I’ve had this sitting in a little bowl on my counter that is overflowing with other samples on my short list of things to try for a couple of weeks now. I decided that today was the day, since I’m celebrating the demise of two boxes of bagged black tea today from my “starter” teas.
I haven’t (knowingly) had a Ceylon black before by itself, though it does make appearances in black blends so I’m sure I’ve tasted it intermingled with other things. But solo, this is a first.
I really liked the look of the dry leaves. They’re dark and pretty and vaguely twiggy. I thought they’d make a very attractive nest for a very small bird, or a lovely, very small basket if they could be woven into such a thing. This may sound odd, but their smell is warm. The air around them gives off the impression of being some degrees warmer than the surrounding air. I haven’t experienced this before and thought it was a cool thing. They don’t have a very loud smell, in fact they’re less aromatic than just about all the other Samovar samples I’ve tried, as I recall. They do have a fruity smell, that is also somewhat like tobacco. Like a fruit flavored pipe tobacco. Cherry maybe.
After steeping, the aroma is of carmelized sugar, and a high, somewhat “narrow” note that might be wine or might be citrus. The tea is a lovely clear reddish tea color. A deep coppery color.
There’s a vaguely metallic note to the taste, though I must admit that I’m not sophisticated enough in my tasting of metals to be able to distinguish iron from zinc from copper. It’s a full, sweet flavor, with some malt, and some tang which could be either the aforementioned wine or citrus. It’s not as smooth as the other Samovar blacks I’ve tasted (which smoothness I had come to regard as a sort of trademark) but this could also be because I steeped this one a bit longer than I did the others because I was feeling adventurous today. Still, it’s not bumpy either. Not harsh. There’s a bit of toastiness and a coffee-like quality, not so much in the taste as in the overall impression of the flavor and body.
But is there raspberry?
Yes, with this caveat. My mother was a big crossword puzzle worker and she used to tell me that to be good at crossword puzzles you had to “throw your mind out of focus” a little, to be receptive to meanings you might not think of initially. To get the raspberry taste while the tea was hot, I had to throw my mind out of focus a bit. It’s there in the aroma, and in the aftertaste.
And, as I just discovered when I sipped what was left in the cup after typing to this point, it’s much more readily identifiable when the tea is cooler.
Wet, the leaves have an interesting reddish tinge. One of the other notes mentioned they smelled like tomatoes, so I had to give them a sniff. They do! (More like tomato sauce to me, actually.)
It’s not my favorite Samovar black, but it’s still an excellent drink. Onto the shopping list it goes.