drank Imperial Label by Kusmi Tea
876 tasting notes

It seems like I have been working on this one forever. I bought a tin of this tea on Amazon back in late April and received it in early-mid May. I was on a big Kusmi kick at the time and was going through their Russian blends like a fiend. I know I cracked this tin open sometime before the end of May-this blend seemed so unique that I just had to try it. At first, I was not impressed. I found the green tea base to be weak and the spice notes to be overpowering. As I have worked my way through this tin, however, my opinion of this tea has mellowed a bit. It’s sort of strange (okay, really strange), but it is not without its charms.

I prepared this tea Western style. I normally do at least two infusions for green teas and green tea blends, but opted for one infusion here. I have gotten a second infusion out of this tea in the past, but I feel that I got the most out of this tea performing a single extended infusion. For this review session, I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of the loose blended material in 8 ounces of 175 F water for 5 minutes.

Prior to infusion, a sniff of the dry blended material reveals a slightly grassy scent that is quickly overpowered by orange, vanilla, cinnamon, and licorice. After infusion, I noted powerful aromas of cinnamon, licorice, and vanilla underscored by orange, grass, straw, and a slightly oily marine scent from the sea buckthorn berries. In the mouth, I immediately picked up on orange peel, though this note quickly took a backseat to powerful notes of vanilla, licorice, and cinnamon. I could also detect underpinnings of straw, grass, hay, and buckthorn. The finish was heavy on vanilla, though the buckthorn, orange, licorice, and cinnamon continued to linger in the background.

Overall, I rather liked this blend. That kind of surprised me too because I absolutely loathe licorice. Here, it did not bother me all that much because there were other aromas and flavors on which I could focus. It was easy to tell that the green tea used for this blend was not all that great, but considering the focus was placed so squarely on the interaction of the other ingredients, it hardly mattered to me. It was there to provide a subtle backdrop for them and it fulfilled that role admirably. Though this is the sort of blend I would not want to have every day, I do feel that it does what it does very well. Moreover, it has aged gracefully and there are perhaps few blends that replicate its formula. I think adventurous drinkers and fans of spicy blends may enjoy this one.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Fruity, Grass, Hay, Licorice, Marine, Orange, Straw, Vanilla

175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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