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Tea of the Week for April 9, 2018: Kumquat Cucumber Chutney Black Tea!

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 Kumquat Cucumber Chutney Black Tea!

Tea Description:  This blend was inspired by a past episode of Top Chef - Mat and I have been binge-watching some old seasons of the show - and one of the contestants created a dish that had kumquat, orange, cucumber and chili peppers. I think that it was a cucumber salad with a dressing made of kumquat, orange and chili peppers, but I'm not sure. I just remembered these four ingredients - and a lightbulb went off in my head and I decided that I should try these flavors in a tea. 

I started with a blend of organic black teas - a malty Assam, a rich Yunnan and a smooth Ceylon - and added cucumbers, oranges and kumquat essence. To this, I chopped up some dried, organic cayenne peppers.

This tea is a fantastic juxtaposition of flavors: it's sweet, it's savory, it's tart, it's spicy... and with all these interesting contrasts, a balance is achieved. The black tea base is solid. A truly lovely tea!

organic ingredients: black teas, cucumbers, cayenne peppers, oranges & natural flavors

Wowza! I'm so happy that lightbulb went off in my head when it did because I'm loving this cuppa! A little spicy - yes - but not so spicy that it's uncomfortable to drink. The heat from the peppers are nicely countered by the sweetness of the fruit (did you know that technically, a cucumber is a fruit? At least, that's what I've read on the internet. And you know that everything that you read on the internet is truth! haha!) 

There's so much flavor going on here - but it comes together in a delightfully balanced way. The black tea has a rich, rewarding flavor to it - it's got some strength to it but not so strong that it tries to overpower the balance that's been achieved with this unique combination of tastes. 

My first few sips, I confess that there was barely any heat there at all (except for the heat coming from the temperature of the tea), but now that I've taken a few sips, the heat is developing. It started as this tiny little itch at the back of the throat but it quickly spread it's warmth and now my throat is pleasantly warm and the back of my tongue is also getting some of that heat. But even though things are getting *warm* - it's not unpleasant. It's not uncomfortable. It's also not interfering with the other flavors I'm enjoying here: I still taste black tea, kumquat, cucumber and orange. 

This is a tea that seems to keep getting better and better with each sip! I'm loving this!

to brew: this is one that you MUST give a good shake (or - maybe even pour the contents of the pouch out into a clean bowl, stir it, measure it and then put the remaining tea leaves back into the pouch!) because the heat of this tea comes from the bits of cayenne pepper in it and to get that heat, you need some of the cayenne pepper bits in the measurement! 

Measure out 3g of tea to 12 ounces of near boiling water (205°F) and let it steep for 3 minutes. You can play around with the time a little if you want - I found that 3 minutes brewed the perfect cup for me. You don't want to steep it too long because the Assam in this blend will leave you with a bitter brew if you oversteep. 

Strain and let the cup cool for at least 5 minutes, for best flavor, I'd let it cool for at least 10. Sip and enjoy! 

This is one that I like with just a teensy bit of sweetener - I chose a raw honey for this - because it added another dimension of flavor to the already complex cuppa. But you don't really need much of it - just a drizzle. It's great without sweetener if you prefer your teas unsweetened, but I found the little bit of honey complemented both the sweeter notes of the fruit as well as the spicy tones of the chili peppers.

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