Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Trader Joe's Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea

There's some holiday traditions that frankly, I just don't get. Chief among them is the movie "A Christmas Story." You've probably seen it a hundred times, which is roughly how many times it gets played on TBS (or whatever station) this time of year, including nonstop on Christmas Day itself. What's the point of the movie, besides Ralphie actually getting his Red Ryder BB gun while not actually shooting his eye out? I mean, really, the whole movie is a bunch of somewhat amusing snippets of some slightly aggrandized yet skewed version of some every day life which, honestly, are mostly downers. Sure, you may get to beat the crap out of the neighborhood bully every once in a while, but the rest of the time it's getting your tongue frozen to the flagpole (why they opted for the yank method over some warm water, only God knows), your husband winning an ugly trashy leg lamp he insists on proudly showcasing, you breaking your prized ugly trashy leg lamp you insisted on proudly showcasing, your top secret decoded message turning out to be a lousy Ovaltine ad, your furnace is always breaking, your neighbor's dogs ravaging your holiday turkey, making you settle for Chinese for Christmas dinner...it goes on and on. About the only thing that does go right is Ralphie not losing his eye, but still busting his glasses, which if I were his old man I'd not be amused.

On the other hand, there are holiday traditions that I fully support. Homemade cookies. My Grandma sending us pajamas every year. Pictures on the staircase. These are all great things. To a somewhat lesser (but still great!) extent, there's all the holiday goodies Trader Joe's puts out, some of which we've already reviewed. Trader Joe's Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea, or what I prefer to simply call "lemur tea," probably has to be my absolute favorite.

I mean, what's not to love? Let's start with packaging. Look at the lemur's face! There he is, probably lost, cold from the snow, missing his home in Madagascar, and somehow he got tangled up in Christmas lights while holding a mug of tea. Yeah, it makes no sense but it works. It's cute and funny and can't help but make you smile. And that's before you even take a sip of this steeped perfection. Just by itself, it's good solid black tea with a healthy dose of vanilla and little hints of cinnamon here and there that tastes very grown-up and refined. It's excellent that way. If you're a little more like my cohort and crave something sugary and sweet, well, just add a good dose of cream and a little sugar, and you've got yourself a very tasty treat. Either way, there's very few other ways I'd prefer to warm myself up than grabbing a tea kettle, a big mug, and a bag of lemur tea. Have some while snuggling under a blanket reading, lounging on your couch with a movie, working away in your cubicle...it just doesn't matter where or when, it's fantastic. Overall, it's just well-balanced, good, honest tea that TJ trots out every holiday season. There's not a single bad thing that can be said.

Sandy likes it almost as much as I do. "I'm not much of a tea person," she said, "but man, I love lemur tea!" That's me, too. I'll drink iced tea all summer, but there's no other hot tea I make a point of buying and consuming at every reasonable chance other than this one. I'm a little confused by the labelled gluten-free stamp on the box...Is there gluten in other teas? Isn't there some form of gluten in the typical lemur diet?...but regardless, this is a perfect five from me. Not one single teeny-tiny complaint from me. Sandy had the audacity to give it only a four, I think, which is way too low. I'm going to assume I was so shocked by her saying "four" that I missed the part where she said "and a half" so I'm tacking that on. If there's one TJ's tea that deserves Pantheon-hood, it's this one.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Vanilla & Cinnamon Black Tea: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons



10 comments:

  1. Yay! I've been obsessed with this tea since last year, and so glad you agree. In fact, I may have to squirrel away a couple of boxes because I went for it this summer and found an empty box in my cabinet. :( I blame my MIL - no way I would have done that.

    PS - you should try the Savory Thin Mini Edamame Crackers... love them, and seems like you and Sandy would too!

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  2. I will have to try it...I was afraid to after I got a box of their Candy Cane Green Tea, which also comes in a box with a cute drawing on it (of a Polar Bear): http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=339 I just didn't like it. I ♥ their Pumpkin Spice Rooibus!!!
    I'd rate that movie a 1 out of 10 stars. I agree it's something not worth wasting your time with...

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    1. Ah yeah, the Candy Cane Green Tea...I was being polite and not mentioning it :)

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  4. Sorry, somehow a line of my post got eaten by hungry internet critters.

    As for gluten in tea, tea itself is gluten free, but there are a few companies (cough, Celestial Seasonings) that have Barley (gluten grain) in some of their holiday teas. And after double checking to confirm I was condemning the correct company, they've swapped which holiday tea is safe and which isn't anymore. Grrrrr. This is why I won't have their stuff in the house, but I'll nom up lots of lemur tea (which is what a friend called it after seeing the box last year too!)

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  5. Absolutely my favorite tea ever! It's possible that I bought 4 boxes on a recent trip....okay, actually I bought 5. I live about an hour away from the nearest TJ, so I had to stock up. I have already been checking the Midwest weather to see if I can schedule another trip this weekend!

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  6. Just bought this last night based on your review. My fiance tried it today and when I asked him what he thought he replied 'not bad at all'. The he proceeded to gulp down the entire mug in about 3 minutes.

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  7. I bought this also and the candy cane one. I love them both. I'm wondering, do you think the packaging has anything to do with the love? ;)

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  8. I really like this, too, and was sad this morning when I discovered my box was empty. How did that happen? And me on a can't-buy-tea-unlike-the-cupboard-is-empty regimen. Maybe I can bend my self-imposed restriction for a seasonal item like this...

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  9. Excited to discover your website! I'll have to try this. I also recommend Trader Joe's Mango Black Tea. I bought it when they sampled it and make a huge pitcher of it iced with a tiny bit of stevia or Truvia. Very satisfying & refreshing!

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