Sigh! I was really looking forward to this tea. New Mexico is one of my favorite places in the world and I was delighted to discover their website from which I ordered a number of samples. When it came to this tea I ordered a bit more solely based on the description and ingredient list. Biscochitos are the iconic New Mexico cookie. Hard to describe them, but if you’ve ever had one, you never forget the taste of it. I was pretty psyched to see someone had made a tea inspired by it. I will admit to have slightly been put off by roasted rice in the ingredients list, but I figured it was still worth the risk.
But the minute I poured the loose leaf tea into my steeper I knew something was off. The smell was strangely biscochitos adjacent. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but I poured the water in and waited for it to finish enfusing. After all you never know with teas, sometimes they smell one way in the cup and taste different on the palate. I drank a cup and while it wasn’t a horrible tea, it didn’t taste as it had promised. Something was off. I made a second cup and as the tea bloomed in the steeper I noticed what at first I thought were pieces of dried fruit. On closer inspection I discovered the issue. What I had mistaken for dried fruit -which I should parenthetically add would have had nothing to do with the cookie in question-what I had mistaken for dried fruit was actually a chunk of star anise. I went back and read the ingredients list on the package and even pulled up the page on their website. Both stated this tea included “anise seed.” Not star anise. But what was unmistakably in my strainer was star anise. Somehow they’d blown the recipe. I don’t need to explain to anyone the profound difference between anise seed and star anise. They are not the same plant and really register in very different ways. Somehow whoever came up with this tea didn’t know what they were doing. Or weren’t familiar with the New Mexican cookie in question. Star anise is not a substitution for anise seed, any more than orange peel is the same as bergamot. These are very distinct flavors and it’s the whole point of making good tea blends.
So very disappointed in this tea. While in and of itself it’s not a horrible tea, it is most definitely not what it was aiming for.
SIDE POINT AS SILVER LINING: I need to add that in looking for this tea to rate it, I came across a different tea company a few miles up the road in northern New Mexico. I managed to reach them to ask if their take on this tea included star anise or anise seed. Fortunately they didn’t laugh me off the phone and offered to send me a sample which they most assuredly told me included anise seed. They shared my confusion as to why anyone would use star anise. So perhaps a silver lining for me and a new customer for them.