An exciting thing happened to me over the weekend. I wasn’t really planning on writing this blog at all until about halfway through part two of the exciting thing, and then I realized that since one of my books is heavily based inside of a teashop, I should probably review the teas that I bought this weekend.
TEA REVIEW TIME!
No, this is not going to become a regular thing.
Maybe it should? Be quiet.
Last week, I got the Jolie Tea newsletter for Jan/Feb, and I could not believe my eyes.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND THEMED TEA
Oh my holy magic. I honestly did a happy dance, and then tried, unsuccessfully, to get to Jolie all week. Not only is Mason’s novel almost primarily in a teahouse (aptly named Madhouse), it’s hugely inspired by Alice in Wonderland. They have a white cat named Dinah. Mason uses 10/6 as a reference for where he is when he’s trying to be discreet. He’s addicted to tea (literally). (There will be more eventually when I get around to writing it again.)
I was at a teacher training all weekend, and was so exhausted on Saturday that I just went home (and tried to go see The Greatest Showman, but it was SOLD OUT a whole freaking month after it’s been in theaters, so we ended up wandering around Target for an hour before Netflixing Sing, which was hilarious and honestly everything that I needed right then). But then Sunday rolls around, and we got out early from the training, so I ran some errands with my parents since I hadn’t seen them that much on Saturday and because wink wink nudge nudge.
Have you ever been to Jolie? Do yourselves this favor, please and thank you. It’s in Salem, right across from the Hawthorne, and it’s the most magical place on the planet. They’re offering a 1oz sampler of all four teas from the Down the Rabbit Hole collection for only $18 (!!!!! that’s so cheap!), which includes Off With Her Head, Alice, Wonderland, and Mad Hatter.
And so, without further hullabaloo, here is my review of each.
Off With Her Head
Ingredients: black tea, dark chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, orange peel, cinnamon
Oh, this is just so lovely. There are actual pieces of dark chocolate chips in this. It’s just delightful. It started out very sweet. I’m a terrible tea person, so I just generally steep black tea for five minutes (40 minutes on weekdays when it just sits in there while I’m driving, I KNOW I’M SORRY), and I know that’s probably wrong, but oh well. The raspberry came out quite bright in the beginning, and though I enjoyed it, it was a little too sweet in those first few sips for me. Thankfully, the chocolate started to kick in, and it mellowed out into a very dark, thick flavor. There’s just something about combining dark chocolate and black tea–each sip demanded my attention. Toward the end, it got a little bitter, much like the Red Queen, which I think might have been the orange, but overall, this was a delightful dessert tea. I’m not sure yet if I’d drink this in the morning, but having it after dinner was perfect.
Ingredients: Nepalese black tea, rose petals, jasmine petals, calendula petals, red clover blossom
This was a tricky little tea. I expected it to be much more floral than it was. I loved, too, that the ingredients had so many different floral elements. I thought that spoke wonderfully to the instant image that the word Wonderland creates. And perhaps Wonderland, for you, is something different, but I always think of the mushroom that the caterpillar sits on and the woods that Alice has to walk through and the flowers that fight each other and the twins dueling in the clearing. There’s so much nature threaded throughout the story that, immediately, I was brought right back to Alice falling down a hole in the earth. This had a very muted taste. I could certainly pick out the rose flavor, but it was only a tiny bit stronger than the others. They all blended well excellently to create a very calm floral taste. It was a bit like driving past a field and smelling flowers on the wind rather than being in the thick of it. It was a great way to wake up, both drinking the tea and having that think of an impossible thing before breakfast. This was such a great start to my day.
Ingredients: sweet orange peel, apple pieces, hibiscus, black currants, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla
I was very excited about this one. While I do adore the original Disney cartoon, and the book is honestly one of my favorite things in the world, I was so enraptured by Tim Burton’s version of this story. It really opened up the world, and, for a lot of us, I think, the character of the Mad Hatter. He is certainly one of my favorite characters in literature, both as a fellow tea-drinker and a fellow mad individual. Not only that, but these ingredients! All of my favorite things in one! However, this was just a teensy bit too much for me. While I definitely enjoyed it, I like my teas less like a punch in the face and more like a slow burn. IE: black tea, basically, which is hilarious because I used to hate black tea. This was delicious, though. It was the kind of tea that you sit with for an hour at the very least, nursing slowly, picking it up absentmindedly and suddenly finding it’s all gone away. It was very bright, and all the flavors came through at different times. One sip, I’d be getting blasted with ginger, making it a little spicy, and the next would mellow on out with vanilla and cinnamon, before bam have a little orange and hibiscus. It was fun, I think is the best word for it.
Ingredients: Chinese black tea, blackberry, apricot, blue cornflower, calendula petals
I love the look of this tea. It’s all black but for those little bits of blue cornflower coming through. I thought it was a wonderful representation of Alice (more Tim Burton than Disney), the light that falls upon dark and terrible Wonderland. And wow, this tea. Overall, of the four teas, I will definitely be buying Wonderland and Alice again. They’re the perfect kind of tea for my mornings, and I just love them. This one was so smooth and lovely to drink. It was quite dark and fruity, and that little burst of apricot just made my taste buds sings. It was gone in about 20 minutes, and I’m riding a nice little caffeine buzz. The Chinese black tea in comparison to the Nepalese one from Wonderland was so curious to taste a difference in! The Nepalese was definitely lighter and a little more bitter (though that might have been the flowers), and the Chinese one was much darker and heavier. Good for snowy mornings, and when it the dark is lingering a little too long.
And that’s all, folks. Happy drinking!