foods has slightly healthier foods like wraps, sandwiches and amazing sweet potato fries.

In my opinion, just because you don’t totally follow a vegan lifestyle, doesn’t mean you can’t try out the foods or try to eat this way a few days a week.

Week in Boulder Junction, WI

So it was time that I, Emily, the city-dweller (and surrounding suburbs) venture out and expand my horizons to THE WILDERNESS OF AMERICA. Okay.. fine.. I wasn’t completely off-the-grid, but I did find myself all the way at the top of Wisconsin in the North Woods region with my boyfriend for a week.

I have to admit I was a little apprehensive going in. I have a hard time with all living bugs and insects.. specifically bees, wasps, spiders, mosquitos, ticks and everything else. I knew that these things were going to be there in SWARMS but I toughened up, packed my suitcase and hit the road.

Six hours later we arrived at a small, adorable cabin in Boulder Junction, WI that we rented which luckily ended up looking better then the pictures. It was right on a beautiful lake. I am still dealing with the separation anxiety of my sweet second home. Here’s a picture of the living area inside:

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I had my first-time fishing adventure and ended up catching several fish on my pink sparkly pole. We spent our nights out on the water and would boat around until the sunset.

I was hit with a bit of a culture shock when we started going to the restaurants in town. I had been out of town several times before and nothing was like here. The walls were covered in taxidermy animals (and for my animal activist self this was very hard to see) and the decor was like a 1970s grandma basement. Basically, there was no glitz or glamour but each place did have some charm and the views made up for what they lacked in style. As for the food, I was not overly impressed when dinner time came. When it comes to meat I only eat chicken and these places were only into cooking fish and red meat. However I SURVIVED just not happily.

On our third day, we drove into a nearby town called Minoqua for some shopping but on our way I noticed a small cabin coffee shop and demanded that we stop on our way back. I have to admit this was the best decision we made the whole trip. Little Creek Coffee Company in Arbor Vitae, WI deserves all the awards. Not only do they offer tons of coffee drinks and teas BUT THEY HAVE A BREAKFAST AND LUNCH MENU. We came here three total times during our 6 day stay. WE WERE OBSESSED. Their iced chai tea latte was to die for and I can’t stop thinking about their turkey and avocado sandwich and homemade soups HELP ME. We enjoyed sitting on their outdoor tables overlooking the lake and we even spotted some baby deers running around. It was magical. Bambi had come to life. The pics below are us hanging out there:

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There is no way I can go through this post without mentioning the most amazing ice cream place ever.. Mad Dog Jakes in Boulder Junction is super great. We went twice during our trip (WE ARE REPEATERS IF WE LIKE YOU). The first time I got the best super chocolate ice cream I’ve ever had and the second time I got blueberry cheesecake and wow it was out of bounds. FLAVOR TOWN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN. If you are ever in these parts you better stop there and get a scoop.. maybe even two.

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Halfway through our trip on a kind of gloomy day (or so we thought) we took a day-trip to Hayward, Wisconsin to the Wilderness Walk. This essentially was a mix between the coolest petting zoo ever and an exotic animal zoo. The 2-Hour drive was worth it even though it was painful after already driving 6 hours just a few days before.  I normally hate zoos but these animals were all saved from injury and could have died without their help. The admission fee was a little steep but once we walked in we knew it was worth it. The first thing I saw was a GIANT LOP BUNNY free to pet and love. I was obsessed with him. This is when I knew this place was great.

We continued on through the day petting various animals and letting them eat corn-filled ice cream cones.. even a giant camel. My favorites were the baby goats that were roaming free throughout the Walk and the baby fawns that stole my heart. It was amazing and I 10/10 recommend. Here we are having fun below:

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A few days later we went to a lumberjack show and watched some ripped guys chop wood.. it was torture I could barely watch wink wink wink wink. Tom kept thinking i was into them and I totally wasn’t. It was actually super interesting though and we witnessed them climb up a 60-ft tree stump and try to not die. I have to give some credit to the 40 year old male in the denim jacket who was in the audience for his hilarious commentary during the entire show. Also, some credit is due to the ENTIRE JOHNSON FAMILY REUNION for creating several obstacles in parking and getting into the show.. but your matching shirts were cool.

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After the show we went out to Eagle River, Wisconsin to visit Tremblay’s Sweet Shop for some delicious fudge because I am an addict to anything chocolate. 45-Minutes later we arrived to the rude employees of the shop who barely spoke 2 words to us and didn’t even respond to our simple hello. Despite their awful service we got some delicious fudge, pretzels and cashew clusters. We also adventured around the town for a few minutes and checked out some shops.

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The next few days were our last and we were filling up our time as much as we could. We decided a fun thing to do for our last day would be to rent some mountain bikes and go for a nice long ride. We embarked on our 3 mile ride to a nearby lake where we stayed and layed on the beach for a few hours. It was beautiful and peaceful. Somehow Tom didn’t burn even though he’s paler than paper. I went in the water but was quickly freaked out by crawfish swimming on the bottom on the lake. I don’t do well with bugs or bug-like things (i know its a fish or something shh). It was a little bit difficult to get ourselves back on the bikes after hours of being lazy but we did and battled the uphill trail all the way back to town.

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I had a great trip and this is just the highlights of what we did. There was so much more to remember and it was an amazing time for Tom and I. I would love to go back again sometime and explore other places as well. My travel bug has been fulfilled for now.

Perfect Summer Breakfast: Blueberry Acai Smoothie Bowl

Chances are you’ve heard of these Acai (HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT?!?) bowls. I was a little skeptical to give it a try because they looked like purple mud, but it is now one of my absolute favorite things. They are incredibly filling and keep you full and happy well into lunch. Here is the recipe and process for my own personal Acai Bowl:

Ingredients for blender:

  • 1 Pack of Sambazon Unsweetened Acai Smoothie (They come in a pack of 4. I get mine at Whole Foods)
  • 1 Banana (The more ripe, the better. Even if they’re brownish)
  • 1/2-3/4 a cup of Frozen or Fresh Blueberries (if you prefer more, do more)
  • 1/4 Cup of Water
  • *2 Tbsp of Honey if you like it sweeter*

Toppings: 

  • 1/2 Cup of Honey Almond Granola (got mine at Whole Foods) or any Granola you love.
  • 2 Tbsp of Chia Seeds (THEY KEEP YOU VERY FULL AND ARE SUPER GOOD FOR YOU)
  • 1/8 Cup of Raisins
  • Extra blueberries
  • *you can literally top these with whatever you like such as Peanut Butter, Banana, Strawberries, Pineapple, Chicken Tenders… knock yourself out*

RECIPE:

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  1.  take your Sambazon Acai Smoothie Pack and run it under warm water for 5 seconds to loosen it up. It’s impossible to get out of the plastic without this step. Then, empty contents of the pack into your blender, NutriBullet, or Ninja. Break your banana in half and throw it in. Drop in your blueberries. Pour in your water. It should look like the picture below.

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2. BLEND. If you run into a little difficulty with blending, add a bit more water. Continue until smooth (about a minute). Then, pour your smoothie into a bowl. It should have the consistency of a smoothie, not a soup.

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3. Top your smoothie bowl! This is really where the creative, personal choice comes into play. I top mine with granola, raisins, blueberries, and chia seeds and I LOVE the taste. If you want an Instagram-Worthy photo op, line your ingredients as neatly as you can. If you don’t really care, just sprinkle them on top like a wild animal (MOSTLY WHAT I DO because I am INDEED a wild animal). IMG_1392

AND HERE IS THE FINAL PRODUCT:

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I hope you guys give this recipe a try, or even make it your own and switch it up.