I have been eagerly anticipating tasting this tea but I wanted to make sure I had time to give it my full attention so I thought I’d be waiting until the weekend to try this. But now that I am snowed in, I have nothing but time! (Which means long tasting note! YAY!)
And since I have the time, I’m going to try it ‘traditional style’ (check out the “How To Brew Video” here http://shop.samovarlife.com/Samovar_Russian_Blend_Black_Tea_p/0402rubl.htm for the official word on how to do this). Directions include strawberry jam. I’m so there.
The tea smells seriously yummy. Smoky and fruity sweet- it reminds me of the Fifth of November tea I have but better because the fruit flavor isn’t raspberry. It is a blend of lychee, lapsang and breakfast blend teas (so sayeth Samovar) and I can certainly pick out the lapsang and the lychee (well, I pick out fruit – no clue as to what lychee smells or tastes like).
Three tablespoons of tea ended up being 12g exactly, so I put that in 16oz of boiling water and waited for 10 minutes, then strained and decanted it into my tea pot. Because no way am I drinking that tea made at that strength in one go.
Now, it doesn’t say how much to dilute this. I have the desire to do half and half but I think that might be a bit too wussy of me (especially since I’m going to add strawberry jam to it – okay, a strawberry spread… I have no jam). So I’ll do 8oz of tea, 4oz of boiling water. Also, no clue how much strawberry jam to add but I ended up doing about a tablespoon. Because honestly, I love strawberries. And any excuse to put them in my tea must be fully taken advantage of. And even using a small spoon, I’m physically incapable of scooping out a small amount of strawberry preserves.
This smells insane. Smoky, thick, sweet, tarry, sweet, fruity, syrupy, OMG. Like burnt sugar and jam on toast. Times two million. And OMG at the taste. I have no idea how to comprehend this. Sweet, tart, tarry, thick, smoky, sweet, thick. Wowza. This is nuts. Let me see if I can break this down into something that makes sense…
I start to sip and it smells dark and thick and fruity, like overripe fruit (but not rotten – just soft and on the edge of too ripe – rich). Sipping it is smooth, thick, fruity, mellow but very bold and strong. It hits the middle of my tongue and there is a tartness or sourness. Not like something has gone off but like a strawberry that is just about ripe but still has that little bit pucker taste to it. Holding it in my mouth, that’s the main taste I get with a little more heavy but really sweet tarriness at the back of my tongue. Then I swallow and it’s very silky and heavily fruit but also tarry and then right at the very end there is a strong, sweet smoky that flashes through my mouth.
The crazy thing is, it isn’t bitter. I don’t think I’d be brave enough to do this less diluted or with less preserves because the two main flavors I’m getting is the sweet fruit and holy monkeys tarry smokiness. The balance is probably a little heavier on the fruit but not by a whole lot. The tarry actually pairs and mushes together with the fruity really naturally. It’s very sweet but doesn’t feel as sweet because of that strong tarry smokiness. However, it’s very thick and rich and it feels like I’m eating a crazy rich dessert that will ultimately make my eyes roll back in my head as I overdose on richness.
Half way through my 12oz, I added a bit of milk to see what that does. Wow. Sweeter and tarrier at the same time. Maybe a little less smoky at the end? It feels a little less rich but at the same time is still pretty powerful. Like a rich chai minus the spice and plus pine and strawberry.
This is pretty different. I can’t say I’m going to drink it this way often (or maybe even ever again!) because not only am I too impatient to wait for a 10 minute steep, this is a way overpowering for me because of how thick and rich it is. Just too in my face with thickness and flavor. Wowza. Anyway, because of that, I’m holding off on rating this and going to use the rating for making this tea the ‘normal’ way. But even though this is not something I’m going to do in the future except as a novelty, I would highly suggest if you have this tea to give it a go the traditional way. It’s been quite a nifty experience!
I’m going to be so wired today. Seriously. Bouncing off the walls.