Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Perfect Cup of Herbal Tea

It should come as no surprise to my gentle readers that Mormons don’t drink tea. Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89 contains a revelation known as the “Word of Wisdom.”

9 And again, hot drinks are not for the body or belly.

This passage was clarified by later prophets to mean tea and coffee, hot or otherwise. Interestingly, though, herbal infusions seem to be okay.

10 And again, verily I say unto you, all wholesome herbs God hath ordained for the constitution, nature, and use of man—
11 Every herb in the season thereof, and every fruit in the season thereof; all these to be used with prudence and thanksgiving.

Others in my faith may disagree with me, but I think it’s pretty clear that what we think of today as “herbal teas” are okay for LDS folks to drink.

While chatting on Twitter, I met one of the very kind people over at the Mighty Leaf Tea Company. They noticed I was “tweeting” about rooibos, one of my favorite herbal teas. In the hope of gaining a new customer (and an eventual blog entry), they sent me three samples of their organic rooibos blends. The tea was so good, they’re getting both a new customer, and this review.

The Mighty Leaf Tea Company was started in 1996 by husband-and-wife team Gary Shinner and Jill Portman when they founded their teahouse on Fillmore St. in San Francisco. They create handcrafted tea blends, most of which Mormon’s can’t drink. They contain portions of the actual tea plant. Sorry. They also have some pretty amazing herbal blends using rooibos.

Roobios is a plant native to the Western Cape region of South Africa. It’s a very common drink there, and it’s popularity is growing, worldwide. It’s high in certain antioxidants, has no caffeine, and low tannin levels, when compared with most regular black or green teas. Rooibos tea is reported to help with allergies, nervous tension, and digestive problems. Traditional South African medicine uses it to relieve infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological problems.

Mighty Leaf Organic Rooibos

Pure, organically grown, Rooibos. The flavor is hard to describe. It’s naturally sweet and slightly fruity, but has an underlying woodiness. This is the red, or oxidized, rooibos, not the less common green rooibos. I brewed the loose leaves by steeping them in boiling hot water using a tea ball for 6 minutes.

Oh … my … word. This was the best cup of herbal tea I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not exaggerating. I’ve never come as close to heaven in cup as I have with this tea. I’ve tried, and enjoyed, several different brands of rooibos, but they can’t hold a candle to the quality, and taste, of the Mighty Leaf tea. I was astounded by how delicious it was. While it’s common to have rooibos with milk and honey, it doesn’t need it. I much prefer it straight up. I highly recommend it for anyone searching for a great herbal tea.

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Organic Chocolate Truffle blend

The thought of a chocolate tea intrigued me. Mighty Leaf’s Chocolate Mint Truffle is a amazing blend of cacao, mint and rooibos leaves. It’s a perfect blend, as well. The chocolate and mint add wonderful richness and kick, without drowning out the mellow rooibos flavor, a common fault with other flavored rooibos teas I’ve tried.

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Organic African Nectar blend

I’m not a big fan of fruit flavored teas, especially rooibos. The fruit flavors tend to overpower the rooibos. But this blend caught me by surprise. The flavors are subtle and develop in an amazing way. The flowery fruity blend gives way to the rooibos as it makes its way across the palette, creating an experience that is both interesting, and calming.

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Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go place an order for more herbal tea.

Photo by Steve Woods


Nazarina A said...

heh John,
I love snow and everything that goes with it! Thanks for the invite. Utah is beautiful!

I was born in South Africa and that is where Rooibos is from. It is my ultimate favorite tea, it gives one h... appetite! I have a picture of a cup on one of my posts!
Very informative tea post here!!!!!

girlsmama said...

I love rooibos! I'm a convert to the LDS faith who grew up drinking the real stuff, and rooibos is a close second that satisfies my craving. Thanks for the link! I'm on my way over...

Dena said...

I was searching the internet for rooibos tea and found your website. I also am LDS and my parents introduced me to this tea. I know it is herbal and is probably fine, but something bugs me about how it is made. It is oxidized just like regular tea. I think it is this oxidation that makes it taste similar to real tea. I have heard that this oxidation is similar to fermentation. Just those facts make me unsure if it is okay to drink (even though I love it!) How do you feel about this?

John Newman said...

Hi Dena! Your absolutely right. Like most "regular" teas, most rooibos is oxidized. This fermenting, or "rusting" process is what differentiates green tea, from red tea and black tea - they're not actually different plants. Green tea hasn't been oxidized, neither has white or yellow teas. Red teas, Oolong, and black teas are.

Most roibos is oxidized, but I have found one company (Numitea.com) that makes a "green" rooibos. The tea still looks red, that's the color of the plant, it's just not oxidized. I actually like it better that the regular variety. I'm hoping that Mighty Tea will release an organic green rooibos. I like their red rooibos better than Numi's, and I suspect they'd be able to find a better a "green" rooibos.

Anonymous said...

I am a convert to the church and also a foodie.. I gew up with sun tea and being from the south it was practically put into our baby bottles. I discovered rooibos when i was attending culinary school in new york.. its probabbly one of my favorite things ever,, even to cook with. My favorite way to drink it is cold and slightly sweetened, tastes even better than traditional tea but without the tanic bitterness that gets left in your mouth... highly, highly recommend this product.. very easy to find i csn find it in my local grocery stores in Tennessee..emjoy