Right up there with Rishi and Numi (if those were the only ones in the running it would probably be coming in 3rd place imo) is Republic of Tea. Republic has been around a while and they’ve done some really phenomenal teas. I’ve previously reviewed their Coconut Pu-erh, a real delight. This summer i happened upon their iced tea collection. Yes, i know, by this point it’s getting too cold for iced tea in the mornings and we’re almost on the verge of the “hot cocoa and donuts” season but i recently found these on sale and i’m at the start of a bad cold so i can use the extra liquids. Also, if i threw them into a winter post, they might have a “chilling effect” (i’ve always rolled my eyes at this bit of journalistic turn of phrase). At any rate, Republic sells their iced tea in the same large cylinder style tea cans as their loose leaf tea, though in this case you can only experience the tea 8 times. Republic’s iced tea come in large thickly woven pouches (thankfully not thicker than the bags you use to brew loose leaf) designed for steeping in a pitcher of water and adding ice after the fact (so super concentrated!). Rather than a quart, I only have 16oz of water to work with in my mug today, but the theory is sound and with a little finesse I was able to pull it off. After steeping it for a bit longer than usual with slight agitation and 60 and 120 seconds, i added as much ice as i could get away with. Of course some of the subtleties maybe lost if the base tea is White, but that’s almost always the case with iced tea anyway (with one noted exception).
Strawberry Basil was the first Republic of Tea iced tea to catch my eye in the store. It smells and tastes basically just as you’d expect. A heavily strawberry scent gives way to a slightly herbal (though it’s difficult to tell which herb) undertone. In taste there’s not quite a 50/50 split between strawberry and basil with a green base. White tea is definitely the way to go when it comes to espousing a strong fruit flavor when you want to maintain an actual tea texture (rather than a straight Fruit tea which tend to be more herbal and thinner), so I’m not sure why they used green but i guess green is definitely cheaper in the end. I especially enjoy the basil note (which doesn’t taste organic but in this case it really is)–it makes me wish i could run out and get some Thai food for lunch. Maybe tomorrow. According to their website, Strawberry Basil is made similar to TeaVana teas and also has lemon balm, blackberry leaves and apple (though blended so as to be indistinguishable). Highly recommended and in fact if there’s any at your local Whole Foods/specialty grocery it may be on sale or clearance since the iced tea season is over (sadly).