During a recent trip to Tucson, Arizona, I was lucky enough to be able to spend a day at Tohono Chul Park, which is an amazing garden path/park that features the native plants of the area, a garden nursery, several art museums/galleries and a delightful little tea room. How perfect: so many of the things that I treasure, all in one place!
And of course, I did have afternoon tea in their tea room (which was absolutely divine!) Afterward, I shopped in the gift shop, where I was able to purchase a couple of specialty teas, including this Prickly Pear Cactus Tea.
The fragrance of the dry tea is difficult for me to describe. It is quite pungent, with a fruity quality, as well as a floral undertone. Once brewed, the aroma mellows quite nicely, and it is similar to the scent of nopales.
The flavor of this tea is equally as unique, with a slightly tangy – yes, I’d even go so far as to call it sour! – yet sweet profile, which is quite similar to a sweet tart candy. The sour notes in this tea are not overwhelming to the palate; just as in a sweet tart candy, the little tingle of sour sort of rests on the tongue, and lingers in the finish. And… just like the candy, the sweet notes arrive just in time to keep you from puckering too much.
The rose in this blend provides a delicate hint of floral essence to the cup. While the presence of the rose is rather soft, I think it adds just the right touch to this tea, giving it a truly unique appeal.
Tohono Chul Park says about this tea:
Mexicans and Native Americans have revered this plant and have eaten it and brewed it for tea for centuries. The image of the prickly Pear appears on the Mexican Silver Peso. According to legend, as the Aztecs were being pursued by enemies, they encountered an eagle perched upon a prickly pear cactus. They believed this to be a sign of pending victory and settled on that site, the location of Mexico City today. Also according to legend, while picking fruit from the prickly pear, Navajos left a strand of hair as a sacrifice to the spirit believed to dwell in the plant.
Ingredients: Rosehips, Rose Leaves, Rose Petals, Prickly Pear, Natural Flavors.
I found this to be a very unique and quite charming tea. It is flavorful, naturally caffeine free, and because of its delightful, almost candy-like characteristics, it would appeal to kids as well as adults.
As I tend to prefer things not overtly sour, I did add a drizzle of agave nectar to my tea, and this softened the tart edge to it and also helped to bring out the more subtle floral notes from the rose. This tea is delicious served hot, and is extremely refreshing served iced. This is a surprisingly different, yet delicious tea.