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Tea of the Week for January 21, 2019: Licorice Rocky Black Tea!

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 Licorice Rocky Black Tea!

Tea Description: This tea is inspired by an old fashioned British candy that I ordered from Handy Candy. It was absolutely my favorite candy from my Handy Candy haul - what can I say? I adore black licorice! I loved the Licorice Rockies so much that the small amount I ordered from Handy Candy disappeared very quickly & I was immediately online searching for a more local source for the sweets (read: something that would be shipped from the US so that I could get it faster than the 3 + weeks it took to get it shipped to me from the UK). 

These candies look like short black licorice ropes (the thick kind, not the strings) on the outside but inside there's a pastel colored fruity cream. This sweet, fruity, creamy filling cuts the sharp bite of the licorice - so you get the sweet & salty, anise-y flavor of the licorice without the strong bitterness of it. There's still just a hint of licorice bitterness - but it's been softened - smoothed out - by the notes of cream & fruit. From the filling, I got a strong creamy note with light fruitiness. I tasted raspberry mostly - so that's the fruit I focused on - but the fruit flavor was very light with the candy - the strong notes of the licorice & the cream gave the fruity notes a flavor that reminded me a bit of the color of the cream - very light ... very pastel ... a very softly flavored note that seemed to do more to soften the licorice than to really provide a forward flavor for itself.

To craft my Licorice Rocky tea interpretation, I started with a base of black teas (Assam, Yunnan & Ceylon) & added licorice root, marshmallow root & vanilla bean for the creaminess & a bunch of raspberries. 

As I sit here, sipping this tea, I am happy to say that I managed to capture the flavors of the Licorice Rockies in this tea quite well. The licorice root stands out - but it isn't sharp or bitter. It's actually quite smooth thanks to the notes of vanilla, raspberry & the marshmallow root. So you get a smooth, creamy anise/licorice note with just a hint of raspberry. This is so YUMMY! It's also organic, VEGAN, gluten free & allergen free!

organic ingredients: black teas, raspberries, licorice root, marshmallow root, vanilla bean & natural flavors

Guess what, tea lovers? I have found a new fave! Yes, I have many & perhaps the fact that I do have many favorites - it sort of negates the definition of "favorite". But oh well - tis a burden that comes with the job. 

As I've mentioned previously - I ordered several different candies from Handy Candy (an online candy shop based in the UK that features old fashioned British candies) to do research on old fashioned British candies for this month's theme. When I was choosing which candies I'd order (again, for research, you understand) I tried to select candies that seemed unique - something that didn't resemble the candies I remembered as a child. So I tried a lot of new-to-me candies - & this one was my absolute favorite in the bunch. It was love at first taste & I knew after tasting my first piece that I had to create a tea inspired by the candy. 

This tea is so yummy! It has the licorice flavor - but it is smoothed out by both the marshmallow root & vanilla bean. The fruity notes of the raspberry are soft - & I'm sure that I'll probably read some comments that take issue with that - but it was intentional. When I indulge in licorice rockies (yes, I did find a US source for them!) I taste mere hints of raspberry. It's soft - it's subtle - it's barely there. It's just enough to enliven the palate with the sweet-tart fruity tones which - in my opinion - makes this candy stand out. Usually, candy is sweet - just sweet & sometimes a little tart or sour. Rarely do I come across a candy that is not just sweet, but also tart & tangy, a little salty, a little spicy with just a hint of bitterness. The Licorice Rockies do just that & I feel that this tea achieves that as well. 

On a somewhat irrelevant note, I recently read an article online that said (& I'm totally paraphrasing here) that black licorice tastes like saccharine. They compared how those that like black licorice also like saccharine because of the similarities. I don't get that at all. I hate, HATE, hate saccharine. I love, LOVE, love black licorice. Perhaps I'm an exception to this idea - but I've always loved black licorice & always disliked saccharine. 

This tea - so yum!

to brew: give the tea a shake to reincorporate the ingredients. Remember, there are vanilla beans in this & they often sift to the bottom of the pouch - so give it a shake to make sure some of those tiny beans are in your measurement! use 3g of tea to 12 ounces of near boiling water (205°F - very important here! I find that when you use fully boiling water with the spices - in this case, licorice root & marshmallow root - the resulting tea ends up a bit more bitter/astringent. A near boil - but not a full boil - will soften that bitter, astringent edge a bit.) steep for 2 1/2 minutes, strain & allow to cool for 5 - 10 minutes. enjoy!

This tea is one of those that becomes a totally different drink with the addition of a little sugar. Without sugar, it has less of a candy-like flavor & since the inspiration behind this month's teas is a Retro Candy Shop - a wee bit of sugar will help bring that theme into focus. It doesn't require sweetener but the addition does help this taste more like the candy that inspired it.

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