It was getting close to bedtime when I decided I wanted a hot cup of tea to settle down on. I wanted something light on caffeine, like this one good can of green tea from Andrew&Dunham that I drink. The problem lies in how I feel pressured to re-steep and get as much out of it as I can(I bought it out of a set of three cans for twenty-five dollars, and this college student has not much to spend on tea with). Since I was going to bed soon, it seemed inefficient to make only one cup of it. In the back of my tea caddy sat an ignored box of Bigelow’s Plantation Mint. It was given to me by my sister sometime late last year, and it would be easy enough to put together. So I gave it a shot.
I have been trained to assume that most black teas take 4-5 minutes to steep properly, yet the package suggests no more than two minutes. Fair enough, I wager. Inside the bag itself, the tea almost looks like a green tea, as opposed to a black tea. Even closer inspection reveals that the green leaves are only the mint. The tea leaves and mint inside are finely cut, so lower-than-boiling water was used in the steeping in order to avoid over-steeping. The end result was an iconic red liquor that is reminiscent of regular black tea.
While most bagged teas yield a high amount of particles in the water, the liquor was exceptionally clear. I attribute this to the deliberate shredding techniques that Bigelow uses in preparing their tea. Whereas a tea company like Lipton uses the dust, or fannings, sifted from regular tea leaves, Bigelow simply shreds it all and sends that to the stores. As expected, the aroma was strong with spearmint.
A few initial sips allowed me to get a hint of the tea flavor. No bitterness or astringency to be found, but the mint coated my tongue with a slightly metallic flavor, probably as a result of the high temperature of the tea. I had to wait for the tea to cool off before I began the evaluation in earnest. A full sip yielded a rather weak flavored black tea with a powerful mint taste. It was almost as if I wasn’t drinking a tea, but more of a herbal mint tisane. The metallic sensation did go away though. The minty-ness was strong, and almost sweet at times, but it was far from unpleasant.
Ultimately I found the tea to be particularly lacking. It is… sufficient, for those lazy moments when setting up a cup of loose tea is too much effort to be worth it. The mint was soothing and honestly, the cup was enjoyable. I just wish there was a stronger tea flavor to it is all. I should note that this is my first taste of American-grown tea, and it was underwhelming. I reckon that there may be a stronger or more distinct flavor that would better define it though. Bigelow has a huge selection of black and green teas, and on account of the strong mint presence, this one was more of a tisane than a proper tea itself.