Last year I took a vacation to San Diego for a Doctor Who convention, and my friend and I had a high tea at Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe. This was the tea I selected to accompany my meal, and I remember enjoying it then so I bought some from my shop haul, but trying it now I’m a bit underwhelmed. And I normally really love black/rooibos blends, as I usually find that I really like the way the two teas end up complimenting each other, with the rooibos naturally sweetening up the tea and mellowing out a lot of the astringent bite I don’t care for in a lot of black teas. It really should be the exact sort of tea I love, but it seems a bit hit or miss whether I get a nice cuppa from it, despite using consistent steeping parameters.
The leaf has a really nice fruity smell. It is a quite punchy aroma, with a lot of sweet and tart fruity notes; I pick up this cran-strawberry scent, and perhaps a bit of passionfruit, with a touch of underlying rooibos. After brewing, I still smell a lot of sweet strawberry, as well as tarter fruit notes like cranberry and pomegranate, and oddly enough, a somewhat grapey scent.
The flavor of the tea is quite fruity, with some noticable sweeter, strawberry accompanied by some very subtle floral notes in the opening sip, with a bit of a tart fruit kick of a combination of cranberry and pomegranate flavors that linger on the tongue in the finish. There are a lot of tropical flavors in the blend, but they get a bit lost, as I can’t make out any of the pineapple or mango, unless they are presenting themselves as that subtle floral note. The base of the tea is its main downfall; the black tea leaves a bit of a tannic finish, so if you get a bit too much black in the teaspoon, I find it feels a little more bitter than I tend to prefer. But the rooibos in this blend has a very medicinal/cough syrupy taste, which is a flavor note I don’t typically pick up on from rooibos unless I ice it (Perhaps they are using a lower quality rooibos in the blend? Or that particular note just makes itself present to me around the other flavors in the tea? I have no idea!) So if there is too much rooibos in the teaspoon, it tastes a bit cough syrupy to me. And it seems on any given scoop, I just don’t seem to get a magic combination where the cup comes out really nice. Some cups are more on the astringent side but don’t have that medicinal edge at all, and some taste quite medicinal to me, but aren’t leaving that bitter drying taste in my mouth every sip. I’ve definitely had some come out better than others, but none that I’d rank as highly as I remember during my high tea at the restaurant. I don’t normally sweeten my teas, but a little sugar does seem to help this one all around.
I liked the fruity flavor, but the parts of the whole just didn’t all come together in the right ways on this one.
Flavors: Astringent, Cranberry, Floral, Fruity, Medicinal, Rooibos, Strawberry, Tannic, Tart