At least, that’s exactly what I said. Ersatz is apparently a coffee alternative. It’s tea, but it’s like coffee, and you’d drink it instead of coffee. I don’t drink coffee– but not because I dislike coffee. No, I LOVE coffee, and so does my guy. It’s just that he makes coffee so strong that you can stand a spoon up in it (yummm), and my body simply cannot handle the caffeine. I drink his coffee and am up for three days. It’s sad. I miss it, but what can you do?
So when I received a sample of this interesting “coffee alternative” that is made from tea ingredients, of course I am game for a tasting.
First things first: I had to check for the caffeine content. Thankfully, I got two samples. One is caffeinated, and the other is not. It’s Sunday, late afternoon. It’s Day Light Savings time, and in addition to the evenings getting longer, I lost an hour. This spells trouble in the Going To Sleep At A Decent Hour agenda.
I triple checked: no caffeine. And while my brain knows that there’s no caffeine in the innocuous ingredients, my thoughts keep sighing in wonder. The ingredients: roasted rice, roasted peas, and roasted chicory.
Now before you scoff at me, saying, “That’s weird and fine and all, but how’s that gonna give you a coffee flavor?” I want you to know that I totally get it. I even blinked a few times at the roasted peas part. Buuut, in the spirit of adventure, here goes nothing.
The tea bag was BIG. Much bigger than the tea bags I’m used to. Giant. In fact, I almost thought that maybe it was two tea bags stuck together. But nope, it’s just a big bag. Probably because they use whole roasted peas! Hmmm. Veddy interesting. I brewed it for 5 minutes because I wanted it to be as strong as possible. You know how I LOVE my standing up spoon? (heh)
So here’s the “brews:” It does have a remarkably coffee-like scent. The liquor is dark and chocolatey. It smells… just like coffee. Strange. I tasted it before creaming and sugaring it up. Hmmm. Nutty. Dark. Not like black tea, but dark and I could definitely pick up the toasted rice.
A little sugar and cream– not nearly as much as I used to dump in my coffee, though. This is thinner than coffee, and it doesn’t taste burnt or bitter. It’s actually pretty soft on the palate. But rich.
There’s definitely a buttery, toasty flavor that comes in secondary to the nutty rice flavor. The end of this is round and greenish, must be the peas. I don’t know, I’ve never had peas in my teas. But it’s nice. Surprisingly smooth.
And lastly, the chicory is very earthy in flavor. Like a medium-roast bean, only it’s totally not.
Frankly, I’m pretty surprised by this tea. I was hesitant- not to try it, but to review it. But the flavors mingle together in a surprising blend, and it IS pretty similar in flavor to coffee. It’s a full bodied brew, filled with toasty surprises.
The Coffee Trade Company describes this tea as:
For centuries, “coffee substitutes” have been concocted, especially when stressful economic conditions and/or wars hindered the international shipping of coffee beans. Typically such substitutes have been developed using a variety of roasted agricultural products such as legumes, grain, and natural plant flavorings, often yielding a beverage with little or unappealing flavor.
Today, our food alchemists at The Coffee Trade Company (our charmingly anachronistic enterprise) in Bellefonte, PA have formulated a perfect coffee alternative through careful and tedious experimentation. The result? A satisfying warm beverage with a rich and delicious roasted grain and nutty flavor.
What’s in Ersatz? Roasted rice, roasted peas, and roasted chicory, in a brewing-bag (teabag). Ersatz is: Caffeine-free, Gluten-free (and Barley-free, unlike some of our competitors), Lactose-free, Soy-free, Peanut-free, Nut-free, Casein-free, All-natural, no preservatives — and actually, believe-it-or-not, tastes good!
In perusing the website of this strange new drink, I discovered that Ersatz is made by a small business in Pennsylvania. Their site is pleasantly quirky and completely charming. They don’t charge for shipping and “handling” and have promised to be gentle with their products. And the greatest part? A bag of this tea is less than $7 for 12 bags. Not too shabby. I’d totally support this small business!