Over the past couple of years, there have been many retail tea companies that have appeared, my own included (Tea Journeyman Shop). It is interesting to observe the different strengths that each company has embraced, from beautiful and fully functional websites, to commitments of sourcing only wild or organic or ethically grown teas, to creating unique flavored and blended herbs and teas. However, few companies have embraced the traditional business strategy of getting out into their community, becoming active, and building a grassroots movement toward brand recognition. There is one company that has embraced this traditional strategy painstakingly and passionately, and has created a one of a kind tea product that promises to provide the high quality of loose leaf tea with a level of convenience rivaling teabags. That company is Tea Drops, based in Los Gatos, California. Check out the Tea Drops website to see the interesting creations that Sashee and the Tea Drops crew are developing.
Basically, a Tea Drop is loose leaf tea that has been ground to coarse crumbles, then combined with various ground herbs and spices. The ingredients for each drop are ground down, mixed, then pressed into single serving portions in a shape that is specific to the product (i.e. Chocolate Earl Grey, Pumpkin Spice, etc). Each drop is intended to be used with eight ounces of water. The Tea Drops are very easy to use, simply grab a cup, place your favorite Tea Drop in the cup, add hot water, and stir. That is all there is to it. At the bottom of the cup there will be some sediment, but with a little practice, the sediment is easy to avoid while not having to waste any of the liquid.
The Tea Drops team focuses on using organic and ethically sourced teas, herbs, and spices in their products. The Chocolate Earl Grey Black Tea, which will be reviewed below, uses raw, organic cacao powder and organic, fair trade Earl Grey flavored black tea. For those of you who have an interest in nutrient rich foods, you probably know that raw cacao is among the most nutritious foods on the planet. It is great to see health-conscious entrepreneurs find new ways of creating tasteful products while helping their customers get supplemental nutrition.
There are many things that I believe Tea Drops is doing that earns the company some respect. In addition to the notes above, I love the wooden retail boxes that you can have your Tea Drops put in. The additional cost of the box is minimal ($2), but it is a very classy package to give to tea drinking friends and family. If you already have a Tea Drops wooden box, the basic packaging is a compostable box. The boxes are wrapped, tied, and sealed with a wax stamp. Every aspect of the packaging communicates the time and effort that the Tea Drops team puts in to each order. Here are two photos of the wooden box.
As a tea entrepreneur myself, I have developed a massive sense of respect for the Tea Drops founder, Sashee, and all of the members of the Tea Drops team. They are unquestionably dedicated to spreading the word about Tea Drops, and helping tea drinkers find the convenience of teabags without sacrificing the quality of the tea leaves. Learn more about Tea Drops at http://www.myteadrop.com/.
With all of that being said, allow me to help Tea Drops get some more of the recognition and attention that they have earned. The individually wrapped packet containing a Chocolate Earl Grey Black Tea drop has been opened, and the rich scents of raw cacao and bergamot are filling my office. Let the journey begin…
The tea drop has a consistent dark brown and black color, with a few crystals of raw sugar woven in. The drop has four rounded edges, and the three dimensional shape represents that of an individually wrapped square of chocolate in pink or purple packaging from a candy company whose name rhymes with “love”. The tea leaves have been ground to fine particles smaller than fannings and coarser than matcha. The drop has a coarse texture. It is not sticky to the touch. The smell has rich scents of raw cacao and citrus (bergamot). The natural scent of the tea leaves is difficult to recognize, not that this fact takes anything away from the otherwise attractive smell of the drop.
One tea drop was placed in a porcelain mug. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). Eight ounces of water was poured into the mug, and the tea drop briefly stirred until dissolved. This is also the method for at home preparation.
The infusion produced a liquor with a orange-brown color. The liquor had a cloudy appearance due to the suspended fine particles of tea leaves and spices. The aroma carried scents of raw cacao, bergamot, light malt, and raw sugar. The body is full, with a creamy, rich texture. The taste has notes of raw cacao, bergamot, raw sugar, and light malt. The raw cacao and raw sugar tastes carry over into the aftertaste. There is a considerable amount of sediment left at the bottom of the cup. However, slowly consuming the last few sips will keep the majority of the sediment stuck to the cup, rather than flowing into the mouth. I personally don’t mind the sediment.
The natural aroma and taste of the tea leaves can be felt in the liquor. The malty notes are certainly the result of a more robust black tea, such as those from Assam (India) or Ruhuna (Sri Lanka). The overall taste of the tea reminds me of a combination of black tea and unsweetened hot chocolate (the beverage). The texture is smooth and comforting. Since my last Tea Drops experience, I can definitely say that the Tea Drops team has taken some positive steps in keeping the remaining sediment manageable. In a product such as Tea Drops, removing all sediment would be nearly impossible without using a very fine strainer when preparing the beverage itself. However, for the otherwise extreme convenience of being able to quickly prepare a Tea Drop, I think the manageable amount of sediment should not deter anyone from enjoying this product.
There are certainly a considerable number of people out there who are becoming interested in knowing more about the products they are consuming, specifically the quality of the tea in their teabags, but do not have the time, patience, or resources to make the switch to full leaf tea. A Tea Drop may be the best answer for these people. With convenience rivaling that of a teabag, and the presence of quality loose leaf tea and other ingredients, the tea drinkers who want and need convenience no longer have to drink inferior quality tea, thanks to Tea Drops. Does convenience dominate the tea products that you consume? Do you enjoy flavored teas? Do you like to support young entrepreneurs working with their passions? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then try a Tea Drop!
A heartfelt thank you to Sashee and her team at Tea Drops for supplying this sample of Chocolate Earl Grey Black Tea Drops. Best of luck to the Tea Drops team, and keep up the hard and passionate work! Cheers!