Once upon a time when I had only just discovered flavoured pu-erh someone told me that sweet flavours tends to go very well with that type of tea. It was the first time I had my orange flavoured pu-erh and I can’t remember who it was, but I definitely remember thinking at the time that they were somebody who ought to know what they were talking about.
Since then a long time has passed and the number of flavoured pu-erhs that I have seen have been very limited indeed. And I’ve never seen one of these sweet flavoured ones.
Not until Sil asked me, “what would you like to try?” and I saw this in her cupboard. I’m afraid my reaction might have been ever so slightly undignified. It involved gasping and flailing. I may even have begged a little bit. So yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this one a lot and I’m ever so glad that Sil was willing to share with me.
The aroma of the leaf reminds me of that toffee flavoured black from Le Palais des Thes. It’s obviously not the same base at all, but they both have that smell that reminds me of fudge. I’m not really picking up any notes of the base tea in this one at all. Just fudge. (Actually, that’s quite inspiring. I’d like to try and make my own. How hard can it be? I’d like to try and make my own caramel sweeties as well. We did that in school once, and it was totally easy)
After steeping the pu-erh comes through and mixes well with the toffee notes. I can see already now that whoever it was told me that about pu-erhs and sweet flavours really did know their business. These notes mix so well, it doesn’t feel like it’s added flavouring at all. A bit too much on the sweet side to be entirely natural, of course, but it smells like it could have been if it had wanted to.
If this stuff tastes as awesome as it smells, I’m going to be in deep trouble because I know of no way to source some for myself. I’m suddenly faced with the possibility of my perfect caramel/toffee flavoured tea not being a regular black at all. I mean I thought I’d already found my perfect one. Now I’m concerned that I’m in for a bit of a shock. O.o
So I took a couple of sips and have suddenly found myself at a loss for words. I don’t know how to continue. This has never happened to me before.
Either I’ve actually discovered a new perfect caramel-y/toffee tea, or it has an enormous flaw in order to be a candidate for perfection. And I don’t know which of these statements is true.
This is my very first impression of this tea. Complete ambivalence. How the plock am I supposed to even begin to determine the score??? O.o
I’m going to try and describe my experience of it here. Perhaps that’s going to help me.
I’m getting a lot of pu-erh flavour here. It’s a wood-y, kind of dry flavour without much in the way of earthy notes. It’s not the smoothest tea in the world at all and it feels a bit rough around the edges. I’m even getting something which, under other circumstances, I would describe as borderline pseudo-smoky.
Then the toffee flavour gradually takes over, and we are talking about a very seamless transition here. I really couldn’t say where one notes stops and the other begins. It’s vanilla-y and cocoa-y and it really suits the base flavour. It sort of feels like they’re the same ‘family’ of flavours, if you know what I mean. A bit like how various citrus fruits have very different flavours, but they are still all taste citrus-y.
The flavouring in this one is fantastic, but I’m not completely sold on the base. I would have liked a smoother base, I think, and that is at the root of my ambivalence. I should dearly love to see this exact flavouring on a super-smooth Chinese base, or a friendly Assam, perhaps.
So here I am. Wondering what to do about something I could rate at an absolute top score and feel I had scored it honestly, or I could rate it at 60 and still feel that I been honest. What to do? I’m going to go straight for the middle of the two with a bias towards the higher end because the flavouring is so extremely well done.
Conundrum in a cup.