I was having a bit of a tidy-up yesterday afternoon and happened across a tea collection I’d forgotten I had.
It was a set of 6 small 20g tins containing “Famous Teas Of China”, or whatever the text on the outside of the packaging read, – Pu-erh, Oolong, Jasmine, Green, Black Lychee, and Black Rose.
I bought it in a moment of weakness. I’d gone to one of my favourite Asian supermarkets hoping to acquire some Pu-erh, but they were out of it. I have a thing about leaving shops without buying anything, and so, panicking somewhat, plucked this item off a nearby shelf. My reasoning was that even if the tea was horrible it didn’t exactly cost the earth, and the tins were kind of nice and would probably come in useful in the future.
As luck would have it, the teas themselves were actually quite drinkable. The green and the Oolong tided me over when my main supplies temporarily ran out, and the Pu-erh was used in the seasoning of a Yixing clay teapot.
I hadn’t tried any of the others, because the collection was pushed to the back of the tea drawer by subsequent purchases and promptly forgotten about.
I decided to give the Black Rose a try. Seeing as many cheaper flavoured teas often enhance their taste profiles by the addition of artificial flavourings, I was slightly less than confidant that this tea would be anything other than just OK at best.
I steeped it Western style, in a 500ml teapot, with 3 level teaspoons of tea in a large paper filter bag. The first infusion was 2 minutes.
The verdict? Not too bad at all. The tea liquor was a nice red colour, and not overpoweringly astringent, instead having a pleasing, slightly bitter note that worked surprisingly well with the sweet, rose taste. The rose flavour was not chemical-tasting at all, nor overpowering.
By this time I was getting somewhat peckish, and decided to treat myself to a wee snack. It came as a very pleasant surprise to me when I read in one of his books that American tea-sage James Norwood Pratt was rather partial to cashews and medjool dates with his tea, just as I myself was.
Nothing fancy at all, really, just a mere handful of raw, unsalted cashews and four de-pitted Medjools in a small bowl. Medjools are wonderful, nature’s own toffees.
Not wanting to push my luck, I decided against attempting further steepings of the tea. Quit while you’re ahead, and all that.
I was only recently discussing with a fellow blogger that I kind of put myself off flavoured teas thanks to a prolonged period where I drank Jasmine tea at every opportunity until I was thoroughly sick of it! That said, the Black Rose made a pleasant enough change from my usual daily cycle of green-oolong-puerh.
I might have to reconsider my position regarding flavoured teas, maybe even invest in a small quantity of a better quality rose tea.
Not Jasmine, though. Not yet.