|"Roses are like lemongrass, they don't work by themselves."|
Tao Tea Leaf's botanical infusion, however, was the first I ran into where it was the full-on bud, not just the petals. Staring at me in the sample bag were beautiful unopened pink pods of prissy prettiness. Apparently, rose buds - or Mei Gui Hua - are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as a menstrual pain reliever, a tonic for IBS sufferers, and an antidepressant. Well, I wouldn't need it for at least one of those things. (Ahem.)
Tea experts have buried into my head that the best rose petals to use - either by themselves or with blends - were pink ones. Reason being, pink rose petals weren't harsh enough to counterbalance a blend or come across as unpalatable. I purchased red rose petals once for steeping purposes...and would have to agree completely. Red roses are for lovers, not liquids.
Brewing - as with all Tao Tea Leaf's wares - were complicated, requiring at least four steeps to get the full effect. They stated that six buds in 8oz of 170F-180F water could last up to seven infusions. One-to-two minutes for the first and second infusion; three-to-five for the third and fourth. I played by their rules with multiple steeps at 175F. The varying results were...
First infusion for one minute: The liquor brewed up clear, no change in color. The scent was perfume-like, though. Taste was mildly floral, dainty, and gentle. It also seemed mildly sweet, which was odd.
Second infusion for two minutes: The color of the infusion took on a light gold, more reminiscent of a Silver Needle white tea this time. The steam aroma was only faintly rose-like, floral but not as strong as the first. The taste, however, differed greatly - very strong on the rose petal punch, almost in a bathwater or candle-ish sense.
Third infusion for three minutes: The liquor was still as pale as ever, but more of a transparent yellow. The smell was an odd mix of clean/clear rose and something buttery, kinda disturbing really. The flavor front was smooth, though - more robust on the rose but floral in a tea-ish way. I approved.
Fourth infusion for four minutes: No visible change in the color of the infusion. The aroma and taste were pretty much the same too. It was like the third infusion...only hotter.
In summary, I think that one could risk a steep at a higher temperature with this. I mean, it is an herbal infusion, and most of those take boiling water well, even the more delicate-seeming chrysanthemum flowers. This also did nothing to change my opinion about rose petals as a beverage. Roses are like lemongrass, they don't work by themselves. They need to be blended with other like-ingredients to really shine. Of course, that's just my opinion. As it stands, this tasted fine, but it didn't "WOW" me. It probably would have that effect on a girl. If served with a bouquet.
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