Firewater from Pelican Tea. . . . .

Firewater from Pelican Tea gets its name from the addition of hot habanero peppers to the tea.  But hot peppers aren’t the only unusual ingredient, this solid black tea also has toasted brown rice, an ingredient that is usually found in green tea genmai cha teas.

I always like to get a whiff of my tea leaves before I brew them, but I was a little nervous about sticking my nose in the bag this time.  Would I get a noseful of hot peppers and run away sneezing like in the cartoons?  Well, I got lucky, this tea smells savory and earthy and a bit like baked bread from all the starchy brown rice, but no burning or sneezing.

I let the leaves steep and took in the scent of the brewing tea.  Still no bite of spice, just more toasted cereal tones from the rice, and a robust black tea. Taking a sip, I finally get a glimpse of the hot peppers.  At the back of each sip there is the slightly smoky, chipotle flavor of habanero peppers, and a warm burn of capsaicin down my throat.  It’s not so spicy as to be unpleasant, but it is definitely a distinctive experience.  All the forward flavors of the tea focus on the nutty, roasted rice.

This would be a great tea for those who like rice in their tea, like in genmai cha.  Or this would be a winner for those of you who like the spicy soup sipping broth products out there. The brown rice and earthy black tea take over most of the flavor palette in this tea, but the passing flame of hot pepper spice with each sip makes this something special.

All in all Firewater is a really unique blend that would be a fun gift for any lover of all things hot and spicy.

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy: Pelican Tea

The original Pelican Tea, and an instant classic.  Habanero-infused Orange Pekoe black tea and toasted brown rice contribute to an unpretentious blend that’s as comforting as it is spicy.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Revenant Oolong Tea from Pelican Tea

revenantTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong

Where to Buy:  Pelican Tea

Tea Description:

An earthy but delicate habanero-infused Seschung Oolong tea with organic mint and pan-toasted brown rice. This is a favorite when I’m not in the mood for something sweet, but definitely in the mood for… something*.

*Something in this case may be anything.  Spooky.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Whoa!  This one has got some kick to it!  When I read the label and it said “Moderately Spicy,” I didn’t expect quite so much heat!  Not that I’m unhappy with it, I like the spice level.  But, for those of you who tend to be sensitive to spicy things, don’t be fooled by the word moderate.  This one is warm.

But after the first two or three sips of WARM … the heat becomes more subdued (or maybe it’s just that the taste buds have adapted to the heat) and now it’s more like a pleasant warmth at the back of the throat.  So, don’t let those first two or three sips scare you, once you get past that point, then you can sit back and really enjoy the complexity of this tea.

Because yes, it’s spicy, but, there’s so much more to this tea than just heat from the habanero pepper.

First, we have the roasted flavor of the Se Chung Oolong tea.  The delicious roasty-toasty flavor melds beautifully with the pan-toasted rice, and the delicate smoky notes of the Se Chung accentuate the spice of the habanero.  I love the way the roasty-toasty, the smoky and the spice taste together.  It’s a well-conceived flavor combination.

Then there is the mint.  Given how well the other three components – Oolong, rice and habanero – seem to work together, one might think that the mint is a bit out of place in this blend.  But, I like the touch of mint.  Mint can often become a bit too aggressive in a blend and wind up giving off a toothpaste-y sort of taste, but, that didn’t happen here.  The mint is strong enough to be tasted but not so strong that it overpowers the other flavors.  Instead, what it does here is come in to offer a cooling, crisp note to the warm, toasty and smokin’ flavors of the other ingredients.  It’s an interesting and creative contrast to the warm flavors.

Since this IS an Oolong, I decided to take it for another infusion.  The second infusion was – surprisingly – a little spicier than the first.  This surprised me; I expected the heat to wane a little with the second infusion.  The roasted and smoky notes of the Oolong as well as the toasty rice notes seemed to soften somewhat.  I think I preferred the balance of the toasty, smoky and spicy notes of the first cup over this, where it seems that the fiery notes of the habanero are stronger than the flavors of the Oolong and rice.  It’s still delicious, just different.

The mint is a little stronger in this second infusion too, so with this cup, there is more balance between the mint and habanero flavors rather than with the warmer notes.  It’s more like a balance between the crisp, refreshing notes of mint and the peppery heat.  Still a tasty cup of tea, and certainly worth the resteep!

This is a really fascinating blend from Pelican Tea!

Cumulus Green Tea from Pelican Tea

cumulusTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Pelican Tea

Tea Description:

Cumulus.  A light, contemplative brew of gently habanero-infused Pinhead Gunpowder green tea, organic peppermint and spicy cinnamon.

Yeah. We also like the sound of that.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love the aroma of this Cumulus Green Tea from Pelican Tea!  The dry leaf has a warm fragrance from the cinnamon and habanero, but there is also a crisp, exhilarating note from the peppermint and a slightly fruity note … which I originally thought must be from the green tea, although I don’t usually smell “fruit” when I smell a gunpowder green tea, so I guess that the fruit note I smell could also be from the habanero, which is technically a berry, right?

Once brewed, I smell cinnamon and peppermint primarily, with background notes of habanero and green tea.  It smells zesty, warm and inviting.

Mmm!  This is really good!  All the flavors have a really nice balance and each note seems to meld in a really harmonious way with the other notes.  It is one of the more “fluid” tasting teas – that is to say, everything just sort of moves along in a very smooth, effortless, seamless way.

The sip starts out with the cinnamon and peppermint and these two notes are pretty well paired – they aren’t competing with one another, and they aren’t overpowering flavors.  This doesn’t taste too minty or too cinnamon-y.

Next comes a very soft wave of heat from the habanero.  The warmth of the habanero sort of builds on the back of the palate, but it never becomes a really strong flavor.  It’s just a gentle sort of warmth.  If I slurp the tea, I notice more habanero notes, but, even then, it isn’t a bold peppery flavor.

The notes of the gunpowder green are ever present in the sip, sitting there, in the middle of things, offering its sweet flavor and light lushness of green tea notes.  There is a hint of smokiness to this too that is off in the background, and this marries especially well with the cinnamon flavor.

A really good tea.  If the idea of a habanero infused tea is a little intimidating to you, I recommend starting with a tea like this one because it’s “gently infused” with the habanero, and that gentle infusion allows for enjoyment of the pepper without too much of the spice.

I’m really happy I got to try this one!

Firewater Black Tea Blend from Pelican Tea

firewaterTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Pelican Tea

Tea Description:

Firewater is the original recipe by Pelican Tea and remains our favorite to this day. Premium Orange Pekoe black tea and home-toasted brown rice produce an earthy blend that’s as comforting as it is spicy.  Good around a campfire or mixed with your favorite spirit (silver tequila being our spirit of choice).

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

OK!  I’ve got to tell you … this Firewater Black Tea Blend from Pelican Tea scared me!  I don’t do a whole lot of cooking (or anything else) with the habanero pepper, because even though I do appreciate a zesty, spicy tea every so often, I can’t say that I’ve been really jumping out of my seat to try a habanero pepper infused tea.  I mean, hey, we’re talking one of the hottest peppers out there, and right on the package of this tea, it says this:

Exceptionally Spicy, Habanero Infused

But, I’m thinking … I’ve tried a jalapeno tea, and I’ve tried some really SPICY teas, so I decided to pluck up the courage and brew myself a cup of this tea.  Upon opening the package, I expected there to be a stronger aroma.  I guess I envisioned the hairs in my nostrils feeling the singe of the heat from the habanero.  But that didn’t happen.  OK … this is a good thing!

The fragrance of the brewed tea is slightly spicy/peppery with notes of black tea with a slightly stronger, top note of toasted rice.  The smell is promising.

And the sip?  I took a very careful, timid sip.  I tasted the notes of sweet, toasted rice and the smooth, brisk black tea.  The first couple of sips were warm and spicy, but not ah-chi-cha spicy.  (Yeah … that’s just what came to my head while thinking of a way to say tongue blisteringly spicy.)  After the third sip, I started to notice the warmth develop toward the back of my throat.

After four or five sips, the flavor becomes increasingly more spicy.  By mid-sip, the heat creeps in and warms the palate.  The heat in the back of my throat is warm but not searing hot.  Make no mistake, this is exceptionally spicy, as promised on the label of the package.  But, it’s not uncomfortably, blisteringly, searingly hot.  I’m not feeling the urge to run to the kitchen for something to temper the heat.  I might be thinking “ah-chi-cha” but, it’s in a very good way!

This is what I’d call a very GOOD burn.   It’s hot and spicy and I can feel myself starting to break a bit of a sweat, but, I like the flavor that my palate is experiencing.  I appreciate that Pelican Tea has turned up the heat but they haven’t started a blazing inferno in my mouth.

And what I like best about that is that I’m able to experience the other flavors in this tea.  I can taste that light sweetness from the toasted rice.  I like that I’m tasting the flavor of the black tea and there’s a nice contrast between the sweet and the spicy … and while the spicy does reign over the sweet in this cup, I can taste these other notes and I like that.

This is the kind of tea I’d want to have on hand when I’m feeling under the weather because you know how when you’re feeling sick, your taste buds feel like they’ve been covered with cotton or something?  Like somebody wove a tongue coat of cotton that buffers your ability to taste … anything?  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?  Well, with this tea, I have no doubt in my mind that I’d be able to taste it, and it would warm me up from the inside out, and that would be an added bonus.

It’s a great tea for those of you who appreciate a walk on the spicy side of life.