mokie: Cartoon of an angry tea pot raging (drink tea)
Time for another tin from the Republic of Tea, because cheapo shipping sale = lots of samplers!

The tea of the now is Orange Ginger Mint Herbal Full-Leaf, which contains no camellia sinensis and is thus not actually a tea but a tisane. It's a good distinction to make: when I buy herbs, I want herbs, not herbalish tea, and when I buy tea, I want tea, not drinkable herbs. It also avoids awkward naming conundrums, like 'red tea', which can refer to fully fermented tea according to China (what we call black tea), rooibos tea according to manufacturers (though that's daft, since people usually go out of their way to buy rooibos specifically to avoid tea), or hibiscus tea according to the insane and masochistic (because damn you, hibiscus).

But I digress. Orange! Ginger! Mint! All three good companion flavors to other beverages. What's not to love?

In the Bag Tin:
The smell. The smell is not to love. I opened the tin to a scent memory of when my mother smoked Kool cigarettes. I wouldn't say the herbal blend smells like tobacco outright, but that the other ingredients trip the mint over into dirty menthol territory.

It's nothing spectacular visually, but that's to be expected--pre-steeped tisanes do tend to look like stuff swept from under the couch.

The Steepening:
A teaspoon of herbs, a cup of boiling tap water and thee. I gave it two minutes to swish in the mug/strainer combo before removing the tea, and still had tiny floaters. (It's not relevant, I just really hate floaters.)

I wish I could tell you that cigarette whiff goes away, but it would be a lie. It does evolve, though, into the smell of the tea aisle at the all-natural hippie shop, where you purchased that awful-tasting but supposedly good for you tea and considered telling the dude eyeballing the mineral deodorant that it was clearly not working out for him. The whales are great, dude, but think about your immediate environment, too.

It also tastes just like that tea: kind of stale, kind of medicinal, kind of like you messed up and steeped the cardboard box rather than the herbs.

Part of the problem? No actual orange in the herbal mix, so instead of orange flavor, just a vaguely 'bathroom cleaner' aroma. Not much mint flavor, either. They've tried to make the mint do double-duty by using orange bergamot mint, one of those mild mints that have a citrusy scent. You'd think the ginger would come roaring through, but there, in the ingredients list, is a bastard ninja ingredient: "Ginger root, orange bergamot mint, lemon thyme, anise hyssop, anise seeds and blackberry leaves".

If the ingredients were listed in terms of flavor rather than quantity, it would be: "Lemon thyme, ha ha, you thought you were buying orange ginger mint anything".

Like hibiscus, I can't not taste thyme. I thought the ginger would curbstomp everything else, but it's the thyme that comes out swinging, all medicinal and sticky. The sample could be stale, but I'm betting the dirty stale flavor is simply what happens to ginger after it fights thyme, just as the line-up of citrus-ish herbs and mint have conspired to create a vaguely disinfectant aftertaste.

I add a teaspoon of honey* in hopes of making the cup more palatable, maybe teasing out the mint or clarifying the citrus flavors. While it makes the orange-ishness more pronounced in the cup, it doesn't improve the dirty taste of it. Not earthy, dirty--the difference between puerh and poo.

What really improved the flavor was letting the cup go cold. Even then, though, it tastes like picking up a cardboard box that once held mints and licking it.

The Verdict:
Oh, God no.

Maybe someone could use it as the basis of a syrup for juleps. Insane amounts of sugar and alcohol might be able to dull the taste of thyme. If not, keep drinking till you don't care anymore.

* Honey of the now: Airborne's blend of New Zealand floral honeys, which is mild and tasty and doesn't make beverages taste like honey + beverage. Never again, clover honey.

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