|"Sweet and sassy, the berries and passionfruit pop through the bouquet and bounce along the mellow toastiness of the black tea. "|
But it's full steam ahead once the tea is in hand. Right off the bat, the tea has a happy vibe. Although there isn’t any passionfruit or berries in the tea, it has a great visual appeal from the sweep of purplish blue cornflower petals and orangey yellow and pale yellow twists of the marigold petals. A few petals are a bit faded but the black tea is so dark with a deep, rich, matte black hue, the petals do add a fanciful cheer. The black tea consists of cut leaves with just a bit of stem, all folded and fine in less than a quarter inch wiry squiggles. But their true passion springs to life upon opening the package as the vibrantly fruity aroma streams forth. Sweet and sassy, it’s hard not to marvel at the genuineness of the fruity notes from leaves alone. Yet, the lush scent does have a real dried berry buoyancy woven with a bit of the marigold’s passionfruit kind of butteriness. It’s not a one berry show, as it does seem a mix of berries falling between dried red currants, strawberries and blackberries. After trying their Morning Geisha tea, a raspberry pomegranate green tea, I recognize the same bit of pineyness of the raspberry flavour I thought was lent by the green tea, so it is kind of raspberry too. Regardless, the fruitiness isn’t synthetic or medicinal amidst its poignant sweetness to be just lovely. The scent is mostly berry but the black tea adds a nice weight with a rustle of roastiness despite it not contributing strongly to the bouquet.
Although the tea is destined for icing, I couldn’t help brew it up to try both hot and cold. White August doesn’t lend specific instructions for each tea for hot brewing but it does suggest general recommendations for steeping their black teas hot, as well as their iced teas overnight in the fridge. Both start out with one to one and a half teaspoons, either set with water for the fridge or boiling water for 4-5 minutes. The hot method brews up a stronger and darker cup, with a golden brown hue, whereas the cold brew is quite pale. After also trying the tea served hot as well as cold, it truly does work best on ice.
From the hot brew, the medium bouquet entices with a bit of a different twist from the dry leaves as the black tea surfaces. Laced with mild tannins, the berry notes of the scent darken, more like blackberries, and resemble cooked fruit more, despite the tea not having any actual fruit which is quite amusing. The scent still has a delicious, fruity perk, however, overall the bouquet is more diffuse and rounded than crisply defined, as the cooked berry melds softly into the mellow flinty notes of the black tea. There’s a hint of buttery petal-like brightness to the scent, as an ode to the tropical fruit from the marigold petals, but the berry seems more prevalent. The fruitiness actually seems just that, as fruitiness, more than a layers of different aromas, it kind of falls all in together as one fruity scent. Regardless, the sweet, lively, fruitiness suits the black tea well with its toastiness that’s just hearty enough without being very dark, roasty or heavy.
Freshly fruity tasting, the flavour also has a soft structure. While it doesn’t have a prominent or piercing black tea taste, the black tea’s light tobacco highlights a passionfruit sass of the marigold with a wonderful sweetness as the tropical twist breaks out more. Its lightness is in balance with the black tea and soft currant tinged berry flavour to find a splendid harmony although, the black tea almost seems to need more backbone to power the flavour. Yet, the tea isn’t bitter or too dry to have a smooth lead into a light finish where a light berry builds through the cup.
In contrast to the hot steeping, the overnight chill appears much lighter, dressed in a tannish gold with a tinge of brown yet it turns out to be much fruitier. Marvelously, the scent stands up to the cold, strewn with dried strawberries and red currants and a bit of marigold petals against a flinty backdrop. Both berry and tropical flavours fill the cup with a joyful sweetness and almost tang that isn’t sour but adds some lift to defy the cold. However, the black tea doesn’t fair as well as it almost disappears as if the tea was fruity water except for it’s sweeter, a touch swifter and the spritely long aftertaste of strawberry and passionfruit is more spirited.
White August suggests adding more leaves for a second steeping, only half as much, but then why not just brew a fresh cup? Still hopeful though, I gave it a whirl adding a half teaspoon more leaves. Without it, the tea’s aroma maintains a tempting fruity sweetness but the flavour completely falls off. Not surprisingly, a second infusion of the cold brewed leaves fairs better if followed with a hot steeping but either way, the second cup’s scent is far more interesting than the flavour. It’s really unfortunate the tea doesn’t go the distance considering one’s pocketbook could almost fair equally well with store bought iced tea.
But in the end, White August’s Passionate Ice sure has a fruitiness to be passionate about, sweet and sparkling. It’s a bit of a shame the black tea isn’t bolder, but it’s less noticeable when iced, as it was intended. Plus, its mellow, smooth toast alights the fruity fire for a deliciously lusty cup sure to keep one cool.
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