Autumn Harvest! So this is my other blend that includes lapsang souchong in it, and I only have it because it was a free teabag that was included with one of my orders (so both of the blends that I ended up with were freebies or promos, heh). This is technically one of their Easter seasonals, which may make it seem an odd choice for autumn, but the cinnamon, apple, orange, and cranberry are all flavors I very much associate with the fall season, myself.
I’m hoping this one might be even more subtle on the smokiness than the Bonfire tea; it is also a rooibos/black blend, but in addition to rooibos and the lapsang souchong, it also has some Ceylon tea in there, which I’m hoping may cut back on the smoke note a bit? The dry leaf still smells a little intimidating, though… I do like that I can make out some vanilla creaminess in the scent which should pair nicely with the strong orange I also get in the aroma, but there is obvious smoky notes there, too. It makes me think of the burning pine wood smell from winter time, actually. Hopefully the fruitiness and sweetness will dominate in the cup.
The steeped tea is an interesting deep amber color, not quite as red as I was expecting for such a rooibos heavy blend, so the black tea does seem to at least have quite a bit of influence on the brew color. The aroma does have a bit of the pine wood smell, but it actually smells far more like creamsicle than I was getting from the dry leaf. The flavor is… interesting. It doesn’t particularly taste smoky, which I appreciate, but I am getting an overwhelming pine flavor, which surprises me; the only other time I’ve had that flavor was in some very citrusy white teas. I tend to not mind this flavor unless there is a lot of artificial lemony notes, because paired with those then I just taste cleaner, so it doesn’t bother me, but I do find it a little odd in a blend that is supposed to be mimicking a baked bread. I would’ve expected something more malty, creating a more bready taste in the base? It just seems strange and I’m uncertain what it is doing here. I do get that creamy vanilla/orange flavor mid-sip, but I’m not really pulling out any of the other fruits, like the apple and cranberry, which seem utterly lost. The cinnamon is also really subtle; I sometimes pick up just a hint of it in my mouth after a sip, but rarely while I’m drinking.
I feel like the elements didn’t quite all pull together as they should… what I’m getting is a creamsicle tea with some lingering slightly smoky pine notes, and for what it is, it’s actually really nice, but that is just not Hot Cross Buns to me. The base needed to be maltier and fruitier to live up to the namesake. I like what I’m tasting, but it isn’t what I was expecting, so I find this one a bit average.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Orange Zest, Pine, Smoke, Smooth