Had a little false start with this one. Went to sip from my cup and apparently I didn’t rinse it out well enough because I could still smell vanilla. So I poured it into a fresh-from-the-dishwasher cup (strawberry teacups from my MIL! YAY!) and we were vanilla-less from then on.
First of, the dry leaf? Lovely. So so pretty. Small but squiggly with love little bits of gold. So cute. And they smell sweet – I’d probably go with Lotus because it reminds me of the smell I got at Chusonji and I know they are big on having lotuses planted around the temple site. Plus, my other options based on the description were honey or sandalwood and neither quite fit.
Once brewed though, the tea smells more like a mild version of one of the husband’s single malts. Spicy but sweet. I’m going to go with sandalwood with a hint of honey on that, but the spice isn’t as incense-y as I typically think of sandalwood. So maybe I should just go with faint single malt with light honey.
Sipping, it is nice. There’s a large flavor that is just ‘tea’ to me but it has notes. There’s a little spice (more pepper than sandalwood to me as I can feel it make a little prickle on the tip of my tongue) but it is sweet, too. Not overwhelmingly so. Just enough to keep this from making me think of chai. There’s a dry, slightly astringent hit right at the end of the swallow that hits the back of my tongue and reminds me of some rougher Darjeelings and it seems to oddly bring the taste full circle from the spicy tickle at the beginning of the sip (and at the tip of my tongue).
I think with the spice and astringency and only hint of sweet, this tea just isn’t for me. But it’s got some good notes and an interesting flavor so I can see people that prefer bolder or spicy teas enjoying this one than I did. It’s surprisingly dark and broody tasting for such a light-colored and light-bodied tea.