…Oh dear GOD, the smell.
A friend of mine who works at Teaopia recommended this one to me. And after reading about it, I was quite excited to try it. I love smoked meats and cheeses, and so thought – hey, why not smoky tea? Sounds intriguing.
When I stopped by the store to pick it up, I asked an associate if I could smell it first. Whoa. I have been told that I have quite a sensitive nose (finding scents overpowering from across the room that others standing over the source could barely detect), and the scent of this one nearly put me on the floor. I was honestly expecting the smoke in the scent to be more subtle, but this is like standing over the smoking ashes of a wood fire…in an enclosed space. I recoiled, and the associate said, “Yeah, it’s pretty strong,” and immediately put it back on the shelf without a further word from me. I had to tell him that, no, I would take it!
Perhaps that was a mistake. When I steeped this, I could barely breathe through the awful reek of smoke. I questioned the idea that I’ve ever liked smoky foodstuffs in the first place. It smells like my house burned down and there were no survivors!
Now, the taste…it’s honestly hard to evaluate the taste of something that is so overshadowed by its own scent. It tastes like smoke of course, warm like winters in the ski lodge. My first impression of it was, “delightful!” and I only wish it had stayed that way, but the smoke taste was so much stronger than I would have preferred. A few sips seemed to scratch my throat much like, well, breathing in smoke would. But the next sip would be incredibly smooth, so I never knew quite what to expect. At certain points I started coughing – I’m not sure whether it was the aroma or the tea itself, but something was setting off my asthma slightly (something I foolishly never considered, even after smelling it). Luckily, mine is not too severe, but NOTE – asthmatics beware!
There’s definitely an underlying sweetness to it, and I taste the saltiness that Asiaticfox mentioned as well. I feel like there’s a lot to this tea that I’d like to explore in further cups, but the smell keeps making my head spin and scattering my ability to focus on the taste. It smells like a forest fire devastated Banff, and wounded deer are limping from the smoldering ashes! I think I can smell their burnt fur and flesh now. God, stomach-churning, and now I also have a headache. Oh, and my eyes sting.
So I just don’t know what to do with this tea. I have 50g left (minus one cup). Continue to try to drink it in the hopes I acquire a taste for it? A shorter steep, perhaps? Use it for cooking? Throw it out? Donate to charity? Does Teaopia have a return policy for tea? I’m going to have to go drink something as far from this as possible…like a flavoured rooibos, maybe. This may very well have ended the obsessive “straight black” kick I’ve been on recently.
And to think I was so snobbily convinced I’d like a tea with such a strong taste note to it. I feel like a boob, really.
But dear GOD, the smell…