It’s tea time! It looks like this is the first tea review on this blog. Finally 🙂 I was supposed to be writing a lot more and a lot faster, but things happen, procrastination wins, etc, etc, etc.
This is an unusual Trader Joe (TJ) tea that came out at during the summer 2016 Mango Madness. It is packaged in a tea tin, instead of the usual cardboard box. The tea is stored in tea pyramids instead of tea bags. It has three ingredients, all three organic, and all three from Sri Lanka: flowery broken orange pekoe tea, dried mango, and dried chile (the spiciness).
Instructions say 5-7 minutes but you can customize it depending on how much water you use, how long you brew it, and whether you want the first cup to be more or less spicy.
The twenty pyramid bags are sealed together in a clear bag. This keeps the inside of the shiny tin clean, making it easier to reuse and repurpose after you finish the tea. It has a reasonable seal considering it’s a basic tea tin. Definitely not as solid of a seal as the original Peet’s tea tins (#bringTheOldPeetsBack).
Sorry I couldn’t get a good picture of the tea pyramid, with or without flash. This is the least-horrible of the bunch:
This is the tea liberated, sitting in a 100mL (3.5oz) gaiwan.
And here’s the tea getting a heavy dose of flash to bring out some details not visible in previous pictures:
Wet leaves, sitting in the aforementioned gaiwan:
Here are they are again, this time sitting in a small tea cup – around 0.5oz (15 mL)
Other things equal, you can get two Western-style brewing sessions out of this. Most of the spiciness and mango flavor will obviously be in the first brew. This tastes as promised. You get a hit of chile, and some mango flavor along with the mild black tea. This is nicer iced, but it’s not bad hot either. If you are medium spiciness tolerant (not sure how to measure spiciness objectively), this will feel about the right amount of spiciness, countering the undercurrent sweetness of the mango.
Given the price of $3.50 (if I recall correctly; I haven’t seen in their stores recently, may be a seasonal item), and the fact that you get to keep the shiny reusable tin, and pyramids instead of flat tea bags, an unusual flavor compared to the rest of the TJ inventory, and that everything is organic, and it only has three ingredients, this is a bang for the buck tea.
It was a fun experiment brewing this tea gaiwan-style. It is not really intended to be brewed so. And the results verified this. With gaiwan-brewing, the spiciness and flavor comes out much faster, and after the first couple of steeps (depending on parameters), it becomes a Sri Lanka black tea. This may be of interest if you are brewing for two people, one loves spiciness, the other does not 🙂
This does not get bitter, but it does not last as long as other gaiwan-priority teas either. You also don’t get the different layers you would get with full loose leaf that is meant to be drunk gaiwan-style. This is not a surprise.
As you can see in the two tea cup pictures above and below, there is a difference in the color of subsequent brews.