Note: This is an edited version of a review I wrote for one of my Tumblr blogs. After some thought, I changed my mind about my original review and have edited this review to reflect it.
I added: A small spoonful of sugar. (I’m not meant to have much and I couldn’t find the honey.)
Smell (dry): Awful and disgusting, with a flirty tint of something candy-nice. (Note: If you think “rootbeer and butter vapor” it does honestly smell much nicer – it smells quite “good”, actually. Perhaps having a “name” for the scents helps your brain rearrange the scent a bit better.) The scent clung to my hands somehow and smelled even better, which was a large part of what changed my mind about my review.
Smell (brewed): Muted licorice and subtly nasty. (Note: As above, if you smell it with “rootbeer and butter vapor” in mind, it does smell nicer – as long as the tea/water ratio is right. If you don’t smell the rootbeer even when thinking “rootbeer” you may have to add more water.)
Color (brewed): Deep mahogany red/brown.
Taste (plain): An awful lot of nothing, followed by a confusing mixture of licorice and “something else” that approaches nice, but doesn’t quite get there. (I didn’t try the “rootbeer and butter vapor” trick, so all I can give you is this not tricked-out review. Since every time I’ve tried it without “help”, I’ve seriously not liked it, I’m going to skip doing a re-taste on the plain version.) ((Note two: I probably didn’t add enough water to this version either. I don’t think it’s worth it – to me – to try it again without some sort of sweetener, though.))
Taste (sugared): Thinking I might have added too little water, I added a bit of water as well as the sugar. Now I can properly taste the flavors. I’m not sure if the water was what helped or the (really tiny amount of) sugar, but it gives it a bit of a hint of something I can only call “candy nice”. I originally started to label it as “butterscotch”, but I don’t think it smells or tastes anything like it. It does have the sort of creamy taste to the sweetness – perhaps vanilla-ish or cream-ish. I’m curious as to how much honey might add to the flavor.
(Again – the above was written without the “rootbeer and butter vapor” trick.)
Now that I’m on my second cup, I added a bit more sugar than last time. Obviously, just about any tea will taste nicer with sugar (especially more sugar than the last time you tried it), but I do honestly think that keeping the flavors you’re “supposed” to taste in mind will absolutely help the taste of this tea.
Other comments: Also, being a Harry Potter fan and finding the idea of butterbeer interesting, I had to take the shot at ordering the tea attempt.
I highly recommend that if you don’t like the scent of it, you don’t breathe in as you’re taking your sip. It helps avoid the smell tainting the taste, which is much better than it smells brewed and a million times better than it smells dry. (Or – as I later realize after reading a review on Steepster – if you keep in mind “rootbeer and butter flavor”… But I say that a lot in this review. It’s very interesting how much of a difference in flavor it actually makes to do this.)
Here’s a tip I’ve learned after cup number two (for this review – this is actually my 4th since I purchased it): If it smells really nasty and you’re having trouble with the “rootbeer and butter vapor” trick – add more water. It’s probably not the proper mixture. I think this particular flavor may need a bit less on the tea leaves than other flavors.
Would I buy it again?: I think I would. Initially I said “probably not” because I’d formed an opinion on it based on an incorrectly prepared cup and it not quite living up to what I imagined it would taste like, but I don’t think I really did it justice because I was disappointed.
I’m not a fan of licorice and it seems to require doctoring to make it taste its best. (The first time I had the tea I had to add sugar too. If I can find the honey, I’ll try it with honey. If I had butterscotch, I’d probably try that – just to see what it tasted like.) I don’t taste any of the “butter vapor” they talk about (though I suppose that might be the unidentifiable creamy taste) or the “rootbeer” flavor others on Steepster mention (though now that I’ve seen it mentioned, I do smell it in the steam). ((Even with the “rootbeer and butter vapor” trick I don’t taste either even though I can smell them.))
Would I recommend it?: My review is sort of all over the place, isn’t it? If you know to keep in mind “rootbeer and butter vapor” and the idea of it seems interesting (and I think it might help if you like licorice) – go for it, absolutely!