Coffee subscriptions are a great way to get to try a variety of coffees without having to do the legwork yourself of researching and sourcing and ordering. I’ve reviewed a number of coffee subscription companies already on this blog, but the folks at Raw Brews stood out to me because in addition to coffee, they specialize in tea as well. I am not a tea expert by any means, but I do enjoy it, so when they offered to send me a sample box of what they call their Yin-Yang subscription box (which includes 6 oz. coffee, 2 oz. tea, and artisan chocolate), I was all for it!
Before agreeing to do this review, I had a couple of questions for them about freshness and ingredients, and I am happy to report that they take freshness very seriously (their coffee is freshly roasted just prior to shipping), and that their chocolate selections are gluten-free. This coffee was roasted on March 30, and I received the box on April 3.
Raw Brews rotates their coffee and tea selections monthly. For the month of March, the featured country was Ecuador. The coffee was an Ecuador Carmen Gagnay from Elixr Coffee Roasters, and their tea was a Pai Mu Tan Silvery Needle from FloraPharm. The chocolates were from Pierre’s Chocolates.
Whole bean: chestnut, cherry, almond. Sweet and bright aromas.
V60: Super smooth brew and “savory” – there were no offensive or funky flavors but the coffee was really deep and clean tasting. Not nearly as sweet as the smell of the ground beans would suggest. Very traditional coffee flavor. I had watched an episode of Chopped on the Food Network the night before doing this tasting and for some reason, it came to mind that this coffee would be great as an ingredient to use in the baskets as part of a savory dish.
AeroPress: Syrupy and strong with a bright finish. Smells like chestnut but tastes more like almond and amaretto.
Chemex: This was a very silky coffee! A bit sweeter than the V60 cup but similar in character.
French press: Polar opposite of the V60 method. Too strong, and my mouth was puckering like mad. I brewed this at 4 minutes like I usually do, but it was much too long, apparently. This coffee tasted stronger and more intense than the AeroPress version!
Summary: I don’t recommend this in a French press, but I think this coffee is quite crowd-pleasing done in pourover methods like the Hario V60 and Chemex.
From the roaster: Hawaiian Punch, sugar plum, brown sugar
Review conducted 5-6 days post-roast.
(The quarter is there for scale)
Tea experts out there will probably scoff, but the vast majority of the tea I drink comes in teabags. I can appreciate that loose-leaf is superior but it’s just not a rabbit hole I’ve gone down (yet?). When I saw that the tea in the Raw Brews box was loose-leaf, I went hunting around my kitchen for my tea ball strainer, but I then noticed that the folks at Raw Brews must have anticipated that not everyone would own a strainer, as they included this:
Cute touch! However, I ended up finding better results with another method, which I’ll detail below.
The instructions on the bag of tea stated to infuse 1 teaspoon of tea at 175 degrees for 2-3 minutes. I started with these parameters (and with the silicone shark) with around 6 ounces of water.
1 tsp tea, 3 minutes, shark: The tail didn’t even fully reach into my cup; I would have had to have filled the cup with way too much water in order to even begin the brewing process. Cute infuser, but I decided to ditch it for another method (and I wasn’t super comfortable with the idea of silicone + hot water for an extended period of time).
1 tsp tea, 3 minutes, tea ball: Bit better but I could barely taste any tea at the end of the process. Too little tea, too little steeping time? I also felt that the tea needed room to move around, as both the whale and the tea ball likely packed the leaves too tightly.
1 tsp tea, 3.5 minutes, French press: Tasted like bottled water and looked like dishwater (!).
2 tsp tea, 5 minutes, French press: Okay, this was a little better. The color here was a bit darker than the previous methods so I felt I was on the right track, but it was still too delicate. Had a slight scent of carpet.
2 tsp tea, 7.5 minutes, French press: Finally, I can recognize this as tea. It’s still EXTREMELY subtle in color in flavor, especially for someone like myself that is used to black tea, but at least now I can tell what beverage this is.
Please keep in mind that I am not a tea expert at all so I do not claim any authority here, but I don’t think using the provided silicone whale and following the instructions on the bag will lead to a satisfactory result for this particular tea. I think steeping a generous amount of this tea for 8-10 minutes in a traditional teapot would probably be the best bet, but as I don’t have one of those, the French press is a good alternative, as it will allow for the tea leaves to come into contact with the water more effectively.
These chocolates are the same (one was flipped upside down) and had a lovely smooth texture with a flavor of coffee. I enjoyed these thoroughly!
Verdict: This was a fun way to try both coffee AND tea from a particular area of the world. I think it would be an enjoyable and entertaining way to explore new flavors! And if you’re only interested in either coffee OR tea but not both, Raw Brews offers subscriptions to suit those preferences. The chocolates were a lovely touch!
Disclaimer: I received this product gratis in exchange for a fair and honest review. Even though I received this for free, I treat and test it the same way as if I had paid for it out of my own pocket.