Tasting Lab: Tuscany Orange

AJ Ward - Sept. 1, 2023

1996 Copy of Murchie's Newsletter.Tuscany Orange is one of many legacy blends at Murchie's that has dipped and resurfaced over the years. It was eventually discontinued in 2018--not too long ago--but has maintained a loyal following, so it seemed especially fitting to bring back. What has always interested me is the is the history of the blend.

Tuscany Orange was first released in 1998 under the name "Hyatt Blend." The tea was a commission for the Hyatt Regency Vancouver Hotel, and was one of many blends released between 1996 and 1998 as tributes to many local Vancouver businesses. Sutton Place Hotel, Vancouver Library Square, and historical buildings such as Craigdarroch Castle and the Point Ellice House.

Hyatt Blend immediately stands out from the others by being a spiced, orange tea. Most of the other tributes, from what I've been able to glean, were black blends or green-black blends. It's nice to see something a little different here. Orange Spice teas have their own interesting history--popularized in the 1940s, but purported to originate from recipes hailing from the 1700s.

After the new Millennium, many of these tribute blends faded into the background, including Hyatt Blend. Though, even if a blend was removed from the roster, many of them were still available upon request--and blended for you right at the counter. The same remains true today for Palm Springs, Point Ellice, and Waterfront today.

Hyatt Blend, to its credit, continued to prove popular through the early 2000s, but eventually disappeared in 2004. Murchie's saw a huge re-shuffle at this time, with the inclusion of many new blends, including several new fruit flavoured offerings.

It wouldn't stay away for long, popping up again just a few years later, under the new name "Tuscany Orange" (arguably much more descriptive). This' the name it kept until it was eventually discontinued in 2018.

By the mid-2000s, there were several orange spice-flavoured teas, each just a little different, which made choosing a favourite difficult. Orange Spice, Autumn Chai, Holiday Chai, Christmas Tea, and Tuscany Orange. Tuscany Orange is by far the most 'orangey' of our 'orange' themed teas. It opens with a juicy quality, sundried orange peel and orange oil mixing well with the snappy, citrusy Ceylon black tea. The spices, cinnamon and clove, serve more to warm up the tea rather than dominate.

The result is a tea that feels perfectly suited to the transition from summer to fall. It's warming and aromatic drunk hot, but also does amazingly iced, a little zing of cinnamon making for an interesting thirst-quencher. That's why I chose it for our September release. It also felt like the best choice for the first discontinued tea to bring back. Even just for a month, it's nice to experience what made these teas truly special during their original run.

We've received a couple comments suggesting other discontinued teas to bring back as part of the Tasting Lab, and the suggestions are always welcome. I'm trying to device a way to poll the top choices. Something more inclusive than just Instagram or Twitter.

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