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!