A long time ago, near the beginning of when I was really getting into tea, I bought a groupon for tea from this company, Tiesta Tea. At the time I pretty much just bought any deal I found for tea from any company. I tend to sit on groupons and not spend them until right before they expire, which is what I did here; this groupon was expiring by the end of this month, even though I bought it probably over a year ago. When I went to order tea from this company, I naturally checked their teas on steepster to see if any of them were rated. I was interested in this one, but I was very dismayed to see what was happening in the ratings of this tea. See, this tea has 16 ratings and 9 tasting notes, each of which are no more than 3 sentances long. Of those 9 tasting notes, 7 of them have ratings of 100, one with a 99, and the last with 98. Almost all of the accounts associated with those ratings only have tasting notes for this tea, a couple have other Tiesta Tea notes, and four of them actually say in the account information that they are employees of Tiesta Tea (one of them is from the founder of the company). This is not the only tea from them with ratings like this, but it is the only one where it’s happened to this extent.
If I had checked this before buying the groupon, I never would have done so. I have no wish to do business from companies that feel a need to try and inflate their ratings by setting up sockpuppet accounts on this website. Most people on this site, and I am one of them, really dislike seeing a tea company rate their own teas. However, I already spent the money so I wasn’t about to lose it. So, with not much confidence, I made my selections. I will say that I don’t plan on doing business with this company again, even if I really enjoy one of the teas. My ratings of these teas are honest and I’m not going to rate them lower to balance out the fake positive reviews, even if it’s really tempting to do so.
Now, the tea. The dried tea has lots of rose petals, lavender buds, and some green, narrow leaves that I suppose are lavender leaves but look a lot like pine needles. There aren’t any pine needles listed on the ingredients, though, so perhaps not. It smells primarily like bergamot, but definitely with that herby lavender under it.
Steeped, the black tea comes to the foreground in a big way, accompanied in large part by the lavender. The bergamot seems to have shrunk off somewhere else. The black tea isn’t very familiar to me, aroma-wise, and I can’t quite place it, but it does remind me a little of some black blends I don’t like.
I steeped this tea according to the instructions on the package, which is to say with 195°F water. I have done this before with blacks that call for it, and since I don’t usually want a super bold black anyway, the lower temp often works well for me. Here, though… the tea seems weak. I want more flavor, I want more black tea. Which is crazy for me, because I rarely want more “black tea” flavor. What’s there is fine… the lavender isn’t overpowering or soapy, the bergamot is faint but bright, citrusy, and not astringent or bitter. I don’t get any rose to speak of from this tea. Obviously, next time I’m planning on steeping this at boiling and seeing what happens.