Um, I think I may have stepped into “too weird for me” territory with this one.
The smell is… really weird. Kind of familiar, but not from any teas I’ve been drinking. I think it’s a plant smell, though. Not sure it’s a smell I want in my mouth, but my level of caring is definitely low enough right now that I’ll do it.
Sooooo here goes…
Ok, it’s sweet. And the sweetness cuts some of the “weird”, but it’s still there. It almost like… a green branch taste?? Actually, I wonder if what it’s reminding me of is apple tree cuttings. My mom would prune the apple trees in our yard in the spring, and when the cuttings were still supple (and we were young), my sister and I would sometimes take them and strip off the bark to reach green fibrous tissue underneath. Beneath that was the wood, which we’d then use as, say, walking sticks for our Barbies (which often went camping in the garden). My plant brain isn’t working tonight; I should know what those two parts are, oh well. So yeah, the green fibrous stuff would get under our fingernails, and I probably chewed on the branch to get it off sometimes. I think that’s the flavour I’m tasting. Makes a bit of sense, really, given that these are buds.
Gotta say though, even knowing that, this tea is still weird. It’s not bad, but… I don’t think it’s one for me. I will say that it’s grown on me through drinking this cup, and I’ll probably go for another couple infusions, but still, it’s weird :P (Side note: I can taste the “tea” flavour lightly at the end of the sip, which is nice, but not enough for me.)
ETA: Yeah, it’s two days later and wanted to clear out my infuser so I could drink some green teas, but couldn’t bear to throw these once-used buds out… so gave it another shot.
Second infusion (boiling/4min): The buds seem to have lost some of their “weird” smell and smell much sweeter, with a background of “tea”. Yep, I’m very descriptive tonight. The steeped tea smells more like a sweet white tea now, which is much more appealing. The taste is definitely similar to the previous, but with the aforementioned switch from predominantly weird to predominantly sweet and white-tea-like. I think I’ve finally figured out part of what I’m tasting though – this tea is peppery. Like steeped black pepper, but only a touch, which comes with a light zing. I actually like this particular infusion. I wonder if perhaps I should have just rinsed the leaves a bit longer in the beginning. I really need to look up proper rinsing technique. I also almost want to say that I’m almost tasting juniper. Both the pepperiness and juniper would have been present in that first infusion, just unidentified. Based on this infusion alone, I’m bumping the rating; perhaps this is not my cup of tea, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Third infusion (boiling/4min):
After this infusion was finished, I smelled the wet buds and got that intense “weird” aroma again, and was quite worried that this cup would be back to a flavour I don’t like. Luckily, not true. It’s very much like a lighter version of infusion 2. Pleasant lingering white tea aftertaste, delicious sweetness. I should have also mentioned that there’s no hint whatsoever of astringency or bitterness.
So, it looks like perhaps I just need to begin with a longer first rinse for this tea, or maybe steep it for a couple minutes and discard that infusion, to let the strange flavours weaken a bit. This ended up being quite an interesting experience, as it turned out! Glad I only bought the budset sampler though :)
ETA again: Another quick note – the sweetness in this tea lingers like that from fennel/anise/licorice. I seem to dislike that, so I suppose that’s another unappealing factor for me.