The next stop in my family's basket of admittedly neglected and elderly teas is yet another Celestial Seasonings offering - the Persian Mint Spice Decaf. Apparently this was a favorite of my father's, so only a few bags remained, but it proved more than enough to extract a review. Let it suffice to say that the curtness of the tea extends to the curtness of the review.
Here's what their website says - "Evoke your taste for the exotic with Persian Mint Spice Decaf Black Tea, made with naturally decaffeinated black tea intricately woven with the traditional Persian flavor of cooling mint. With a touch of cinnamon and ginger, this tea will warm your heart, hot or iced. What a delectable way to let a leisurely daydream take wing!"
Ingredients? "Decaffeinated black tea, spearmint, cinnamon, ginger, natural mint and honey flavors with other natural flavors, anise seed, allspice, and dried honey."
It may not be a proper, "fancified" tea, but I'm half-expecting a modestly minty drink. Mint, by itself, is a bold flavor. If nothing else, it should overpower everything else in the blend giving me a refreshing dose of the powerful herb. All the better if there is a synchronized orchestra of flavors between the conductor, mint, and the supplementary flavors; most especially the ginger, cinnamon, anise and allspice. There's plenty of opportunity here for the Persian Mint Spice to please my palate, with it's already low expectations.
Appearance & Liquor: Didn't bother emptying the contents out of the tea bag. I figured that, unlike the Red Safari Spice, I'd likely find a withered and depressed pile of black fannings. Not even worth a photograph. As for the liquor, when brewed for four and a half minutes it takes on a very muddy and murky chocolate brown, with enough swampy morass thickness to be somewhat off putting. It is a far cry from the clarity of proper loose leaf tea.
Raw Aroma: Being a mint tea, the Persian Mint Spice is abound with pungent mint. However, it's dull and lifeless. I'm willing to concede this to age (even though the tea is still far from it's "Best By Date"). And by lifeless, I mean it has lost the vibrancy of fresh, raw mint. It's a mere shadow of its former self, the flavor rattling around like a hacking cough. Instead, the somewhat more mild eucalyptus aroma takes charge, accompanied by a nose wrenching dustiness and the ever present fragrance of tea-bag.
Steeped Aroma: Once the herbal tea has had time to settle into the water I find that the strength of the mint found in the tea's raw form has subsided considerably, subsumed even further by age and depredation. A handful of earth and soil tones form the backbone of the tea, giving the mint some foundation to settle on, but these are weak. The only flavor that isn't feckless is an assertive note of licorice (the anise seed?), which makes for a beautiful bridge between the mint and the earth tones. Without this, the aromatic quality of the tea would be considerably poor.
Flavor & Palate: The Persian Mint Spice's sweeter side is attenuated, leaving the mint's caustic power to wreak havoc on the tongue. It is also tacky, adhering to the entirety of the tongue like a thick coat of paint. This iron-grip cling, combined with a muted, even displeasing taste, is a problem. It is like a strait jacket of moribund flavor and dead mint, and the straps are tight. And like a magician I attempt to wriggle free, but only a good dunking in water can take it away. In other words, it is dead flavor, but with the crushing grip of sumo wrestler, thanks to the mint's vestigial presence.
This herbal tea is proof that, even when an herbal ingredient like mint is notorious for its assertive flavor and bear-hug embrace, poor preparation and care taking can leech all the goodness out of it. It withers and rots, leaving a mummified version of its once lively flavor. All its youthful verve, long expired, has left for greener pastures leaving you, the drinker, with a cup of geriatric mint and dust. And that hardly makes for a consumable drink. Even a generous dose of sugar, often a defibrillator for dying teas, did nothing to liven up the Persian Mint Spice. It's long exhausted, long barren, long dead. And I won't be paying my respects.