Leaf Type: Spice Melange
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.
Award-winning nostalgic aniseed, star anise + liquorice herbal tea blend
This blend won the highest food award in the country. The judges said: ‘Truly original and delicious infusion that packs a true punch.. finally a blend that’s blokey’! It’s also the nation’s favourite childhood sweet. Not just our opinion, it’s fact. There was a survey, questionnaire and everything.
Learn more about this blend here.
When Bluebird Tea Co. asked me what teas I’d like to try, this one was near the top of my list. After reading the ingredient list, you might wonder why it was that this was one of the teas I requested…
Ingredients: Liquorice, Aniseed, Star Anise, Hibiscus, Stevia, Chilli.
I mean, this tisane has two of my “I’d rather this tisane not have this ingredient” ingredients: hibiscus and stevia. So you might be wondering why I’d choose this tea. But this tisane also has three of the ingredients that I love to see in teas/tisanes: Licorice, Aniseed and Star Anise! And I guess my requesting this tisane proves that my love for these three ingredients overpowers my disdain for the hibiscus and stevia.
Oh, I’m still wishing that the hibiscus and stevia weren’t in there. Before even taking a sip, I’m thinking that it would be a better tisane without them, although it isn’t really a fair assessment because I haven’t yet taken a sip.
The dry leaf is gorgeous. Lots of whole pieces of star anise! They’re so pretty. It smells delightful too: sweet, warm and zesty.
To steep this tisane, I used my Kati Tumbler. (I prefer to use this device when I’m brewing a spiced tea/tisane like this because when I brew a spiced tea in my Breville, the spices become “embedded” in the tea maker and it requires a soak in baking soda to get the odors to release. Then again, I need to soak my Breville anyway, so maybe I should have used it to steep this!) I measured out 1 1/2 bamboo scoops of the tisane into the basket of the Kati and then poured hot water (195°F) over the tisane and let it steep for 8 minutes.
Ordinarily, when brewing a tisane with hibiscus, I steep it for 6 minutes or less. However, I could see very little hibiscus in the loose leaf blend so I figured that this tisane could benefit from a little more time. Spices need time to get their flavors to release fully.
OK! So now it’ sip time. I can definitely taste the hibiscus. Next time I try this tisane, I might go with 6 1/2 or 7 minutes rather than a full 8 minutes. That said, it doesn’t taste too hibiscus-y. But I’m still wishing it wasn’t there.
That said, this is really quite nice despite the presence of hibiscus and stevia. And for those who don’t really mind hibiscus quite so much, it does add an interesting tart, berry like flavor to the cup. It’s a little bit tart and I can feel the insides of my cheeks pucker slightly as I take a sip, but because there is enough going on with this blend from the warmth of the chili to the zesty sweetness from the licorice-y notes, I find that the tartness doesn’t upset me.
The stevia adds sweetness (obviously) and this is a nice contrast to the spicy chili tone. And take note: even though chili is listed as the last ingredient, this tisane has a real spicy kick to it from the chili! I can feel the heat at the back of my throat. It’s not too spicy or hot. I’m not running to the kitchen to find something to temper the heat. But it is warm enough to alert the sensors in the mouth that something spicy is dancing around the palate.
But the three real stars of this cup are the licorice, star anise and aniseed! This has a really lovely licorice-y flavor! If you are a fan of black licorice, this tisane should be at the top of your must try list! This has a lot of snappy licorice flavor! Sweet and zesty. It reminds me so much of the black licorice candy that I love. In fact, it tastes as though someone liquefied some black licorice candy and then served that in a cup with a splash of hibiscus, a pinch or two of chili pepper and a little bit of sweetener.
I like this served straight up without additions but it would also be quite nice with a cinnamon stick garnish. (I like the combination of cinnamon and licorice.) Really, it doesn’t need anything other than that. It could do without the hibiscus, although I’m not hating that the hibiscus is there. The same goes for the stevia. I like the little bit of sweetness that the stevia adds to this. It’s enough sweetness without getting that funky flavor that I sometimes taste from stevia in teas. Bonus!
Yet another huge win for Bluebird Tea Company!