The Art of Tea is a Tasmanian company that began with a regular stall at Salamanca Market and has expanded to operate a shop and warehouse in Kingston. (We’ve had a few Saturday outings to Salamanca Market; it’s a Hobart institution and it’s so huge that I still haven’t explored all the homemade, homegrown, vintage or imported-from-India goods available for sale there). The Art of Tea offers a large selection of teas and tissanes, including a number of signature blends.
My brief to the helpful saleswoman at the market stall was “I need something to drink while soaking in the bath, whenever I actually get a chance to get into it for a long enough time to actually chill out”.***
First we had a brief discussion about the merits of unadulterated chamomile tea versus the highly aromatic yet tasteless blends offered in the supermarket (vanilla and honey scented hot water anyone?). There were a few options that fit my requirements. In the end I chose a herbal mix called “Relaxation Blend” because I was hoping the name might actually reinforce the promised benefits. You know, psychology.
The first time I made it I simply heaped the potpourri-like herbs into my little infusing basket because in most cases I prefer strong flavours. However, the result was a dark, zingy and overpoweringly pepperminty brew. Not really my idea of relaxing, and so I sought advice from the box to see if there was any suggestion of how best to prepare and enjoy it. There wasn’t, and it made me realise how helpful instructions are for products like this, given the multitude of flavours and outcomes that can be achieved with different teas and tissanes.
I tried Relaxation Blend again a few times today, with half the amount I originally used and then only a teaspoon. I even steeped one batch twice for a very weak version and overall I found it nicer and more calming as a subtle, understated beverage.
Interestingly, the blend doesn’t contain chamomile, which I always think to be the prime relaxant; instead it features calendula, rose petals, peppermint and lime-blossom. My research on these ingredients suggests that this tissane might be good for the relief of colds, sore throats and digestive complaints as well as motherhood.
The dry mixture is very attractive and I think some of the ingredients were chosen for colour (I couldn’t smell or taste any hint of rose, for example), but this is not entirely a criticism because I do think appearances are important when it comes to taste. It makes a tasty brew, with peppermint the dominant flavour, and I certainly found it “refreshing” as the label suggested. I look forward to testing its calmative properties while submerged in a bubbly bath.
***Sadly, the moment has not yet arrived. Perhaps that’s where I should be right now.