MOS?

That’s short for Mandarin Orange Spice, peeps…

…and this is the tea I most often find in my cupboard after my mother-in-law Karen comes for a visit.  Usually it just sits there patiently waiting for her as I bypass it to create my own herbal blends.  But the other day this orange and black box caught my eye.

The first thing I noticed was the painting on the front of the box–it’s simply lovely.  I feel like we tea drinkers have all seen it a million times, but take a closer look…

It's a little world in here...

I especially love Barry Zaid’s rendition of those peeled and segmented oranges at the bottom of the painting. Visual beauty is such a lure…

So I opened that standard tea box with the cute little packaging and the first thing I noticed was the smell..that tea bag smelled good!  Orangey, but also like chicory and cinnamon and hibiscus flower.  And all together they create that characteristic MOS smell and flavor.  It’s memorable.  It reminds me of my early tea drinking days in college…dorms, 11pm, mulling over new-found politics.

I got excited.  There is such a charge, a thrill involved with remembering sometimes…

I quickly poured myself a cup, but didn’t let it steep too long–maybe about 3 minutes.

The result?  NICE!

So I still really like this tea…it’s a good balance of roots and berries, earthy and sweet.  The hibiscus of course gives it the Celestial Seasonings “zing”, but it’s countered by the blackberry leaves and the chamomile.  It’s not a simple tea, but it’s not trying too hard either.   The other Celestial “Zingers” I could turn away from and not look back, but I’m glad I rediscovered Celestial Seasonings Mandarin Orange Spice.  I honestly can’t believe I forsook it for so long.

www.celestialseasonings.com/products/detail.html/herbal-teas/mandarin-orange-spice

MOS=Most Optimal Seasonings tea bag so far...

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Introducing:   Steep of the Week.

Here’s my concept…

I am committing to “review” one tea bag or loose leaf “tea” per week that is commercially available–taste, color, aroma, packaging, all being observed and considered.   The word tea is going to be loosely defined–I love love love green teas, but lately I have a tea dream to create delicious herbal infusions, so that is going to heavily influence the progression of teas tasted too.  The goal is to be diverse in my tasting–begin tasting what is at home and at hand, then move out from there….herbal, blacks, anything root or petal infused is fair game.

What qualifies me to do this, you might be asking? Are you a trained culinary professional?  Do you have a family member in the tea business?  Do you or have you ever worked in a tea house?  The answer to these questions is a resounding no.

But I do pay attention.  And I am always clutching my mug of tea, whether I’m playing a game of kickball or digging a hole in someone’s back yard.  Ok, ok not always possible, but it’s nearly always an arms length away.  I’ve also lived with a culinary professional for the last 7 years and that’s got to count for something.  He has taught me a thing or two.  (Thanks Nate.)

I also create custom teas for my herbal clients–I try to make them tasty, well-balanced, and infused with healing vibes.  Tasty is important so that folks will drink their medicine and enjoy the herbs that are helping to heal their health condition.

And so, without further ado, the Steep of the Week is Jasmine Downy Pearls compliments of Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

“What is that you are drinking?” is the inevitable question I get when folks smell this tea.”  I see their enchanted eyes…

The aroma of the jasmine flowers is lightly floral, a scent that drifts easily like the rain clouds I’m watching pass over twin peaks right at this moment.

This tea tastes round in my mouth, mellow, like flowers, not bitter, clean rainfall, green earth, minerals, barely sweet, barely astringent.

It tastes to me like life is just perfect right now, which I suppose is why I keep coming back again and again.  This is my daily tea.  I go out of my way to gather this tea.  I always take it “to go” so I can have my hands on the bag of orbs and steep it again at home, up to three times more…

I wonder how many sets of hands it took to get each individual cup of tea here, sitting in front of me?  This is in fact a hand rolled tea from the famed Fujian Province, China.

I keep thinking the responsible thing to do would be to find a local product for daily consumption, but there is something important to me about drinking and smelling this tea that has touched so many hands on its journey around the globe.  At this point in my life I need to feel the vastness and bigness of the world…this tea does just that–it is comforting and heavenly.  Sky and earth in one cup.

A deeply sincere thank you to all the hands that have made this cup possible. Heartily recommended.  kt

Check it out in more detail at Peets.