This tea is interesting.
And I don’t mean interesting as in that thing you say when you don’t know what to say. I mean interesting as in it is full and varied and complex and it made my brain go to several different places all at once. I knew I wasn’t going to be logging this when I drank it, so I was typing down some words when I did, and every single time that I did something – smelled it, sipped it, swished it, whatever, I found something different.
I was flooded with flavors and smells and texture and memories and wow. This tea was bombarding me with so many things that I could barely keep up. And at the same time I was trying to think, and to place things I wasn’t recognizing instantaneously. It was overwhelming, yet invigorating.
So I’m going to try and piece this together, but forgive me if it comes out a little disjointed, because to me this is like launching someone up into the middle of the sky during the fireworks, bringing them back down, and then asking, “So, what was it like?”
First, this tea is strong. For what it’s worth, I put about a teaspoon and a half in ten ounces of water. This was also my very first experience with it, so I’ll probably try a shorter steep time just to see if that has any effect, though this level of flavor met me well.
There were only two components of this tea that did not strongly remind me of summer – the cinnamon and the tail of the sip that made me think of unsweetened cranberry juice. [Yes, this tea contains hibiscus. And yes, it is bold at the finish. If you can’t handle it I don’t recommend this tea, but you should be aware that this tea holds so much more than hibiscus.] As for the rest of it…
The dry leaf reminds me of peaches or apricots – ripe and juicy and slurpy – and they’re accompanied by cinnamon. Wet, the leaf takes on a bunch of different tones. Sometimes it smelled to me like fruit punch. Then it was potpourri [but not in a bad way]. Then [and it took me a bit of thought to place this] it smelled distinctly like popsicles. You know, the fruit flavored ones that come in the white paper packaging. It had that muted fruitiness, accompanied by that dryness from the ice.
And then, perhaps strangely, I smelled chlorine. I swam competitively for a pretty long time, so chlorine, though really relatively the same from pool to pool, has different connotations to me; different smells. This was summer chlorine; the smell that rises off the soaked concrete of the pool deck as the sun beats down relentlessly. We would slink out of the water, exhausted after a particularly difficult practice and lie, half-heartedly stretching to try and quell the lactic acid that would shortly turn us into human noodles. That strange, unexpected yet familiar chlorine smell was also present in the liquid, but it came and went, dodging between the scent of peach pie sprinkled with cinnamon.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to get from this exactly, so I tentatively took a quick sip. I didn’t let it sit in my mouth for very long, and just swallowed it and I quickly realized this was not going to be enough time to get anything out of it except the resulting tartness. On the next sip, I held it in my mouth and let it roam around a bit. The hibiscus taste was there, but along with it was apple – not particularly sweet, but tart apple, and something else that I couldn’t place. I gulped that sip down [the cranberry taste, as I discovered, was more apparent to me if i swallowed quickly, the hibiscus aspect clearer if I let it make it’s way down more slowly] and took another sip in.
This time, I held the tea at the front of my mouth, just tasting it with the tip of my tongue. Here, I could definitely taste the cinnamon. That was very apparent. But there was something else swirling around with it that I couldn’t quite figure out until it side-swiped my brain.
It was so clearly plum. I don’t know how to break it down anymore than that, I can just say that once I recognized it I nearly face-palmed.
The rest of my cup was spent holding the tea at the tip of my tongue and then pounding it down when I was ready to swallow. I seriously enjoyed that plum cinnamon-y taste, and found the cranberry tartness at the finishing strangely refreshing. I was slightly, slightly disappointed that there weren’t really any peach or apricot flavors to be found, though honestly I think that the rest of the tea was so intense I think it would have been completely drowned out.
I’m wondering if a shorter infusion will dial everything down enough to bring out more flavors, or if it will simply make for a softer cup of tea. Anyhow, this made for a really neat experience. I got a bit more complexity out of the aroma than I did the actual taste of the tea, but that plum cinnamon combination was delightful. I’ll also have to try this iced when the weather turns warmer. Anyhow, right now I’m not thinking that this is going to be a re-order for me. It’s almost too loud for me to enjoy as a tea to drink before bed [which is what I’d want it for since it’s decaf], but for the time being I think I’ll really enjoy this tin.