Yes, that New Zealand. I didn’t know they grew tea there either until recently, when I was perusing the website of the Rare Tea Company after reading the book Infused by the Rare Tea Lady. I hadn’t heard of her company before reading the book so I decided to see what they had to offer. A lot, it turns out. And, as the name implies, some rare teas indeed. When I saw they had tea grown in New Zealand, well I just had to have it.
I used my standard black tea brewing parameters, which is 200F water, 4 grams of leaf, and steep times of 15 seconds plus 5. The dry leaf gave off aromas of fruit and malt. It’s usually one or the other with black teas, but not both. I am intrigued.
The first flavor that I got was fruit. It reminded me of Ruby 18, which was a very fruity candy tasting black tea from Taiwan. But the fruit flavor wasn’t quite as strong as Ruby. There was also a malty note to it. But the texture on this was very thick. It was also smooth with no astringency and the finish was not too long.
The second infusion was very thick as well. The fruit notes weren’t as strong but it was still quite enjoyable. I’m having a hard time describing the flavor of this one. It was part fruit and part malt but I feel like I’m missing something there that I can’t quite put my finger on.
On the third infusion the fruit flavor came back stronger. Besides that, it was still very thick. The closest thing I can describe the texture to would be like a fruit slushy. Not thick like a smoothie, but the feeling of this tea in my mouth reminded me of a slushy.
It didn’t change any for the fourth infusion.
This tea was really surprising, and is indeed a rare tea. This might be the thickest textured black tea that I’ve ever had. At one point, it felt like I was drinking oil, but really tasty oil :). I was surprised to see the leaves were broken. I imagine they are machine picked in a place like New Zealand where labor is costly. I wouldn’t have guessed that they were broken when tasting them.
Now for the fun part. How much does it cost? It is currently $23.07 for 50 grams. 4 grams per session is 12 sessions per tin, which is $1.92 per session. You can get at least 5 infusions maybe up to 8 or 9, I am not sure, but let’s use 5. At 5 infusions per session, that is $.38 per cup. At 8 infusions per session, it is $.24 per cup. This price is a bit higher than the average black tea for sure, but it is grown in New Zealand. The $23 up front is a decent sized purchase, for me anyway. I don’t think is a daily drinker tea, but to have a tea that’s grown in such an unusual place, and to have it as a special occasion tea, I think it’s worth that price.
Just a note on shipping, Rare is a British company, but they do have a warehouse in the states. This means shipping is not too expensive and it’s pretty fast for my fellow Americans.
Also, the qi on this tea is quite strong. I’ve only had four infusions, and I am feeling quite relaxed. Cheers!