DONA's Award-Winning Cold Chai Concentrate and Loose Leaf Teas Are Worth ALL the Hype
It may sound weird, but the way I've personally been beating the heat during this ridiculous heatwave across the Pacific Northwest has been drinking lots and lots of hot tea.
Why? Because when conditions are hot and dry, hot drinks can actually do a better job cooling you down than cold ones—and lucky for me, I was recently sent some absolutely delicious DONA loose leaf teas for review, plus a couple of other tea goodies to enjoy.
Curious about the brand? Here's everything I've been sipping, and why I think you're going to love DONA, too.
Black Tea With Cardamom & Rose: $16
Firstly, before you invest in DONA, be aware that these are bags of loose leaf tea, which requires different tools, and a bit more care, than your average disposal tea bag. As an avid tea drinker, I have all types of tea diffusers at my disposal, but you'll require a strainer of some type to properly brew these.
I began my DONA adventure with the Black Tea With Cardamom and Rose blend. 4 oz. of the blend of Assam tea, rose petals, cardamom and lavender came in the handy resealable paper bag. It was love at first sniff, with the floral and pine-like notes of the tea making me eager for my first taste. I followed the directions on the bag—a teaspoon of tea per 12 oz. of water, brewed for three minutes in 200° F water—before taking my first sip. While I usually take my black tea with milk and sugar, I wanted to get the pure experience here, and I loved it. The pine-like, slightly minty flavor of the cardamom came through strongest, though the rose and lavender offset it a bit with their delicate, flowery notes. I adored the taste as much as I did the aroma—and have since enjoyed this tea even more as a milky, sweet tea.
I also love that the process of making DONA loose leaf tea is so intentional—you have to really want that cup to make it—and I think it makes every sip taste even better to know the love and care that went into brewing it.
Chamomile Mint: $16
Next up, I turned to the Chamomile Mint. I've never been much a fan of chamomile in the past, finding the flavor of bagged chamomile overly sweet with an herbal taste that just does not agree with me, so I was curious as to how I'd like this one. But after brewing my first cup of Egyptian mint and chamomile according to the instructions, I'm now a convert. The full chamomile flowers make such a difference, tasting like apple blossoms, which beautifully complement the strong mint in the tea. I especially love this blend with honey, and I now know that when it comes to chamomile, I have to go for the good stuff.
Masala Chai Loose Leaf: $16
DONA is known for its masala chai, so I knew I was in for a treat with this blend. In fact, the moment I opened my package from DONA, it was this tea that seemed to scent the entire box, vibrant and spicy with its blend of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove and black pepper. And once I'd steeped my first cup and added sugar and cream, I found that this was the best chai I'd ever brewed myself. The blend of spices was just right, with the sugar and milk I'd added beautifully balancing the black tea and its rich spices. It's since become a go-to for me, and I'm thrilled that I have a generous 4 oz. of the stuff to brew before I run out—and will inevitably need to order more.
Turmeric Pink Peppercorn With Citrus Loose Leaf: $16
This tea may sound strange, but it's actually my favorite in the entire bundle I received. When I opened the bag and took in its fragrance, it seemed almost savory, with peppery spice and lemongrass being most prevalent. But I shrugged and brewed a cup according to the instructions (adding a bit of honey for sweetness) and it was love at first sip. Somehow, this blend of turmeric, pink peppercorn, lemongrass, orange oil and black pepper is not at all overwhelming. In fact, the orangey, peppery result is a refreshing delight. It's another blend I'll absolutely need to restock once it runs out.
Herbal Chai Loose Leaf: $16
Last, (but definitely not least,) of the loose leaf teas was the herbal chai, which includes all of the wonderful spices of the masala chai, with none of the black tea—perfect for those who want an afternoon pick-me-up without any of the caffeine. It smelled just as good as the masala version, and once I'd made myself a cup, I found it nearly as satisfying (with the addition of milk and sugar, of course). Though I did slightly prefer the version with black tea, which gives each cup more fullness, this one comes close, and since I can sometimes be sensitive to caffeine, I find myself drinking it more often, too.
Zero Waste Spice Dust | Turmeric: $10
This Turmeric Zero Waste Spice Dust isn't technically tea, but it can be used to enhance your favorite teas with a delicious blend of turmeric, ginger, lemongrass, pink peppercorn, allspice and black pepper. Just sprinkle some of the powder through a sieve into your favorite coffee or tea for a little added spice. I've personally tried it with both of the chai blends of tea, as well as in decaf coffee, and I love what this complex blend adds to the flavor. Plus, these spices are all upcycled from the process of brewing DONA's Turmeric Concentrate, so they also help reduce waste.
Masala Chai Concentrate: $24 for 2
DONA's Masala Chai Concentrate is pretty much their flagship item, which was why I had to save it for last. Like many people, I love iced chai lattes, though I'm mostly used to the sugary sweet variety you might order from a Starbucks, so I was curious to taste this more refined, lightly-sweetened version—and it was so easy. I just had to fill a glass, half with my milk of choice, half with the concentrate—and the result was a ridiculously tasty iced chai with the perfect balance of sugar, spice and bold richness. The only downside was how fast I ran out.
If you're a big tea-drinker, I have no doubts that you're going to fall in love with all things DONA. Each and every one of their loose leaf teas is made with the finest spices and tea leaves, and their large 4 oz. bags mean you'll be able to brew many, many cups from each one, warranting the price. I also love the idea of their Zero Waste Spice Dust (and believe my jar is going to last a long time), and their masala concentrate is by far the best I've tried and made myself at home. And while DONA's prices may be higher than what you'll find at the typical grocery store, the quality makes it worth it—especially when you consider the money you'll save compared to buying the same drinks at your local coffee shop.
Drink chai lattes on the daily? HERE for things you'll only relate to if you're chai-obsessed.