Ah, Scottish Caramel Pu-erh. I think nearly every independant teashop I’ve visited has had this on the line-up, and if you search it here on Steepster, you’ll probably get a good twenty iterations of it because of that, but I’m fairly positive they are all wholesaling it from the same popular teashop wholesaler — Metropolitan Tea Company. What I find most fascinating is how many of these teashops put butterscotch or caramel (or both) on the ingredients list (the one I purchased it from did!) yet inspecting the leaf, there isn’t a trace of caramel or butterscotch pieces in it (only chopped almond), meaning these are flavorings. That makes a big difference to those with dietary restrictions, preferences, or allergies; my BFF is Vegan and the difference between caramel flavoring (often non-dairy) and caramel pieces (typically dairy) is huge, and simply listing “caramel” on the ingredients list is not very helpful! The consumer shouldn’t have to dig through their leaf to figure out what is in their tea, especially after buying… /end rant
In any event, I picked up my go at this blend from Shakespeare’s Corner Shoppe and Afternoon Tea last year when I was on vacation in San Diego. The leaf does have a bit of the “fishy” smell I find tends to be a problem with the bases in flavored pu-erh blends, but thankfully it mellows out in the brewed cup, and doesn’t leave any lingering flavors (at least that I notice, and that can’t be said for some other flavored pu-erhs in my collection). The tea brews up very thick and dark as coffee, has a damp earth flavor with a bit of a mineral finish, but is very sweet. The pu-erh base is a bit strong so I don’t get a heavy caramel note, but more of a sweet, burnt sugar finish, with a slight caramely taste left lingering on my tongue afterwards. During the sip, something about the sweet flavorings and the earthiness of the base gives me this coconut flavor on my tongue… I realize there is nothing in the tea to produce a coconut flavor, but the caramel notes read to my palate that way more than caramel. (That isn’t exactly a bad thing, I like coconut, but I find it interesting). I’m not sure what the diced almonds are doing for the blend, since I don’t get any nutty notes from the tea. The tea comes off as a cheap pu-erh that uses its flavoring to pre-sweeten the leaf and hide the unappealing notes that typically come with a cheap pu-erh. It’s drinkable, but not something I’m going to miss once I manage to finish it off.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Coconut, Mineral, Sweet, Thick, Wet Earth