Spot of Tea: Tea Forté Herbal Retreat


[Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz]

I was a little skeptical about Tea Forté's Herbal Retreat tea flavors. Blueberry Merlot? Cherry Cosmo? Mojito Marmalade? I do find a cup of tea relaxing, but I don't need my tea to taste like a cocktail—I'm perfectly fine keeping my booze and afternoon cuppa separated.

But at first sniff, the Mojito Marmalade tea really smells like marmalade, and the brewed cup has a citrusy complexity that's rare in orange-flavored teas, which are often too candy-sweet and lack any hints of aromatic orange rind. This caffeine-free tea has organic orange peel, rooibos, spearmint, and honeybush, and the flavors are well balanced (I find that rooibos too often dominates a tea blend.) This is a really nice change from cinnamon-spiced orange infusions, and it would be great alongside a buttery scone.

The Blueberry Merlot tea is a lovely purpley magenta, and has a refreshing tartness from rose hips and hibiscus. We could taste the sage in the mix, but merlot is just marketing—there's no wine involved in this tea. Still, we enjoyed the rich berrylike flavor and appreciated that it wasn't too sweet (though I'd be more likely to order a second box of the Mojito Marmalade.)

Unfortunately, the Cherry Cosmo and Kiwi Lime Ginger flavors didn't fare as well. The Kiwi Lime Ginger tea smelled a little musty, and the flavors—honeybush, ginger root, rooibos, lemon peels, plus natural kiwi and lime flavor—didn't quite mesh. The Cherry Cosmo had a nice tartness and a pop of juicy cherry flavor, but cherry's a tricky fruit to pull off—it's just too close to cough syrup for comfort. The hibiscus, cherry, apple pieces, and raspberries in this tea worked well enough together, but it wasn't really our thing.

Available online, $8.95 per tin of 20 biodegradable sachets. We received a sample for review.