Blending black teas with other varieties has become more and more popular, as tea steps farther into the light of popular culture. In some instances, this blending is done for the artisanal value, such as seeking the perfect blend of black and green teas, crafting a wonderful sensory experience. In other cases, we see blends that were created with an eye on health, such as the combining of oolong and pu'erh teas. Today's tea review falls into the former category.
Berkshire Apple & Fig by Utopia Tea seems to seek out the artisanal combination of tea that would lead to a complex, yet highly enjoyable, cup. On the tea side, black and oolong teas have been blended with rooibos to provide a solid base for the myriad of add-on ingredients. However, I do not mean to be flippant about these additions. They are what take this blend from a combination of teas to a fruitful experience. As might have been expected from the name of the tea, apple pieces and fig pieces are foremost among the ingredients. Along with them, anise, clove, and other natural flavors have been mixed, resulting in a delicious cup.
Utopia Tea recommends the standard black tea brewing procedure for Berkshire Apple & Fig. One teaspoon of tea should be steeped in eight ounces of just-boiled water for three to five minutes. For this cup, I steeped a teaspoon and a half in twelve ounces of water for four minutes. During the steep, I compared aromas. In the dry mixture, the sweetness of the apple is highly off-set by the spicy bite of the clove and sweet spiciness of the anise. The fig lends some underlying aroma, but the non-tea ingredients mostly dominate the smell. From the cup, I can smell the apple, black tea, and rooibos, foremost. The fig and apple really blend together well. Four minutes has finally passed, and the tea has cooled slightly.
First taste impressions: wow, it certainly lives-up to the apple and fig name! I do not mean that in a bad sense. The fruit flavors are by no means overwhelming. The first sip simply carries a lot of them. The small sips that I take of this cup tend to do that. I also note the rooibos hovering behind the apple flavors, emphasizing their juiciness. A larger sip of tea opens more of the body to my taste buds. The black tea sits solidly in the background, lending its depth to the taste. I wish I knew what kind of oolong was used. There is a tea flavor present that I think is the oolong, but knowing the type of oolong would help to identify the flavors more specifically. The clove and anise have not been forgotten. They linger on the tongue, long after the tea has been swallowed, but provide a sweet spiciness to the core of the flavor, as well.
With Berkshire Apple & Fig, I find myself mulling over every sip, savoring the blending of flavors, while trying to identify each of them individually. The overall flavors are dry, yet juicy enough that the cup feels dynamic. I wish that I could urge you to try it, but, unfortunately, Utopia Tea has closed their store. I still highly recommend it, and on my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate this tea a 94/100.
EDIT March 17, 2015: Great news - Utopia Tea is relaunching and their products should be available soon at their site, here.
Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Utopia Tea is no longer open for business.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Text is copyright 2015, Built from Ink and Tea.