Another Teavana tea of the month for March. (Hmm. Wonder when April’s teas will show up?)
And another I would not have selected were it not a tea of the month club offering. Confession time: I am no longer sure how I feel about rooibos (but don’t let rooibos know, k?).
When I first started trying to become a tea drinker, I liked it quite a bit. I think I liked it because it was (a) different from other drinks I’d had, and therefore novel, and (b) such a good flavor enabler. It may be particularly attractive to recent converts because it forms the backbone of so many interesting sounding drinks that, when you’re first getting your feet wet after less than stellar experiences, sound appealing because it’s almost like not drinking a tea-like beverage. Like Rootbeer Float and Tiramisu. The more excellent loose leaf Camellia Sinensis I drink, the less appeal these frou-frou approximations of existing beverages or foods have, though I remain a sucker for a good flavored black tea.
So say what you will about it, rooibos does have the very endearing quality of being an excellent backdrop. It’s the tofu of the tea world. It doesn’t have a strong flavor of its own, and the flavor that it has is mild and neutral. So it basically takes on the flavor of whatever is next to it. It loves the one it’s with.
Mostly, successful rooibos blends seem to be about the proportion of whatever the other flavor is to the rooibos. At least, I find the more successful ones to be those that sit the rooibos in the corner and don’t let it talk too much.
And that is why I find Rooibos Tropica to be a successful blend. It has a wonderful strawberry/peach smell when dry and is pretty to look at. It looks like dried rosemary dotted with blue, white and reddish-purple flower petals. (I agree with the quiet life, I don’t think there is any red rooibos in there. The ingredients on the bag don’t list it. Maybe they did change the blend.) When infused, the aroma is strawberry, peach, and a somewhat green note which could be from the rooibos, or the flower petals, or both.
It doesn’t seem that sweet to me, though strawberry is definitely present in the flavor and I’m finding Teavana’s strawberry to provide some degree of sweetness to their blends. Without the strawberry, I don’t think it would be at all sweet. If I try really hard I can taste something that seems like peach, and something that seems like orange. But what I find interesting about the flavor is that the ingredients together have some sort of synergy going on, where the sum of the individual parts is greater and different than the whole. As a whole, it’s a tutti-frutti mixture that suggests mango, pineapple, even banana — basically all the fruits you’d find on Carmen Miranda’s hats — even though none of those are identified as ingredients. And the rooibos is sitting in the corner, quietly, exactly as it should be.
So this gets a high rating for being an excellent example of its genre. Tied with the SpecialTeas Rooibos Lemon Chiffon, which I have not had in a while and need to revisit to see if recalibration is in order. However, whether I buy more is still an open question given my current doubts about my relationship with rooibos.