Doulton’s Shakespeare: A Tasting Note in 5 Acts
Act II scene 1
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V scene 2
Enter Puck: the “shrewd and knavish sprite” (Act II scene 1) from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It truly is an outrageous tea that constantly catches me by surprise. I also think that it’ll be one of the most memorable “characters” from this tea box.
I went through the wonderful dilemma of picking out my morning tea with only the thought that I must have one of my “bookshelf” tea samples. When I received Doulton’s Shakespeare box it smelled absolutely divine, but there were some very bold teas that I was concerned might taint my entire tea cupboard. Therefore I took the box to my bedroom and took the smelliest of the teas and distributed them amongst the books on two of my bookshelves. So not only does my bedroom smell marvelous, but it’s like a mini treasure hunt when I decide that I want an extra-fragrant tea. The two packets that I pulled out this morning were Cocotte and a Lapsang Souchong. The Cocotte looked like a pretty and floral black tea which better suited my mood this morning. Little did I know what a trickster tea I had in my hands.
I pop open the baggie and take a sniff. What the hell?!?! This is not what I was expecting by a long shot. I couldn’t even put a finger on the scents: a sort of earthy maybe even vinegary smell. But no, vinegar isn’t right but it’s something that I should know. I stop everything and hop online to look this mysterious tea up on Steepster. Holy Oberon: this is the infamous tomato tea! The pieces of the olfactory puzzle snap into place. The mysterious not-vinegar smell is tomato. I’m not a huge tomato fan, but I’m excited to try this and share my impressions. And maybe I’ll finally get a chance to use some of the darker/nastier Shakespeare ideas that I’ve had for teas that I don’t like.
I steeped the leaves for just under 3 minutes and I’m glad that I didn’t go further: there was an astringency there that was on the verge of being too much. What a bizarre tea! For me it is like someone took an entire tomato plant (including the dirt-covered roots) and turned it into a tea. It’s a tea that demands attention. I keep expecting to be offended with every sip, but as I taste and swallow the tea it just absolutely intrigues me. This is bizarre, but in a good way.
I shortened the second steep to a bit over 2 minutes and I like it better. I get more of a sense of the Darjeeling. I’m even really curious as to what this tea would be like cold brewed. I’m also flummoxed as to how to rate this. It’s better than Nice Enough, but there was no Teagasm. I think that I shall call it a Dream. Neither a good nor bad dream, but it is so unique that it will be very memorable. And I applaud it loudly.