One of the things I like to do during my annual and temporary semi-detour from beer is to drink some things that aren't alcohol. For shame! I know. But to paraphrase Immortan Joe: Do not, my friends, become addicted to alcohol. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!
Monk's Blend is typically a blend of black teas flavored with grenadine and vanilla. My favored tea purveyor, Upton Tea Imports, seems to have a different take on the matter. Theirs is a blend of Ceylon-based Earl Grey with Chinese green tea and bourbon vanilla. Not your typical cup of tea, I'd say. I like the name though, it conjures the vision of Sri Lankan monks laboring away at a remote mountainside monastery, perfecting a blend of tea over the course of centuries. Instead, it's probably a hipster wearing a hoodie (close enough to a Monk's robe, I guess) sprinkling some green tea into an Earl Grey, chucking in some vanilla while they're at it. But I kid. I kid because I love. Upton has always treated me well, so let's take a closer look at this sucker:
Monk's Blend Tea - The tea leaves clearly show a mixture of green and black tea, but are otherwise nothing special. Liquor appears a very light brown color. The leaves smell intense, but once steeped, it calms down a bit, even if it still smells quite complex. You get vegetal green tea notes, but also something deeper, nuttier, maltier, with a little of that fruity Earl Grey character sneaking through. The taste trends more towards a malty black tea than the nose, and the bergamot is more apparent here as well, but the green tea softens the blow while adding complexity. I don't particularly get vanilla in the nose or taste, but maybe I'm not looking hard enough. Mouthfeel is light and bright and easy going. Overall, this is a very nice, complex but light cup of tea. I very much enjoy it!
Tea Nerd Details: 1 tsp for an 8 ounce cup, infused at 180° for 3 minutes.
Beer Nerd Musings: Blending is certainly a thing with beer. Gueuze is traditionally a blend of 3, 2, and 1 year old lambic, but the proportions are not set in stone and indeed, batch variation sometimes means the blend changes from batch to batch. They don't call Armand Debelder a master blender for nothing. Other examples are numerous. Firestone Walker's Anniversary beers are always a blend of barrel aged components; a collaboration with their winemaking neighbors (no strangers to blending, they). Most barrel aged beers are blended together, and indeed, some barrels can be wildly different from others (they don't call it wild yeast for nothing). Allagash once collaborated with local Philly institution Monk's Cafe (amongst others) on a sour blend, and they included all of the barrels they used in the finished product (even noting some barrels that should not be used). There are lots of other examples, but ironically, I don't think any of the famous Trappist Monks do noteworthy blending with their beer (Update: Those Monk's at Koningshoeven do a little blending with their oak aged La Trappe Quadrupel, so there's that)
Blogging might be light this week, though I have been wanting to comment on the whole cloudy IPA phenomenon. Tea blogging will probably continue at some point as well, maybe even hitting up some non-caffeinated varieties. I know, will the horrors ever cease?