Tea of the Week – Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla

Unusually, here is a tea I’ve only been drinking for 3 days:

Dragonfly’s Rooibos Vanilla. I was staying with friends on Thurs/Fri, and they had a box of this stuff, so I tried it … and it’s lovely. Really lovely, and different from other Redbush teas I’ve had (I’ve had Dragonfly’s Rooibos, Dragonfly’s Rooibos Earl Grey, Dragonfly’s Cape Malay Rooibos Chai, and Equal Exchange’s Buchu Honeybush Rooibos). Hence we bought a box of our own whilst out shopping yesterday 🙂

Source: Dragonfly’s Rooibos comes from South Africa. They seem to be becoming quite a commonly-stocked brand; I picked up this tea in a large Tesco, and I’m sure I’ve seen them in Waitrose too. Their list of stockists is here, or you can buy online.

Cost: £2.29 for 40 bags (100g). Doesn’t appear to be available in any other size.

Ethics: Dragonfly invests in the Dragonfly Project Fund, which they’ve set up to preserve culture and traditions in remote parts of South Africa. There’s more about their values here. They say ‘we are members of Fairtrade’ and display the Fairtrade logo on their site, which is a little confusing given only one of their teas is marketed as being Fairtrade (Rooibos Fairtrade Organic). Perhaps they’re in the process of making more teas Fairtrade?

Brewing instructions: Using boiling water, brew for 3-4 minutes. Bonus: as it’s redbush, if you accidentally forget about it and leave it for 10 minutes it’ll probably still taste okay.

<– tea just starting to brew.

Appearance: I had convinced myself that this was slightly less red and slightly more brown than other rooibos teas I’ve had … which was proven to be completely false by a little bit of science:

Above: Rooibos Vanilla, Below: Rooibos Earl Grey (the only other rooibos I had to hand for comparison). Photos with and without flash; nothing to choose between the two colours.

Which makes sense, really.

So, appearance: a dark brown-tinged-red colour. Until you add milk (if you want milk), when it starts looking normal-tea-coloured, like this:

although possibly it looks a tiny bit more pink-y than your bog standard cup of tea. And yes, that is a half-eaten digestive biscuit at the right-hand edge of the photo.

Nose: I tried to convince myself that I could smell the vanilla, but I’m pretty sure that I couldn’t really. It smells … leafy, but not green-leafy. You can tell it’s got some depth to it.

Taste: Without milk: it feels like a standard redbush, but with a vanilla-y aftertaste. It’s not sweet, which surprised me – most other redbush teas I’ve had have felt sweet, or have deliberately had things added to them (e.g. honeybush) to make them sweet, but this somehow tasted robust instead. This surprised me, because I associate vanilla with sweetness, but of course vanilla in and of itself isn’t sweet … the vanilla shows up mostly in the aftertaste and lingers, providing an extra depth of flavour.

With milk: it tastes much more creamy (unexpected – it was skimmed milk I added) and vanilla-y. Adding milk somehow makes the vanilla much more obvious, and upgrades it to part of the ‘main taste’. (As a side note – this is the first redbush I’ve had that I feel really stands up to milk. Admittedly I did drink the Rooibos Chai with milk, but I felt that the milk there mostly defeated the rooibos (but the chai spices came through))

Food match: These lovelies:
That’s a McVities caramel milk chocolate Digestive. One of the best biscuits in the world. The caramel is just at the right stage for a practical biscuit – not too liquid (runs down your fingers and makes things messy) but not too chewy (interferes with actual eating of biscuit). Most of the pleasure of a high-end chocolate biscuit, but at a low price. Gorgeous.

Because the tea itself isn’t sweet, and because its flavours are compatible with standard sweet biscuits / cakes (as opposed to e.g. the flavours of green tea with lemon), this combination works really well. Also, I’m sure you could add sugar to the tea and it would taste great.

What’s the newest tea you’ve encountered? Thoughts on redbush tea in general? Let’s hear it in the comments.

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4 Responses to Tea of the Week – Dragonfly Rooibos Vanilla

  1. Alison says:

    I’ve been drinking redbush tea in the evenings when I need something without caffeine but need the relaxing comfort of a tea-like drink. (I’ve never found a decaffeinated tea that tastes ‘right’ to me, but redbush is meant to taste wrong so that’s fine.) I also have a box of green tea with vanilla at the moment which is very tasty, so I think I would enjoy redbush with vanilla.

  2. Jade says:

    This sounds delicious. I’ve been sleeping badly lately so have been drinking lots of coffee and hardly any tea.

  3. Alison – I totally agree about redbush being ‘supposed’ to taste wrong which makes it right :). It definitely fills still being a tea-like drink (in a way that other herbal teas don’t – I think they’re wonderful drinks but they’re not tea-like somehow).

    Jade – sorry to hear that 😦 hope you manage to start sleeping better soon.

  4. Pingback: Tea Tea Tea … a retrospective | Eudoxia Friday : Thoughtful Eclecticism

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