Blake Snow

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Best herbal teas ever

mate

As adherents of the Word of Wisdom, my family tries to avoid drinking tea — more specifically, anything derived from the Camellia sinensis plant (which results in black, green, white, yellow and oolong tea).

I say try because we used to suck down Chai like it was nobody’s business. That is, until we discovered that it contains black tea, in addition to delicious Indian spices. (Ignorance is bliss, people. Should have never read the label.)

But fear-not, non-tea drinkers. There are still a lot of tasty herbal alternatives, some of which are even better than the real thing.

My absolute favorite is Mighty Leaf brand, specifically Rainforest Mate. It’s a blend of maté—a popular South African plant—licorice, spices, rosehips and pineapple chunks. It’s the best herbal tea money can buy. Non tea-drinkers beware, however. Although the box fails to list it, I’ve read “a hint of black tea” as the last listed ingredient on the box insert. That’s a lot better than being listed in the middle of the ingredient list, in the case of Chai, but it is something to consider.

(For now, I deem the inclusion harmless, like cooking with wine or eating a ton of chocolate, especially since the “hint” doesn’t stimulate or turn my stomach like delicious sweet-tea did in my rebel drinking days growing up in Georgia. Yes, I know. I’m going to justify myself all the way to hell. On second thought, Mormons don’t believe in hell, so I’m good.)

A very close second — and it really is close — is Mighty Leaf’s African Nectar. I have no idea where one finds the primary ingredient—Rooibos Leaves—but like Rainforest Mate, they make for a dark and rich herbal experience. Sweetened slightly with sugar. Goes perfect with Lorna Doones. Yum!

(Btw, I’d rate the remaining Mighty herbals as follows: Chamomile Citrus, Ginger Twist, and Mint in that order, none of which are better than the below:)

My third favorite herbal drink used to be my favorite. I drank it enthusiastically while living in Brazil. It’s called Matte Leao (pictured). The only ingredient: Mate leaves. The twist: They’re toasted, making it the darkest herbal tea I’ve encountered. It’s not as flavorful as the above two, but it may be the best “straight, no funny business” herbal tea around. Solid flavor. Sugar to taste.

Of course, my wife’s new tea set—don’t look at me that way, I live in a house full of girls!—makes them all taste better.

What are some of your favorite hot drinks, specifically herbal teas?