I figured something out while sipping on this tea: Mariage Freres and Kusmi have very similar tea styles. (Is this a big ole ‘duh’ to everyone but me?) Both have flavorings typically on the more subtle end and that flavor tends to hit most in the smell and then the endnote of each sip. But I think there are two main differences between them for me: Kusmi flavorings, while more subtle than a lot of flavored teas out there, do seem to be a bit stronger than most Mariage Freres teas. And the tea taste that hits towards the front of each sip (where the flavoring is tasted least) is milder and not as decadent feeling in Mariage Freres as they are in the Kusmi teas.
The smell of this tea is lovely – sweet and creamy with a little caramelized something to it. The tasting notes say crème brûlée and I’m not sure I would have gone there on my own, but yeah, I can see that, though there seems to be an additional note of candy-like sweetness in the smell that keeps me from saying “But of course it is!”. Perhaps it because I knew this tea was called “Easter”, but that sweet sugary smell/taste made me think a bit of Easter candies (in a good way). The taste is much milder with the flavors really only coming through in the end. They are quite nice but I think I would have liked it to be slightly more intense. Or for the tea taste to be richer as it felt just a hair thin and not quite as smooth as the tea taste in Troika yesterday. All in all a tasty tea but one that I want to just turn up the volume on just a hair.
ETA: For the second steep I really increased the time – 6 minutes – and added a tiny splash of half & half. Now I’m getting a nice level of flavor. It’s very sweet and Easter-candy-like with lots of vanilla. The tea flavor isn’t as silky as Kusmi seems to be but it doesn’t feel as thin as before. I’m adjusting my rating because I quite like this now. I just have to remember to go for the long steep time.