Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: M&K’s Tea Company on Etsy
Broo! Spooked ya, scared ya. This tea doesn’t have real witches inside (apparently that’s illegal), but it does have witch hazel bark! Witch’s Brew combines sweet Ceylon tea and hearty Assam tea with sleepy-inducing chamomile and a host of other herbs in order to blend into this secret holiday brew. Try it with some cream and sugar for a real treat!
Learn more about this tea here.
By now, you may have already read some of my praise of this Etsy company. One of the things that I’m so pleased with is their customer service. But I didn’t go into detail with why I’m so impressed with them. Here’s my tale:
I placed my order with them and the next business day, I received an email telling me that the order has shipped. Along with that email, I was provided a tracking number (I like that. It’s not something that all companies do, but I think they should. It would provide great peace of mind to their customers.)
Later, I received a message from M&K’s that there was a problem with my shipment. Apparently, the package that I was sent wasn’t my order, it was someone else’s, but they were sending out the correct package. They told me to keep the wrong package as well. I told them that to “compensate” for the loss, that I would be writing about the “extra” teas that I’d be receiving.
When the wrong order arrived, I was aghast at how many samplers were inside the box! Wowza! It was an exceptional opportunity to try so many of this company’s teas – teas that I hadn’t ordered in my original sampler.
A couple of days later, the teas that I had ordered arrived. Inside the box was not only the five samplers that I ordered but a free sample as well (I like that too. Again, not something that all tea companies do, but I think they should. It not only feels like a “free gift” for the customer, but it may well turn into additional business for the company. If the customer likes the sample that they try, they might order it again.)
In addition, there was a handwritten note thanking me for my order. I really appreciate those little touches. It makes me feel like I’m buying from a real person and not a company. It makes me feel like that person sees me as a real person and not just a number.
So, even though this company made a mistake with my order, they more than made up for the error. I appreciate that a lot. And while the mistake was an “error in my favor,” I have no doubt that M&K’s made it up to the person who was “shortchanged” with this mistake. That just seems to be the kind of company that they are. And that’s the kind of company that I appreciate and want to do business with. And because it seems like companies like this can be a rarity (I’ve found quite a few WONDERFUL tea companies that are a pleasure doing business with), you want to continue to do business with them so that they stay around!
Let’s get on with this review, shall we?
This Witch’s Brew is actually the first tea from my actual, original order with M&K’s. The ingredient list intrigued me:
CEYLON AND ASSAM BLACK TEAS, TOASTED BLACK RICE, CHAMOMILE, HONEY-ROASTED LICORICE ROOT (LICORICE ROOT, HONEY), CAT’S CLAW, HELICHRYSUM FLOWERS, WITCH HAZEL BARK, SKULLCAP HERB, ENGLISH TOFFEE NATURAL FLAVOR BLEND.
It looks like a recipe straight out of a witch’s recipe book, doesn’t it? Well, except for the Ceylon and Assam tea.
I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, as it does look like a lot is going on with this blend. But, I was intrigued by it so I decided I’d give it a try. That’s one of the cool things about these samplers. You get just enough to “try” out the tea and the cost is minimal.
The black tea offers a solid background of flavor without being too powerful. It doesn’t overpower the herbs and spices in this blend – and this tea does seem to be a little more about the whole of the ingredient list (at least for me!) so I’m glad that I can taste these other flavors.
I am getting a fair amount of flavor from the licorice root and I taste the honey roasted-ness of it. I don’t know that I’ve tried honey-roasted licorice root before, but I do like the way the honey roasting softens the bite that I’d normally experience from licorice root.
Don’t get me wrong, I love that sharp snap of the licorice root, but it’s nice to get a sweeter, more subdued licorice note too. I also am getting a sweet flavor from the toffee notes and the honey notes meld nicely with the toffee. I think that these two components work together to complement each other and bring out the best in one another.
The chamomile is a fairly strong flavor which actually kind of surprised me. I hadn’t expected to taste much of the chamomile in the presence of other strong flavors in the cup, but I am getting that apple-y note that I often get from chamomile. And I think that the floral notes of the chamomile accentuate the helichrysum flowers as well, because there is a flowery note to this as well.
The tea, toffee, honey roasted licorice, chamomile and helichrysum are the strongest notes, but I’m also tasting a light nutty flavor from the rice, and other herbaceous flavors. Notes of bitter that I attribute to the skullcap. I think that the bitterness might be accented by the witch hazel bark and the cat’s claw.
Like I said, this tea has a lot going on. Maybe a bit too much going on, and I could have done without the bitterness that I experienced from a few of the herbs in this. That said, even with the notes of bitter, I’m enjoying this beverage and am nearly finished with the cup. I find that the flavors become smoother and more unified as the cup cools, so if you do get try this one, I recommend letting it cool for a few minutes first.
Steeping parameters I used: 1 heaping bamboo scoop of tea in the basket of my Kati Tumbler, 12 ounces of water heated to 205°, steeped for 3 minutes.