Wednesday, June 13, 2007

St. Claire’s Organic Mints & Tarts

Since the subject came up last with with the news that Mars was using animal-sourced rennet in their whey (and then they later rethought that and reversed it), I thought I’d address dietary restrictions and candy. There are a lot of candies that contain animal-sourced ingredients. Besides dairy products, one of the most common is gelatin. Gelatin is found in gummis but it’s also found in Altoids. So what’s a vegetarian to use to freshen their breath (besides just brushing their teeth)?

St. Claire's MintsSt. Claire’s Organics is an entire line of compressed sugar sweets in mint, herb, spice and tart flavors. Not only are they suitable for vegans, they’re also wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and fancy-free.

The St. Claire’s Organic’s line of Sweets & Mints aren’t really that attractive out of the tins, but they rather remind me of Brittany Spaniels: All peppy and speckled.

  • Peppermints (tin & box) - much stronger than you’d think, but a darker, less “clean” tasting peppermint than an Altoid, more woodsy.
  • Licorice (tin) - darkly flavored, the molasses and licorice notes blend well. A little sweet, but that’s usually the way real licorice is.
  • Wintermints (tin) - sassy wintergreen flavor, rather like toothpaste. Not super strong, but there’s a lingering tingly feeling on the lips if you eat a lot of them.
  • Spearmints  (tin & box) - nice and round with a good herby taste, fresh.
  • Cocoa Sweets  (box) - I really thought these were going to be lame (like expecting chocolate and getting a Tootsie Roll). The little balls didn’t have the creamy round flavors of chocolate, just a pleasant sweet cocoa taste. By themselves, they were okay, but when eaten with coffee, there were really quite nice.
  • Ginger Sweets (tin) - spicy and woodsy. I really liked crunching on them. They had a nice light burn from the ginger and were well recieved on the whale watching boats. Really spicy, but incredibly addictive.
  • Aromatherapy Pastilles

  • Throat Soother - Slippery Elm may be the active ingredient to sooth achy, stinging throats but it’s the menthol that upstages everything with its strong flavor. Woodsy flavors and cooling effect on the tongue is soothing, but also a bit exciting. I think I still prefer Thayer, but not for efficacy-reasons, just taste. Some people don’t like that sticky-glycerine feeling that Thayer’s has (that’s the soothing, people!) so maybe St. Claire’s is a good alternative.
  • Tummy Soothers - this little guy is what’s been holding up this review. I’ve been heavily boat-testing them. I go whale watching a lot. (In case you didn’t know.) I’ve never taken anything for it except herbals, of course I’ve also had some bad times on boats. This year has been pretty good. A few queasy days on 8-10 foot swells, but no mishaps. The St. Claire’s Tummy Soothers are big pills that looks rather like vitamins. Kind of smells like it too. It’s woodsy with strong molasses, ginger and licorice flavors. It dissolves pleasantly, I usually eat two at a time, tucking one inside each cheek. 
  • image

    St. Claire’s Organics also come in Tarts. How many little candy tarts out there that are organic and free of all those other things? The ones in boxes are little spheres and the ones in the tins are small tablets.

     

  • Raspberry Tarts (tin)  - immediately tart and rather smooth but the raspberry flavor is far too floral, it tastes an awful lot like violet to me. I have no problem with violet as a flavor, but not in my tarts.
  • St. Claire's Tarts

  • Lemon Tarts (tin) - these are super yellow, after being carried around in my bag for a while they discolored the little waxed paper insert. Tart with a good sour bite and zesty note. By far this was a no-compromise organic tart candy.
  • Tangy Tangerine Tarts (box)  - mild and orangey. I didn’t get a lot of tangerine in there and it seemed much sweeter than the others.
  • Grape Tarts  - pretty much one note, not quite the plain malic acid, it’s a mild and tasty “grape” flavor.
  • Green Apple Tarts  - kind of woodsy and a bit like real apple juice with a sharp tanginess.
  • Key Lime Tarts  - the lime here is just too mild, and too much like real lime and not Key lime.
  • Juicy Watermelon Tarts  - excellent round and floral watermelon flavor with a good proportion of sour.
  • Sweet Peach Tarts  - I’ve never been fond of peach flavored things, this isn’t much of an exception.
  • Whew! That was a lot of different flavors! 

    I give the whole line a 7 out of 10 (could be a little zingier), but the winners in my book were the Licorice and Ginger Sweets and I found that I ate all the Lemon Tarts first out of all the tarts, so they get an 8 out of 10. I also really dig the Tummy Soothers and since they have slippery elm in them, I’ll probably use them for aching throats too because I liked the flavor better.

    The little boxes of sweets are great for kids, a very small portion in flavors they’ll respond to. The other great thing about St. Claire’s is that they sell the sweets and tarts in bulk at better than half the price so you can refill your tin (so you could get a really cool little package for your kids to keep refilling). The commitment from St. Claire’s to the environment goes further, with 10% of their profits donated to the Ethno Medicine Preservation Project, which documents medicinal plant traditions with indigenous cultures. The only negatives I have is that I don’t care for the little boxes, I’m not quite sure why, I just don’t respond well to them. They’re hard to reclose securely (I might like a little waxed paper insert or something for extra protection). But the tins are great, simple, easy to open and close (and with a nice saying printed inside the lid). The other negative is even though there’s no gelatin in here, they’re not certified Kosher.

    I see these for sale at Whole Foods, Erewhon and other natural food stores, prices probably vary and of course you can order direct from St. Claire’s Organics.

    Related Candies

    1. VerMints
    2. Altoids Chocolate Dipped Ginger Mints
    3. Anis de Flavigny
    4. SweeTart Hearts
    Name: Mints, Sweets & Tarts
      RATING:
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 3 UNAPPEALING
    • 2 APPALLING
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: St. Claire's Organics
    Place Purchased: samples from St. Claire's
    Price: retail $1 boxes, $3 tins + $4 for aromatherapy
    Size: .48 ounces (box) & 1.5 ounces (tin)
    Calories per ounce: 110
    Categories: Mint, Licorice, Ginger, Sour, United States, Organic

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:30 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

    Comments
    1. Thank you for posting all this wonderful information.  I am gluten free, but my daughter has just been diagnosed with having a barley allergy.  It has been interesting reading candy labels looking for barley malt.

      Sheltie Girl @ Gluten A Go Go

      Comment by Sheltie Girl on 6/13/07 at 1:00 pm #
    2. I just got the tarts and these are the one I liked.

      Raspberry
      Lemon
      Green Apple

      Comment by Rebecca on 1/17/14 at 2:59 pm #

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