This is my other Kusmi purchase from yesterday. The caramel being the first one, in case anybody hadn’t noticed. JacquelineM voiced the optimistic hope that the appearance of the Kusmi caramel post meant that the missing package had shown up, but alas. I have, however, found a place where they have a large selection so I went in and bought the bare necessity (caramel) and a curiousity (this one).
I’ve actually seen this one a long time ago when I was looking for a strawberry tea. The problem then was that what I wanted was a plain strawberry black and as I had never had a strawberry green before I had the hardest time imagening that. And even so, you can’t really make that substitution between blacks and greens. Two entirely different beasts.
But then Jillian shared a strawberry green with me from … uh … I can’t actually remember where it was from now, but I found it surprisingly pleasant and it brought me back to the thought of this one and finally made me want to try it.
The green base is a chinese sencha which seems to be a more or less standard green for flavouring. It seems like that’s the one most flavoured greens (that actually reveal the base) are based on. I can’t say I have any complaints there. I’ve come to the conclusion that sencha is my preferred green. I haven’t met my perfect plain sencha yet, but we’ll get to that later.
This one has a very strong strawberry aroma. It doesn’t smell synthetic when you open the tin, it smells very real. It’s got that specific sort of tang to the aroma that you also find when you smell a real strawberry and that little bit of astringency when eating one. (That slight astringency manages to surprise me every single time I have fresh strawberries for some reason)
Some of you will perhaps recall a small discussion we had once regarding the flavouring of brands such as Kusmi or Mariage Freres, and how it seemed like they were generally more subtle in their flavouring compared to similarly flavoured brands. We decided it must be a french thing. Do you remember?
The aroma of these leaves, when dry, do NOT have that frenchness. It’s 100% strawberry and a lot of it.
After steeping the aroma turns a little more complex. I can actually smell the sencha now, and the strawberry is more subdued. It’s still there, but it doesn’t scream ’I’M A STRAWBERRY!!!’ quite so much as it did before. It smells more like sweeties now than actual fruit.
Curious taste! There’s a small disclaimer here in that I didn’t really pay attention while steeping so I actually gave it a whole minute rather than just the 30 seconds I usually start a green on. For those who wonder how I can get anything interesting out of such short intervals, I use a lot of leaf.
Anyway, curious. There are strong sencha flavours here. I can find the spinach-y green note and it does indeed come with that same dark pine green colour association that I’m used to from sencha. I wonder if I might not actually rather like this sencha if I had it plain.
But what about the strawberry? It’s there. It has just regained that frenchness I mentioned before. It’s not overwhelming in the taste, but it’s very easy to find. This doesn’t just taste like sweeties or ‘strawberry tea’. It tastes like tea WITH strawberry, and therein lies an enormous difference.
Imagine the flavour of sencha. Imagine it as a sort of networked structure. A large flat expanse of pine green flavour, but with holes and cavities all over. That’s where the strawberry is. At first glance it’ll look nice and uniform, but when you look closer, there are bright red dots all over the place. That’s what it tastes like.
I’m not sure, however, that this is my perfect strawberry flavoured tea. I think it might be my perfect strawberry green tea, but all in all, I don’t really think my perfect strawberry tea isn’t black. I really wish Kusmi would provide me with a plain strawberry black.
These days I’m trying to put some thought into my ‘standard panel’ of teas. The ones that I’ll always have in my cupboard. A C Perch’s Lapsang Souchon and their raspberry oolong, for example. Kusmi’s caramel, Nothing But Tea’s orange pu-erh, TeaSpring’s Tan Yang Te Ji (♥)… And so on and so forth. In spite of the above, this one might be a candidate there as well, but I haven’t decided on that yet.