Hey there tea fans, are you ready for your Tuesday cuppa? This week for National Pride Month’s Rainbow of Tea it is time to look at an orange tea, and I’ll admit, the tea I’d originally had planned for this week pulled a repeat of “green week” on me and steeped a different color at home than it had when I’d first sampled it at work! (I’m now convinced there must be something different about the water at the library!) When I made it at home to write up my review, it was red… not like, red-orange, but red-red! But considering red hasn’t been featured yet, I figured I could just slide it to next week and feature the red tea I was going to feature some other time. That still left me, however, in the need of an orange tea, and stat!
Thankfully I had a tea in my collection that had “orange” in the name, and since this one is a personal favorite, I knew it steeped a very orangy color, so I knew it wasn’t going to let me down! (Why I didn’t think of featuring this particular tea in the first place, I have no idea!) Allow me to introduce Spice and Tea Exchange‘s Blood Orange Smoothie.
This is rather spendy, but as far as I’m concerned, worth every penny! The amount already missing from that 4 oz. bag probably speaks volumes as to how much I love this tea… it has also been a hit when I share it around the workplace! It’s $23.89 for the big 4 oz. bag I have pictured, but Spice and Tea Exchange also has small 1 oz. bags available for $6.29 for those interested in sampling. But fans of sweet dessert teas are going to want the full size bag, trust me!
This tea is composed of red rooibos, orange peels, hibiscus flowers, rosehips, apple pieces, safflowers, rose petals, vanilla, and citrus flavorings. It smells like rich, fragrant orange and creamy vanilla when you open the bag… simply divine! The smell takes me right back to summers as a child sucking on a Dreamsicle.
I admittedly use just a bit extra leaf (about a teaspoon and a half to two teaspoons) because I like a really full-flavored cup of this one! I steep for about seven minutes (it’s rooibos, so a longer steep doesn’t really hurt since it is low on tannins and doesn’t really go bitter, though waiting that long is the hardest part!) using boiling water. Though rooibos is known as “red tea”, this rooibos in particular, with all those orange peels, is very orange when it finishes steeping! My camera and lighting doesn’t capture it quite as well as it actually looks!
This tea smells as good brewed as it does dry! It has this warm, pleasant, citrusy orange flavor that is naturally sweetened with vanilla tones. It is caffeine-free, which makes it a great indulgent dessert tea for any time of day, and I particularly like it at night in lieu of a sweet. It’s like getting a Dreamsicle ice cream as a warm, decadent beverage! It’s naturally sweet, but I like adding just a dash of sugar as I feel that really brings out the flavors even more!
While the tea is great straight or with a bit of sweetener, what really makes it fantastic is latte-style!
A dash of milk — I highly recommend a vanilla-flavored milk of your choice to really bring out the vanilla flavors of the Dreamsicle! — makes this tea so creamy and smooth, and even more like the orange-vanilla ice cream! Drinking it with a bit of vanilla almond milk is my favorite way to drink it, and whenever I make this for someone — often a “non-tea-drinker” or someone who “doesn’t like tea” they become hooked! Blood Orange Smoothie tea, with a bit of vanilla almond milk, became a smash at the library tea party!
Do be warned that the amazing flavor only holds up really well to that first steep — by the second steep that really vibrant orange color is pretty weak, more like a tangerine, and the taste is just meh. It just can’t hold a candle to that first amazing cup. I daresay it isn’t even worth resteeping at all, though latte-style I can sometimes manage a second steep just to make that leaf last a little longer. It’s basically like a really weak cup of orange tea on the second steep.
If you are looking for a good dessert tea, especially one you can enjoy in the evenings or before bed, and you like Dreamsicles or anything with a strong orange flavor that is still sweet, I’d highly recommend trying out this tea. It is great both plain and with milk (I haven’t tried it iced yet but have a feeling the strong citrus flavor would probably be good cold as well!)
So… it’s been a while since this librarian has talked shop about books, hasn’t it? We actually got this really awesome book about tea at the library! Cody showed it to me and Katie as he unboxed it (I have to say, the fact that those of us in Technical Services get to see all the brand-new books first before anyone else is one of the best perks of the job, heh!) and we started gushing. And then promptly requested that he order us our own copies (we can get the library discount that way… another perk of the job!)
It’s called World Atlas of Tea: From the Leaf to the Cup, the World’s Teas Explored and Enjoyed by Krisi Smith, and it retails for $35.00.
This book is 240 pages, printed on glossy paper, and is jam-packed with information on tea; everything from varieties of the tea plant, to grading and blending, to how to harvest and process tea, the history of tea, tea tools, how to brew the perfect cup, tea tasting, and then the majority of the book goes into detail on the regions of the world that cultivate specific tea leaves, with detailed maps and information about the tea from those areas and the tea culture prevalent on those parts of the world. It’s all really fascinating! Below are a few (very low-quality) sample images.
It’s a great coffee-table book to pick up and skip around, reading interesting tidbits of information on tea and looking at the absolutely gorgeous photography of tea cultivation from around the globe… highly recommended teatime reading!
Next week will be the end of our Rainbow of Tea, coming to a close with a red brew! (And no, it isn’t another rooibos!) Be sure to drop by next Tuesday, I’ll have the kettle on!