Just over a month ago, I was out Christmas shopping with my brother-in-law. I'd been saving some last minute shopping for a craft fair in DC, and since he always leaves all of his shopping to the last minute, I invited him to join me. The craft fair was rather disappointing unless you wanted to buy jewelry or purses, so we spent a few hours exploring other shopping opportunities in the city. We made a stop at Union Station, and paid a visit to the Old Post Office Pavilion. In our meanderings, we found a cheese shop. Now Mr. Tea Scoop feels about cheese the way I feel about tea, so I had some wrapped up for him, and I bought some for my sister and step-mother as well. Feeling rather satisfied, I was just about ready to pay when this bottle caught my eye.
It looked like a wine bottle, but it said tea. Intrigued, I picked up the bottle and turned it over. I discovered that it sparkled due to a fermentation process that left just the slightest amount of alcohol behind. Intrigued, I was about to add it to my other purchases, when the brother-in-law stopped me. You see, although I was beginning to load myself down with packages, he had been less than successful. So, he purchased it, and I pretended to forget about it and pretended to be surprised on Christmas morning when I opened it up.
As special as it was, I wanted to save it for a special occasion, and share it. I didn't want the sparkle to go out of it before I could polish off a whole bottle. Luckily, that occasion came around just last weekend. Mr. Tea Scoop and I started a gourmet dinner group last January. Each person takes turn hosting a dinner for the rest of the group that's out of the ordinary. Sometimes they have a theme, sometimes not. This time, we had something to celebrate in addition to Mr. Tea Scoop's delicious Cavalcade of Meat themed dinner: two of our members had become engaged over the holidays. We pulled out the champagne, and I thought to myself that this tea would make a great alternative to champagne.
How did it stand up? Well its bubbly nature made it quite festive, and the light jasmine flavor was refreshing and unobtrusive. My biggest problem was the odor. It smelled slightly yeasty, I suppose from the fermentation, and the scent was completely unappetizing. However, after one removed one's nose from the glass, it was quite a pleasant drinking experience. Red wine probably would have stood up better to the game bourguignon, but it paired quite nicely with creamy braised frogs' legs and the two dessert pies (peanut butter and banana cream, topped with candied bacon, with an animal cracker crust). The website recommends pairing it with all kinds of cheese, and indeed, it did not clash with the goat cheese we served as an hors d'oeuvre. It also recommends a fish pairing, which I think would be quite nice, particularly a white fish.
So would I have another bottle? Despite the aroma, we polished off the bottle, and I had several glasses myself. It was a nice non-alcoholic alternative for those of us who passed up champagne and merlot, and something different than the usual go-to of sparkling cider. It's not something I would drink everyday, but for a special occasion, I think I might keep this in mind.