Let’s face it: in the United States, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and you want a flavored tea, chances are you’re going to pick up something that’s artificially flavored. I won’t name names, of course, but a goodly number of big-box tea shops, while offering some decent traditional teas, feel the need to flavor their teas with sugar and lots of fake flavor. I suspect it is a way for them to use lower-grade teas and thus make some extra profit, but maybe I’m just a bit disillusioned. After a while, I sort of got used to that. But if you know where to look, you realize that flavored tea doesn’t have to be that way, and when quality flavoring practices are coupled with quality directly sourced teas, the combination is wonderful.
Pahadi Tea, based in Arizona, is one of those tea shops that understands that the best flavored teas don’t require over-the-top manufactured flavors. Case in point: one of the first teas I decided to try was their Winter Comfort blend. This is a green Darjeeling blended with basil and ginger. I had until now never heard of basil being used in a tea blend, so I was at the very least curious to see how it would taste. This is probably my new favorite blend. Sweetness has never been all that exciting to my taste buds, so to have a blend that is more savory is heaven to me.
The other blended tea I was able to try was the Mountain Mist, which is a black tea with lemongrass, mint, and rose petals. This was a blend I have seen before, and a blend I have been disappointed by before. Not so here. Delicious, lightly minty, and great as a dessert tea.
All this is not to say that the tea leaves themselves are not worth mentioning. All the tea I had was direct-trade Indian tea, either a green or a black Darjeeling tea. The green tea I tried was smooth and lightly vegetal, something which around these parts I find to be a bit rare.
All in all, I heartily recommend these teas, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more Winter Comfort. My tea cup calls for more.