I use the leaves in some of my curry dishes, but hadn't realized there were seeds. When I saw them in the store, I had to pick some up. At first sniff, fenugreek seeds smelled like caramel. But when mortar met pestle, that sweet aroma turned grassy. More of the fresh cut than the fun kind. The smell is definitely something you'd find in a green curry dish, probably mixed with coconut milk.
When our standard amount was infused into espresso, it was completely undetectable in smell or in taste. At double the normal dose, it changed the coffee, but in a very subtle, minor way. Like a butterfly flapping its wings in Japan, but you're in Japan so no one really notices. Not worth pursuing as an infusion.
Fortunately, a representative from Nourishtea, Avi, was in the shop. We got to talking about our little espresso infusion experiment, mentioning that his peppermint tea was brutally bad. I always was good at first impressions. He suggested his rooibos tea variety as a possibility. The tea is actually an herb that grows on a bush in South Africa. Green leaves are harvested and oxidized, giving the tea its reddish colour. Avi thought the tea would lend an earthy, vanilla taste to the shot.
Just out of the tin, the loose leaf tea was not ground as fine as we are used to using for our infusions. A pinch on the bottom of the holder definitely made a nice drink. The resulting brew was very smooth. Almost as if it filled in all the usually sharp flavour peaks of the Steampunk espresso blend to produce a velvety profile. A touch of sugar made this effect more pronounced, but I preferred it without. Avi was right; vanilla was definitely present, but mostly lingering in the aftertaste. This herb is worth pursuing but definitely with it more finely ground.
Rooibos can actually be used to make an espresso drink known as Red Espresso. The rooibos is ground espresso fine and a shot is pulled using it instead of coffee. All the variations then follow: Red latte, red macchiato, red cappuccino, etc. I'd like to try this. Anyone know where I can get some in Toronto?