Tea Drink Review: Elementary’s Kingsolver

This invigorating blend of matcha, honey, cardamom, and ginger is the perfect kickstart to spring.

I don’t know about you, but here in Central PA, winter’s not over until it’s over. Which generally means late May or June. Until then, all bets are off. We often get lauded for our four distinct seasons, but sometimes PA gets a little overambitious and tries to run through all of them in a month. Or  a week, in this case.

So, while the weather has been beautiful, and temperatures are settling nicely into the 60s and 70s, and vendors everywhere are proclaiming it spring, we’re all still cautiously enjoying it like a bunch of rabbits with one foot in the burrow. Our winter clothes will get packed away eventually, maybe once Fourth of July rolls around. Meanwhile, winter keeps hovering in the back of our consciousness like a creepy ex, almost certainly out of the picture but threatening to rush back in every time the temperature dips below 50.

We have five roasters, yes, but what about tea?

If you’re a tea drinker in the Burg, your options are somewhat dwarfed by the sheer dominance of awesome coffee places that either offer tea as an afterthought or not at all.

I’m not bashing this imbalance – coffee is unarguably the caffeinated beverage of choice across the country, and is often only considered when people are sick or making hot toddies (or are Anglophiles like myself). Plus, the amazing businesses we’ve seen pop up since St. Thomas Roasters and Little Amps solidly placed themselves in the local micro-roasting scene have been quality establishments that have helped Harrisburg tremendously during its most recent period of resurgence. I’m grateful that we have this many businesses investing and believing in our city and encouraging others to do the same.

However, tea, with its lower caffeine content, hasn’t managed to secure the broad appeal that coffee has, despite the fact that it has a following that is just as dedicated to quality, fair trade, flavor notes, and origin as the one coffee enjoys, and this often leaves folks in smaller towns without many options – especially for anything beyond a chai latte. Happily, in the last seven years or so, this trend has definitely been shifting toward many more businesses adding it to their repertoire in purposeful ways to appeal to an untapped demographic of non-coffee drinkers.

Elementary Shoutout

Harrisburg’s Elementary Coffee Co. is one of those businesses, which is why I’ve been incredibly grateful for their presence since they opened  at the Broad Street Market in 2014. Andrea and the folks at Elementary Coffee Co. have always been ridiculously accommodating with my relentless requests to adapt their latest sweet signature coffee drink to a tea-based recipe, and this has made me a solid customer of theirs.

They first hooked me with their amazing chai latte, which blew me away as someone who had suffered through their share of overly saccharine mix-based or weak tea versions over the years. This one incorporated maple syrup into Adagio Tea’s loose Thai Chai blend, which includes coconut and lemongrass, and was a killer combination.

When they added matcha to their offerings last year, I was stoked to have a higher caffeine tea option beyond their varied selection of rooibos, green spearmint, English Breakfast, and Earl Grey teas for those days when I needed an extra bit of energy. Since then, they’ve used it to create several seasonal drinks, like the Swamp Thing around Halloween (espresso, matcha, maple syrup, and Dagoba cocao powder) and matcha lattes around St. Patrick’s Day.

The Kingsolver is their spring 2017 creation, named after writer, environmentalist, and poet Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible. It’s also another great local business collaboration between them and Calicutts Spice Co. in Lemoyne, whose single-origin, handcrafted cardamom and ginger are front and center. Calicutts’ cardamom lends a warm undertone to the ginger’s spicy kick, while the honey adds just enough sweetness to balance the bitterness of the matcha and spices. It’s fresh and invigorating, and offers just enough caffeine to give you an afternoon boost with none of the crash afterwards. Plus, there’s just something awesome about green tea lattes that makes me happy to drink them.

I’ve had it twice already, and I’ll certainly be happily drinking it for the next month or so as spring continues to unfold. Hopefully winter will take the hint and skulk back to its rightful place in February.


Update: The iced version is amazing as well. Try one of each!