This is what Nicole told me about this style of tea: "This is Indonesian tea (teh). I've been brewing it like a black tea but the Indonesians usually add lots of sugar (teh manis). It can be hot or iced, but traditionally it's hot and really sweet."
The box lists three ingredients: Teh Bubuk, Aroma, and Vanili. The tea itself looks brown and powdery with lots of "husky bits." It has a potent vanilla scent.
I believe that all tea is good (yes, even Lipton) if you drink it with the right people and/or the right attitude... so in hopes of making this tea taste better, I decided to take an imaginary journey to Indonesia (a place I've never been) while brewing and sipping this tea.
In my mind I am sitting in a breezy outdoor cafe surrounded by many new sounds and smells. I am waiting for a cheap, delicious lunch of fresh fruit and nasi goreng. I have become very thirsty and hungry from an unforgettable morning spent exploring old temples and lush jungles. After lunch, I am both excited and nervous about visiting an orphanage for orangutans. While I wait for my food a server brings me a steaming hot cup of sweet local tea. I savor its heady aroma and make small talk with a friendly old fisherman. He tells me proudly that Indonesian tea is the best in the world... and even though I have a few ounces of a (much preferred) high mountain oolong in my backpack, I agree with him, because right now this is the only cup of tea that matters.
While I was never expecting to be blown away by this tea, I did enjoy it. I used about 1 teaspoon of dry leaf to about 8 ounces of boiling hot water. I steeped it for about 5 minutes before stirring in a heaping teaspoon of raw sugar. The resulting brew was pleasant, though the vanilla aroma was a bit cloying. I'm sure it would go well with spicy food. I won't be drinking this often but I'm happy to make some space on my tea shelf for this cute little piece of Indonesia.
*Nicole is the same groovy globe trekker who introduced me to Ba Bao Cha and Tibetan butter tea. Xiexie Nicole!