With all of the recent humidity in Toronto, my iced tea pitcher has been getting a real workout! Plus, as someone who probably buys too much tea for my own good, iced tea is great because making it cold uses up more leaf than making it hot.
Of course, that would help if I didn’t keep buying new tea to brew iced. It’s pretty much a no-win situation. I have way too much tea, but it’s too tasty to stop.
Anyways, as part of my little shopping spree from Zen Tea a few months ago, I bought a few blends that seemed like they would be perfect for iced tea. Here’s a quick look.
I bought a 10-gram sample of this tea back in February, which is the perfect size to cold-brew a litre of tea — so that’s what I did.
Pouring out the dry leaf, I was greeted by an intensely rich, juicy, fruity smell. If I hadn’t known the mix was supposed to be cranberry-mango flavoured, I would have had a hard time guessing. In fact, the whole thing smelled like gummy bears! The aroma was sweet, tart, juicy, and very vibrant.
I mean, are you surprised when you look at leaves like these? Dark green needles of broken up leaf interspersed with chunks of dried cranberry and mango. This is pretty sweet!
I took this loveliness, filled my pitcher halfway up with cold water and let it steep in the fridge for about 12 hours. The resulting brew was a golden yellow-green colour with an aroma that matched that of the dry leaf.
The taste was pretty good to match! Juicy, fruity, sweet, with a hint of the earthiness and vegetal flavour of the green tea underneath. The interplay between the base and the flavouring was really solidly balanced. The green tea flavour was kind of sharp, but not so sharp that it became bitter or seaweedy — it was fresh-tasting and green in a way that complemented the fruit well. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the final brewed product because for some reason, WordPress hates me.
You can buy Cranberry Mango green tea from Zen Tea here.
Sweet Tropical Fruits
This was another 10-gram sample that I bought a few months back. And, like the Cranberry Mango tea, I decided to steep this one directly in cold water rather than hot.
The dry leaf here was gorgeous. Strands of black tea leaves were mixed in with dried chunks of papaya, pineapple, orange peel and orange blossoms, resulting in a blend that looked delicious and festive.
The leaf smelled sweet and fruity. I wasn’t able to pick out notes of individual fruits, but the overall aroma was sweet and somewhat musty, with a strong overtone of vanilla and cream
I took the entire packet and steeped it with cold water in the fridge for about 12 hours, and added some agave nectar to heighten the sweetness.
However, the resulting tea was bitter, and the sharpness of the tea leaf base overwhelmed the fruit flavours. I got an overall soft, sweet flavour from the fruit, but it was rather generic and bland, with a strong candied note on top of the fruit notes. It was more vanilla than fruit to me. This was pretty surprising considering just how many chunks of dried fruit were visible in the dry leaf — I wasn’t expecting them to taste so weak.
Diluting the tea with some water and adding some more agave nectar helped to cut down the bitterness, but it failed to make the fruit flavours pop in a way that I was hoping for. However, the brew was a lovely peach colour — sort of a blushy pink — and that helped mitigate my disappointment with the result. I probably would have been better off filling the pitcher all the way to the top with cold water rather than halfway.
You can buy Sweet Tropical Fruits black tea from Zen Tea here.
Sweet Coconut Island
I bought this tea after a fellow Steepster user recommended it. They were gaga over it, saying it was one of their favourite fruit blends, so how could I ignore such an endorsement?
Because this was an herbal tea that contained only chunks of fruit, I decided to get 50 grams instead of only 10 — 10 grams of such a dense, heavy tea would have been too little to experiment with.
Opening up the package, I was greeted with a colourful mix of dried chunks of carrot, pineapple, coconut, apple, and pumpkin. If you look closely at the picture, you can pick out the carrot and pumpkin pieces in particular, which are a sort of muted orange here amid the white flakes of coconut and the glassy chunks of candied pineapple.
As expected, the smell was amazing — a rich, sweet, juicy smell of pina colada from the pineapple and coconut. Tropical! I was pleasantly surprised by how much the pineapple and coconut dominated the scent considering they weren’t as prominent in the dried leaf compared to the other ingredients.
Because the tea leaf was made of such thick chunks, I decided to brew this one with boiling water rather than cold water to give the pieces a chance to reconstitute properly. So I took half the package (about 27 grams), poured about 6 cups of cold water in the pitcher, let the pitcher sit on the counter for about half an hour, then put the whole thing in the fridge to cool for the rest of the day.
The resulting tea was a pale amber with a touch of cloudiness. Maybe it was the coconut that made it cloudy, or that there was so much dried fruit in general? It looked very promising.
However, the promise didn’t hold up to the taste. While I certainly did taste pineapple and coconut, to me the carrot and pumpkin flavours won out. They made the whole thing taste starchy and pale, rather than juicy and vibrant like I was expecting. I still have half the packet left, so I’ll need to see how it tastes when brewed with less water. Right now, though, this tea was a bit of a letdown.
You can buy Sweet Coconut Island fruit tea from Zen Tea here.