One of the things I love about attending the Midwest Tea Festival each year is the opportunity to talk directly with vendors. The passion they have for tea is absolutely contagious and I always love hearing about the things they've been enjoying and experimenting with lately. This year I had the chance to chat with Liquid Proust briefly before the Tea Ceremony presentation and for a bit longer during the Steepster meet-up when he gave us a sneak peak at yet another of his experimental blends (although it won't be available for quite some time yet.) I also had the pleasure of sampling a brand new tea he was introducing during the festival, Rummy Pu, a ripe golden needle puerh that has been aged in a rum barrel.
There are plenty of people playing around with alcoholic tea, incorporating everything from wine to hops, but this is so far beyond what I've seen others working on. It's safe to say that one sip and my mind was blown, I've never tasted anything quite like this. It was hands-down my favorite discovery at the festival. The depth of flavor the tea picked up during the aging process is astounding. Opening up a fresh package smelled as if I had popped open a bottle of spiced rum for a mid-day tipple.
The flavor changes subtly each time it's steeped, but even after using the same leaves for the third, fourth, and fifth time I was met with a distinct spiced rum flavor backed up with deeper notes of chocolate and earth. Eventually the tea picked up subtle sweetness and the spiced rum flavor mellowed out. At that point I decided it was time to start with a fresh batch of dry leaf and begin all over again. Andrew describes this tea as a very unique and special offering and I would have to agree, you won't come across anything else like it. I can't wait to see what this mad-scientist of tea comes up with next.
Would I order this again? Absolutely! Words can't even describe how much I enjoyed this tea. Keep in mind, if you're interested in trying it out for yourself there are only limited amounts available. You'll want to pick it up sooner rather than later.