on August 16, 2014
I'm a fan of blooming tea, and the first brand I ever had was Teaposy. That one was gorgeous and delightful! After that, I ended up getting a Primula teapot gift set, and eventually I replaced the Primula teapot with one from Grosche. The actual Primula blooming tea balls were not very impressive, as they seemed to be very unreliable with some of the balls floating and refusing to sink, or some not opening properly (the ones that did open properly, though, were nice). I had a few of the Grosche tea balls that came with the teapot, and they displayed many of the same problems (although, to be fair, they may have been old or something). After that, I was intrigued to try out the Numi branded ones.
Numi has a great reputation for tea, and indeed I like many of their normal boxed teas, such as the white rose flavor. However, I noticed many bad reviews for their blooming tea. Still, the price per tea ball was good compared to Teaposy, and I was really intrigued by their unusual flavors. Most blooming tea I've encountered is either white or green jasmine tea (which is nice), but the Numi tea seems to have more unusual flavors. The flavors in this box are: Dragon Lily (white tea with lily petals), Sunset Oolong (oolong tea with lily flower), Lavender Dream (lavender flower, hibiscus, and possibly white tea), and Golden Jasmine (black tea and jasmine). Lavender is a flavor you never really see in blooming tea, so I was excited to try it out. Not to mention I love the fact that their tea doesn't have any artificial flavors in it. Besides, even if the tea balls were terrible, I'd only be out about six bucks.
The very first thing to discuss is the packaging itself. It came in a tiny box (which is fine) but inside none of the tea balls were labeled, leaving me to guess which was which based on matching appearances with the pictures on the box (I think I got it right). More perturbing than that, though, is that the individual ingredients for each type of tea ball are not listed – the ingredient list is all jumbled together for all four. In addition, the plastic encasing the tea balls is only loosely sealed – it's not vacuum sealed for freshness at all! The box claims these don't go bad until March 2016, but not being vacuum seals still worries me a bit. Oh well, there's only four, so surely they'll be used up before long regardless. I'll go through each individual flavor and describe my experiences.
I started off with the Golden Jasmine first, because that's the one my husband was most excited about. Unfortunately, this experience seems to reinforce all the negative reviews. The tea ball failed to sink, and it opened sideways on the top of the water line. Not very impressive or nice-looking at all. The flavor isn't particularly impressive either. It tasted of a rather weak black tea, and although the box describes it as being “scented with delicate jasmine,” there is almost no jasmine in evidence. The scenting must be very “delicate” indeed. Lest you think it was my steep time or my teapot size, well, I let it steep a full 15 minutes by the end (10 minutes is my normal steep time), and the teapot is the same one I've used for other brands (that gave good flavor). After my husband and I each drank one cup, there was enough for one more cup left. This liquid had, of course, steeped longer due to being left in the pot, and when I drank it, it was indeed a bit stronger tasting. Unfortunately, it just tasted like slightly stronger black tea; still no real hint of jasmine. Oh well, one dud out of the four. We'll see what the others are like...
The next one I tried was the Lavender Dream. I had high hopes for this one since I do like lavender. While this one sank and opened correctly, it was not particularly attractive. The “bloom” in the middle wasn't much to look at – just a few ruddy brown petals that looked more like leaves than anything (that was the hibiscus, presumably). The taste was not good, either. The hibiscus taste was mildly there, but the lavender wasn't really apparent and the whole thing had an unpleasant bitter undertone. Overall, I wasn't impressed.
Next I tried out the Sunset Oolong. This one has to be better, right? Well, the flower in this one was at least more colorful, but this one once again the tea ball refused to sink, and ended up not fully opening either. The taste was...bland. It is rather hard to describe, but it's just bland. Maybe it didn't steep fully or properly since it failed to open? I don't know.
Lastly, I tried out the Dragon Lily. By this point, I didn't have much hope for this product. This one, unfortunately, didn't do anything to change my mind. This one, once AGAIN, didn't sink and opened on its side. The bloom was dull-colored and rather unattractive regardless. The taste was pleasant enough, though. It just tasted of a mild white tea (which it pretty much is). I can't say I detected any of the purported “velvety apricot flavor” that the box describes, but it was at least drinkable. However, it wasn't particularly special-tasting, and I can't say I'd want to drink it again (if only because this is an expensive option for something that tastes of plain white tea – I might as well just buy a cheaper box of white tea).
Well, overall, I'm deeply disappointed in Numi. Normally they make such nice tea, but this was a huge let down. There wasn't a single bloom in here that made me want to buy this again, and frankly, I won't be. Unfortunately, the other negative reviews are correct. If you want some blooming tea, I'd recommend you buy Primula (for a cheaper option) or Teaposy (for a really awesome, but more expensive, experience). There may be other good brands out there, too. Either way, avoid these.