It’s been a long while since I reviewed any Numi teas, or for that matter any Pu-erh period the end. Possibly this lapse is due to the chaos and upheaval of moving several times in the past year and to my desire to share some of my more exciting exploits. Yet, there’s more to blogging than simply narcissism and one of the reasons i started this blog was to introduce people to affordable, excellent tea options close to home. Numi definitely fits the bill. Although it’s priced a bit higher than other things in the tea aisle, the difference between Numi and say, Tetley, is night and day. Additionally, all tea eventually dies and oftentimes products need to be clearanced out to make room for new ones while they’re still perfectly enjoyable. If you happen to spot Numi on sale at Whole Foods or your local Co-op, I’d highly recommend you give them a go. With the exception of today’s post, I’ve never rated them down. If you’ve never tried Pu-erh or can’t stomach it (though they do have other great products now), Numi’s Pu-erh is easily the most drinkable.
Unlike many tea vendors, the rarity of its products or the presentation of its packaging isn’t what makes Numi so popular. Numi is a Certified B Corporation meeting rigorous sustainability standards, a CarbonFree Partner (Numi uses natural non-GMO biodegradable filter-paper; recyclable boxes made from 85% post-consumer waste; printed with soy-based inks and without unneeded shrink-wrap; sponsoring programs that lower and offset our carbon emissions including a solar-power production facility), and all their products are vetted USDA Organic, Kosher, Halal and Gluten-Free. They’ve won numerous awards over the years for industry-leading practices and as of last year their Papercalculator.org’s environmental audit showed they’d saved 5200 tress, reduced 300,000 lbs of landfill, reduced 2.75 million BTUs, reduced 2.3 million gallons of water and reduced net greenhouse emissions by 470,000 (citation needed). Additionally, Numi direct sources their tea and is committed to only using Fair Trade Certified tea gardens. They’ve recently gotten on board as a partner in Verified Fair Labor and at least with their Pu-erh line, ensuring Yunnan growers make well-above the average salary for workers in their region. Finally, Numi has invested in the #4H20Hope campaign to provide clean, safe drinking water to people in need. In terms of corporate consciousness, I’ve never heard of a for-profit company doing more for the planet and its people.
In aroma, Basil Mint Pu-erh is unlike other Pu-erh I’ve tried, but not necessarily in a corrupting way. Although the mint is a bit drowned out, the basil and expected earthy-barky Pu-erh scents are strong and clear. The basil and mint work in equal parts to temper an otherwards harsh coffee-like Pu-erh bitterness, but I’m not sure they’re completely successful. The result is a flavor that’s 1/3rd basil, 1/3rd young Pu-erh and 1/3rd not quite wintergreen mint with a hint of wet leaf aftertaste. Basil Mint Pu-erh probably isn’t the best example of Pu-erh I’ve ever tasted, but neither is it necessarily the worst. In texture, Basil Mint Pu-erh has a lot of the syrupy if uninspiring grit for a Pu-erh, no doubt owing to its Cut Tear Curl composition. In liquor, Basil Mint Pu-erh has a lovely red-tinged mocca coloring.
- Aroma – 94
- Taste – 92
- Texture – 92
- Spunk – 93
- Rarity – 97 (Well, it’s certainly possessing of the virtue of never having been tried…)
- Availability – 97 (recently clearanced and now out of stock on the website, but widely available in stores)
- Appearance – 94
- Organic/Fair trade – 97 (it could only be rated higher if it was bio-dynamic and domestic)
Mean score – 94.5 Rounding to a 95 and tying with the probably more enjoyable Shai Qing Beencha 2003 for Best in its Class. I honestly don’t know if you’ll enjoy Basil Mint Pu-erh, but I’d be hard pressed to recommend a Chinese-grown tea that’s better for the planet.