Friday, March 28, 2014

Custom Blend Contest Winning Tea Now Available: Lemon French Macaron

Back in October 2013, we held a Custom Blend Contest. For this contest, we asked that entrants submit up to 3 ideas for a custom blend.  A panel of judges chose their favorite 10 ideas and created a poll for everyone to vote for their favorite idea.  The top 10 ideas were:  Autumn's Sour Cherry and Rosemary Ice Cream, Autumn Truffle, Baklava, Blackberry Lime Meringue Guayusa, Glazed Old Fashioned Doughnut, Lemon French Macaron, Lychee Strawberry, Pain Perdu, Tiger Blood, and Tuk Tuk Thai.  There was an epic battle between the Autumn's Sour Cherry and Rosemary Ice Cream and Lemon French Macaron but ultimately the Lemon French Macaron won.  Mary submitted the idea and won 4oz of her own custom blend idea.  The initial description that won over voters was:
White tea (Glenburn Silver Needle), lemon, vanilla, cream (maybe even a vegan raw cashew-type flavor), cookie, almond slice or flavor. Lemon French Macaron! I've never had a lemon tea before, not sure why! I don't really care for citrusy teas with astringency, and that's how I find most citrus-flavored teas. But your 3 Friends Tea, with its orange flavor, is the first orange tea I've had that didn't taste like a canned orange or that was astringent, so if anyone can whip up an amazing citrus tea, it's Stacy! This type of lemony note, mixed with creamy, vanilla flavors, and the almond-cookie of the macaron shell, I think would be lovely! I'm not huge on green tea, and black seemed too harsh, so I thought white might be nice here! Tea and macarons are one of my absolute favorite combinations, and I've had many amazing, memorable tea services during special occasions with my friends, so this tea combines flavors that remind me of some really meaningful times!
After the contest was over, we embarked on a several month journey to create Mary’s ideal Lemon French Macaron blend.  This tea is just now being made available for at least a limited time.  This tea can be purchased here:  Below is a short interview with Mary.  
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I'm Mary, 29 years old and born and raised in South Carolina! I live happily with my husband and our three dogs in our eclectic little house! I work both indoors and outdoors, and I enjoy vegetable gardening, comic and comic art collecting, fashion of all kinds, traveling, and anything that combines scones & tea in large quantities, and preferably while wearing elaborate, frilly dresses!

Can you tell us a something you are passionate about other than tea? Fashion would definitely be number one, especially niche Japanese fashion. I love their eclectic street fashion that you don't see much here in the USA, so I began seeking it out back in 2008 and haven't stopped since. The Japanese brand "Jane Marple" comes closest to embodying one of my favorite aesthetics at this point in time - it's very British mixed with classic, vintage elements. Collecting comics and original comic art from the DC universe would be my second favorite hobby.

What are your tea preferences? Black tea is my favorite and I can drink it anytime of day (even late at night!). I love iced floral or fruit teas during spring and summer for breakfast and lunch, and during fall and winter, I love hot fall-type teas, like pumpkin, chai, anything with a winter or pastry note! I also love fruity oolongs and green teas, but my favorite for years was white tea, preferably Jasmine!

If money was no object and you could take a tea-related trip somewhere, where would you go and what would you do? I'd probably do the same thing I do every year, and that's have afternoon tea at all of my favorite spots in Tokyo! Afternoon tea is my favorite luxury while traveling, and I have some enjoyed some great tea services at many tasty spots. I've had afternoon tea in places like London and Scotland as well, but I have yet to find any place that tops Tokyo. If money were no object, I'd make it a monthly occurrence hah!

What is your desert island tea? Blueberry black tea, because I've never met one I'm unhappy drinking both hot and cold!

What is your favorite tea from Butiki Teas? Why? Almond Indulgence is my absolute favorite, which is actually pretty odd because normally I really don't care for almond-flavored anything, but this tea blew me away and it is my go to cup of hot tea during the evening!

How did you come up with the idea for Lemon French Macaron? I was sipping a cup of Almond Indulgence one night and nibbling on some lemon macarons with a light vanilla-lemon buttercream filling and thought a matching macaron tea would be amazing!

You also submitted two other tea ideas, Vanilla Earl Grey Chai and a Smokey Chocolate Keemun Chai. Which of the three was your favorite? All three embody elements that I love! I've had an Earl Grey Chai before that I tried to tweak on my own to make the perfect cup by adding vanilla. I love lapsang souchong and always wish my chai teas had a bit more depth (hence the Smokey Chocolate Chai), and the Lemon French Macaron embodies three of my favorite things, lemon macarons, Butiki's almond indulgence elements, and white tea. The Lemon French Macaron feels much more year-round to me though, so I'm happy that one was the idea selected!

Were you surprised that the Lemon French Macaron won? Yes! Though I had a ton of friends and family that loved the idea and were backing me up and really spreading the word, so that was awesome!

We worked on 7 different samples for you to try. What was it about this sample that you enjoyed the most and was it much different than the others? This one had the best balance of creamy flavor vs. delicious lemon taste & scent + that almond I love so much (which is the primary ingredient in macaron shells!) Some other samples had a pastry note to them but not as much creaminess, and some were very strong on the lemon notes! This final one definitely has the best balance!

How would you describe this tea? Soft, creamy, lemon-scented, almond deliciousness!

Who would you recommend this tea to?  Anyone that enjoys a delicate white tea mixed with the sweet-citrusy taste of a lemon & cream pastry!