|"I even picked up a bottle before bolting the joint, skipping merrily in my head."|
Halfway through my pot of whiskey-scented Nuwara Eliya Ceylon, the owner came through to say "Hi". He remembered me from my prior write-up about my last visit, and recalled the esoteric questions I asked. I think he also remembered that I had a very active "Oooo shiny!" gland, for he directed my attention to a new line of RTD (ready-to-drink) teas they'd just launched in the fall. He also lamented that autumn probably wasn't the best time to introduce iced teas...in Oregon. Regardless, I was intrigued. ("Ooo shiny!" gland, remember?)
The ready-to-drink teas were unique to Smith Teamaker because of the process used to make them - a technique they dubbed "fruitsmithing". I loved the term. Layman short version: Fruit pieces were cut up and steeped in cold water, creating a juice-like base. Hot tea was then infused with the mix and cold-brewed again. Afterwards, cane sugar, lemon juice, apple juice and natural flavors were added. At least, that's how I understood it.
One key fact I came away with - and the point Smith wanted to hit home - was that no citric acid was used in the brewing. I was no expert on the subject, but I had never heard of an iced tea NOT having citric acid for storage purposes.The first of the three I sampled was the subject of this review.
The iced white tea shared its name with another of Smith Teamaker's wares - the No. 72 White Petal, a blend of Bai Mu Dan, osthmanthus and chamomile. I remembered having it but couldn't recall the flavor profile. This cold-brewed version differed (obviously) because of the inclusion of fruit, but the white tea recipe was also changed slightly. Osmanthus was taken out of the mix for reasons unknown, probably for clashing with the fruit fresca.
The liquor was a foggy gold-yellow, almost like honey-ginger Korean jarred tea; or for a fancier comparison, honey-rich mead. The concoction also had a distinct aroma, something akin to cider - both hard and soft. The taste? Oh...where to begin...
Imagine you're at a party full of wine connoisseurs. You're the designated driver, and - as such - you don't want to get completely "fashliggered". You also don't want to be the only guy/girl drinking a beer at a wine party. Someone gives you some iced tea instead. This is what a good wine host would offer nondrinker. It reminded me of a non-alcoholic Gewürztraminer. On the flavor front, it was strong on the apple, mildly astringent due to the white tea, with a toasty, champagne-like finish that danced with the mild floral aspects.
Coincidentally, another Smith blender informed me that at a recent Pinot Noir festival, the White Petal was a clear favorite of their three iced teas. Some compared it to a Sauvignon Blanc. I personally think it's superior to Blanc, but I'm not really a wine guy. That said, it's probably the best (and biggest) iced tea I've sipped. I even picked up a bottle before bolting the joint, skipping merrily in my head.
NOTE: So far, the ready-to-drink teas are only available exclusively at the Smith Teamaker bricks-and-mortar store.
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