Whether enjoying earl grey for tea time or serving chai during book club, the vast array of teas in the world is intriguing and ever changing. For those who enjoy a regular or even infrequent spot of tea should also pay attention to the quality of the product and the sustainability of the packaging. Oteas has you covered on both accounts.
Oteas is a Canadian brand, presumably a name stemming from the fact that it offers a wide variety of “O”rganic “Teas” (Oteas). They offer certified vegan, GMO-free and gluten-free assortments. Each blend is made from whole leaves rather than crushed. In addition to a focus on providing a high-quality beverage, it’s mission since its start is to remain committed to sustainable actions, saying, “We recognize the effects of our current climate crisis and knew as a small business we needed to be the change.”
Oteas are also hand-blended with sustainably-sourced, plant-based ingredients. They offer a wide breadth of flavors, including black tea and apricot, black tea and white chocolate, cinnamon punch and honey and white nougat. There are rarely seen blends like rhubarb and passionfruit and orange. Then there are the common green, black, matcha, mint and chai teas. Even the standby flavors come with a bit of a unique twist such as the standard Moroccan mint. Similarly, there are six combinations that include Rooibos. According to the company, they are “responsibly sourcing ingredients from popular growing areas, including Darjeeling, Assam, South India, Nepal, Ceylon, Japan, Kenya and Java/Sumatra.”
Teas are available in loose leaf form or can come in bags. The company is committed to 100% plant-based packaging and provides 100% plastic-free, biodegradable, zero-waste quality tea. To achieve this goal, they use bio-based plastic inside the cardboard box that houses the tea, so it is plastic-free. These bags, along with the tea bags and tags, are certified biodegradable and household compostable.
To further show its commitment to the environment, Oteas partners with 1 Percent for the Planet with 1% of sales going towards non-profit groups and organizations working together to better the environment. Oteas earned Clean Eating Magazine’s Clean Choice Award for Innovation in Sustainable Beverages.
The company reached out, offering to send samples. As a daily tea drinker, I happily accepted. A few days later, a generous sampling arrived, and I’ve been eagerly sipping my way through the options in the awesome glass travel glass they included. We even had a nighttime tea party with the young adults in the house for some tastings and feedback.
The box arrived and, as promised, packaging was entirely plastic-free. Each of the seven boxes of tea I received was made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) mix cardboard, sourcing that ensures sustainable forest harvests. The colorful and artistic box designs are printed with vegetable ink so the boxes can also go into the recycling or the compost bin. The only suggestion I have is to label the flavor on each tag so the user can identify the tea bag once removed from the box.
Berry blend, raspberry leaf and strawberries and cream
These three options each smell exactly as the name suggests, and they are fragrant! A steeping time is suggested for each tea. The berry blend and strawberries and cream both steep five to 10 minutes. Of course I started sipping before the 10-minute mark. I couldn’t help myself. I will say the flavors are pleasantly bold, so consider removing the bag by the maximum steep time suggested. The strawberries and cream got a little strong for me after 15 minutes or so, but I balanced it out with a bit more hot water. I’m not sure how they achieved the subtle cream flavor, but it’s there.
Both these blends have the primary ingredient of hibiscus, yet they achieve vastly different flavors from there. While the hibiscus is notable, the combination of ingredients like raisins, elderberries, rose hips and apple pieces fill in the taste profile, each with its own contribution. The raspberry leaf has a short three to five minute steep time and, although it also contains hibiscus and rose hips, it has a taste all its own with more of a green contribution from the primary ingredient of raspberry leaves.
Lemongrass, ginger and cinnamon
This is my favorite combination of the selections I tasted. However, taste is extremely subjective. My son enjoyed the raspberry leaf and his girlfriend couldn’t get enough of the berry blend. These flavors filter through, offering a taste of each ingredient in the name. It’s balanced with a bit of a citrus overtone and a lingering dab of spice in the mix.
Hey dude organic hemp tea
This is the most unusual tea I’ve ever had. The name is fun and it’s the only tea I received that has caffeine. Honestly, this one’s not my cup of tea (pun intended). The primary ingredients are bean peels and roasted mate, which gives it a very earthy flavor. The apple pieces, hemp and cinnamon move in a little slower for the finish. When I come back around to this one, I plan to try it with a pinch of honey or agave.
Organic digestive liquorice and mint
I was apprehensive of a title with liquorice in it. I like liquorice but it can easily be an overwhelming flavor. Not here. This combination does everything right. The mint is the overtone flavor and the liquorice slips in with just enough strength to make you question what it is. The ingredient list is literally peppermint leaves and liquorice root. It doesn’t get any more natural than that.
Organic sleep well
Finally, we have the bedtime tea as I call it. My system may be programmed to pass out following a dose of chamomile and mint in my standby bedtime teas, but this blend offers an intriguing variety that goes well beyond the standard chamomile, which it does contain as the final ingredient on the list. Surprisingly, the main ingredient is green rooibos, which, based on prior experience, may have been a turnoff if I had known prior. But the typical flavor I found very earthy. It is mellowed with lemon verbena and a touch of ginger, delightful but subtle orange peel and a dash of fennel, liquorice and peppermint.
I’ve never really considered myself a tea connoisseur, but I do select fair trade and organic blends when making my choices. Oteas raised the bar for me, and I’m already considering what flavors I’m going to explore next.
Photography by Dawn Hammon
Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Oteas. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.