This tea was actually the first tea I ever purchased for myself, way back in 2002 when I was 15. Angrboda recently sent me a care-package of tea, and the dry smell of the Raspberry Oolong made me think of this tea quite unexpectedly. (disclaimer: similarities end at the dry smell!)
In the London Trocadero (right by Picadilly Circus), there was a little Whittard of Chelsea store. At the time, “tea” to me was just an icky bitter taste that I covered up with tons of honey and milk. I couldn’t understand what it was that everyone else in the whole country seemed to enjoy about tea… so I avoided it (as I still do with coffee).
So when I went into Whittards after a Saturday at the arcades or wandering around HMV with my friends, the sweet smells and samples were completely outside the realm of my experience. Instead of icky, they were super sweet and tasty. Like Kool-Aid! “Yum yum!” I said, and used a £5 note to pick up a tin of this instant Dreamtime Tea. I stirred the pink powder into hot water and cold water, and thought it tasty enough to buy some and bring it back home on holiday for my Mom (I was going to boarding school at the time, since my parents were living in Angola and English language schooling in Luanda only went up to 8th grade).
I had this experience in mind when I made my next big purchase of tea a few years later (fruit-flavored tea bags from Pier 1… they were on sale, and I received an employee discount). The teas were labeled apple..strawberry..etc.. so I steeped them up with great anticipation. After about three minutes, I sniffed, and my nose detected no hint of sweet strawberry or apple! So I let it steep several minutes more. Still no smell, but I thought I should give it a taste. I was so sad to discover the bitter, drying brew I had muscled out of those teabags. Who knows what pleasant brew i would have tasted if I’d just let the tea bags be themselves? Sometimes, I think expectations (especially for blended teas), sometimes keep us from enjoying the great thing we have in front of us. Searching for the kool-aid taste of Whittard’s DreamTime instant tea, I thought the lack of berry-bursting-sparkle was due to my clear inability to steep “real” tea. I retired the remaining bags to a shelf, and sadly realized that I would never “get” tea.
I was saved a few years later by some bagged genmaicha my future-husband brewed me up. When he offered to make me tea, I was definitely nervous (oh no! should I tell him that I am tea-challenged? But no, that would be so rude!). As I’ve learned since then, I always enjoy anything he makes me, and this was no exception. Yum! Tea could be full and delicious, even if it wasn’t purple and didn’t taste like KapriSun.
I remember this tea fondly, if only because it was my first ever. It’s amazing to look back and see how much I’ve grown.. and how many amazing teas I’ve been privileged to try since then. Instant magical powder is pretty fun sometimes, but how much more amazing is the natural magical brew I get from steeping whole leaves gong-fu-style?
Thank you for the introduction, Whittards. You sure were sweet to me.