The hardline stance I’ve taken with a number of aspects in life — including wine — blurs with age.
For example, Pacific Northwest wineries continue to chip away at snobbery via their work with screwcaps, boxed wine and recipes for sangria. My line is drawn at powdered mixes that turn wine or beer into mock margaritas.
Now here comes the Tea and Wine Infusion Kit ($29.99) by Tattle Tea of Frenchtown, N.J. A box comes with a 32-ounce iced tea jug and three single-serve packets of Tattle Tea’s Love Struck Rooibos tea blend.
The size of jug easily accommodates a 750-milliliter bottle, and its rather narrow profile as a carafe doesn’t occupy much space in the fridge. The key feature of the pitcher is the filter in the neck that strains nearly all of the loose tea ingredients while pouring the altered wine into a glass. That makes this an ideal pitcher for unadulterated sun tea, too.
Tattle Tea suggests blending its mix with a “Pinot Grigio” or dry Riesling, so I christened the infuser by pouring a bottle of dry Riesling over the top a packet of the rooibos-based tea and allowed it to steep overnight in the fridge.
Alas, I found the assertive, all-natural ingredients of the tea blend to be overpowering and bitter — an evaluation from someone who has matured enough to embrace a BLT built with kale and garden-fresh salads that feature estate arugula.
Infusion tastes best using off-dry Riesling
So for Round 2, I pulled from inventory an older, off-dry Riesling. The results were fun, refreshing and considerably more approachable than most wines of a similar orange color.
During the course of a hot and dusty weekend in Washington wine country, I drained the entire infuser by myself. The natural acidity of the Riesling and its 3 percent residual sugar married nicely with the tea’s ingredients of blue corn flower, ginger, hibiscus, lemon peel, orange peel and — of course — rooibos tea.
Think of it as a healthy wine-and-tea punch with tones of dried red currant, lemony citrus, bubble gum and cherry pipe tobacco. Admittedly, the cancer-fighting and other therapeutic benefits of rooibos were lost upon me until they were pointed out by the woman whom I’m related to by marriage.
Tattle Tea’s slogan is “Fear not. It’s just leaves and water,” and along that line its team recently posted recipes for Peach and Mango Lovestruck Rooibos with a dry Riesling base, as well as one for Blueberry Basin Lavender Lemonade using a Grüner Veltliner. Tattle Tea’s site also offers a variety of more expensive tea blends.
Mixologists reportedly are using Tattle Tea’s wine infusion kit for mixers and sangria, but experiment for yourself. Reach for a late-harvest Riesling. Call on a Cabernet Franc ice wine. And if someone recently left behind a bottle of California Kool-Aid, here’s an option.