Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Chocolate Monkey from Art of Tea (Rooibos)

Scent in package: bananas, chocolate, cherries, and a hint of pepper with that distinctive rooibos smell.
Brewed in: unbleached filter bag
Steeped: 5-6 minutes @ 212
Cup: Café mug here at work

I like rooibos tisanes at the end of the day, or even before bed sometimes. They’re calming, soothing, and help me wind down. Did I think it was weird to combine actual pieces of banana with rooibos? Sure. Did I wonder what on earth pink peppercorns had to do with bananas and chocolate? Absolutely. But the mix smelled better than the caramelized pear (smelled like a banana split, actually), and thus began my relationship with Chocolate Monkey.

Really, this tea is *almost* like drinking a warm banana split (without the strawberries and pineapple, of course). There are indeed pieces of banana, chocolate, and tiny pink peppercorns in the mix, and the rooibos acts like the vanilla ice cream – a mellow background for the sweet and spicy flavors. The peppercorn is more of a sensation thing than a taste thing…it makes your tongue tingle ever so slightly as the other flavors pass by. Very nice touch, in my opinion.

The chocolate melds very nicely with the banana (doesn’t it always?), and creates the main flavor profile, both mellowing the tobacco-y taste of the rooibos into more of a vanilla taste but still with the distinctive properties of rooibos still peeking through a bit. With a little sugar, reduced down into a syrup, I bet it actually would be a seriously yummy compliment to a bowl of real vanilla ice cream!

So two thumbs up for this one…I’ll definitely reorder it, even if it’s just for me. It’s $7.00 for 2oz, and worth it, in my opinion. Try some, and don’t be shy to order the full 2oz (AOT doesn’t “do” samples that I can tell).


  1. oooh, that does sound intriguing.

    You've been reviewing a lot of things from the Art of Tea lately. What's your opinion on them as a vendor?

  2. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that AOT gave me a discount on my first order with them (it does bias me to the extent that I think they're nice guys for doing that). :-) Dave came across my blog, and asked how they could participate, so I told them I'd add links to thier site, order some tea and review. Thier web site has a lot of information, though I find chosing teas there somewhat difficult, as it's sometimes hard to discern what kind of tea is in what blend (or if it actually has tea at all - they don't differentiate teas from tisanes well, in my opinion). I ordered 9 teas from them (I think it was 9), and I still have one I haven't even tried yet. I'd prefer if thier puerh teas had dates on them as well.

    And I wish they offered sample sizes...some of thier teas are quite pricy in my opinion, and it would be nice to try just a small amount before spending $$ on a full bag.

    I only have one other complaint about AOT...and one is about packaging. I think as far as packaging goes, I prefer tins to those resealable bags many vendors use. When I saw the tins of tea pictured on Art of Tea's web site, I was excited since thier tea tends to be in the higher price range, I figured it would be worth it if I got a cool tin with it. No such luck though - some of thier teas were in the plastic resealable bags, and others in paper resealable bags...which was highly disappointing to me. I like tins...not only because they're neater and easier to stack, but the tea leaves don't get crushed if something falls against the package or gets set down on it inadvertantly. I have the same complaint about Dragonwater and Teas, Etc. I just prefer tins for packaging, plain and simple. My tins sit out on the counter, packages like these get hidden in the cupboard.

    Other than those two things, they were very easy to order from, quick to ship my order out, and it got here pretty fast too.

    So overall, average for a vendor, possibly a little above on account of thier informative blog that is regularly updated. They'd be better with samples, and if they shipped tea in tins, but that's just my opinion. :-)


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