I thought it would be fun to do a side-by-side, haven’t done one of those in a long time (and I had my alphabetized “control group-standard” tea cups out anyway). And I’m wired from all the pu erh (Yowza! Definitely a “one serving resteeped all morning’ll do ya” thing) so no-cafs are the only option. Aaaaand once again this is a generous sample from Stacy. (I feel a little bad because I mentioned the top 3 picks for samples in the “note to seller” box meaning any 1 would be great, and I got all 3. Super nice!) So here we go. This versus Utopia Rooibos Root Beer. It’s not entirely a fair comparison in that this is honeybush (a less distracting base than rooibos, I find) and Utopia’s is rooibos, and this is meant to be a float and Utopia’s is simply labeled root beer. But! I will just try to keep those factors in mind.
Dry, Utopia has a much stronger root beer, barky/rooty-soda (think birch beer, sarsaparilla, sassafras)-type smell. Steeping, it’s spicier smelling upfront too, though that dwindles the longer it steeps. Even though it doesn’t aim to be like a float, it has a lot of vanilla, as root beer tends to anyway. Butiki’s steeping aroma, while more subdued, has a specific black pepper-y note I dig though.
Onto the taste! Since I’m guessing Butiki’s is going to be subtler, I’ll start with that one. It tastes good and smells even better. It is surprisingly a bit thick on the tongue for a no-caf, which I like. After a couple sips I added a little sugar as recommended (I just about always find the precise recommendations for Butiki’s teas dead-on helpful, so I always follow them). That brings out the soda quality more, somehow making it taste a little fizzy. The creamy float quality comes in at the end of the sip; it’s subtle, but the vanilla is a delicious one. As it cools, it gets much creamier and is really yummy.
Utopia’s is a lot stronger and spicier, still surprisingly thick and a tad creamy, and sweeter in a chemical-y way. It has a hard to describe aftertaste, first chemical-y and a little unwelcome but eventually seguing into licorice root sweetness. I have to say I’m really impressed with how little I taste the rooibos (I don’t mind rooibos really, but I’ve noticed it can be hard to tamp down enough to keep from distracting from intended flavorings…it’s a very distinct thing that, once you notice is hard to ignore). The spiciness and strength of Utopia’s evokes the aforementioned more unusual rooty beers, stuff like sassafras and sarsaparilla.
I’m not terribly surprised at the results here—Butiki’s being softer, subtler, but delicious; Utopia’s being sharper, very bold and kind of spicy if a little chemical—but am pleased to learn I like both and would drink either or both again happily. Good to know as it saves me some sugar, as I’m unwilling to drink diet root beer. (: