Tea of the Week for September 14, 2015: Smoky Spice
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Product Description: This tea actually began as my Masterpiece Chai. While I was blending the spices, I toasted my cumin and I think either the cumin was especially fresh (not a bad thing at all) or I used too much cumin (much more likely) but the resulting blend ended up tasting strongly of smoky cumin. So I decided to add some Lapsang Souchong to amplify the smoky notes and create a Smoky Spice blend. This is a chai with a pleasant smoky tone - it's not overly smoky - which is fine with me because I'm not a huge fan of a strong smoky essence. This has just the right level of smoke with a pleasant spicy note that isn't too spicy, and it's a little sweet and a little savory. It's really nice.
All Organic Ingredients:Black Teas, Honeybush, Secret Blend of Spices, Vanilla Bean & All-Natural Flavors.
As I mentioned above, this started out as my Masterpiece Chai - but I went a little heavy on the toasted cumin which created a lovely, savory smoky element to the cup that was delicious, certainly! But the smoky note was a little heavier than I want for my Masterpiece Chai!
I actually LOVE the strong flavor of cumin. It adds a delightful savory spice to the sweetness of this tea.
So I thought, what this blend needs is some Lapsang Souchong! So, I added a little bit of it to enhance those smoky tones. Then I added a touch of honey flavor accentuate the sweetness. So this is a little savory, a little spicy, a little sweet and a little smoky! I really like how it turned out. It's not too smoky - for those of you who are a bit smoky shy (like I am!) I think you'll still really enjoy this because while it has lovely notes of smoke, it's not a dominant profile.
It really is as I say: A little savory, a little spicy, a little sweet and a little smoky! It's quite lovely!
To brew: I started out by measuring out a heaping bamboo scoop of tea into the basket of my Kati tumbler and then I did an "awakening" infusion - a quick 15 second rinse - by adding nearly boiling water and letting it infuse for 15 seconds and then discarding that liquid. Then I added another 12 ounces of nearly boiling water (205°F) and let it steep for 2 1/2 minutes. Be careful not to oversteep this as you might have a bitter brew (I added extra Assam to this blend). Allow the tea to cool about 10 minutes after steeping for the best flavor. I also found that a little pinch of sugar will enhance those spices but it's quite good served straight up too.
To go latte (and it's really good as a latte too!): Brew it stronger (this means adding a little more leaf - not infusing for a longer period of time!), I find that 2 bamboo scoops works well for a latte (as the milk will dilute a little bit) and then steep for the same 2 1/2 minutes in near boiling water. Then sweeten if you like it like that and add a splash of your favorite milk product. If you have a frothing tool, you can instead warm up a little bit of milk and then froth it and add to the brewed tea. Yummy!
So, while this tea didn't end up being the masterpiece I envisioned, I'm still quite satisfied with the result. It's warm and soothing and delightfully, deliciously smoky - a really perfect autumnal tea! I guess you're just going to have to wait for the Masterpiece Chai. Masterpieces can't be rushed.