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Fall is in the air

This week's blog post was written by our guest blogger Elyse Cottrell. Elyse is originally from Ontario. She moved to PEI after falling in love with the East Coast on a post-college graduation road trip with her best friend. She is an avid tea lover, who enjoys trying new teas. She is studying at UPEI and is currently working on her Honours in Social Psychology and studying Diversity & Social Justice Studies. Being allergic to coffee, tea is her go to beverage for staying fueled during late night study sessions. In addition to blogging about tea, Elyse blogs about her experience with Multiple Sclerosis, and her struggle dealing with DRESS Syndrome. Visit her personal blog.

Fall is in the air. Sometimes. On Prince Edward Island, and in fact it seems across the country, Mother Nature isn't quite sure what she is doing. We've gone from the 20s, to 6 degrees, and back to the high teens. Regardless, the leaves are starting to change, pumpkins are popping up everywhere, and the calendar says it is officially fall. That means it is time to explore some teas to keep you warm (or cool with the weather trend we have been been having) this fall!

It has recently come to my attention that I am a "back tea" person. While I like most teas, I definitely have a preference for black. It's the only tea that I like without any flavouring. I like pure green tea, but I definitely have a preference for things like Genmaicha, or Jasmine Green Tea. Rooibos and Puerh tend to be lower in the hierarchy of tea love, but while I used to say I didn't like either, a few teas have slipped into my collection out of love.

While I do prefer black tea, I am the kind of person who tends to put milk (well, milk alternatives) in my tea. I remember sitting in a restaurant in Pertisau on Lake Achensee in Austria, and ordering tea. It came with a chocolate and sugar, but no milk. Trying to get milk was difficult, not because of any language barrier (my partner's mother speaks fluent German and ended up assisting me when I assumed it was a result of my very bad German) but because the waiter did not understand why anyone would want milk for their tea. There are a number of studies since 2007 that say that milk (specifically cow milk) inhibits the antioxidant effect of tea. Perhaps that is a contributing factor? I found this article that says that only 9% of Germans put milk in their tea. Perhaps Austria is similar in that regard.

Fall is the perfect time for hot tea although I like to hold onto my iced latte until the first snowfall...or perhaps more accurately, until the wind hurts my face (this seems to happen before the snow falls on PEI).

[caption id="attachment_2567" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Lady Baker's Pumpkin Spice tea Lady Baker's Pumpkin Spice tea[/caption]

Lady Baker's Pumpkin Spice. What is fall without pumpkin spice? At least in North America. I inherited some Lady Baker's Pumpkin Spice from a friend of mine who was moving to B.C. and had to get rid of most of her stuff (I benefited greatly from this move, except for having my best friend leave to go across the country). This black tea has two things I generally dislike in teas: rose hips and rooibos (as well as cinnamon, but I am not overly fond of cinnamon in general, not just in teas), but Lady Baker's Pumpkin Spice is a perfect blend of spices--it has a hint of nuttiness combined with a subtle touch of fruitiness, that makes me want to put on jeans and sweater, and go on a hay ride. It is fall in a cup. Lady Baker was serving Pumpkin Spice Iced Lattes at the Charlottetown Farmers' Market for a while this fall, which were amazing! For weeks I wondered why mine never tasted as good, and then I discovered the secret- the ice cubes she uses are made out of black tea! So it doesn't get watered down. I discovered a lovely treat: brew this tea very strong, let it cool, toss it into a blender with ice (take a tip from Lady Baker and use ice made with pumpkin spice or plain black tea) and a scoop of pumpkin puree. It is delicious!

[caption id="attachment_2568" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Lady Baker's Bamboolong tea Lady Baker's Bamboolong tea[/caption]

Bamboolong - Alright, I'll admit it, I bought this tea for its name. It's fun to say. Also called Formosa Oolong, this tea originates from Taiwan. Oolongs are also sometimes known as brown teas. They aren't quite a black tea, but are more oxidized than a green tea. The leaves are shaken in bamboo baskets to help with the oxidation process (the leaves need to be bruised in order for oxidation to start). A rich brown colour, this tea has the warmth of a hearty fruit liqueur combined with an earthy toasted flavour. It has become my second favourite comfort tea, after Genmaicha.

[caption id="attachment_2565" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Lady Baker's Dapple Apple Tea Lady Baker's Dapple Apple Tea[/caption]

Dapple Apple-I honestly did not think I would like this black tea. I'm not overly fond of apples (or cinnamon), but one thing I do like is apple cider (which oddly enough is apples AND cinnamon), and this tea tastes exactly like apple cider. Knowing I wanted to make it a latte, I steeped it a bit stronger and longer (doubled the leaves and let it sit for almost 10 minutes). It was a bit more mild than the Pumpkin Spice, but had richer undertones which definitely came from the naturally dried and freeze dried apples that are in it. It is sweet and fruity with a hint of spice. The crisp taste of apples makes me want to go apple picking!

[caption id="attachment_2566" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Lady Baker's Keemun tea Lady Baker's Keemun tea[/caption]

Keemun is a black tea that is often used in tea blends. I've never had it on its own before writing this blog, but I was excited to try it. It is a lighter tea, definitely more mild than an Assam, with a hint of smokiness. It is not nearly as powerful as Lapsang Souchong, but there is a light smoky flavour that lingers on your tongue afterwards. There's also a sweetness that is almost fruity, but not quite. It is very fragrant and is a great tea for breathing in while sitting by the fire, or warming up after a chilly day. It's light enough to be delicious without milk or sugar added to it, but I added a bit of coconut milk which accentuated the hint of fruitiness.

[caption id="attachment_2569" align="aligncenter" width="600"]Lady Baker's Peach My Cheeks tea Lady Baker's Peach My Cheeks tea[/caption]

Peach My Cheeks-The combination of peach, apricot and papaya, with peach and apricot oils make this tea taste like fresh, ripe peaches. I would swear this flavoured black tea was a fruit tea if I didn't know any better. Sunshine, sweetness and juiciness radiate from this blend. It is perfect for anyone who doesn't want to let go of summer. It's great both hot or iced. Blended with milk and ice (I recommend making the ice out of Peach My Cheeks or a fruit tea) it reminds me of a creamsicle. Throw in some fresh peaches and you have a great, fresh tasting smoothie with a kick of caffeine, to start the day.

These are 5 great teas to enjoy this fall, whether you are looking for a pure black tea, a way to savour the flavours of fall, or something fruity and fresh.
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