Tea party @ Rabs’ house! (Virtually speaking…)
It’s really pretty late for me to be having caffeine but tomorrow being a holiday and all I’m throwing caution to the wind. I had a cup of this earlier, but then I went for a run, ate dinner, put kids to bed, etc. before writing a note and I thought I’d better refresh my recollection. :-)
I’ve had a couple of really outstanding vanilla flavored black teas, some that were fine, and some that were pretty awful. This one is definitely at the high end of the spectrum, though I don’t think it passes Mariage Freres Black Orchid or Samovar Vanilla Dian Hong.
I bought a little tin of it from SerendipiTea, and it’s adorable. It’s the shape and just about the size of a chewing tobacco tin (not that I have one handy to compare it to, it just reminds me of that), but probably has a smaller circumference. The dry leaves have a vanilla smell along ice cream lines. Creamy rather than beany. There’s a dusky tea smell underneath.
The tea smells creamy rather than beany, too. Very pleasing aroma. Surprisingly, the taste isn’t as ice creamy as I would have thought. It’s smooth, but it has a sort of sneaky intensity to the vanilla flavor. You don’t realize it’s as vanilla-y as it is until you sit with it for a bit. The vanilla flavor really comes out in the aftertaste if you breathe in through your mouth after sipping.
On the problem of cocoa: yeah, I get some, more in the taste than in the aroma. I find that there’s a very fine line between chocolate and vanilla flavoring sometimes, particularly if they are leaning toward less sweet. I generally think of them as opposites, having been trained that way from an early age (do you want chocolate ice cream? or vanilla? black? or white?) but when you think about it, they’re both from seeds. More specifically from beany, poddy, plant things. So why shouldn’t there be some similarity? In any case, the more intense the vanilla, the more it seems to me to have chocolate overtones. With chocolate, it’s a little more difficult to make a generalization, but I have found vanilla notes in chocolate on a number of occasions.
I like this one. Really. So what to do here?
I’m going to solve the rating question by bumping up Samovar and Mariage Freres slightly, to give what I think is an appropriate space between them and this on the rating scale, which will enable me to give this a slightly higher rating than I would have otherwise.