I got a sample of this as part of the same experiment described in my note here:
As I mentioned, I’m now more about de-rooibosing my life except for the very few blends I really really like. So I’m gonna drink this one and say goodbye to it, I expect. It would take something on the order of a miracle for me to want to order plain rooibos. But if anyone could make me do it, Samovar probably could.
Initially though, we’re not off to the best start. I sniffed the dry needles next to the Harney ones and the Harney ones have a more robust smell and a much more pleasing one. The Samovar smells shallow by comparison, and there’s a scary thing about it. Um. Well…. there’s no pretty way to say this. It has a note that reminds me a little of stale urine. Now, before I met pu erhs I might have run screaming from this sort of smell, but fortunately I’ve matured some. And doubly fortunately, the smell is not strong and it goes away after the mixture is exposed to air for a while. Like the time it took to write this much. I wonder whether it had something to do with how the rooibos interacted with the plastic of the sample package?
There’s a sign of redemption after brewing. The color is unbelievable. Deep, ruby red, almost garnet. The aroma is pretty nondescript, which I view as a plus. It signals to me that this may be an obedient rooibos, which may make their rooibos blends work the way I like them. Really, it doesn’t smell like much of anything.
The flavor is, frankly, pretty similar to the aroma. There is a rooibos-like flavor, but it isn’t strong. It has a clever citrus note, which I don’t think I’ve experienced in rooibos before.
Because it is so un-rooibosy, it’s pretty good. It’s the first thing I’ve had from Samovar that hasn’t made me want to rush to order it immediately, and unless someone discovers tomorrow that the Samovar rooibos is in fact the fountain of youth, I will not be buying it. But it does help me understand why some of their rooibos blends have been so popular, and it makes me pretty interested in trying them.