Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
|"From such a pretty harmony amidst the leaves, sweetening helps bring the tea in better balance and pull more berry from the tangy hibiscus and rosy plum flavours apart the base tea's savour. "|
Close your eyes and say Berry White, and there’s a slew of people musing over a sexy baritone, Barry White. A berry white tea may be just as dreamy but in not quite as sultry a way. That’s not to say berries aren’t sexy but white tea always seems more innocent, which is particularly why I was eager to try a berry bonanza in a white tea. Berries certainly groove with black tea, jive with oolong, pop in green tea but I’ve always thought they’d sing ever so sweetly in a white tea, having never tried such a combo. So The Spice and Tea Exchange’s Berry White looked ever so right, ringing in with a bounty of berriness. Although the tea is listed under green tea and called a white tea, the tea is organic and based on both green and white teas of some kind. Its band members also include blueberries, raspberries, schizandra berries, strawberries, rosehips, hibiscus and jasmine flowers along with natural lychee and plum flavoring.
At $4.98 an ounce (at this writing), it is a bit costly but one can see why looking at the tea. The website photo is more vivid but it really doesn’t do the tea justice since the bounty of dark pigments escape into the dark hues of the photo. There’s almost more fruit than tea leaves so it’s certainly not chintzy. I don’t know that I can identify all of the berries mentioned in the ingredients amidst the leaves as crimson rosehip hull pieces and pink-beige genmaicha-like berries are the most abundant, a bit more than the smallish sage and dark brown leaves and stems of the white and green teas. There is the occasional blueberry to delight, but generally the tea looks like a simpler combination than it sounds. Yet the array of reds and pinks along with their varying shapes is quite visually enchanting. So if there are others, like me who eat their cereal reading the cereal box, the tea’s entertainment goes a long way.
Stepping onto stage, the leaves aren’t quite as jazzy but the light to medium bouquet has a cuddly softness and wonderfully, the base teas and the fruitiness chime in equally. The scent croons with a light sweetness, rather than the concentrated sweetness of raisins, but it has a pleasantly natural, delicate berriness, reminiscent of dried currants or dried cranberries and hibiscus. While the white and green teas have a dandy aroma, a bit dough-like with hints of cumin and cedar leaves, it is quite savoury which seems to muffle the fruitiness some. Regardless, the perfumed fruitiness of the bouquet still has an inviting tone.
To amp up the vibe, The Spice and Tea Exchange offers general but wide ranges for brewing amounts and times, so I turned on the volume with two and a half teaspoons of tea for three minutes at 170°F to play to the white tea of the base. It is fun making sure to include a bit of every colour when doling out the leaves and the tea does put on a show as the infusion changes hues, blooming into a medium dark pinkish tan. The colour is, indeed, most becoming a berry tea. Yet, the poured cup isn’t as dazzling with a faint cloud and quite a bit of suspended dust sized particles that don’t seem to want to settle. The bouquet is chipper and bright spirited with a medium tangy scent. While it has a natural fruitiness and some sweetness, it is more tart, as the hibiscus and rosehip predominate. Yet, they do add a pleasant bit of red jamminess to turn up the berry volume whereas the sweeter notes bop with a plum tinged groove, along a wave of rosy lychee. Although, each note is easily separated, they do come together for a berry chord if listening for one, rather than blaring of berry. So the berry-ness of the tea falls into the tempo kind of cranberry-ish or like a sour red currant jelly. The white and green teas aren’t strong yet there is a flicker of pine green leafiness in the scent that reminds me of strawberry leaves.
Unfortunately from there, things go a little off-key. Boy, is it sour. The hibiscus seems to pretty much play diva, as the solo artist of the sip show. There is some doo-waps from the rosehips for their kind of jammy red pepper savour but it’s hard to hear much of the music behind the tartness. While the tea has a light to medium body, it doesn’t have weight to fall roundly. It might be the stealth of the acid but it almost evacuates itself in the sip without any sense of dryness or much tea. Yet, it does have a medium aftertaste of hibiscus that echos amidst a bit of a dry feeling in one’s mouth. While the tang isn’t so much to pucker, it still swings more sour than sweet but the hibiscus does have some fruitiness so the flavour is not so far from a tart berry flavour. It’s just unfortunate that the base tea also gets drowned out. Only after sweetening the tea could I find it, which was a great realization. I’m just not sure it made a melody. Although the reedy, white bean flavours of the base tea was fine enough, the tea didn’t really find its pitch. The flavour is much rosier with a pleasing touch of plum but it seems a bit flat and more hibiscus than berry against the earthier base tea.
In case the tea needed some warm-up, a rat-tat-tatta for one more round yields a much less colourful cup with a light to medium dusty rose that is still hazy but sets the berry mood. The bouquet seems nicer and a bit more berry-like from the combination of scents of a lovely plum jam, a twitter of pulpy rose from the rosehips and the hibiscus tang. The cup’s tune on the other hand, is rather similar to the first but since it isn’t quite as tart, the flavour seems closer to berry, perhaps like a mix of under-ripe white and red raspberries.
A third cup’s scent maintains the sweet tart lyric, humming a cranberry ditty from a rosehip plum choir. The light body gains a hint of reediness from the base teas to lend more cushion to the swallow amidst the hibiscus, rosehip flavour. Although the tea is less sour, it feels more puckery with a bitter tinge on the finish.
At the end of the album, the Spice and Tea Exchange’s Berry White does put on quite a performance. From the eye-catching leaves and the colourful cups, the tea drinks with just as much spirit. It’s just unfortunate that the players don’t find a better harmony. Sweetened, the tea does have more rhythm to enjoy, although it’s liveliness is bound to win more with hibiscus fans.
— To purchase The Spice and Tea Exchange Berry White 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.