Tea of the Week for October 28, 2019: Blue Star Black Tea!
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Blue Star Black Tea
Our Fourth Tea from our "I Love The Pacific Northwest" Collection!
Tea Description: Portland is the home of Blue Star Donuts - which is the home of the best donuts I've ever tried. Yes, Portland is also the home of Voodoo Donuts, but they can't compare to Blue Star. Oh, sure, Voodoo Donuts makes their donuts into some rather interesting shapes that are for adult eyes only - but Blue Star makes donuts for the adult taste buds with their unique flavor combinations. I must admit that I have several favorite go-to flavors when I visit Blue Star donuts and because of this, I need to keep the visits to the minimum.
One of my favorite flavor combinations is a cake donut with a passion fruit & cayenne pepper icing which is then sprinkled with cacao nibs. It's sweet & tart with just a hint of spice. The dark chocolate crunch of the cacao nibs add a nice texture & flavor. It's really unlike any donut I've ever tasted.
So I decided to create a tea inspired by this donut flavor. Now, mind you, this IS NOT a donut flavored tea. This tea is inspired by the flavor combinations of this particular donut: passion fruit, cacao nibs & cayenne pepper - but does not have any actual donut/bready/dough-y type of flavor to it. To craft this blend, I started with our blend of organic black teas: Assam, Ceylon & Yunnan. Then I added cacao nibs & some cacao shells (because I love them!) & just a few dried, minced cayenne peppers. I didn't add a lot of cayenne peppers, I just wanted enough to perk up the taste buds, but not enough to set 'em on fire.
Then I added some passion fruit essence & some freeze-dried passion fruit powder. The last time I did a passion fruit blend, I used air-dried passion fruit & quite frankly, it turned out to be a very sticky, messy endeavor - one that left me wondering if it was worth it for a few bits of passion fruit to show up in the blend. So instead, I decided to try out the passion fruit powder because: a) less mess, b) intense flavor, and c) did I mention less mess?
So that is to say that you can't really see the passion fruit in this because the powder has since sort of dissolved & infused itself onto the leaves - but you CAN taste it. It is distinctly passion fruit-y that is not so different from the distinctly passion fruit-y icing that you'd get on one of those aforementioned donuts. The only real difference here is that it isn't quite as sweet as the icing because I didn't add sugar to the blend - but I suppose you could if you want it sweeter.
It's truly a tasty cup. A black tea backdrop with a forward sweet-tart passion fruit flavor. In contrast, the cayenne is super subtle - but that gentle burn is there. The cacao softens the passion fruit notes a bit. And here is where the flavor differs a bit from the actual donut flavors, because with the donut, the cacao nibs are like "sprinkles" on the donut & you get more crunch from the nibs than you do actual chocolate flavor. Here, you're not getting "crunch" - because it's a tea - but you get a really nice, smooth cacao note that adds some depth to the cup - and balances it out a bit so that it's not all about the passion fruit.
So for those of you who were hoping for a tea version of the donut - this isn't that. I wasn't going for that. I wanted something that would celebrate some of the flavors that I experience when I visit Blue Star Donuts. And I've definitely accomplished that! Oh yeah - and this is also organic, VEGAN, gluten-free & allergen free!
organic ingredients: black teas, passion fruit powder, cacao nibs & shells, cayenne peppers & natural flavors
I'll be honest - I had so many doubts when I was blending this & those doubts seemed to multiply each day that passed as I waited for the blend to cure. I was not sure how the passion fruit powder would work out since this was my first time using it. I was not sure about not making this a donut flavored tea but I really wanted to focus the flavor of the passion fruit & I believe that when you go for too many flavors into one tea, it ends up tasting more like a muddied mess of a tea than a thoughtful balance of flavors.
So, I was excited & anxious to try it after it's curing period & I'm so happy to report that this turned out even better than I expected it to. The passion fruit is a very strong flavor. It's sweet & tart & I love that little contrast of spice that I'm getting from the cayenne pepper. The cacao is barely there - but when you're eating the donut, it's not really a chocolate-y donut, not by any means. There's just a 'nibble' of cacao from the crunchy nibs. Since I can't make a crunchy texture in a tea (that might be a little weird, actually) instead, there's just this subtle little cacao note when you sip. It sort of weaves its way in & out of the sip. Overall, a very wonderful tea creation! All that worry was for naught!
This is really good hot - but it's also rather wonderful iced!
to brew: this one might be a little sticky when you first open the pouch because of the passion fruit powder that was used to craft the blend - which has 'dissolved' and become fused onto the leaves themselves. So to measure this out, I recommend using the back end of your teaspoon & stir the blend up a bit to gently 'encourage' the leaves to separate. Then reseal the pouch, turn it upside down & give it a gentle shake. Turn it back right side up & measure out about 3g of tea leaves to 12 ounces of nearly boiling water (205°F) & steep for 3 minutes. strain & allow to cool for 10 minutes or so. enjoy!
This blend does not need sweetener of any kind - but after adding a teensy bit of sugar, I noticed the cayenne pepper popped out just a bit more than it had in my first cup.