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I assume that when they heard the word ‘summer’ many people think of beverages that make you refreshed, like orange juice, soda pop or tequila sunrise, and that tea might come to only a few people’s minds. I, being one of such people, personally fancy myself having glasses of ice-cold barley tea.
The other day, I wrote two entries on Åland Islands (the one about my personal recommendations and the other exclusively dedicated to the Bomarsund fortress, both in Japanese). Although Finland has attracted the eyes of Japanese tourists, which is especially case for larger cities (Helsinki, Turku, Tampere etc.) and winter resorts (Rovaniemi, Saariselkä and so on), the archipelago in the middle of the Baltic Sea still remains as just a niche destination, and one can find only a few travelogues in Japanese.
Given this situation, a curious Japanese traveler might have a hard time to get the idea of what to buy for a gift or a souvenir.
That is why I have picked up Ålandsblandning this time. It is Ålandian tea made exclusively by ingredients picked up on the archipelago. That means it is local, hence one of the best options for a souvenir.
Ålandsblandning is a tea brand produced by Åländska Kompaniet which seeks not only to make a tea of high quality but also to represent landscapes of the Åland Islands. The can made of thick paper bears a portrait of the ship Pommern illustrated by an Ålandian artist, Jonas Wilén, from Eckerö.
Knowing barely anything about black tea, I have hardly any idea about the base of the tea (probably Darjeeling, but no clue since the official site says nothing about this). Other principal ingredients of Ålandsblandning include the archipelago’s specialties, such as sea buckthorn, raspberries, apples, blackcurrants, and strawberries (see the official site, in Swedish). they are all picked from March to April. In the picture above, you can see leaves of Ålandian tricolor － red, yellow and blue.
(I need to resort to Google Translate to know what is written in Swedish)
Time for tasting
I encountered this mystic tea in the breakfast buffet in Hotel Arkipelag
, the hotel where I spent a night on my Åland trip. The buffet was full of Ålandian seafood and had a wide selection of drinks, one of which was this Ålandsblandning tea.
In fact, I did not drink it at that time since my stomach was full of water, orange juice and milk (and of course Åland’s delicious seafood), but it drew my attention when I was passing by the small souvenir corner at the hotel’s reception later in the day. I decided to get myself a can, brought it back to Japan, and enjoyed it with my family.
This black tea has a moderate smell of berries which is clear but rich, sweet and a little bit sour. As soon as I took a sip and I felt a tannic taste (which I assume is close to that of Darjeeling) on the surface of my tongue. I swallowed it and then the smell of berries comes again and escaped through the nostrils. I fully enjoyed. So did the rest of my family.
It was for the first time in 20 years of my life to experience a fruity and berryish taste and a tang of tannin at the same time in a single tea, and this Ålandian black tea is more easily enjoyable for tea beginners than some famous teas like Darjeeling without any extra flavors are.
Ålandsblandning is available in many souvenir stores in Mariehamn, the Ålandian capital, as well as in Hotel Arkipelag
(it cost 13 euros then) where I stayed, and in the restaurant Smakbyn close to the Kastelholm Castle.
So that’s it for the entry today. I hope you enjoyed the entry. Enjoy your summer with your favorite drink, hopefully with Ålandsblandning. Hej då!
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