Really thrilled over this tea, but not because of the taste. Let’s talk chemistry! Especially since I’m quite literally procrastinating going over my orgo while writing this.
I’m an earl grey lover through and through and had never had a rooibos when I visited DAVIDs last fall and mentioned this in passing to the girl behind the counter. I was there for blacks and herbals, and hearing of my love of the earl, she hit me up to try it with the rooibos twist for my late night cravings. I’ll try anything once, and it’s a beautiful tea, but it wasn’t hard to figure out why I had drunk around this when found in my cupboard this morning for my next sip-down.
I opened the bag. What is that? Mint? With earl? Ugh. The dry scent, for me, is off-putting and certainly does not give off that lemon-cloud-rainy-sky feel that I’ve come to appreciate in an earl. Which made me consider: what is rooibos? Is this the scent of a rooibos? Is this what I can expect it to taste like?
A quick office hour with Professor Wikipedia and I see what we’re working with. A familiar word highlighted in the “you-have-clicked-here” purple flagged me down, and we’re off. Cinnamic acid is found in the leaves and stems of the rooibos legume, most familiarly found today in cinnamon, has a honey-like odor (check!) and is one of two major flavor components of cinnamon. I’ve spent the past two weeks working with acids—including this very one—turning them about into esters on paper and look forward to attempting one in lab, so this is a happy fun chemical coincidence that I didn’t expect.
I love cinnamon—cook with it nearly every week—but I’m not certain this flavor profile pairs well with earl grey. Many tea companies and drinkers seem to feel otherwise, and that’s great. I will say that the mint-like scent turns to give more of a cinnamon flavor once brewed and that I found this much more sippable than the dry had me expecting it to be. I sipped this along with a little whole milk and sugar, as prescribed on the package, which I think likely helped it along for me in the taste department.
I’m ordering a few more rooibos this week from Bluebird Tea Co. via tea-sipper (thanks again for doing this!) and looking forward to see how rooibos fares without treading on my beloved Earl.
Flavors: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Honey, Lemon, Mint