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Tea like a dragonfly ride through the African bush

“You need some calming rooibos tea in your life,” my bestie Bernice blurted to her burned-out beau, Frank. “Might help you relax after your long workweek.”

“What’s that?” asked Frank.

“It’s a red tea, caffeine-free, high mineral content, high in antioxidants, helps with stomach ailments, an herb indigenous to South Africa, known for its calming effects,” answered Bernice. Yes, she was reading from Wikipedia on her phone.

I offered to find him the best one around because that’s what I do. After a couple of hours of rooibos shopping, I sat down with my daughter Evelyn and my husband Patrick.

We started with Numi Organic Rooibos tea ($7.39 for 18 bags at Vons).

“When it comes up to the nose you get a comforting herby smell with a hint of vanilla. Rich, herby flavor. This will be hard to beat,” stated Patrick.

Our second tea, Adagio Teas Organic Vanilla Rooibos Tea, was less of a table favorite ($5.49 for ten pyramid tea bags at Ralphs). “Thinner tasting, less rich, forgettable,” announced Patrick.

“Tastes smoother. I can taste the vanilla but it is not overpowering, but I have a cold and can’t really taste anything,” said Evelyn.

“You are fired, tea-taster,” laughed Patrick.  

“Why the different shaped tea bags? Does it change the taste or the brewing of the tea?” asked Patrick.

“The thought is that the pyramid shape allows the tea leaves to move around more and so the tea is brewed more efficiently and fully,” I answered.  He rolled his gorgeous green eyes.

As we popped open the next box of Tazo Organic Vanilla Rooibos Parfait ($4.99 for 20 bags at Vons), I noticed a dreamy story on the side of the box and began to read it to my man.

“Organic African rooibos felt a bit overdressed for the reunion but creamily blended in with the sweet-mild tartness of apples. Tahitian vanilla exchanged email addresses with cinnamon and promised to always stay sweet.”

“Who writes this stuff?” moaned Patrick.

“They should have promised to exchange emails about staying sweet but not medicinal,” he huffed. “Makes me think of Nyquil.”

“I bet it’s the licorice,” I noted.

Rooibos bush

As the Mighty Leaf Organic African Nectar tea brewed, a fruity aroma rose up from the cup. “I’m really surprised how different all these teas are,” said Patrick. “This is a thinner, lighter, fruitier, and more floral experience,” he added. “More fruity than I want with my herby rooibos.”

We hit another table favorite with Choice Organic Rooibos Tea ($4.49 for 16 bags at Whole Foods). “This one is back to the flavor I like,” added Patrick. “Warm, rich, herby, nothing tangy.”

“Awkward packaging,” I said as I popped open the 365 Organic Rooibos Orange Vanilla Creme tea ($3.99 for 40 bags at Whole Foods). Ten bags were paired together and packaged in plastic, making the whole grab-a-tea-bag process laborious.

“I would grade this tea a B-minus,” declared Patrick, “nothing really special about it. You have to smell really hard to get any aroma out of it, and the taste is sweet, which I don’t really want in my rooibos.”

“Another dreamy story for you, honey,” I laughed before reading the package of the Tazo Scarlet Citrus Rooibos Tea aloud ($4.39 for 20 bags at Whole Foods): “Juicy brightness dapples your palate like light filtering through a poppy parasol. Suddenly you’re riding a dragonfly helicopter through the African bush, an evergreen forest, and a citrus orchard...”

“Ugh, stop,” grunted Patrick. “I don’t like where the hibiscus takes this tea. It gives it a floral bouquet, and there’s a little old-lady perfume action in it. You’re going for a dry-lands sagebush pungent herby feeling and then you add hibiscus and it’s another flavor world. They don’t go well together.”

Ditto with the Celestial Seasonings African Red Herbal Moroccan Pomegranate Tea ($3.99 for 20 bags at Ralphs). “This tea has slipped over to the fruity side of things. An unsweetened fruit flavor instead of warm herbaceous rooibos,” added Patrick.

Our last brew was the Numi Indulgent Chocolate Rooibos Tea ($6.49 for 12 bags at Sprouts). “Smells like cake,” said Patrick, “but doesn’t taste like it, which is the worst. It’s like smelling bacon, but when you put it in your mouth, you can’t taste it.”

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“You need some calming rooibos tea in your life,” my bestie Bernice blurted to her burned-out beau, Frank. “Might help you relax after your long workweek.”

“What’s that?” asked Frank.

“It’s a red tea, caffeine-free, high mineral content, high in antioxidants, helps with stomach ailments, an herb indigenous to South Africa, known for its calming effects,” answered Bernice. Yes, she was reading from Wikipedia on her phone.

I offered to find him the best one around because that’s what I do. After a couple of hours of rooibos shopping, I sat down with my daughter Evelyn and my husband Patrick.

We started with Numi Organic Rooibos tea ($7.39 for 18 bags at Vons).

“When it comes up to the nose you get a comforting herby smell with a hint of vanilla. Rich, herby flavor. This will be hard to beat,” stated Patrick.

Our second tea, Adagio Teas Organic Vanilla Rooibos Tea, was less of a table favorite ($5.49 for ten pyramid tea bags at Ralphs). “Thinner tasting, less rich, forgettable,” announced Patrick.

“Tastes smoother. I can taste the vanilla but it is not overpowering, but I have a cold and can’t really taste anything,” said Evelyn.

“You are fired, tea-taster,” laughed Patrick.  

“Why the different shaped tea bags? Does it change the taste or the brewing of the tea?” asked Patrick.

“The thought is that the pyramid shape allows the tea leaves to move around more and so the tea is brewed more efficiently and fully,” I answered.  He rolled his gorgeous green eyes.

As we popped open the next box of Tazo Organic Vanilla Rooibos Parfait ($4.99 for 20 bags at Vons), I noticed a dreamy story on the side of the box and began to read it to my man.

“Organic African rooibos felt a bit overdressed for the reunion but creamily blended in with the sweet-mild tartness of apples. Tahitian vanilla exchanged email addresses with cinnamon and promised to always stay sweet.”

“Who writes this stuff?” moaned Patrick.

“They should have promised to exchange emails about staying sweet but not medicinal,” he huffed. “Makes me think of Nyquil.”

“I bet it’s the licorice,” I noted.

Rooibos bush

As the Mighty Leaf Organic African Nectar tea brewed, a fruity aroma rose up from the cup. “I’m really surprised how different all these teas are,” said Patrick. “This is a thinner, lighter, fruitier, and more floral experience,” he added. “More fruity than I want with my herby rooibos.”

We hit another table favorite with Choice Organic Rooibos Tea ($4.49 for 16 bags at Whole Foods). “This one is back to the flavor I like,” added Patrick. “Warm, rich, herby, nothing tangy.”

“Awkward packaging,” I said as I popped open the 365 Organic Rooibos Orange Vanilla Creme tea ($3.99 for 40 bags at Whole Foods). Ten bags were paired together and packaged in plastic, making the whole grab-a-tea-bag process laborious.

“I would grade this tea a B-minus,” declared Patrick, “nothing really special about it. You have to smell really hard to get any aroma out of it, and the taste is sweet, which I don’t really want in my rooibos.”

“Another dreamy story for you, honey,” I laughed before reading the package of the Tazo Scarlet Citrus Rooibos Tea aloud ($4.39 for 20 bags at Whole Foods): “Juicy brightness dapples your palate like light filtering through a poppy parasol. Suddenly you’re riding a dragonfly helicopter through the African bush, an evergreen forest, and a citrus orchard...”

“Ugh, stop,” grunted Patrick. “I don’t like where the hibiscus takes this tea. It gives it a floral bouquet, and there’s a little old-lady perfume action in it. You’re going for a dry-lands sagebush pungent herby feeling and then you add hibiscus and it’s another flavor world. They don’t go well together.”

Ditto with the Celestial Seasonings African Red Herbal Moroccan Pomegranate Tea ($3.99 for 20 bags at Ralphs). “This tea has slipped over to the fruity side of things. An unsweetened fruit flavor instead of warm herbaceous rooibos,” added Patrick.

Our last brew was the Numi Indulgent Chocolate Rooibos Tea ($6.49 for 12 bags at Sprouts). “Smells like cake,” said Patrick, “but doesn’t taste like it, which is the worst. It’s like smelling bacon, but when you put it in your mouth, you can’t taste it.”

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