Tea of the Week for September 11, 2017: Caramel Houjicha/White Tea Blend!
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Tea Description: The first time I brewed this tea for a taste test - I got distracted and so into it that I forgot to write my description of it. Alas - I was forced to brew another cup so that I could write my review and description. Such a tough job - this.
And if it wasn't obvious the previous article was dripping in sarcasm, you obviously don't know me or my love for caramel and tea!
For the last year or so, I've created several different of these Houjicha/white tea blends. The first few were Shou Mei white tea, the more recent creations have been crafted with Bai Mu Dan. The main reason for this is that I prefer Bai Mu Dan to Shou Mei in just about every instance and I find that to be true in this instance as well. Bai Mu Dan just proves to be a better tea - at least it proves to be to my palate.
And I do like these blends - the Houjicha and White Tea blends - because I enjoy how the light, crisp flavor of the white tea lightens the deep, roasty-toasty flavor of the Houjicha. What I've learned in my time getting re-acquainted with the 'artisan tea blend' business is that the rather strong, deeply roasted flavor of the Houjicha is just a little bit too much for the flavoring process and the strength of the tea tends to overpower the flavoring. The addition of the white tea softens up the roasted green tea flavor and allows those flavors to come forward. So you still get that awesome roasty-toasty-ness of the Houjicha, but you also get the delightful flavorings that have been added.
Which brings me to this week's tea: Caramel Houjicha/White Tea Blend. I absolutely LOVE the way the toasted nutty flavor of the Houjicha melds with the caramel notes - giving it a sort of 'candied nut' flavor - which would have made a pretty good name for this tea, something like 'caramel nut' or 'candied nut' - but I do know that some might take that a bit too literally and since the only "nut" contribution to this tea blend is the tea itself, I didn't want to mislead anyone into thinking that this is a caramel nut flavored tea. It is instead a nutty tasting tea that's been enhanced with caramel essence.
And it is delightful!
organic ingredients: green tea, white tea & natural flavors
Oh. My! I adore this tea!
As I mentioned in the first paragraph of the above description, this is my second taste testing. The first went just a little awry because I started sipping it and it tasted so delightful that I forgot that I was supposed to be writing about it and it had vanished from my teacup before I had a chance to write a word about the tea.
That happens sometimes. (OK, OK - it happens a little more often than sometimes.) But it only seems to happen when the tea is so tasty that it's distracting!
And this tea is tasty. That said, I don't know if this tea is going to be for everyone - because the roasty-toasty flavor of the Houjicha is strong. Not as strong as it would have been if this were a Houjicha-only blend, but it is still strong. So if you're one who doesn't appreciate those roasty-toasty notes of Houjicha, you might not be totally into this blend. BUT if the idea of roasty-toasty Houjicha paired with caramel sounds too delectable to pass up - then you should act quickly and get yourself a pouch!
The initial flavor I taste is caramel, followed almost immediately by the roasted nut notes of the Houjicha. Those nuts linger throughout the sip, while the caramel weaves its way throughout the sip. It reminds me a bit of a very nutty brittle.
to brew: be sure to give this blend a good shake - the Houjicha is likely to settle to the bottom of the pouch and leave the lighter white tea leaves at the top and you want a good distribution of both types of leaves in your measurement. a heaping teaspoon (or a teaspoon and a half) of leaf to 12 ounces of hot water (heated to 175°F) and allow to steep for 2 1/2 minutes - 3 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
I occasionally suggest a bit of sugar to a tea to bring out the flavors but with this one, I'm going to straight-out recommend the sugar with this one. Why? Because this is a caramel tea and really, caramel is supposed to be sweet and this tea definitely benefits from the addition of the sugar. Not a lot, a teaspoon ought to do. It tastes alright without the sugar but the sugar really adds definition to the caramel notes. It is truly a different tea with the sugar!