Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Starry Night from Art of Tea

Scent in package: Vanilla. Pure, lovely vanilla, with a little assam/malt scent to compliment.
Brewed in: Small glass teapot (last night), unbleached filter bag (this morning).
Steeped: 6 minutes@ just under boiling, 5 min.@ boiling
Cup: Clear glass mug, café cup.

I’ve been waiting to review this particular tea, mostly because it has little white tea stars in it, and I wanted to see them when they were brewed, which is a difficult endeavor at work. So last night, I finally brewed it up at home and wrote down my tasting notes to post this morning. And I even took pictures! I’ll have to do that more often, I think, since it worked pretty well. As you may have noticed, I’m drinking it here at work this morning, so the short version is, two thumbs up for this tea.

I was a bit nervous at first to brew this tea. After my experience with the Tsar’s Blend (also a white/black blend), I was sure I didn’t want to use boiling water, but at the same time, a good assam brew does best with it, and the amount of white tea in the blend is negligible. So I poured the water at just below boiling, and crossed my fingers.

As you can see, the brew turned a very lovely golden color, though unfortunately I couldn't see the stars as it brewed…they kind of melted into the black tea as I poured the water into the infuser. I over brewed by a minute last night, trying to get pictures, but while it was the tiniest bit bitter, it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the tea. The spent leaves are nothing to write home about…small cut bits mixed with those two white tea stars that threatened to fall apart once brewed.

The liquor is a very nice texture in the mouth – thick, but not too thick, and the vanilla flavor is just heavenly. The scent is wonderful too. The assam is merely a backdrop, but did it’s job well, and the malty taste does come through the vanilla in a very balanced blend. The tea is sweet…almost like I’d added a small amount of sugar, so I’m not sure if the flavoring was pre-sweetened or if the vanilla just made it seem sweeter. In any case, it was a very nice cup to curl up in bed with to finish the mystery novel I was reading last night, and a very pleasing cup to start the morning with as well. I did brew it with boiling water this morning, and honestly, I prefer it brewed just below boiling as it tasted last night. It’s a bit sharper brewed at boiling.
It’s very smooth and soothing, and perfect to relax with.

So I’d absolutely recommend this tea for anyone who likes flavored teas. You’ll find it in the Custom Blends section of the Art of Tea web site, and you can get 2oz. for $6.00…not too bad for vanilla, assam and white tea.

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