After I shared a surprisingly popular post about tea a couple of weeks ago, the wonderful indie perfumer Mandy Aftel kindly sent me samples from her own tea collection. I was thrilled and had a fine time trying each one.
I drank them without milk and without sugar (on my first cup at least) to get the true taste. All four teas are organic and use edible essential oils and absolutes on a base of premium tea leaves. Depending on what method of infusion you use, on the first steeping you can watch the leaves unfurl in the water. You can also re-infuse them several times, which is great. Below are my impressions of each variety.Oolong Tea Rose & Ginger
This organic Tieguanyin oolong tea from Taiwan is infused with Mandy’s Chef Essences of Turkish Rose and Fresh Ginger. I thought I didn’t like floral teas, however either rose is an exception or this tea is so subtly flavoured/scented it’s a joy. I was also concerned the ginger might be overpowering but it added a lovely gingerbread background warmth. I think I might struggle with straight-up oolong but this combination of flavours gives it body and make it work beautifully for me. Now I’m looking forward to trying more rose flavoured teas.
Black Tea Cardamom & Orange
I love the scent of black tea, cardamom and orange so it’s no surprise that this turned out to be a hit with me. The cardamom comes through more than the orange but it’s a gentle backnote to the tea itself which is full, rounded and satisfying in the way black tea usually is for me. According to the website this is “Organic Red Pearls Black Tea, a rare tea from Fujian, is fully-oxidized Mao Feng tea leaves that have been rolled into small black pearls. They are then pan-fired where they develop a burnished sheen, toasty caramel-like aroma, and spicy, assertive — yet wonderfully sweet — flavor.”
Oolong Tea Frankincense GABA
An incense tea! I love incense so this was a novel and fun experience for me. The scent is fantastically resinous, rather than smoky and it’s the fullest oolong tea I can imagine. The oolong tea from Taiwan has fruit and honey notes and is infused with hojary incense. GABA is a natural enzyme that calms and relaxes which is a definite plus. You’d think it might feel strange drinking incense but doesn’t. It’s perfect for de-stressing after work on a cold winter’s evening.
Aged Pu’erh in Tangerine Peel
Until late last year I hadn’t even heard of Pu’erh. It’s actually a fermented tea from Yunnan, China. Here, the leaves are packed into the rind of a whole tangerine.and aged for four years. They take on the flavour of the tangerine and the citrus is enhanced further by the addition of Mandy’s Yellow Mandarin Chef’s Essence. I found the unique scent very comforting. It’s earthy and rubbery and laced delicately with citrus. Perhaps surprisingly, this tea is really refreshing and I found it easy to drink without sugar, which is rare. I also love that it comes in the tangerine peel.
Each tea composition is expertly balanced with essences and absolutes that complement and enhance the leaves; never overwhelming them. They are clearly created with the same care and artistry as the Aftelier perfumes. They’ve brought home to me just how closely smell and taste are connected and how making a cup of tea can become, in Mandy’s own words, “a time-stopping pleasure” during a demanding day.
Do you like the sound of any of Mandy’s teas? Are there any scented teas you currently enjoy?