First of all, I had a little accident buying Kusmi the other day, so if anybody out there is fond of cinnamon flavoured black, I have a proposition for you. I shall post this on the boards as well. (Basically, I just grabbed a brown tin that looked exactly like the caramel… It was not caramel.)
Secondly, this tea is from aforementioned ill-fated Kusmi purchase and this one was not a mistake. It’s one I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Actually ever since I had that fantastic vanilla Nilgiri that Chi of Tea had and I became really interested in finding my perfect vanilla tea. Well, my second favourite anyway, as I’m giving up hope of the Chi of Tea vanilla ever getting back in stock.
What I like in a vanilla flavoured black is clearly present vanilla, and preferably with some leather-y undernotes of something akin to coconut. And it must be SMOOooooooooth, with a captial SMOO. The Chi of Tea one had all of this. I have yet to find the same flavour profile, fulfilling all requirements elsewhere although I have found some very acceptable alternatives.
This one had the right sort of aroma of the dry leaf. Not super sweet and obviously vanilla-y to the point of near cloying syntheticness, but something more rough and wood-y and leather-y. After steeping the vanilla flavouring smells subdued and the Chinese base is coming very nicely through. It smells grain-y and I wonder if there is some Fujian black involved here. Since they don’t say anything about it other than ‘Chinese black’ I’m assuming they’re using some sort of standardised blend of several to ensure a consistent flavour. There’s just something about it that smells rather Fujian-y.
Full marks on aroma, then.
The vanilla flavouring is extremely subtle. I’m getting a whole lot of ‘black tea’ and only a smidgen of vanilla. The funny thing is, in the Caramel from Kusmi, this subtleness is something I really like, but here I’m finding it vaguely disappointing. I mean, I don’t want a vanilla flavoured tea to be only sweet, but I do want there to be some sweetness, and I really think this could have benefited from a tad more of that aspect.
It does have potential, though. This would be one of the few that I might bother experimenting more extensively with the parameters to see what happens. A full boil heat, for example, in spite of what Kusmi says, and shorter or longer steeping times and less and more leaf. I think the steeping time would be the best place to start. It tastes that way.
I’m giving it a relatively low score to start with, then we’ll see later on if it can redeem itself under different conditions.