Despite being male and fairly indifferent to flowers – a 2010 visit to the Royal Hulticultural Chelsea Flower Show stands as one of the most tedious days out in recent memory – I have always loved the paradoxically pungent and delicate, earthy and transcendental fragrance of roses. I read once that the mystical scent of rosewater or rose otto is sufficient to open the third eye of a latent clairvoyant . . . I can attest to this, having been lost in thought for several moments with no awareness of the passing of time from smelling roses, transported to gardens in France or the Home Counties, or to bazaars and mosques in 1001 Nights. Even just the merest hint of rose, and I am lost in nostalgic memories of my Granddad’s Czech & Speake cologne or my Nan’s rosewater perfume and tonics.
But I digress.
It is a particularly balmy Summer’s day here in Sydney and I am sitting with a lukewarm cup of rose-scented tea. The rose fragrance is particularly strong and is only recommended for anyone partial to rose or floral-scented teas and suits the sweltering heat. The colour of the tea is a dark saffron, and flavour of the tea-base is full-bodied with hints of honey but otherwise fairly underwhelming. I would have loved a nice, nutty Keemun taste rather than the nondescript tea on offer here.
The tea does leave a somewhat acrid, chemical acrid aftertaste which leaves my tongue somewhat numb and tingling. This was particularly noticeable with the Twinings Rose Garden tea, to the extent that I found it really unpleasant and I put it down to Twinings usual poor quality of recent years. Perhaps this aftertaste is inherent in the rose petals themselves and a necessary trade-off for the fragrance so I won’t lower the rating for this, but I will have to deduct points for the uninteresting and flavourless tea base.