Just as spring begins to arrive, an unwelcome fever and cold always seems to knock on my door. Whenever that headache/sinus pressure starts to creep up on me, I like to set rules for myself, promising that I'll be spared getting really sick if I drink that whole container of orange juice, or refill my water glass three times. I load up on vitamins and sleep, but I also try to push hot liquids like it's my full-time job. So after a day or two of same-old Earl Grey, Lemon Ginger, and Sleepytime, I'm pretty bored with the tea I have on hand.
In general, I'm a purist when it comes to tea: high quality teas are so beautiful and diverse in flavor, and we hardly have time to explore them all. When was the last time you splurged on a stellar oolong? Have you explored the world of Darjeeling?
But blends and flavored teas can offer even more variety, and give you the chance to drink something a little fun and different. The Parisian tea specialists at Le Palais des Thés recently introduced a new lineup of flavored blends, and sent us a few sample packs to try. Here's what we thought.
La Fleur d'Oranger
Made with Chinese green tea needles, citrus peels, orange blossom petals, and natural flavor, this tea felt comforting and gentle, melding floral, grassy, and citrusy in a mellow cup. If you're sensitive to floral teas that remind you too much of your grandma's potpourri, you might want to pass on this one, but we liked the way the silky green tea was just softly vegetal, like the sweet hearts of artichokes. If you're looking for fruity-juicy orange spice, this isn't what you want, but if you are looking for green tea with just a touch of unusual flavor, give this one a try.
La Menthe Glaciale
If La Fleur d'Oranger was mellow and soft, La Menthe Glaciale is a minty punch in the face, even though it has much more green tea in the blend than peppermint leaves. The scent might remind you of Crest, and the flavor is fresh and bright—it even leaves your tongue tingling a little. It might be good with a some sugar, Moroccan style. This is a tea we'd definitely drink again to break out of that afternoon slump.
The unbrewed leaves smell a bit like something you might use to clean the house, but this black tea from Sri Lanka, blended with natural lemon flavors and Immortelle petals ends up pretty pleasing, the black tea keeping things dry and earthy, and the lemon flavor is delicate enough to accentuate the brightness of the tea. It does stray a bit toward lemon-peel flavor rather than fresh juice, though, so we'd probably prefer just steeping high quality black tea and adding a squeeze of lemon.
Green tea purists are never gonna go for this stuff, but this blend of Mao Feng green tea leaves with pear pieces, natural flavor, and marigold flower petals offers a soothing, fruity scent, much more like roasted pears than tea. The sweet aroma might lead you to expect a sweet, over-the-top cup, but the steeped blend is mellow and earthy, with only the subtlest pear flavor, kept from being sugary from the slight bitter grassiness of the tea. But does the pear flavor improve the tea? We're not sure it does.
Have you tried the Les Plaisirs Purs Teas? What did you think? Got any other flavored teas to recommend? If this spring cold is going to stick around, we're going to need to stock up...