|"While not an über berry experience, the tea is ripe with natural berry aromas and flavours in a lovely harmony with the flinty black tea."|
With such opulent prospects and sugar plums dancing through my head, seeing the tea keeps up the momentum. The light shine on the dark black cut leaves lends a fresh allure while there is a decent dollop of berries interspersed amidst the leaves. Yet what is nicer is the appearance of the berries, their dark hues of crimson and purple too have a clean surface, unblemished by tea bits, as if freshly dried. A sprinkle of safflower petals, sunflower yellow and tan, add a further accent and nice contrast to the darker hues.
Gathering up a teaspoon of tea to brew challenges the game of how many berries to include. Fortunately, the bouquet prevents a drawn out dilemma with its dried fruity sweetness. First struck by an almost alcoholic note, the dark berriness envelops nuances of different berries, envisioning dried cranberries and cooked cherries and plums that seem to fall together to remind me most of supple dried prunes, but in a good way rather than the stodgy constitutional anecdote. The berriness of the medium aroma is somewhat breezy rather than intense but quite delightful. Beneath the fruity fancy, one can pleasantly still get a faint scent of the black tea which has a chewing tobacco quality. It has an earthy richness that kind of mimics the berry even though the berry is much more enticing.
Plucking up a cup after both three minute and five minute steeps, as recommended by Arbor teas, I’d definitely stick to five. The brownish tan brew that awaits is a bit dull but it is perfumed with a mild to medium delicious berry scent. Fresh and tasty, the aroma is definitely a mixed berry, combining a twist of cranberry vigor with an elderberry darkness to seem slightly grape-like. It is a softer bouquet than a punctuated one but certainly natural smelling rather than having any artificial quality. Underneath the berry basket, the black tea seems to weave through with coal like mineral and toasty leathery notes. A burst into the cup is just as fine, as a relaxed berry flavour infuses the medium body, nice and even to accentuate the stony black tea flavours. Lightly flavoured and softly sweet, the berry has an elderbberry, prune like flavour that has a pleasant ease which flows well with the flintiness of the black tea as both components fall into an equal balance. And there's no seeds in these berries, without any astringency or bitterness to stick in one's teeth although the tea seems to need a bit of pep and seems almost too easy, without any peaks to the light flavour. Yet the lovely combination is tasty with a medium finish that leaves a faint aftertaste of dried berries on one's breath, like raisins.
Back to the patch for a second infusion of the leaves brings another full coloured brew with more of a tan to its tone. Cranberry and blackberries continue to tumble out of the light perfume from subtler flinty aromas of the black tea. Although the flavour is also mild, losing some dimension, an increase in dryness lends a nicer feel to the subtle berriness that seems a bit more pigmented than fruity. A quicker finish into a brief aftertaste of grain has a tinge of sulfites in feel, though the tea isn't bitter. The berry bounty seems best to end at two steeps for a third infusion while still having a faint scent of tobacco and fig has lost much of its berriness. It is however, choice to brew the tea for the full five minutes for the first steeps since the flavours were a tad too subtle in three minute infusions. Although it might not be any surprise, it is also worthwhile to make sure to scoop up some berry pieces in the leaves for each cup as I found that they do influence the amount of fruitiness while also varying the flavours as one cup with more strawberry pieces amidst the leaves brought out more strawberry in the final tea.
While not an über berry experience, the tea is ripe with natural berry aromas and flavours, in a charming harmony with the black tea. Plus, just as nice, it gives you a bite of more than one berry off the berry bush, so you can have your berry and sip it too.
— To purchase Arbor Teas Organic Mixed Berry Black Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.
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