Ah I’m posting this note hours after consuming this tea, which feels a bit wrong because I want to do it justice. I do remember, however, my first experience with a smoky black tea-it was the keemun hao ya a (which is somehow different from a keemun hao ya b, etc…?), and it was from art of Tea. I remember the distinct impression that the tea smelled of barn yard, and unfortunately that association persisted until I finished the sample. I posted about it to you fine folk, and one of you implored me not to give up on smoky teas, and so I did my best to soldier on. I loved the Queen, and she’s got a smoky element to her, and this one also came highly recommended from ifjuly whom I like a great deal.
This tea did smell predictably smoky as soon as I opened the package, although I can’t say I immediately envisioned a barn, which I suppose is a good thing. Once brewed, it retained its smoky smell, but I was also getting hints of burnt chocolate, along with…another smell that I can’t really place. It sort of smelled as though a house was burning-you know that smell that will drift about a most unfortunate neighborhood when a house is burning down? sort of that salty smell that, if not for being born to you on crisp fall or winter air, might actually be more upsetting? I mean, of course it’s upsetting-the thought of anyone’s home burning down is very tragic…oh my god, how the hell did my tasting note feature a burning family home? aaahhh. But basically, there’s an almost salty aspect to the burning chocolate smoke smell of this tea. That particular facet of the smell doesn’t translate into the taste, however. The tea tastes lovely, with hints of dark chocolate, malt, and campfire, and I loved it. I don’t actually know what’s Russian about smoke, but hey, I’ll take it. I also realized that for me (and others, I imagine), enjoying a good smoky tea is a bit of an acquired taste. Mr. Keychange took a sip of my tea this morning and said that it seemed weird but that he could get used to it. I pretty much inhaled the cup alongside my double vanilla buttercream cupcake, and would be happy to have a tea like this in my collection. There’s probably enough left in the sample for another cup.