ugh, this beauty! i think this might have been the tea to turn me on to loose leaf. in fact, of all teas i had smelled during one of my first trips to Teavana, i was so enamored of the smell & so mortified that this was (at the time) a seasonal tea (!!!!) that i simply had to get as much of this as i could because when i love something, it is pretty much for life. i was all hopes that it would make a comeback the following holiday season, but as it turns out, it never really went away!
to me, this is the legitimate smell of the holidays. absolutely Christmas-y without being an intrusively pungent cinnamon oil spill. not that i begrudge cinnamon anything as i love the spice, but sometimes it is added to blends in a way that overwhelms them, eclipsing every other flavor. here it is used artfully, in a way that creates this perfectly balanced, friendly and scrumptious caramel almond apple pie. each ingredient is in accord with one another and it is difficult to pull oneself away from inhaling the mixture! if i did a blind sniff of this, i’d imagine a potpourri sachet of cinnamon bark & dried apple imbued with the fragrance of caramel. make no mistake, this is not ‘potpourri sachet’ in an alienating sense, but in the most inviting sense. this is decadent, people.
unfortunately, the brew doesn’t quite live up to the fragrance, which is why i have to deduct 10 points, but i’m still thankful for the wonderful olfactory experience it provides. as they say, olfaction is a big part of taste. and in this case, who could complain?
despite the not-so-nice things that have happened to me at Teavana over the past 2 years, i will say this: their pound tins are time capsules. this tea has kept perfectly since November of 2012! of course, i don’t wish to test my luck and have my precious turn on me, so better to hurry and finish it up! but here’s a thumbs-down: this flavor has either been recently discontinued, or they are reworking the blend to take out all the allergens (read: nuts! NO!!!) as (i have been informed) they are doing with 2 of my other favorites: Cha Yen Thai & Zingiber Ginger Coconut. you know, go figure: just when i find something i really like. i mean really, really like (after trying a few cups) it is swiftly pulled from the shelves. And recently, Caramel Almond Amaretti has done a disappearing act from their website!! Un ceremonious Teavana, unceremonious.
side note: i do believe this tisane would make for a wild sort of chai (prepared stove top), or even kheer (Indian rice pudding). of course, the color might be a shocking magenta, but then you could always tell people dragon fruit is an ingredient ;)
another thing, too: with milk added to this, it looks like Strawberry Quik! ;p fun for kids (and i’m a big one) but also there is a Malaysian drink, of which the name escapes me, that I had long ago back when my Malaysian/Bruneian friends lived in the States (we’re talking 15 years ago!) it is essentially milk mixed with a dark pink flavored syrup. i can’t remember it as having any distinct flavor, except for the fact that it was very sweet! i do remember enjoying it greatly, though.
well, i went ahead and googled ‘Malaysian milk with pink syrup’ and this came up: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandung_(drink) – the syrup is supposedly flavored with coconut & rosewater. a delicious memory! (and a sad one, too: i miss the times i spent with them! they were quite literally my foray into Malaysian culture, which is fascinating ethnically, culinarily, musically & linguistically! among so many other great qualities.)
as you can see, i’ve really wandered off the beaten path with my thought process.. go home, tasting note: you’re drunk!