I found Tao of Tea’s 100% Organic Mandarin Green unexpectedly subtle and lovely. I usually prefer teas that are unadulterated by non-tea substances, but this one deserves an exception. The tea is a green Darjeeling, lightly baked and blended with orange essence. I steeped the tea at about 170 degrees, and I would expect the proper temperature to be essential in preparing this delicate tea. Infusing it in water that is too hot would probably result in a more bitter liquor.
The tea has a nice tang on the tongue, but is not strongly flavored. Somehow, it lacks the bitterness and astringency of both green tea and citrus fruits. I expected the flavors to compete for dominance, but they do not. It seems that there is a catalyzing effect that tames both of the typically overwhelming tastes. It is a brew that seems more suited to spring or summer, but it’s quite nice even in winter for those times when a more subtle, less caffeinated tea is desirable.
As well as being USDA certified organic, Mandarin Green is also certified “Fair Trade,” a category that contains only four other teas among Tao of Tea’s extensive offerings. Excerpt of Tao of Tea’s definition:
Fair Trade certification means that: The garden where the tea is grown meets specific standards for the wages, living situation, and working conditions of its pickers.