Review: Spice and Tea (St. Augustine, FL)

I recently visited St. Augustine for a much-needed beach vacation. It was fabulous, and I was so excited to find Spice and Tea in downtown.

First I smelled several teas, they smelled good. I finally settled on some 1 oz “sample” bags and 2 larger 4 oz bags:

  • Emperor’s Chai (4 oz)
  • Peach Turmeric Herbal (4oz)
  • Sinfully Cherry (1 oz)
  • Florida Sunshine (1 oz)
  • Grapefruit Basil (1 oz)

Oh. My. God.

These are amazing blends. I did not expect to like the grapefruit basil, I smelled it thinking I would recoil. It smelled good. Quite floral and fruity. Hence the 1 oz bag to try it. Holy crap, it’s amazing! It is a little sweet by itself, I added a hint of sugar and…. I swear I almost had to take my clothes off (if you have seen Food Wars anime, you’ll get that reference). It isn’t a subtle flavor it sinks in and you just have to ride the wave.

I generally have a love/hate relationship with green tea. When done well, they can be amazing in ways black and white teas can’t. They are rarely done well. I think this is because tea color is something of a spectrum. Depending on the amount you process the leaves you get white, green or black. Personally, I think green tea leaves are frequently poorly worked and they lie – they are really poor black teas.

That said, the sinfully cherry blend, which is a green blend, is delicious. My first cup I thought I ruined – I put the strainer in the cup and got distracted. Something like 15 minutes later I remembered I had started tea! 15 minutes is massively over-steeped. It was still good! I was delightfully surprised. It was light and fruity – and on my second cup I learned it’s the best cold green tea I’ve ever had! I will be making this as cold tea from now on.

Along the tea spectrum I then got Florida sunshine which is a white/oolong mixture. I’ve never seen a white+oolong blend, but like the others I picked up from them – it was a pleasantly surprising success. Like most white teas, this is a gentle tea with a smooth flavor. There can’t be a lot of oolong in it, but I definitely get the earthy undertones in the aftertaste. There is something in it which makes it a warm flavor, almost a ginger kind of heat to it.

I tend to love peach and I love turmeric, hence I bought a big bag of this tea. That and I have been looking for a good non-chamomile herbal tea I can drink. I love my teas, but I don’t necessarily want to drink that much caffeine per day. My only complaint is that the turmeric stained my cup. And yellow, so it really does look kind of gross. Oh well. The tea itself is yummy. It’s not subtle, it pretty much punches you in the nose with the flavors. It’s based on honeybush and rooibos leaves, with (surprisingly) coconut and lychee to accent the peach and turmeric of the name. I definitely do not love honeybush and rooibos as much as tea leaves, but this one is very good.

And finally, emperor’s chai. I love a good chai and I have some rules. I want more than just cinnamon and cardamom flavors. It can not be too sweet, it should encourage you to hold in your mouth and savor the flavors. I hope you already know where this post is going – this chai does encourage savoring. When I made it, after I took the first taste I closed my eyes and spent a minute ignoring my child (and everything else) just to be in the moment of this drink experience.

All of these teas are amazingly well blended. Like seriously well blended. You don’t have to like these teas for me to say if you like tea, you should go see if Spice and Tea has a flavor that sounds good. I didn’t try any of their spices, but if they blend spices as well as they blend teas, I look forward to ordering online and trying them.