Source: Bought from Tea Palace (and in fact from their shop in Covent Garden). The tea is a Chinese Yunnan, which isn’t something I’ve come across before (or perhaps I have but it was just labeled ‘Chinese’).
Cost: From £12.50 for a 175g caddy, via £8.50 for a 100g caddy, down to £3.75 for a sample caddy, which is this size:
For the 175g/100g sizes you can buy in a cardboard carton instead of a tin, which makes the prices £11.25/£7.50.
Ethics: Well, since last time I have contacted them and asked about their ethical policies … but no reply. So still – so far as I can tell – no information.
Brewing instructions: The sample tins don’t have any instructions on the back, so I guessed at brewing for 3 minutes with boiling water and it worked rather well. I suspect slightly longer would also work (checking their website, they suggest 4 minutes). As the Yunnan tea is quite light, I think you can have a reasonably long brewing time without ‘stewing’ the tea – presumably this is what makes it a good black tea to blend with herbal teas (as herbal teas generally need longer brewing times).
Nose: When dry, the overpowering scent is of peppermint. When brewed, words that come to mind are: warm, light, darjeeling-y?, sweet, slightly earthy, caramelly.
(the darjeeling-y was before I had looked up what kind of tea it was – I guess they might be similar as they’re both lightish black teas).
Taste: This is a really interesting tea, as it feels like a cross between black tea and herbal tea – unsurprisingly, as that’s what it is. But you wouldn’t expect it to work … and somehow it does. I think the key is in picking a Chinese tea (can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that before looking it up) rather than an Indian one, and in using both peppermint and blue cornflowers. The peppermint mediates between the cornflowers and the black tea, and the cornflowers add a touch of sweetness which blends the peppermint and the black tea.
You really taste everything in here – it’s a light black tea, but with a clean, crisp aftertaste from the peppermint – and just a hint of sweetness (NB: please do NOT drink this with milk – it’ll just obliterate all of the flavours). It’s a very refreshing tea (and that’s something I wouldn’t normally say of black teas).
Food match: As this is a pretty unusual combination of flavours, I think it’d be hard to match with food … although if I was pushed, I’d suggest something lemony – perhaps thin lemon shortbread biscuits? Or very light lemon fairy cakes. I imagine that the citrus would mirror the tone that the peppermint provides, rather than fighting with it.
Tea Palace suggest this is a great after-dinner tea, and I would certainly agree with them. It’s light enough to drink even if you’re feeling extremely well fed, and also feels cleansing. Perfect.
(Now I’m off to go and make Jamie’s lentil and spinach soup – that’s what the cherry tomatoes were really for … leave me a comment if you’ve got anything to say! :))