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Recent Tasting Notes
After two more glasses of Pukka Night Time, I’ve decided to increase my rating a notch or two. It tastes pretty good for a tisane, I have to admit! I also like the freshness of the chamomile, as evidenced by the vibrant yellow liquor.
One of the main taste contributors is the oatstraw flower—I think! Not sure, because I have no idea whether I have ever encountered it anywhere else before. This blend does strike me as unique, and I am happy that it is certified organic.
I never have very high expectations for self-identified functional herbal blends, especially when they list valerian among their ingredients, which is imediately obvious from a sniff of the dried tea bag. It really smells awful in the dried form, so the higher the concentration of valerian, the stinkier the bag.
Fortunately, the brew produced from valerian blends tends to taste much better than the scent of the dried tea bag. In the case of Pukka NIght Time, the odd dominant ingredient is oatstraw flower. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but I felt that this was a substantial foodish beverage because of the scent and fullness of the oakstraw flower ( I presume ). The licorice adds a touch of sweetness and the lavender is detectable without being too heavy—a delicate balance I’ve found.
Well, I drank two glasses of Night Time, and I am swiftly spiraling into incoherence.
The more I drink the Pukka nighttime infusions, the fonder I become of them. The herbs used strike me as very good, in addition to being organic. Yes, it’s filterbag dust, but it seems to be much fresher than the standard grocery store fare. I especially the blends such as this one, Relax, which contain chamomile and oat flowering tops.
The fennel is low-key enough in Pukka Relax not to ruin the blend, as it often does, in my experience. Here the flavor of the fennel is undeniable (both sweet and wild fennel seed are listed among the ingredients), but the licorice root makes the elixir a bit viscous and sweet, and the chamomile is also in high enough proportion (18%) to mitigate the “fennel effect”, for lack of a better phrase!
It’s not that I dislike fennel, but it is so strong that it tends to hog the stage! I recently tried the Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Italian Chamomile, for example, where the fennel acts a bit like a rowdy drunk at an otherwise peaceful and civilized party. Fortunately the chamomile in Relax is of high enough quality and also in high enough proportion to be able to serve as a sort of chaperone to the rambunctious fennel.
An induction based on two cases: Pukka appears to be better at herbal blends than at black teas—at least in the filter bag format (which they misleading term on the box “sachets”). I still find this characterization somewhat problematic and misleading. These are filter bags, not pyramidal (or otherwise) sachets. It would be one thing if the company were based in France, where ‘sachet’ often means ‘filter bag’. But Pukka is in the UK, so they ought to have someone on the staff who is fluent in English and is aware that the term ‘sachet’ now means—at least in the English-speaking world—a different format, usually containing larger leaves and offering close to a loose-leaf brewing experience.
These are filter bags. The ingredients are good, so the tea brews up pretty tastily, but let’s call a filter bag what it is: a filter bag! Fortunately, there is no claim anywhere on these boxes or envelopes of herbal infusions (as on the black teas which I reviewed a while back) that the contents of the “sachet” are whole leaves. Just the facts, ma’am: Pukka puts fannings in filter bags and houses them in beautiful packaging, oversized but nicely designed and colorful boxes which could really accommodate 30 rather than 20 bags. The larger box suggests that the contents will indeed be whole-leaf sachets, not filter bags. Earth to Pukka: Fannings are not whole leaves, and filter bags are not sachets.
Okay, I think that I’ve made my point. This tisane is pretty good, if you are looking for a licorice-laced fennel and chamomile blend in a filter bag. The infusion tastes fairly fresh to me. One reviewer seems to think that marshmallow root smacks of Stevia, but to me, the sweetness of Relax appears to derive primarily from the licorice root.