Welcome to another teatime! Today for tea I will be looking at a fruity herbal blend that I picked up at Tea Chai Te in Portland, Oregon! I’ve been dying to try this tea iced, and am looking forward to featuring it as part of my Icy Summer teatimes!
This tea, Papaya and Pineapple, is one of Tea Chai Te‘s blends and is available to order from their website. It costs $2.99 an ounce and can be ordered as a single ounce (a rather large and very economically priced sampler!), or in 2 oz, 4 oz, 9 oz, and 1 lb. size options. I purchased one ounce of this tea to try it out.
I’ll admit, the word “pineapple” in the blend sold me immediately (yes, I’m one of those people that puts pineapple on my pizza… deal with it). This tea is “a light and refreshing blend of tropical fruits including orange, pineapple and papaya. Scented with hibiscus flowers, this is a great tea to try iced.” Despite the recommendation from Tea Chai Te, I’ve yet to try this tea iced, I’ve only sampled it warm thus far!
The tea has a very pleasant tangy fruit aroma. You can really make out the scent of the hibiscus! I could tell from the smell this was likely going to be a tea I would enjoy, since I like the bagged tea Passion by Tazo which is also a hibiscus blend with a tangy passion fruit taste.
Now, for regular readers of this column, you may remember when in June I did a Rainbow of Tea, and was incredibly disappointed when two different teas that month brewed different colors for me at work compared to at home (I do the majority of my photography for Teatime Tuesday at home, but am drinking tea at work just as much as at home!) This occured in my Vanilla Macademia Nut Mate review, where I swore the tea steeped green at work (where I didn’t have my camera on me and did not have photographic evidence) but at home it steeped yellow, so I only had yellow photos for my “green” week review. This happened again for Candied Almond, which I remembered steeping orange at work and planned to use for my orange week, but it steeped bright red at home, so I rescheduled it a week later and used it for my red week instead.
Alright folks, I had my camera on me and now I have proof something is going on with the water at work! The tea there definitely steeps off-color! Look at this!
It didn’t photograph great, mind, but when I made a cup of this for myself and Cody at work, our tea was purple! Honest, a bright violet shade! I was so shocked. I mean, I’ve never had this tea ever look that color before. Any time I’ve ever made a tea with a hibiscus base, it has always been a deep shade of red. And, when I made this tea at home, sure enough…
…It was a bright, deep shade of red! So I’m not crazy! There definitely must be something about the water at the library that causes my tea to steep at odd shades! (For the record, it tastes just fine regardless of the strange coloration, and I have the same kettle at work and home, so I’m using the same water temperature and steep times at both places. Therefore, the water itself is the only thing left I can think of causing the change.)
I steeped this tea with boiling water for five minutes. As you can see, in normal circumstances, it turns a rich red and it has a very tangy, fruity scent. You may want to get a cheap hibiscus tea (like the previously mentioned Tazo Passion) and see how you like the taste of the hibiscus flower, because this tea has a strong hibiscus base; if you like hibiscus teas, you are probably going to enjoy this, but if you don’t, then you will definitely want to avoid it. The hibiscus makes a perfect base for the papaya and pineapple notes in the blend, which give the tea a very tangy, fruity bite on your tongue. This is a sweet enough fruit tea you can drink it plain, but it does have a bit of a tart tropical edge to it, so if you want to make it a little smoother and sweeter, add just a hint of sweetener; you won’t need much!
This was boasted as being a great iced tea, so I really wanted to bring out the fruit flavors when I prepared it iced. I’ve read that the flavors in herbals don’t infuse great in cold brews, so I opted to hot brew this blend. But since I’d had problems vacuuming-sealing the last few hot brews I did, this was my first brew trying a mix of boiling water halfed with cold water. I wasn’t sure if that would have a negative effect on the flavor, or if it would fix the vacuum-sealing issue I was having.
I normally make my iced tea in quart-sizes (four cups) in mason jars, so instead of boiling four cups of water like my last few hot brews, I only boiled two cups of hot water. However, I still steeped four teaspoons of leaf in the two cups of hot water (since four cups of water will be in the final mixture, and that much leaf will be needed to flavor all that water). I sealed the jar and let it steep in the boiling water for five minutes, then removed the leaf.
Then I added two cups of cold water. I did not seal my mason jar and put it in the fridge to chill right away. I left it open on the counter for about 30 minutes, allowing it to cool off just a bit, then sealed off the jar and put it in the fridge.
The result? The jar opened with no issues! It had not vacuum sealed like my previous hot brews! So I have at least learned that when hot brewing, this method works to keep the mason jar from sealing itself like Fort Knox!
Now the bigger question… Did brewing it in half the hot water and adding cold water to the mixture make the tea lose any flavor?
Well… if that were the case, I certainly couldn’t tell, because this tea was amazing! This tea is up there with Machu Peach-u and Cinnamon Orange Black in my Top Three favorite iced teas I’ve tried this summer! Wow! Most of the teas I’ve had iced I’m pretty satisfied to drink warm as well, but honestly, after having this one iced, I can say I don’t really think I’ll ever drink it warm again, it was that good!
The hot cuppa I liked sweetened just a bit because I felt it took just a little of the tart edge off, but this iced tea required absolutely no sweetening, it was perfect as it was. Somehow any of the extra tartness seemed to mellow itself out iced, leaving what tastes like a slightly-sweet-yet-tangy tropical fruit punch. This is a tea that I have no doubt would work great as a substitute for punches in recipes, or to freeze into frozen popsicle molds. If you like fruit punch but want something a bit less sweet and packs a little more of a tropical bite, just get this tea and ice it (warm method recommended to really extract those fruit flavors!) I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
How has your summer been going? Only two more iced tea reviews left before we move onto a very special something I have planned for September! But I have to say, I don’t think the weather cooling down is going to stop my fridge looking like this any time soon…
So… much… iced tea! (And yet I still go through it so fast). I was overly amused when I opened the fridge that day and had brews in all the primary colors, hahaha! And if you are wondering how I got blue tea, check out my Butterfly Pea Flower Tea review; they can be added to cold brews to give them a pop of color! That’s actually a batch of Strawberry Oolong! (For the overly curious, the yellow tea is Blueberry Green and the red is the Papaya and Pineapple featured today!)
I definitely think I can say my iced tea technique has steadily improved this summer!
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