Monday, November 3, 2014

Wize Monkey: Coffee Leaf Tea: Armando's Original Blend, a Tea Review

Guys, I cooked, I made dinner, and it wasn't a disaster! In fact I can safely say this is my first Italian style pasta sauce I have ever made, yay for pasta puttanesca. The inspiration for this dish hit me this afternoon when I was grocery shopping and missing Ben's food (he is a bit famous for his various sauces) my version was very different, but turned out delicious. Plus the corn pasta I used could have fooled everyone into thinking they were getting regular pasta. so that is always a win. In case any of my cheese loving friends are curious, I also picked up a large (and I mean really large) block of Smoked Gouda to experiment with and see which teas go best with my favorite cheese.

Today's tea is a fun little tisane that blends two archenemies, coffee and tea (I guess it is more of a cold war really since you always see them hanging out together in the same beverage places and grocery store aisles) really they should just get along. Wize Monkey's Coffee Leaf Tea: Armando's Original Blend is pretty much an olive branch between the warring factions, it is an herbal tea made from the leaves of the coffee plant. One of the things that caught my attention (other than the offer of samples on the steepster forum) was calling attention to the humble leaf of the coffee plant, and using it to hopefully increase the livelihood of coffee farmers. They have a Kickstarter starting in a few days, just in case any of my curious friends are interested. So let me tell you about these leaves, their aroma is pretty unique, it is a pungent blend of green unroasted coffee, hemp, and a sharpness reminiscent of green tea. It reminds me of summers, specifically in the 90s where beach themed hemp bracelets were all the rage and you wore them constantly, they would heat up and the woody and slightly earthy aroma would waft out of them. I only ever enjoyed wearing the blasted things because the smell was fun, and so this tea also was fun.

Brewing time! I took it out of the little 'fill your own' style tea bag it came in and used my basket, it might mean I get some bits in my cup, but when has that ever bothered me? The aroma is pretty strong, the kitchen smells like hemp, green beans, a little bit of that distinctive black tea briskness you get, and very earthy quality of peat. There was also another note right at the end that took me quite a bit of memory searching before I isolated it, oak galls, oddly as a kid I would collect them and use them for ink, they have a very sharp, tannic smell, and it is kinda enjoyable. The liquid without said leaves has a blend of cooked (and slightly burnt) pinto beans, peat, and a finishing note of dark chocolate. This is a very unusual thing and I find it fascinating.

Ok, so the taste, it is a bit unlike anything I have experienced before (which is always very exciting) it starts off with an herbaceous note of thyme, bay and a tiny bit of sage. This transfers to a bit of a medicinal herbal taste, it is not bitter like medicine, but it has a medicinal tone to it, combine this with the surprising internal cooling effect and it ends up reminding me of mint but without the 'mintiness' to it and yes, that is totally a word now. There is also a really fun note towards the end that had me almost giggling, it tastes exactly like the way Vitex smells, once upon a time my mother had a huge Vitex in her yard and I would hover around it because I loved its sharp, almost peppery aroma. The finish is wildflower honey sweet with a hint of straw, the honey tones lingered for a bit. This was an unusual drink, I found myself enjoying it despite (or maybe because of) its strangeness. I will say that it does not mix well with corn chips and salsa, sadly, but I have not found a tea yet that does.
Sauce! Lots of basil :D

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