Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Red Dragon Pearl from Teas, Etc

Scent in package: Malty, sweet, with a hint of alfalfa
Brewed in: glass teapot
Steeped: 4.5 min. @ boiling
Cup: Stoneware teacup

Teas, Etc has a knack for sending me samples of extraordinary teas with my orders. They're either really lucky, or they really pay good attention to the tastes of their customers - I prefer to think it's the later. Whatever the impetus, they've done it again. This tea knocked my socks off, if you'll forgive the cliché.

I knew it was going to be good the minute I opened the sample pack. Not only is the scent intoxicating with it's malty depth, but the little golden tippy pearls are intriguing in their appearance. After I set the tea to brew, I got the idea to use our new camera to capture some of the dance of the leaves in the pot. Unfortunately, the video was too large for my flash drive, and my connection at home is slower than molasses, so I can’t share it with you. But hopefully an upgrade in internet connectivity next month will fix that little problem. You’ll just have to take my word for it – the unfurling of those little pearls was beautiful and relaxing to watch. Since I was so busy playing with the video, I didn't manage to get a picture of the leaves steeping (permission to virtually slap me granted).
The brew isn't as highly fragranced, though that sweet malty/raisin smell still wafts gently off the dark, clear soup. The texture is lighter than I'd expected from the's thin, but not unpleasantly so.

The taste is sweet, with a surprising hint of smokiness behind the alfalfa at first, then it gives way to the raisin malt flavor that I was looking forward to from the scent. The finish is a bit drying, but not at all bitter, and that raisin-like sweetness remains on the tongue.

This tea isn't as "deep" or as intricate as some, but it is truly a lovely cup, with a little of everything I love in a black tea. The tightly rolled pearls unfurl into long, skinny leaves, adding interest and wonder to the whole brewing process.

I'd highly recommend this tea, not just for yourself, but for sharing with company as well. And the perfect finishing touch would be a warm cinnamon roll, or oatmeal-raisin cookies. I can't imagine a better pairing for this particular cup. It’s not inexpensive, and 3oz. will set you back around $10, but in my opinion, it’s completely worth it. You’ll find it listed with the Black teas on the Teas,Etc. web site (linked to the left). I'll be ordering a bigger batch for myself right around payday!

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