Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Rangsaa: Insignia Romance, A Tea Review

So, remember that ham I made the other day? I decided to use part of it in a classic soup, one that I am pretty sure is regional to Pennsylvania Dutch (yes yes, I know it is a mistranslation of Pennsylvania Deutsch and they are actually German)  and Amish in that region, because that is the only time I ever had it. It is a very simple soup, all you need is ham, green beans, potatoes, and a bit of salt and pepper, super easy but surprisingly tasty. I decided to make it in the crock pot using fresh beans, a bit of broth and all the ham drippings (I wanted it rich) with potatoes and a ton of garlic...and sadly it came out tasting blech. It was not bad, just super bland...which caught me off guard, because ham...I guess a crock pot is not the most ideal place for a ham. *sigh*

Today's tea is a peculiar blend that arrived to me from India, Rangsaa's Insignia Romance, a blend of Green Tippy Tea, Lemongrass, Licorice Root, Rosella (Hibiscus), Brazil Wood, Stevia and Cloves, several ingredients I adore, one I kinda hate, and more excitingly...one I have not had before! You all know my obsession with trying new things, I need to expand my tasting lexicon! I only know of Brazil Wood's use as a dye and use in musical instruments (specifically, bows for string instruments) I had no idea it could be consumed. Granted I could be getting my woods confused, it could be Sappanwood, which is related to Brazilwood, from India, and mixed with cloves and other spices to make a tasty drink. I could tell the difference if I was looking at the trees, not so much from wood bits in a tea blend (I am not that cool, sadly.) So botany aside, the aroma of the blend is fascinating! Notes of gentle spice from the cloves, lemony lemongrass, tartness from the hibiscus, licorice sweetness, a grassy quality from the stevia, and of course the Brazil Wood. It smells like a blend of dry hardwood from a fruit tree, sandalwood, honey locust wood, and a slight underlying earthiness like henna. It is a very evocative of incense and exotic locations, giving the mind a journey with each sniff.

The first time I steeped this tea, I did it completely straight, I was advised that this tea makes for some fascinating mixed drinks, and tastes amazing with fruit added in...but before I did that I wanted to see what it was like unaltered. It is strong in the hibiscus department, granted the usual tart death of red flowers is mitigated by the natural sweetness of stevia and licorice, so it does not make me fall over twitching like straight hibiscus will do. I never really know why I can handle super sour (I mean I eat lemons quite often, salted lemons are a favorite snack of mine) and I like bitter, but tart just causes me to be much like a cat on a leash. People and their weird taste preferences!! The aroma of the tea and the leaves is wonderful, I don't care how tart it is, I could sniff it for hours, I like the other notes but that Brazil Wood is something else. Such strong notes of sandalwood, honey locust wood, henna, and fruit wood, it blends wonderfully with the clove and even the tartness from the hibiscus.

So I played around with different combinations of fruits and additives until I found my favorite, which was a blend of dried pears and apple juice. Sadly I am drinking this in winter, so my fruit options are pitiful (nothing is more depressing than out of season fruits) and my selection is small. During winter I pretty much only eat dried fruit and fruit juices as my fruit source, it works but I find myself pining for fresh pears and mangoes, of course, it also doesn't help that I live far away from the production regions of all my favorite fruits! Blending with the dried pears and apple juice really ramp up the sweetness, the hibiscus qualities I can taste are distant flowers and a touch of tartness (like canned cranberry sauce) and definitely within my threshold of tartness enjoyment. I found the dried pear (pears, when dried, taste more of raw honey and have an almost earthy quality that fresh ones lack) worked really well with the Brazil Wood and cloves, complimenting the woody sandalwood and fruit wood notes and of course pears and spices always taste great. I have a small stash of this set aside specifically for summer, I want to try this tea iced with mangoes and papaya! I also (probably this week) intend on using some of the tea to make the cookie recipe on their website, because baking with tea is a passion!

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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