I can’t believe I’m trying this for the first time!
What an interesting tea. I don’t think I’ve had anything quite like it before.
There are big honking pieces of cinnamon in the blend, and because of that, I expected this to be another tea where cinnamon is pretty much all you can taste. But
cinnamon is just one of many things this tea has going on.
The aroma of the dry leaf almost defies description, but I’ll try. It has something deep and rich about it that I want to call cocoa or coffee, but that is probably a very beany vanilla. It also has a more surface level pastry aspect with a hint of caramel. There’s definitely a nutiness, but it’s a confectionary nuttiness. I’m reminded of pralines, though the nut isn’t pecan.
After steeping, the aroma has a lot of vanilla, some spice, and something else that I expect must be hazelnut — but if I was doing a blind taste test I wouldn’t have identified it as such. The tea is a dark, tea-colored brown and clear.
I’m puzzled by one thing. I think a number of folks have read this to contain lapsang souchong. I don’t think it does. I think that Leland is suggesting that it be blended with lapsang, and that if it is, it will please coffee lovers. While I can’t be certain this is the case, I taste and smell no lapsang without trying so hard I am wondering if I’m tasting something merely through power of suggestion and not because it’s there. It seems like a very odd thing to blend with a tea of this type. Which is why I wonder if there’s an interpretation issue here. If there is, perhaps Leland should make its description less ambiguous.
In any case, I tasted mostly vanilla at the beginning of the cup, but now at the halfway mark I’m noticing the hazelnut a lot, particularly in the finish and aftertaste. Really, the only thing that is missing from this that would make it truly wonderful in my book is some natural sweetness to the tea base. I suppose I could sweeten it up myself, but I’d rather I didn’t have to think about it. And I’ve tasted enough black teas with natural sweetness (even lapsangs) that I think it must be possible to achieve that with some thought and experimentation.
It gets points for originality and for complexity, but I’m having a hard time getting myself to the same high rating scale on this one that so many others have had.
I could just be in a critical frame of mind. There was a time when my ratings were pretty much all in the 80s and up, and I’ve been noticing that I’ve been having a hard time justifying higher ratings these days.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Hazelnut, Pastries, Vanilla