Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Singing Dog Vanilla
Ingredients: Organic Black Tea, Organic Vanilla Beans, Organic Vanilla Extract, Natural Flavors, Organic Sage
Learn more about this tea here.
Whenever I’m in my local Whole Foods, I check the tea aisle. Well, I check the tea aisle in every store that I visit, but, Whole Foods is one of the few markets from which I feel comfortable purchasing tea. After having visited a discount store and seeing that they had tea that had passed its expiration date by over a year, I tend to be very picky from whom I purchase tea! Whole Foods hasn’t let me down yet.
The last time I was in Whole Foods, I found this canister of Vanilla Blackberry Sage tea (as well as a couple of other flavor options) from a company I’ve not heard from before: Singing Dog Vanilla. I’m always interested in trying teas from companies that are new to me, and the fact that Singing Dog Vanilla is a fairly local company, that cinched it for me. Into the cart it went!
The first time I brewed this tea, I brewed it the way I normally would brew a black tea: using boiling water and steeping for 2 1/2 minutes. However, my first sip told me that I should have been more cautious with the addition of the sage leaves, and should have lowered the temperature slightly. I find that with teas containing herbals (including herbal tisanes) a slightly lower temperature helps to avoid bitter tastes in the cup … and the sage in that first cup was just a tad bitter.
This time, I lowered the temperature to 195°F, and it has made a huge difference! This tastes so good! The vanilla is strong (and I was surprised to see actual VANILLA PODS in the tea as I measured the tea to brew it) and sweet and luscious. It is so creamy tasting, and I love that. I don’t need to add milk to get a creamy taste and texture out of this tea.
The black tea base is flavorful. Neither the canister nor the website mentions what type of tea is used for this blend – only that it is an organic black tea. It tastes fairly hearty though, and there is a definitely malty tone to it, so I am inclined to believe it is an Assam. It seems strong enough to stand on its own, and with the strong vanilla notes, it needs to be equally as strong, and I’m finding this base to be quite satisfying.
The sage and blackberry are more of accent notes rather than prominent flavors. The sage is stronger than the blackberry, and it adds a pleasing savory tone to the cup that offers a contrasting flavor to the sweet vanilla. The blackberry adds a hint of fruity dimension to the cup, sweet with just a hint of tartness that hits the palate toward the tail. It is not a strong blackberry taste, but, there seems to be just enough of it to add a compelling flavor to the cup, and I find that by the time I reach mid-cup, I notice more and more blackberry, especially in the aftertaste.
This is really a lovely cup of tea. I love the packaging – it is a recycled cardboard canister which houses a compostable cellophane bag that holds the tea. This company seems dedicated to providing organic, fair trade products, and I respect that. And while these things would mean very little if the tea wasn’t also delicious – the fact that it IS delicious makes it even better! This is a tea you can feel good about drinking!