Review: ESP Emporium Strawberry/Lemon/Basil Rooibos Tea

Basil Tea, ESP Emporium, Lemon Tea, Rooibos Tea, Strawberry Tea Add comments
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"While the tea reveals the cleverness of the pairing in the splendid harmony between the basil and rooibos, their balsamic vinegar character together seems a bit off kilter from the lovely candied strawberry sweetness in the blend. "
Raven’s Teaview: 6.8/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 6.5/10, Sophie gave it 9/10, Laura gave it 7.25/10, Erika gave it 5/10
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espemporiumstrawberrylemonbasilAlong with mint, basil is probably the friendliest herb, kind of like a Miss Congeniality of the seasoning aisle. While basil is a must for so many savoury dishes around the globe with Italian to Thai basil varieties, basil doesn’t walk the catwalk for desserts quite as often. Yet the fresh, green floral type scent and bright flavour of basil often adds an interesting complement to sweet dishes, quite similar to mint that I just adore. Despite finding some teas that taste of basil and holy basil tea or Tulsi, I can’t say I’ve ever encountered a blend with the beloved everyday basil before. But leave it to ESP Emporium, who offers an incredible 160 different blends with a range of flavours, to catch the beauty of the idea and bring some basil to tea. Although they offer three teas with basil, an Ayurvedic inspired maté blend, an oolong and the rooibos medley, since basil pairs so beautifully with lemon and can be a delightful accent to fresh strawberries, ESP Emporium’s Strawberry, Lemon, Basil Rooibos seemed both creative and a sure winner.
Upon seeing the leaves of the tea, they are definitely pageant ready. They don’t look very much like the picture on the ESP Emporium’s website as they aren’t as colorful, but they vie for a title just as well from the striking chromatic synchronicity of the ingredients. The harmony of hues mahogany rooibos, rose petals blushing from pale peach to rosy pink and brownish red strawberry pieces that almost seamlessly match the hue of the rooibos except for a slightly more ruddy tone. The rooibos leaves are diverse with woody chunks, threads and longer needles, all from two to five millimeters. Yet they are amply peppered with berries and small dusty green basil leaves familiar to the spice rack.
Although I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I opened the package, my initial introductions to this beau-tea were a bit confusing. With the first rush, the bouquet is deep and full with some sweetness that initially reminded me most of balsamic vinegar, from the commingling rooibos and basil notes, before the individual components fell into recognition. But the medium aroma does reveal how wonderfully the basil and rooibos blend together as their aromas seem to resonate with one another. While the basil is definitely center stage, the rooibos is close by adding its leathery, flinty scent which lends the balsamic vinegar slant that also seems a bit like mesquite liquid smoke. The savoury character of the tea's bouquet seems to arise as much from the rooibos notes as the basil which has a pepperiness to it that smells the same as everyday store bought dried basil. In that sense, I was a bit disappointed since I had somehow hoped the basil's contribution would bear a closer resemblance to fresh basil or freshly dried sweet basil as the peppery quality of the basil’s scent makes me think more of a marinade than a tea. As such, I found the strawberry was slower in surfacing, seeming to fall behind the basil and rooibos aromas, with a strawberry candy note that yields the touch of confectionary sweetness to the blend. Despite the happy air of the sweet strawberry scent, the candied quality seems a bit discordant with the basil’s savour. The lemon was the only member of the mix that didn’t seem to impart much to the tea’s bouquet.
Once the water boiled, the tea was primped to strut its stuff with two teaspoons of tea steeped for 9 minutes as ESP emporium suggests 8-10 minutes. The resulting deep mahogany blaze of the cup is certainly ready for a show, with a blush of nervous haze from the strawberry pieces. From the fittingly coloured cup, the medium aroma is rather similar to the dry leaves. The scent of dried basil merges with the leathery rooibos to give an almost smoky aroma as an amusing sweetness of fresh cooked strawberries entertains in the background. The cooked strawberry aromas of the brew seem more harmonious with the kind of flintiness of the basil-rooibos together than the more candy like strawberry scent of the dry leaves yet the two still seem a bit out of sync. A hint of icing sugar also remains in the tea's perfume, apart from the cooked berry aromas. Although, I still didn’t notice the lemon, the tea’s interesting aroma has a faithful humor, seeming to linger on one’s sense even when away from the cup.
The performance continues in the cup, as the parade of flavours begins with earthy basil dancing amidst the mellow rooibos's sassafras and suede while the cooked strawberry sings along. The cooked strawberry flavour has a touch of cranberry yet the naturalness of the flavour is a delight that seem to draw on the dash of rose in the mix. The basil still takes front stage in the round, light to medium body of the tea with its show of herbal black pepper while it awaits applause in a long aftertaste, accompanied by a lighter flavor of strawberries on one's breath.
Lining up the contestants for a second steeping, I wasn't sure if the tea would have enough endurance given the length of the first infusion, however, I was delighted to find the burnt orange cup still had some wonder. Actually, the second cup although milder seems to have a bit better unity as the darling scent of strawberries shines through the herbal basil aroma. The taste has less impact as there is only a hint of fir from the rooibos yet the strawberry flavour seems clearer despite the basil still having the loudest voice.
Overall, the tea certainly gets a crown for the ingenuity of the mix which has aesthetic appeal and personality. While the lemon didn't seem to add as much to the act, the tea does run for the title with strawberry sparkle, rooibos attitude and basil punch. All together the medley wasn't quite as congenial as I expected but its sweet savoury halves and fetching hues make for a unique sip and a spritely contender to the pageant of caffeine free beau-teas.
Unfortunately, ESP Emporium doesn't ship to Canada or internationally but has plans to in the future so until then, the tea is a contestant only those in the U.S. can admire.

Visit ESP Emporium for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue

Teaviews Member: Raven Raven Reviewer
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