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Reviews: Inspired Cookie, Zhena’s Tea

September 4, 2010

Hey everyone. I hope you’re having a better Labor Day weekend than I am. It’s all good though, because these products I want to share with you today are worth smiling about.

Firstly, Sarah from The Inspired Cookie sent me some samples awhile back. Gluten-free vegan baked goods? Yes please!

All of The Inspired Cookie‘s products are vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, egg-free, dairy-free, casein-free, wheat-free, peanut-free, and cholesterol-free—wow! It’s no wonder they were nominated in this year’s VegNews Veggie Awards. Sarah sent me two brownies and three cookies to try. I couldn’t wait to dig in.

I found the Espresso Lemon Chocolate Chunk cookie a bit perplexing at first. The espresso was hard for me to detect, and the lemon with the chocolate was an unexpected combo. The cookie itself, though, had a great texture, on the soft and crumbly side.

A flavor combo I was downright hesitant about was the Peppermint Chocolate Chunk cookie. You may know how I tend to feel about mint (I almost always hate it), so I tried this cookie with trepidation. I was flabbergasted to find that from the first bite to the last, I really liked it! The peppermint notes reminded me immediately of Andes mints, one of the only minty things in the world I can say I love. What a pleasant surprise!

That wasn’t the last surprise, though—I also loved the Lemon Lavendar cookie more than I expected to. The common thread through all these cookies seemed to be unusual, original flavor combinations, and The Inspired Cookie executed each with flair and tasty results.

But I saved the best for last—the Chocolate Chunk brownie. Ohh, this brownie. Though I’ve been on a casual quest for the best vegan brownie recipe, I didn’t have a particular flavor or texture in mind to look for…until I tried this. Whatever her methods, whatever her recipe (which I would LOVE to have!), Sarah has crafted the best packaged brownie I think I’ve ever had. Chewy, fudgy, PERFECT!

Thanks again to Sarah and The Inspired Cookie for the samples. I hope you all check out their website and web store, and/or “like” their Facebook page.

Some other samples I received recently came from Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.

They have some of the most amazing, original flavors I’ve seen in any teas. Actually, it was only after I got these samples that I realized I had an entire canister of Zhena’s Tea in my cabinet! I’d been fascinated by the Goji Cacao Berry green tea as soon as I saw it at World Market, and I’d bought it on a whim. I’m glad I did, because it’s delicious!

The flavors that Zhena’s sent me individual samples of included Coconut Chai black tea

Cacaoberry and Pomberry women’s health green teas…

Blueberry Vanilla and Caramelized Pear biodynamic green teas…

…and Açai Berry red tea and Raspberry Earl black tea.

I’m no good at describing the complex flavor notes in various teas, but I can say that every one of these was wonderful. The Açai Berry red was a particular favorite of mine. Zhena’s is uncompromising in their rigorous production standards, and the thoughtful selection and high quality of their ingredients shines through in each cup.

Thank you again to Zhena’s Gypsy Tea for the great samples. Check out their website and/or “like” their Facebook page to keep up-to-date on specials. Right now, you can get 20% off your online order, plus a free tin of Berry Bellini tropical green tea, until Monday 9/6 with promo code SUMMER2010!

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Review & giveaway: Wholesome Chow
Review: Coconut Secret

18 Comments leave one →
  1. September 4, 2010 9:46 pm

    Hmmm….I may be a little jealous. Those all look so delicious. I’m totally going to check them out. Thanks for the post 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:13 am

      Sure thing! That Inspired Cookie brownie was seriously to-die-for, and Zhena’s offers a huge variety of teas; something for everyone :]

  2. September 4, 2010 10:08 pm

    Hi Amber,
    I just found your blog the other day and have been reading all your old posts for days now. I just got through your Europe posts and I was wondering how you found the tour group you went with. Your posts are awesome and you make some incredible food!


    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:15 am

      Hi Allison! I must tell you—you totally made my day (and weekend!) with your comment. When I first fell in love with many of the blogs I read now, I read my way through their entire archives. I never thought someone would do that with MY little blog! That really means a lot to me. I hope you keep reading, and that I hear from you again soon! 😀

  3. September 4, 2010 10:43 pm

    Oh wow, when I saw that second photo I thought “Uh-oh-billy-o, peppermint alert!”, but you liked it! Hurrah! I’d give so much to try the lavendar cookie – I don’t like the smell as a perfume/aroma but have really come to enjoy the taste in sweet things. If only, if only…

    P.S. I’m sorry to hear your weekend isn’t super-fun, but if it’s any consolation, Labor Day Weekend doesn’t even exist here 😉

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:17 am

      Oh, I feel the exact same about lavender. I don’t want it on my pillow, but I’ll take a hint of well-placed lavender in a baked good.

  4. September 5, 2010 1:47 am

    I just love how much time and effort you put into your reviews and the beautiful pictures you take! : ) That Lemon Lavender Cookie reminds me of this ice cream cookie sandwich I tried from Whole Foods last year… A Lemon cookie with Honey Lavender ice cream… Very very intersting flavors… : ) Keep up the good work.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:18 am

      Thank you Tyler! Honey lavender ice cream does sound very interesting, and tasty.

  5. September 5, 2010 5:56 pm

    How lucky! Mmmm I want the brownies! Espresso, lemon and chocolate together? Weird and interesting!

    I hope your labor day weekend gets better! 🙂

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:19 am

      “Weird and interesting” was my exact thought!
      That brownie still haunts my dreams at night… >:]

  6. Mom permalink
    September 5, 2010 8:08 pm

    Amber, I hope your weekend has improved(?)… At least there’s an extra day off involved! It’s great that these companies generously send you samples to try and they’re fortunate to have you promote their sites & send referrals. Your review are so informative!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:20 am

      The day off was much-needed, that’s for sure.
      I always feel thrilled and thankful when I receive a new product to try. I hope they keep comin’!

  7. September 6, 2010 1:11 pm

    I hope you are having a better holiday weekend! I used to LOVE Andies mints too…they were my fav! The brownies…oh my, they look delish!

    I am just now getting into drinking hot teas, so thanks for your review. I am going to have to check out that website. The teas sound great! I hope you are having a great day! :o)

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:22 am

      YES! Andes mints are the shizzle 😛
      That’s great that you’re getting into hot teas! Oolong teas and mild white teas (like white peony) are my favorites. Have fun exploring the wide world of tea!

  8. September 6, 2010 5:34 pm

    You are so lucky! You honestly get to review the best products! I’m so jealous!

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 7, 2010 11:24 am

      I wish every time that I had enough to share with everyone! :]

  9. September 9, 2010 2:25 pm

    Mmmm! Tea! I will have to check out their website. You said I could also find some of their tea at World Market perhaps?

    And I thought those flavor combinations sounded…interesting. I’m not a big lemon fan, but the Lavendar Lemon sounded like something I might try.

    • Amber Shea @Almost Vegan permalink
      September 9, 2010 9:37 pm

      Yup, World Market has a good handful of Zhena’s teas, though there’s even more varieties on their website.

      Heh yeah, I didn’t know what to expect with those flavors combos…I’m not big on lemon either, but I did like that lemon lavender cookie a lot!

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