Oh, steepster. The reasons for my absence are manifold but positive. A book to write, a new boy to date, a birthday month and much travel, two separate bouts of illness (flu, 1; head-cold with lingering cough, 1) which may or may not be related to the aforementioned travel, and the fall video-game release blitz have together conspired to keep me happily drained and preoccupied to the extent that what little remaining energy I have has been diverted to things other than writing tasting notes. I have been sticking with tried and true favorites. I have not purchased tea in over a month. This may be a good time to purchase lift tickets in hell.
Last night I was feeling bored with the usual suspects, and I’ve had this left over from my swap with Auggy, so I decided to give it a brew. I didn’t notice until I actually sat down with it that it also contained vanilla (I probably could’ve deduced this from the name, admittedly) — but that is, in fact, the greater portion of the forward flavor in this cup, and it dominates the aroma. Once you sip, you get the warm fuzzy tongue-hug of vanilla immediately, and this gives way to a noticeable sweetness and the very, very slightly sweet flavor rhubarb mixed in. It’s not quite tart the way that rhubarb is, but there’s an astringency in the cup that seems to play into the memory of that tartness…and it’s not rhubarb-as-seen-in-strawberry-rhubarb-pie, but rhubarb the way it tastes when you get stalks of it fresh and eat it that way, only scaled back and toned down enough to not cause your mouth to pucker. It’s a very subtle flavor, but not difficult to spot — maybe ‘gentle’ is a better word than ‘subtle’.
Something about the tea reminds me of the flavored blends from 52teas — the apple flavors in particular. I don’t know if that’s the leaf or just a consequence of the rhubarb flavor. I am indecisive.
They say ‘Keemun’ for the leaf. I can see it. It just doesn’t have much character as Keemuns go; most of what you’d expect from it gets swallowed up by the vanilla, which is perhaps the point.
Not bad! Not something I’ll be looking to replace, but I like it better than I thought I would, and I’d be interested in trying other teas like it — which is apparently not as unlikely as it sounds; in searching for this online I discovered another vanilla-rhubarb tea from Sweden, produced by Friggs, whom I know from previous conversations with a Belgian friend of mine produces some kind of magical blabar (blueberry) tea. And I remember that because, blabar is an awesome word for ‘blueberry’, and anytime my friend says ‘Friggs-Blabar’ it entertains me.