ISRAEL: Herbal teas

I picked up from World of Judaica this neat sampler set of Israeli herbal teas. While Israel is mainly a coffee country, ShalvaTea makes blends using only herbs that grow in Israel. Each blend is named after a different location, and the owner, David Ross (originally Norwegian before immigrating to Israel) tries to make sure the herbs reflect that specific location.

Elah Valley – Peppermint with rose petals, licorice, sumac, and zuta (white savoury). It’s like a richer mint tea, you can pick out the taste of licorice and the lemony sumac, and while I’ve never tried zuta before, I assume it’s adding that extra woodsy mintiness- it’s related to mint.

Ein Gedi – Wow, this is a very sage-dominant tea. There’s also fennel and carob and a few other herbs, but it’s mainly sage, sage, and more sage. Good if that’s your thing, not really big on that much sage myself.

Jerusalem – Mainly lemongrass and hibiscus, so it’s nice and tart, but there’s also olive leaf and cardamom and a little bit of sage – makes it a bit smokier and spicy.

Carmel – Rosemary is the main scent of this tea, with a savoury woody flavour. It’s an interesting blend of herbs that aren’t too common in tea – rosemary, hyssop, sumac, zuta, as well as calendula and raspberry leaves. The rosemary starts the strongest, but the others start to come out after you steep it a bit.

Arava – Chamomile and lemongrass, with mint, licorice, and lavender. Kind like how the Elah Valley tea is a boosted mint tea, this tastes like a boosted chamomile – I really like the lemongrass in it.

Galil – A lemon-forward tea, with lemongrass and lemon balm, as well as a bit of sage as an undernote. It’s pretty refreshing, though I’d be interested in trying olive leaf tea on its own to get a sense of what its flavour is – it seems quite mild.

I’d say the Elah Valley tea was my favourite, followed by Arava, and that the Ein Gedi tea didn’t do too much for me – too much sage! But this is a really neat concept, and I liked getting to try some really new herbal mixes.

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