612 Tasting Notes
I dig the way this has a sort of floral, perfume-y thing going on, not just straight up sweet strawberry. And there’s definitely a rich creamy-pastry thing going on in the aroma too; it’s less evident in the swallow, but the overall effect really is of good homemade shortcake with freshly whipped cream and sunpicked fresh berries, the small flowery-smelling sort, not the bland supermarket behemoths. Nice. I’m sure the slice of strawberry cake I happened to have on hand and enjoyed with this didn’t hurt either!
This tea while it’s brewing really does smell like good pecan pie—you know, a pie that’s more about roasted nuts and buttery flaky pastry than a ton of corn syrup goo—and almost a little chocolate-y, sort of like Dorie Greenspan’s very adult/sophisticated recipe for chocolate pecan pie with the secret ingredient of a little espresso powder. So that’s a plus.
As for the actual flavor while drinking…like Irish Cream, not a lot to write home about bad or good at first. But once it cools slightly and a tiny pinch of raw sugar is added, the pecan pie flavor comes through. I’m beginning to suspect most of the Culinary Teas dessert-y flavored teas I got are going to need this treatment; I don’t think they enhance their sweetness with sugar or licorice root or whatnot in the bag, which hey, I’m not complaining (you can always add sweeteners, but you can’t get rid of them if put there as part of the blend!). It doesn’t take much sugar to let the nutty caramel flavor shine through. The nutty taste is still slightly thin on the first/front part of the swallow, but then it deepens and lingers nicely in the aftertaste.
I still don’t think so far CT’s rich dessert-y flavored black offerings are on par with, say, American Tea Room’s, but they’re a step up from supermarket brands and they definitely don’t taste adulterated with cheap artificial ingredients.
at first i was pretty disappointed because as another reviewer said, there’s not much going on here, good or bad. just tastes like plain nothing-fancy black tea. but there’s a creaminess to the finish, a thick silky mouthfeel, that accumulates as you drink the cup as it cools down. it’s still not quite what i was hoping for, but it’s not bad either. fairly faint and nondescript.
there was also the slightest twinge of bitterness initially, but i blame my steeping approach and haven’t made that mistake since with CT’s stuff (it needs to be slightly less than boiling and definitely not a full 3 minutes).
next time i’ll try adding a bit of raw sugar and see if it helps.
This tea smells AMAZING dry, like they didn’t skimp on the saffron at all (which is pretty awesome considering how very expensive decent saffron is!). Whoo boy. Brewed it mellows a lot and tastes almost vegetal more than sweetly spiced, which is tasty in its own right but somehow a little disappointing after that whammy of a first impression dry. Really good, don’t get me wrong, but not as dessert-y as I was expecting. It’s funny, it was sort of the opposite phases of expectations—>dry aroma—>brewed experience from my encounter with ATR’s Toasted Fig. Now that my expectations will be more aligned with final results, I’m sure I’ll enjoy both thoroughly.
For someone like me who isn’t that crazy about mint and chamomile and prefers “dark” roasty flavors, this isn’t the most delicious thing (it’s sweet in a strange rooty, not creamy or soft sort of way, and there’s a hint of bitterness I’m guessing is from the hops) but it’s definitely at least drinkable. The smell was a little odd to me at first—vaguely like mold or mildew—but it softens and a cleaner more herbal aroma takes its place.
More importantly than any of that though, I’m so pleased to find this works really well for me! I’ve tried valerian in pill supplement form before to help me sleep—I have a terrible time falling asleep/getting relaxed enough to go to sleep, though usually once I do fall asleep I’m out nice and deep—and it didn’t really work while having a noticeable effect on my mental perception (my brain felt…“softer”, perception more muted and gauzy, not in a bad way, kind of relaxing but more a steady twilight thing than a strong shot towards going to sleep…it was like being dissociated, floating outside of myself watching myself and my reactions through a veil). This feels similar, but less weird (not as dissociated) and more comforting, gentler yet more pervasive all around. A single cup alone was immediately super relaxing and that sleepy-in-a-good-comforting way really lasted! Last week I was averaging 2-4 hours of sleep a night the entire week (ugh), then I made 2 cups of this Saturday night and pretty much immediately got sleepy, aaaaand slept for 12 frickin’ hours (!), and it was the deepest sleep imaginable. I feel completely rebooted, like last week’s insomnia-induced nightmare has been wiped clean from my body and brain. I’m so happy to find a sleepytime blend that really works.
Update: Yeeeeah, I don’t think I will ever be without this tea. Bonus, it resteeps quite decently, so my regular bedtime cuppa won’t add up quite so quickly.
Smells wonderful dry, and I like that the citrus is of the rich, dessert-y type, not the bracing astringent fruit sort—more like one of those chocolate oranges you smash open than morning marmalade. Like others, I only smell sweet orange when it’s dry, no smoke, and when brewed the smoke emerges and the orange recedes a bit (still definitely there though!). It is not as sweet as you might imagine, which I also appreciate; if I want it sweeter at times I can do that myself.