The dry leaves smell of nutmeg, mint and chocolate. Which is pretty interesting because of those three things, it only contains one of them. But that’s what I smell. I’m doing this with just water (no chai-like prep – maybe next time) and while it is brewing it smells of earth and mint. And something else that vaguely reminds me of candy though I can’t place what exactly it is. Ah, I know what it is – Red Hots. Not evil Red Hots. Not like Adagio’s White Cucumber (::shudder::). I’m going to guess that it is the combo of cinnamon and vanilla that gives it that smell but I’m really just guessing.
As the tea goes from my IngenuiTEA into my cup, I’m really surprised at how dark it is. We’re talking used motor oil dark. Yikes. I’m wondering if I went a little too long on the steep time – I think in the past I’ve done pu-erh no more than 3 minutes…
The smell is earthy and sweet like hay with an obvious (and slightly creamy) mint tingle. No hint anymore of the cinnamon/Red Hot smell and I haven’t picked up on any licorice at all (possibly ‘yet’). Sipping it is… kind of dull. I get mint. Lots of mint. And maybe a tiny but of pu-erh dry hay-like sweetness left on my tongue after a sip. Maybe. If I look really hard. If I swish the tea around in my mouth, I can maybe pick up a little cinnamon, but I won’t discount the possibility that I’m finding it simply because it is there. When I lick my lips, I get a kind of white chocolate aftertaste so maybe that’s how I’m reading the vanilla?
I’ve let it cool a little to see if I can get more flavor out of it. I do but most of the flavor is mint and then what I’m reading as white chocolate (but guessing is the vanilla). There’s an almost sour taste up front that I associate with slightly overbrewed mint (or too hot mint – either/or), then mint, white chocolate, mint. While I can smell more of the pu-erh hay sweetness but I sure can’t taste it anywhere in the tea. The mint aftertaste is a nice fresh aftertaste, so that’s good but that’s pretty much the only good thing I’m getting out of this tea. Mind you, I’m not really getting anything bad out of it. I’m just getting… minty and white chocolate and bland. I’d really like some tea in there. Please? Just a little? The added flavors are nice, they just need a bit of a solid tea taste to carry them, but instead I feel like I’m drinking white chocolate and mint water. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve enjoyed mint flavored water before (though I haven’t tried chocolate flavored water yet) but when I’m looking to taste tea and end up with water? It’s kind of a let down.
I’m rating this tea smack dab in the middle. The vanilla mint aspect is good, the water aspect is bad but all in all, I’m left not really feeling anything about this tea other than a vague since of disappointment and a whole lot of apathy.