Friday, October 18, 2013

New Immortelle l'Amour Tea

Floating maple leaves by Ayala Moriel
Floating maple leaves, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
The other day I had a "Eureka!" moment, when upon blending the 2nd version for my Immortelle l'Amour tea (which was discontinued a couple of years ago, when my tea blending master Dawna retired from the business - though I always hope only temporarily! Her tea blends are exceptional and inspiring). So the moment it got to where I wanted it to be made my heart skip a beat: I smelled the blend, and it reminded me both of my perfume, and of Dawna's original blend. I had to steep a few teapots before sharing the news (what if it was just that scoop that tasted like this?); and yesterday it passed the final test, as I shared a tea pot with this tea's greatest fan - my friend Dean. While it is obviously more vibrant and fresh than what I have left from the previous tea version, I think I've finally nailed it down. Yay!

It was a tremendous challenge to source all the ingredients I needed to re-create the blend, and have my own seal of approval of it, and embed my own interpretation of tea into the project. The first new tea blends I released (Charisma and Zangvil) were my own original blend, so it was a lot easier to simply go wild and blend the best imaginable tea surrounding the chosen ingredients, and with reference to the perfume as a starting point. Both were a purely creative adventure. Charisma being my very first tea blend ever, which was based on a blend of fresh spearmint and verbena leaves with jasmine green tea (and had to be modified for a dried herb and tea blend); and Zangvil being a multi-faceted tweaking project for a very clear vision of a perfumed tea I had in my mind.

With Immortelle l'Amour and with Roses et Chocolat the challenge was greater. First of all, sourcing wise, it was a lot more difficult than I even imagined to source the tea leaves themselves (the black teas for Roses et Chocolat; and the rooibos - as common as it may seem, is difficult to source high quality in bulk, while meeting various wholesale companies' minimums...).

Recently, at long last, things came together in the tea frontier. Partly because deadline was pushing and I really didn't want another winter to pass without my teas. But the other part must have been serendipity, and I was able to work with one of the leading tea importers in town - Pedro Villalon from O5 Tea Bar - and source a few of the missing tea leaves. I now have organic rooibos of the best quality I've ever encountered for Immortelle l'Amour; and a few other teas that you will meet later on in my upcoming new tea blends...

Immortelle l'Amour Tea Blend 2013

My new version of Immortelle l'Amour is based on a robust, full-bodied organically grown red rooibos, a tad malty, reminiscent of vanilla-scented tobacco, ripe apples and is utterly smooth and sweet as it is. With the added elements of Yellow petals of organic calendual add a fiery visual effect that truly reflects the tea's warmth and golden sweetness.

Immortelle l'Amour tea is prepared by steeping the tea in boiling hot water for at 5 minutes. Another brew can be made by re-steeping - resulting in a milder tasting liquor, but still very fragrant and flavourful. Double steeping is rarely a possibility with rooibos teas, so you can only imagine how excited I was about the potency of this tea!

Immortelle l'Amour tea has a very smooth, almost velvety finish, and a sweet aftertaste. It is delicious on its own. For added sweetness and to exemplify the maple-theme of the perfume it was based on*, add a few drops (but no more than 1/2 teaspoon) of maple syrup. And to make it even more luxurious - add a splash of whole (and preferably non-homogenized) milk.

Suggested pairing: this tea will make a wonderful addition to brunch affair with cinnamon waffles or whole wheat pancakes, served with real maple syrup, of course! It also makes a luxurious, relaxing evening or afternoon tea on its own or with a slice of pumpkin pie or with few dried Gala apple chips on the side. Kids particularly like this tea, as it is sweet and fruit and flavourful but gentle on their delicate palates. For a grownup's nightcap, add a shot of whiskey to a warm cup of Immortelle l'Amour tea and stir with a cinnamon stick! 

The next phase is completing the design and print of the label - and of course going to production and making a first larger scale batch. I'm excited and thrilled that it will not only be ready in time for my Halloween Tea Party, but also for the inaugural Vancovuer Tea Festival which I'm part of, taking place November 2nd, 11am-5pm at the Creekside Community Centre in the Olympic Village (1 Athlete Way, Vancouver). You can get your advance tickets for the festival, and also pre-order your own tin of Immortelle l'Amour Tea (please note that it will come in a 2oz white tin, the new tins like the one I was using for the Charisma and Zangvil teas - I just have to wait for the labels to be ready before I can do an Immortelle l'Amour tea photoshoot!). 

* Immortelle l'Amour is a perfume that revolves around the theme of immortelle or helicrysum flower, which is reminiscent of maple and fenugreek

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