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Featured Reblend for June 2019: Cotton Candy Black Tea!

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 Cotton Candy Black Tea!

Tea Description: Frank originally crafted this tea back in the summer of 2012, and I thought it made a delightfully different summertime tea because I tend to radiate toward fruitier flavors for iced tea brewing - which is the majority of my tea drinking in the summer. I do drink hot tea occasionally, usually early in the morning or later at night when it's cooler - because when it's hot . . . it's just too hot to drink hot tea. So you may notice that most of the teas that I tend to create this time of year tend to be those that are very 'iced tea' friendly.

And this one is definitely iced tea friendly!

Frank's original description went like this:

"This week’s tea of the week is a real gem. I am enjoying a big icy stein of it as I write this. I’m sure it’s good hot too, but as an iced tea, it’s amazing. A friend of the family is over visiting and he insists it’s “like a carnival in your mouth.”

It does taste a bit 'like a carnival in your mouth'. It's sweet and tastes so much like cotton candy that if I didn't know better, I'd think someone stuffed my cup full of cotton candy and then poured hot black tea over it (because even though I tend to prefer iced teas in the summer, when I conduct the taste test for the tea, I taste it hot before I brew it for iced tea - which these days means cold-brewing!) 

I did tweak the recipe slightly from Frank's 2012 version - which was the debut of his (at the time) "new" black tea blend. Instead of using a tea blend for this, I went with a single estate Ceylon. Specifically, the Petiagala estate organic OP Ceylon). For those of you who have been drinking my tea for a while now, you might recognize this particular single estate tea as the one that I utilized for the Bananas! Black tea blend -which I happened to search out specifically for the Bananas! tea . . . because that's what Frank used in his original batch of the Bananas! tea. I really liked how well that tea complimented the banana flavor - and I hoped that it would do the same kind of thing for the cotton candy. I also tweaked it a bit by adding vegan, gluten-free/allergen-free sprinkles. (Note, the sprinkles do contain coconut oil!) 

And it works remarkably well - if I do say so myself! If you don't want to take my word for it though, you can order some and try it for yourself!

Oh - and as always, this tea IS gluten-free, allergen-free, VEGAN & organic! 

ingredients: sprinkles (Sugar, Potato Starch, Maltodextrin, Coconut Oil, Spirulina, Natural Colors & Glazing)

organic ingredients: single estate black tea, petals (cornflower & amaranth) & natural flavors

YES! I am so glad to have this tea in my teacup again! 

I fell in love with it back in 2012 when Frank first blended it. I loved it when Frank turned it into an iced tea as part of his Southern Boy Teas line and I drank it pretty frequently during the summer months. And . . . I love it now as I am sipping it. In fact, I think I might like it MORE now - if for no other reason than the Petiagala base. 

What's especially nice about this tea inspired by cotton candy is that even though it has a sweet, cotton-candy note to it - it isn't nearly as sweet as a mouthful of cotton candy thanks to the tea. It isn't quite as dry as a mouthful of cotton candy can be. So I think it is better to have a tea that tastes like cotton candy than it would be to have a cotton candy that tastes like tea - although I certainly wouldn't turn down the cotton candy if it was offered to me.

Confession time: the first time I brewed this for the taste test, I oversteeped. I can't say by how much because I goofed up and didn't time it. I meant to time it and I even thought I had set the timer. I actually am pretty certain that I attempted to set the timer, but we have a new stove and with it comes a different type of timer than what we had before - so I'm still learning the timer part of the appliance. So while I did "set" it (or so I thought) - I apparently did not set it correctly. So I set off to do another thing and as I'm doing the thing - I remember that . . . hey! I am steeping tea! I look at the stove and it is clearly NOT counting down the seconds to tea time. So I knew I flubbed it up somehow. 

And in tasting it, I knew that I had oversteeped because it was a little on the bitter and astringent side . . . so, I started over - steeped again - and the second time, I managed to set the timer correctly. All that is to say - be careful NOT to oversteep it as it will get slightly bitter and astringent if you do so.

So with that, here are my brewing suggestions: you don't really need to give this pouch a gentle shake, as the only ingredients other than the flavored tea are pretty petals and whimsical heart shaped sprinkles (why sprinkles? why not? if you're going to put sprinkles in a tea, it should be one like this - you know - a sweet, candy-inspired tea.) 

anyway - start with a measurement of 3g of tea leaf to 12 ounces of nearly boiling water (I heat it to 205°F - which is nearly boiling but not quite boiling. boiling is 212°F. does the 6° really make all that much difference? not really a lot, but here's what I've noticed: when I steep a black tea at 212°F the tea tastes a little more astringent than it does when I steep the same tea at 205°F with all other factors remaining consistent - ie: brew time, tea measurement, etc. for this reason, I choose to steep at 205°F rather than the traditional 'boiling point' of 212°F. I still get full flavor of the tea at 205°F - just not as much astringency. and I like it like that.

steep for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes. strain and enjoy!

You don't really need to sweeten this tea. The tiny heart sprinkles do add just a teensy bit of sweetness to the cup - but only a teensy bit and I don't know if any but the most sensitive of palates would even notice the sweetness from the sprinkles. They're there for fun more than they are for any other thing. All that said, a teensy bit (more) of sweetener will make this taste more like the candy that inspired it. Don't go overboard with the sweetener though, or it might be too sweet. Taste it first, and then add to your liking, if you so desire.

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