Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Alys's Tea Party Blend: Rhymes with Orange

Rhymes with Orange is one of my specialty Adagio blends.  I set out to make a fruity but not too sweet decaf tea for icing in the summer.  I didn't quite get around to tasting it in the summer, but such is life.

I accomplished what I was looking for -- it's fruity and flavorable, and can be brewed strong enough to ice without becoming bitter.  It's not an overly sweet orange.  But it is also not a tepid limp orange (Lipton "Gentle Orange" I'm looking at you) and it avoids being too tart or sharp.  It reminds me a lot of the orange/tangerine sauces I get with Chinese food.  It seems to be a fairly popular blend, so I guess other people like fruit that is not overly sweet or tart. 

This tea is also a wonderful base for experimentation.  I think this would blend nicely with some alcohols, and also with non-alcoholic ciders.  I may experiment with adding mulling spices.  I'm defintely going to try blending this tea with one of my chocolate teas and see if it produces a good result.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tea Tasting: Twinings' Buttermint

Twinings has a new herbal tea out called Buttermint.  It's a combination of vanilla and peppermint (no butter).

The aroma is great, minty and smooth like buttermint candies, with a slight hint of sweetness.  The brew itself is not sweet.  It's predominantly peppermint with the vanilla flavor creeping up in the aftertaste.  It's a wonderful comfort brew (I've got a cold coming on, and it's perfect!).   I'm going to try it with honey and maybe some lavender sugar later tonight.

The natural comparison is to my own specialty tea, Marion's Vanilla Mint.  The minty quality in Marion's Vanilla Mint is richer and more complex than in Buttermint, because I used both peppermint and spearmint in the blend.  However, Twinings does a better job integrating the vanilla.

Now that I've got both a box of Buttermint and a half a bag of Marion's Vanilla Mint in the house, I really need to buy some vanilla honey.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Alys's Tea Party Blend: Marion's Vanilla Mint

I finally got around to opening my package of Marion's Vanilla Mint Blend now that the weather has retreated to less oppressive temperatures.  Although the blend didn't come out precisely as I intended, it's very good even so.

The aroma and the taste are both intensely minty.  The combination of peppermint and spearmint creates a rich, full-bodied taste.  Unfortunately, that taste completely overwhelms the vanilla elements.  At most, the vanilla serves as a mellowing element in the aftertaste.

However, I have some lovely vanilla sugar, which brought the vanilla elements to the fore when added.  I expect that a vanilla honey would be equally nice in a hot version of this tea.

This blend ices up spectacularly well.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Alys's Tea Party Blend: Tex Rex Oolong

The Tea Rex Oolong blend is one of my custom blends, made 60/40 almond and peach oolong.   I'm pleased to report that, if you like these two flavors (and I do), the Tea Rex blend is delightful.  The flavor and aroma display more almond, as you'd expect from the proportions.  The peach insinuates itself in the aftertaste, joining in with the almond as a sweet note.  (If you chug the brew, you'll almost never notice the peach.)

Tea Rex ices very well, as it was intended to.  A tiny bit of sweetener heightens the peach elements nicely.   When the weather is less oppressively warm and humid, I'll try this blend hot.  I'm sure I'll like it though.  After all, I made it.  :-)

When brewing an oolong tea, keep in mind that you shouldn't bring the water to full boil.  I find that 180 degrees F is about right. Steeping time is 1-5 minutes.   Oolong is more forgiving than white tea if you over-heat or over-steep it, but it won't present at its best.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Fruity Summer Iced Teas

Now that summer weather has arrived, I have some suggestions for tasty, fruity iced teas that don't require sugar or other sweetener.

Harney & Sons Raspberry Herbal comes not only in individual sachets and loose tea packages, but  in large bags sized for making 2 quarts of iced tea.  For those who don't like hibiscus, this tea has hibiscus as its first ingredient, but it isn't very noticeable in the flavor.  The longer you steep the tisane, the more intense the flavor.

Adagio Blood Orange Herbal  provides an iced tea brew that is slightly sweet but also tart and tasty.  For iced tea, I let the tisane steep for 10 minutes.

Adagio Berry Blast Herbal is smoother and sweeter than the Blood Orange brew.  Again, I recommend a 8-10 minute brewing time to get the most out of the tisane.

If you can find it, Taylors of Harrogate's Blackberry and Elderflower herbal makes a simply amazing iced tea with a unique combination of flavors.  It seems to have been discontinued, but I was able to buy a box fairly recently, so there are still boxes in circulation.  I used 6 tea bags for 2 quarts of iced tea.  I'm going to be sad when I use up this box.

Blackberry and Elderflower has been replaced by Blackberry and Raspberry, but I haven't yet had occasion to try that.

If you want some caffeine in your iced tea, I highly recommend Republic of Tea's Raspberry Quince.  It's very slightly sweet but different enough from an ordinary raspberry tea.

Republic of Tea has come out with several blends in large pouches for making iced tea.  I've yet to try them, so no recommendations yet!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Alys's Tea Party Blend: Bitty Battle Bard Brew

I haven't had the chance to order and try this one myself, but +Mia Petticord , aka Bitty Battle Bard, sampled her own brew today and was quite pleased with it:

"So my tea came in today and I'm super happy with it. It tastes...cozy is the best word I've got. It tastes like maple oatmeal, and hot chocolate, and an after taste that reminds me of good porter. This is a Good Thing (even though I can see how all those flavors could go Very Wrong together). It's got a rich mouth feel even without cream or milk and just kind of melts into the kind of feeling of having just had oatmeal instead of a cloying weird after feel."

I'm delighted that she's pleased with it.   So far I have way more hits than misses in making blends for my friends, which makes me happy.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tea Tasting: Tea Forte's Mojito Marmalade

Because I hate rooibos (as you all know by now), I managed to wrangle a guest reviewer into tasting Tea Forte's Mojito Marmalade tisane.  +Mabel Fortune  says:

"I rather enjoyed it.  It's predominantly mint, with a hint of other flavor that I can't quite identify.  It doesn't distinctly taste of orange or of rooibos -- the combination of the two makes it difficult to describe.  It kind of is like a warm mojito with a hint of a citrusy king of flavor.  It didn't wow me, but it wasn't bad at all."