Tea Reviews: Lemon Verbena, Lemon Meringue, and Pink Dragonfruit from Tealish
Tealish is an independent tea blender and retailer in Toronto. Their store is close to Trinity Bellwoods Park — waaay far west of where I live — so when I was nearby a few weeks ago for an event, it was the perfect opportunity to stop by their shop in person.
I ended up purchasing three teas of theirs to try, all of which were caffeine-free. Tealish doesn’t offer sample sizes, unfortunately — their minimum for purchases is 50 grams. But honestly, considering how pretty their store is and how I also snagged a free gourmet popsicle when I was there because their freezer was temporarily busted, I’m not too put out.
For many years we’ve been in love with the intoxicating fresh lemon scent and flavor of lemon verbena. The aroma is entirely unique and is best described as a clean, bright, and zesty lemon. One whiff and we were hooked! Lemon Verbena is also commonly known as Vervain in Europe where the herbal tea (tisane) is very popular.
Lemon verbena is one of those herbal teas that I’ve really been curious about, so I leapt on the opportunity to try some. However, look and smell of the leaves was very different from what I expected. I was anticipating something soft and lemony, similar to lemongrass or lemon myrtle, but the leaves look and smell like regular cooking herbs.
Tealish’s lemon verbena leaves remind me of thyme and sage in particular — they’re small, broken-up, and a soft forest green colour. There is a slight hint of lemon at the back of my nose when I sniff the dry leaf, but it’s very faint.
I brewed 2 tsp of dry leaf in a giant 2-cup mug using 95°C water for 5-10 minutes. The resulting brew was a deep greenish orange yellow that reminded me of many other herbal teas. The brewed tea smelled somewhat sweet; almost like tulsi (holy basil) but not quite. The taste was similarly herbal and mild with overtones of thyme and sage.
I’m surprised by how soothing this tea is — it’s a great caffeine-free option for the evenings, and I bet it would be perfect for when you’ve got a cold. Considering the cooking-herb flavour of this lemon verbena, I’m also curious to see what it would be like added to a marinade or to a roast.
Lemon Meringue Rooibos
A colourful blend of green and red rooibos with a smooth lemon taste reminiscent of freshly baked lemon meringue pie. With a delicious zesty lemon flavour and a perfect creamy finish, this red tea infusion is a sweet and healthy treat!
This tea is a bit of a cheat for me since I’ve had it before; I received it in one of my very first Steepster swaps. However, that was nearly a year and a half ago, and the tea I got was old and starting to lose its lustre.
The new tea that I got from Tealish? Wow. It pops. The smell when I open the bag of lemon meringue rooibos has the sort of lemony zing I was expecting the lemon verbena to have. Underneath the blast of lemon is a sweet, creamy note that I’m pretty sure is the meringue flavouring.
I brewed a teapot of this to share with my mom — an achievement in and of itself, since when she wants tea, she normally asks for just plain old “orange pokey”. I poured out a big mug for me and a medium mug for her. Looking at the wet leaves, I see bits of citrus peel and what looks like calendula petals mixed in with the rooibos.
The taste of the tea is muted compared to the smell of the dry leaf. It’s lemony and kind of sharp, but it’s not overpowering. I think the creaminess of the meringue/vanilla flavour is in there, but that flavour is shy, flitting in and out of the curtains, so to speak. I particularly like that the base is green rooibos, since red rooibos can taste too much of wood if you’re not careful.
Pink is the universal colour of love, and it’s true, we are totally in love with this combination of exotic dragonfruit, goji berries, chokeberries, elderberries, cranberries and papaya. It’s full of sweet berry goodness and delicious hot or iced! Add some fresh berries to your infusion for an extra pink pop!
The dry leaf for this tea is very chunky — you can see dried bits of dragonfruit, berries and papaya. Although I smell elderberry most strongly, I also smell the dragonfruit (mainly at the back of my nose and the roof of my mouth) and also hints of citrus. Very nice!
I’m going to admit that I made this tea twice for this review. I used half of the 50g packet to make a pitcher using 4 cups of hot water topped up with 4 cups of cold water, added some agave nectar, and left it to sit in the fridge overnight. However, this pitcher was too weak and watery in flavour.
I then brewed the remaining stuff left in the packet with 3 cups of hot water and added 3 cups of cold — but the resulting iced tea was still too weak and watery. It was a bit sweeter, but not by much.
Despite the weak flavour, I still do taste and smell fruit but it’s fairly indistinct. The tea is a pale peachy-pink, but ultimately, the nice colour wasn’t enough to wow me. You’re better off just dumping all 50g into a single pitcher and letting things work from there.
The Pink Dragonfruit tea was a disappointment, but the other two were better. The lemon meringue tea, in particular, is one that I’ll be very happy to keep in my cupboard. The lemon verbena is a soothing one that I can see being good as a sleep aid in the evenings.