January 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Teas

Two Teas

Peach Apricot tea and Maple tea

from the Metropolitan Tea Company

Last fall we went to Old Sturbridge Village, as we do nearly every year, to celebrate Maggie’s birthday. While we were there I saw a tea in the gift shop which piqued my interest. It is a maple-flavored tea produced by the Metropolitan Tea Company of Toronto. It wasn’t an herbal tea, but rather a regular black tea with some sort of flavoring added.

I doubt they had maple tea in the 1830’s but who cares, if the tea is good.

I bought this cute wooden box of 25 tea bags and found that I liked the tea so much I was drinking it every day.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first brewed it; I suppose my main expectation was sweetness. A number of herbal teas on the market actually contain ingredients which act as sweeteners1. But this is not an herbal tea.

The tea, while not sweet, has a vaguely maple aroma. When brewed, the flavor is not at all (at least to these taste buds) evocative of maple. Instead, the flavor reminds me of currants. Sharon tried it and I believe her impression was a more general dried fruit flavor. It’s a rich flavor, and it was more subtle than I expected, which is a good thing if you aren’t a huge fan of wild herbal flavorings, but are looking for a tea that is just a little bit different.

I burned through my 25 teabags and asked for more for my birthday back in October. I located the tea at Jolly Good Tea and subtly sent the link to Maggie as a clever hint with a message “I want more tea for my birthday.” Maggie also ordered me some Peach Apricot tea for me because I love peach flavored stuff.

I think I might like the peach tea even more than the maple. This company seems to have the dried fruit vibe down pat. This one smells like a bag of dried apricots. Unlike the maple tea, this tea, when brewed, definitely does match its name. It tastes like dried peaches plus tea.

I’m not sure where else you can get this stuff, but if you’re looking for flavored teas, my limited sample tells me that these Metropolitan Tea folks know what they’re doing.

1 I’ve found roasted barley malt on the ingredients list of some teas. The sugar and maltodextrins in barley malt are used to add both sweetness and body to herbal teas. The ones I’ve tried (Sugar Plum Spice Holiday Tea comes to mind) are sweet enough for me to skip adding sugar when I drink them. And I usually add sweetener to other teas.

Posted by James at January 13, 2008 5:55 PM
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I think I'm getting better at taking these product photos with my super-zoom camera. A tripod, white foam core board, high exposure and a slow shutter speed makes the background disappear. No special lighting needed - just our regular office illumination.

If I use the regular settings on my camera, I get tons of blotchiness and sensor noise.

Posted by: James at January 13, 2008 6:44 PM

I used to think most flavored teas sucked. And I'm pretty sure that at the time, I was right.

However, I have some kind of decaffeinated peach-flavored tea that my sister gave me as a gift some time ago (from Harney & Sons). I like it a lot, and if I hadn't already had close to 20 different kinds of tea in my cabinet at the time I'm sure I would have made short work of it. So I'm now starting to give flavored teas another try. I still generally find that they smell better than they taste, but some of them taste pretty good.

I don't suppose there's some place to get that maple tea locally?

Posted by: Julie at January 13, 2008 8:14 PM

I saw it in Sturbridge and I have no idea if they sell it anywhere closer. That's why I turned to online providers.

Posted by: James at January 13, 2008 8:40 PM

They put a sales email address on their product: sales@metrotea.com

They've got a website, which I hadn't found previously:


Posted by: James at January 13, 2008 8:44 PM

I used to love Constant Comment, but I don't drink tea as much as coffee these days. We used to have a basket of different teas, and we had certain friends who enjoyed picking through them when they visited.

Posted by: Maggie at January 13, 2008 8:56 PM

I go through phases of tea addiction. My husband recently expanded our pantry shelving, so I can see all the teas I had in the back of a kitchen cupboard now. This of course has increased my tea consumption.

I have a tendency to fall back on smokey varieties, particularly Earl Grey (or Stash's Caravan). Republic of Tea has a nice Honey Green that I adore as well. Plus, I usually have a fair stock of Celestial Seasonings around, just because they're easy to obtain.

As a great aside here. Jennifer Garner put out a B-grade romantic comedy a year or two ago called "Catch and Release". Kevin Smith played a supporting role. His character had a job at Celestial Seasonings where he wrote the prophetic copy that one finds on the CS boxes. Very amusing.

Posted by: Kitten Herder at January 13, 2008 11:46 PM

Julie introduced me to Lapsang Souchong which I posted about back on ought-four.

Funny, I don't even remember buying the green Earl Gray.

I think I may have to step up my tea drinking and bring some of our tea cabinet to work.

Annoying Fun Fact: Our water cooler at work no longer heats water. That makes tea-drinking inconvenient. Grabbing a quick tea is no longer quick when you have to stop coding, get water, walk to the microwave, watch the microwave heat the water, and then steep your tea and return to your desk. PITA

Posted by: James at January 14, 2008 1:29 AM

The problem with ordering tea is that I'd have to place a bunch of tiny orders with multiple companies. metrotea for maple, Celestial Seasonings for Morning Thunder (if they still make it... or maybe I can get S&S to order that for me...)

Actually, I already have a surplus of tea - I buy it faster than I can drink it. :)

Posted by: Julie at January 14, 2008 9:42 AM

It's possible the company can tell you where you can buy it locally. I haven't tried contacting them yet.

Posted by: James at January 14, 2008 9:49 AM

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