Hello, wonderful readers! Hope the holidays have treated you splendidly and that you are having a lovely new year thus far. I spent the last four days freezing my eyebrows off in Chicago! Had a ton of fun though, despite the cold. 🙂 Still, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be back home again, break into my stash once more, and sit down to write about some great tea.
Just before Christmas, the lovely folks at Tippy’s Tea sent me a very generous variety pack filled with all sorts of samples of their blends- I’m overjoyed to say this will be my first of many reviews of their teas. As some as you may know, I am on the perpetual hunt for flavored teas of high quality, and as this concept is at the core of Tippy’s product philosophy.. I basically feel like they’re my spirit animal in tea company form.
Just opening the package of Raspberry Cocoa is a delight- the smell of the dry leaves alone is enough to begin to fight back against the bitter winter blues. The scent of ripe raspberries and a soft hint of cocoa float up from the packaging, along with a refreshing leafy smell- the combined aroma sends me right back to sticking my face in the raspberry bush growing outside my childhood home as I used to hunt for fresh berries in the summertime. YUM!
As usual, I am using my gaiwan-style teapot, which holds just shy of 200mL of water at one time. Two tablespoons of this tea is just about enough to fill one half of the steeping basket once the leaves are fully expanded. My first steep lasted ~40 seconds, during which the brew instantly adopted a beautiful deep crimson color.
In taking my first sip, I was immediately struck by the tart taste of raspberry flavor- it was almost like biting into a real berry! Somehow, Tippy’s has managed to capture the real flavoring of a raspberry without using any fruit pieces in their tea- not just the vaguely sweet, dull suggestion of raspberry that a lot of companies will use in their products. This tea actually has some authentic zing to it! Hints of cocoa round out the flavor profile, ending the sip with a sweet and savory aftertaste that will linger until your next one.
My second steep was ~60 seconds: one must be careful during subsequent steeps of this tea as the leaves seem to like to stay mostly at the bottom of the basket at this point, resulting in a potentially bitter brew. I realized this a little too late, and though I mixed up the leaves and ended the steep soon after, I was left with a much stronger brew than I anticipated. The flavor profile of the tea changed drastically- the raspberry flavor now took a backseat to the now much more powerful cocoa notes with a bitter aftertaste. The raspberry was now an accent, with the cocoa and astringency of the assam/keemun blend becoming far more dominant. While this is quite possibly something a lot of drinkers may find desirable in their brews, my primary interest is in balancing out both the chocolate and raspberry with minimal bitterness: I elected for my next steep to drop back down to ~40 seconds.
The third time was the charm! After letting the leaves steep for 40 seconds, monitoring them closely and mixing them with a spoon, the resulting brew was easily the one I enjoyed the most of the three. The flavors of all the elements of this tea were admittedly weaker than before, but none of the tasting notes were in competition with one another for dominance this time. This was exactly the cup of tea I wanted from the onset: a blend of black teas whose unique characteristics I could identify and enjoy on their own, with the comforting tastes of raspberries and cocoa as friendly accompaniments. Had I not made the mistake of oversteeping the 2nd brew, I’m sure this tea could have produced four strong steepings, and I think that is a huge accomplishment for a flavored tea. Definitely looking forward to ordering a batch of this blend for myself in the future. 🙂 Great stuff!
Check out Tippy’s store here: http://tippystea.com/