Okay, I think I’ve figured out the trick of this tea, and that’s to let it steep and steep and steep until you’re sure that it’s going to be wickedly bitter.
I first tried this tea years ago (looking at the possibilities, probably 2004, so, yes, years ago — time is scary on occasion) when I went to MediaWest*Con every year. (Now I actually run a local con in the same timeframe, so I haven’t been in quite a while.) One of the room dealers sold products from Cyphre Voudou and I picked up a bag of this tea on a whim, along with some other things like a calendar of woodcut leaves and soap shaped like a tombstone. The calendar was pretty, the soap is still my preferred brand, and the tea, the tea! The tea was indeed ambrosia. I nursed that little bag of tea along for almost a year, and every cup was wonderful. And I kept the little tag on it just in case I ever went back to MWC so I could find that dealer, until it occurred to me that perhaps since then they’d put up a website. And they had! And I ordered this wonderful tea from them! And it was…okay.
This is just as disappointing as you think. Did I imagine it? Has their blend changed? Did I just get a really good packet the first time, or a bum one this time? Heavily oversteeped I do get some of the spicy-sweet fruitiness I remember (and, in fact, none of the bitterness you’d expect from abusing an innocent tea this way) but this is in no way the tea of the gods I know I had before. It’s not a bad tea! But I can’t help feeling disappointed.