Sometimes products are sent to the Advice Sisters for review, I want to immediately try them. That’s certainly the case with two food-related items I recently received: tea from Davidson’s Organics, and French pastries, individually wrapped, from Donsuemor. They go together perfectly for tea time, or whenever you need a break from the ordinary.
Davidson’s Organics is a purveyor of USDA Certified Organic, Kosher Certified and Fair-Trade Certified teas. They are also the only distributors of Holy Basil” also known as Tulsi Teas. For those who haven’t a clue what Tulsi is, it’s a type of basil plant. There are three varieties: (purple, green, and mixed color). Especially valued in India for its spiritual significance, it is also commonly referred to as “holy basil.” It has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, touted being antioxidant, with Adaptogens that serve as powerful anti-stress agents, helping to guard against the effects of both environmental and emotional stress. The different Tulsi Teas that Davidson’s Organics offers consumers are 100% botanical and all are caffeine free except for the green tea version which has a little caffeine due to the inclusion of the green tea leaves. As to taste, it depends upon what blend of Tulsi you are drinking, but in general Tulsi is purported to have a delicate. minty, somewhat buttery, and mildly floral flavor, and it’s got a bit of natural sweetness. You can drink it hot or cold. Davidson’s Organics gives the Tulsi seeds to farmers in India, who grow Tulsi on the company’s own biodynamic garden. In addition to Fair Trade premiums, Davidson’s donates 10% of the proceeds from Tulsi to a fund that pays for projects that benefit the farmers who grow Tulsi. Isn’t that nice? You can purchase a variety of Tulsi teas at different price points, depending upon the amount of tea you buy. For example, a packette of 8 tea bags can be ordered for just $2.95 , a box of 100 unwrapped tea bags is $14.00 and 100 wrapped tea bags is $25.95.
The Tulsi Rooibos Chai that I tried arrived as a sampler of 8 tea bags, nicely boxed in cardboard and individually wrapped, for $2.95. Davidson’s Rooibos Chai blends three varieties of Tulsi (Krishna, Rama and Vana) with South African Rooibos, harvested from high-grown shrubs to create a delicious, full-bodied brew with high mineral and antioxidant properties. The actual ingredients are (* organic): Tulsi*, rooibos*, cinnamon*, licorice root*, cloves* and ginger* The smell was quite intoxicatingly spicy but even after 5 minutes of brewing, the flavor was still delicate.
For under $5.00 at just $4.95, the Organic Classic Tea Sampler featured 8 highly aromatic tea bags that were individually wrapped, and housed in a re-useable, wooden box with a hinge. I’m using mine for paper clips now. The tea bags offer a taste of different tea, including black tea, decaffeinated tea, fruit and spice flavored teas, and classic herbal tea blends. Had I received this around holiday time, I would have deemed it the perfect stocking stuffer or Secret Santa gift for office mates. But since the holidays are past us, I’d consider giving the larger tea selection for $24.95…a good mother’s day gift, or just a fun pick me up for a friend or yourself.
You can get tea many places, but the Advice Sisters were very pleased with the variety, the quality and the economy of Davidson’s Organics. 2013 marks their 37th year of selling specialty teas, gifts and accessories.You’ll have to add a few dollars more for shipping, but for those who want quality, certified organic tea, you can’t go wrong with Davidson’s. Order at: http://www.davidsonstea.com
.Nothing goes better with tea than little tea cakes. The English may savor tea time, but the French know how to make a killer pastry! Donsuemore Desserts brings French baking delights directly to your door, in the form of classic madeleines, biscotti, and French almond cakes. The creation of Don and Sue Morris (hence, the name), boxes starting at $15.
Madeleines are a staple in France, where you’ll find them in the best patisseries. The delicately-flavored, scallop shell-shaped pastries are a hybrid of cookie and cake. Spongey and dense, they’re good for dipping into your beverage because they won’t fall apart too quickily. Usually just butter or lemon flavored, Donsuemore also offers chocolate, and a more traditional-chocolate dipped.
When I received a box of Donsuemore madeleines, biscotti, and little, round, almond tea cakes in a box, in the mail, I was initially turned off. I really didn’t think pastries sent by mail could be fresh, let alone taste as good as something you pick up directly from the bakery. But I discovered that these products really do taste soft, fresh, and French. Each precious piece of pastry is individually wrapped in cellophane, so it’s protected as well as fresh, till you’re ready to eat it.
The shell-shaped madeleines can be ordered in single flavor or mixed and in various amounts ($100 on any order gets you free shipping, otherwise you need to plan on adding a few more dollars). For example, you can get a $15.00 sampler box with 16 individually-wrapped madeleines in Traditional, Chocolate, Lemon Zest, Dipped, and Dipped Chocolate, presented in a gold embossed gift box. $30.00 brings you 44 of them.
$17.00 nets you 20 of the moist, slightly chewy, French almond cakes that smell divine,. These little tarts are made with all natural ingredients. My personal favorites, just one of these is rich, buttery, almond-y and satisfying enough to make you happy. They’ll stay soft for two weeks, or 2 months in your freezer at home. The Advice Sisters also shared some biscotti with friends and these semi-hard and traditionally nutty treats were well received (but these are sold to the trade, only).
You can get the tea cakes and madeleines online at www.donsuemor.com. I’m assuming that you might be able to buy the biscotti, at least in individual pieces, if you are local to a Peets Coffee & Tea, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Nordstrom’s Cafe, Whole Foods, Fresh and Easy Neighborhood Markets, or Costco (Bay Area and Pacific Northwest). All the products are also certified by Kosher Los Angeles. I’m not going to editorialize about the proliferation of food allergies, but for those who are concerned about ingredients, your joy may be short lived if you’re not into eating products that may contain wheat, eggs, butter, and traces of soy. Otherwise, treat yourself to a tea time, or bring a box to your favorite host/hostess or even for “mom” on Mothers Day!