Leaf Type: White
Where to Buy: 52Teas
This week’s tea is a spiced brandy flavored shou mei with cinnamon, cardamom, clove, black peppercorns and a little anise seed. It’s like a hard apple cider without the apple, or maybe you’d rather think of it as a brandy flavored white chai. However you think of it, it’s a spicy cup of warming goodness, guaranteed to take the chill out of your bones on a crisp autumn day.
Learn more about this blend here.
I categorized this as a Chai because it is indeed very chai-like.
The aroma of the dry leaf isn’t as chai-like as I expected it to be, though. (And by “chai-like,” I mean the spiced tea that we’ve come to recognize as “chai” here in the U.S.) Instead, it’s very brandy-ish. It almost smells like bubble gum … fruity and sweet, but there is a distinct fermentation to the aroma as well, the way that I’d imagine brandy to smell. Since I’m not big on alcohol or how it smells, I can only imagine that this is what brandy would smell like … but it does smell very appealing!
Brewed, this takes on a more chai-spice fragrance, with the aroma of cardamom, cinnamon and anise being the strongest scents I detect. I also smell the brandy, and the bouquet of the brandy combined with the aromatic spices is really very intoxicating! It’s soothing and relaxing … like something I’d want in a candle or air freshener! I wonder how well a Spiced Brandy air freshener would go over?
The flavor … well, imagine Shou Mei, flavored with brandy and masala spices. Yeah, that’s what it tastes like. The Shou Mei offers a little more body and flavor than a Bai Mu Dan would, and I think with the stronger flavors of spice and brandy that is just what was needed. It is a crisp, slightly vegetative (think freshly cut hay rather than grass here), and light, with a fair amount of astringency which I think is highlighted due to the presence of the brandy flavor. It gives this an almost “warm, mulled brandy” kind of finish.
The spices are delightful here, and I realize that the reason I’m so over the moon for this is the anise. It is in there! Not a hint of it either. It is a prominent spice, but at the same time, I find a nice balance. This isn’t overly cinnamon-y or clove-y. The pepper is a bit of a background note. The cardamom and cinnamon and clove are on equal footing with the anise shining through a little stronger than the others. And that’s just the way I like it. I love anise, and while it can be a polarizing spice, I am glad that 52Teas had the guts to include it in this blend. It really accents the brandy in a very flavorful way.
I’m really enjoying this, and it does, indeed, take the chill off a cold, autumn-y day like today!
Anne started her journey with tea as a casual drinker and became more serious about her tea drinking when she realized that she couldn't drink coffee. Shortly thereafter, she started becoming obsessed with the beverage and she started creating small-batch, artisan blends of tea that she sold online as LiberTEAS. After a few years, she realized she wasn't cut out to be the sole proprietor of a business so she closed LiberTEAS and started reviewing teas online. She met Jennifer through another blog that they both reviewed for and they decided to start their own review blog. This review blog!
Throughout her journey as a tea reviewer, she discovered 52Teas and became enamored with the idea of creating a new tea every week. When the founder of 52Teas decided he wanted to move on, he offered the business to Anne but knowing that she wasn't cut out to be a sole proprietor, she instead offered the company to her oldest daughter who employs her as the Mad Tea Artist for 52Teas!