There are some who would have you believe that if you do not prepare a cup of tea following The Rules, then you are denying yourself health and happiness for the rest of your life.
You will never make the perfect cup of tea. You can only make your perfect cup of tea. It will not be the perfect tea for your mom, your best friend, or the Dalai Lama, because they each prefer something weaker, or stronger, or dressed up with cream and sugar.
Screw them. It will be the perfect tea for you.
Uniq Teas offers the chance to make the perfect You Tea. You can blend their premade teas into a personal concoction, and stick your own fancy label on it. Nifty, huh? Custom blends are the latest tea sensation, allowing the average tea person (snooty or not) to whip up their heart’s desires without spending $2,500+ to train as a tea sommelier.
The question remains, however: what are you in for?
Allow me to give you a taste of the Uniq Teas experience, with five samples of their house special-teas.
Black Chai: Downright aromatic in the bag. Saccharine even, as if vanilla soy milk was already added, with a snicker of lemon from the cardamom. In the cup, the liquor* is so dark that it looks like coffee, and the scent mellows out to a rich, baked goodness. Many chais have a substantial kick at the end from the ginger, but this one was smooth all the way through.
The first taste is a real treat. Although cocooned in silky black tea and clove, the rest of the spices go, “Wait, I’m still here!” There’s a significant clove base, a sort of softness on the tongue, which rides on the ginger. The only hint of cinnamon’s presence is the way it keeps everything smooth and neatly folded together. You get lemon lingering on your lips in the aftertaste–this tea really goes heavy on the cardamom. So much so, in fact, that you’d be better off calling it Black Lemon Chai instead. Lovers of lemon poppyseed anything will rejoice, and its overall softness makes this a great chai for the chai-phobic. As hinted by the aroma, it doesn’t need milk, but if you are so inclined, it would pair excellently with regular dairy or vanilla-flavored nondairy, which would really bring out the lemon. Do not go with chocolate-flavored milk, whatever you do. This tea is so rich on its own that adding another strong flavor would just blunt off the whole thing. Definitely a dessert tea to the core, but works well for breakfast due to the healthy dose of caffeine.
Caribbean Punch: Heavy on the papaya in the bag, with a slight dry peachiness that evokes another tropical tea, but here it’s sufficiently muted. It’s safe to assume that this is just how dried mango-type fruit behave, producing an astringent odor until steeped, at which point they mellow out. This happened well enough in the cup.
Here we have the polar opposite of Uniq’s Black Chai. Caribbean Punch’s base of green rooibus makes this a very light tea, a fun one! “Punch” is apt indeed because that papaya really socks you in the mouth with bright tropical flavor. A tea of sun and beaches where the sand doesn’t get into your buttcrack and is never too hot to walk on. It seems to rely heavily on the papaya, which overpowers all the other flavors, but if you’re looking for a fruit-dominated concoction, then you’ll be satisfied. With a taste like a hot virgin cocktail, it’s tempting to really round it off with some coconut rum. The aftertaste is a bit greeny due to the rooibus, but overall it delivers the Caribbean to your cup.
Mean Green Tangerine: Definitely didn’t get “mean” from the bag. More like “whiny.” As such, it was difficult to get excited about this tea, especially since something about the smell reminded me of a rather traumatic green from Montpellier, which managed to taste like twiggy licorice even though it was supposedly based on spice and fruit. Go figure. Luckily for this tea, however, there was no offensive fruit smell in the cup.
Not so luckily, the drink itself yielded equal disappointment. If you’re looking for another fruity tea, or even a pronounced green, it isn’t this one. It could work if iced, so that the cool flavors of (once again) papaya, and the titular tangerine could develop more. It’s not a tropical punch to the face. Rather, it’s that quiet cousin who’s safe to sit next to at Thanksgiving because they won’t ask about your plans for grad school or the Peace Corps. A comforting tea for those who’ve had bad experiences with greens before–but it’s not going to make you want to go back and start pursuing them. But you know, having a completely average cup once in a while lets us remember why the spectacular cups are spectacular. Overall, this one is a good, mediocre tea, to make you further appre-tea-ate your more treasured teas.
Pomegranate White: This sample came unlabeled, but after some Sherlock Holmes-ing and prodigious sniffing at the pouch of leaves, it became clear which blend it was. There was a pronounced candy smell right off the bat, predominantly cherry, which was likely the pomegranate doing that “I’m a dried fruit and smell weird” thing that we’ve gotten with mango before. This scent disintegrates with steeping.
In the cup, the dominant presence here is the white tea itself. Pomegranate comes in as a tang as the edge of the tongue but not a strong player on its own. This show isn’t “Pomegranate: The Musical” but rather “White Tea: The Musical” and you’ll have to open up the playbook to find out which middling part Pomegranate managed to score. (Broadway is tough, man.) Like Mean Green Tangerine, this one probably tastes amazing in the summer when iced. The lack of flavor may be solved with a longer steeping time, or hotter water than the instructions recommended on the bag. This could be an interesting tea to experiment with hacking methods, seeing as the bag’s instructions, like the pirate’s code, are really just guidelines.
Two Fruits and a Nut: Alright, a weird bag-smell. Very off-putting. There was almost an alcoholicness to the fruit, possibly the effect of the dried kiwi. While steeping, however, it smells scrumptious, and all weirdness goes away in the cup as that nutty coconut carries the brighter fruit notes.
As a drink, though? Not much to say for itself. The cherry flavor is dead silent, maybe a tone of kiwi in there, but you really have to dig to seek it out on your tongue. The coconut wins by default, but it isn’t much of a win since the overall drink is just weak, even infused at full-plus strength and steeped for far longer than recommended. The bag-smell returns in the aftertaste, too. Sadly, I wouldn’t even recommend this as a trail mix, which is a true shame because I had high hopes for this tea–two lovely fruits and sweet coconut, what could go wrong? It just feels like something is missing here, a gaping hole of flavor begging to be filled.
However, I wouldn’t write off this company just yet. We must recall that Uniq Teas are meant to be blended. The more disappointing teas could easily redeem themselves if added to a stronger personali-tea. Therefore when all’s said and done, Uniq Teas seems to be off to a clunky start, but this young company has a strong premise.
I leave you on this note: