Thanks mtchyg for the sample! I’ll be the first to admit I do not usually go for flavored teas other than traditionally scented ones that are usually produced by piling flowers onto the tea leaves, then later removing them. But when I did a little trade I couldn’t pass this up because smoke and maple just sounded so right with dark oolong tea. Of course, I’m equally skeptical of teas that include flowers to be pretty rather than to flavor them, so seeing the pretty red-orange safflowers in this made me think “Okay, Lion, don’t be disappointed if it tastes cheap.” I mean, safflowers are usually in teas to look pretty, though of course they do impart some flavor.
With all my negative biases about “fashion teas” out of the way… let’s get to the actual review. I’m just brewing this in a cup with a large infuser basket. The aroma is very prominent even with the leaves dry and is mostly a sweet maple smell, though I do also smell the safflowers quite a bit and the overall effect reminds me of the lush plant-life smell inside of a greenhouse, and maybe somebody’s eating a hot bowl of maple oatmeal in that greenhouse.
I did not sweeten this tea, and it is mildly sweet on its own, though it seems to be from the maple flavoring rather than the oolong tea. The tea leaves themselves don’t have a very strong taste. Mostly I’m getting flavors of tobacco and oatmeal and just a bit of smoke/char. If anyone is missing the smoke flavor in this tea, I’d suggest not using sweetener or any cream. It’s subtle, but it’s there. The maple flavor is also more subtle than strong, and it is more sweet in the finish, which seems to create a unique contrast with the dry finish of the oolong tea itself. Texturally, this tea is a bit dry, but considering the earthy flavor spectrum it covers, and the mild sweetness of the maple flavor, it isn’t too bad of a thing.
I would say that as flavored teas go, this is actually a really good one. While I wish it felt more “wet” in the mouth, and that the tea leaves had more flavor to lend to the blend, it’s still enjoyable for a casual drink. It may be inspiring me to experiment with a drop or two of maple syrup in other teas. In fact, I’m getting rather curious now to maybe try smoking some tea myself and add a little maple syrup after. I’m kind of a DIYer so it’s in my curious nature.
But where convenience goes, I wouldn’t turn down this tea. It’s good. Reminds me of autumn. Nice in these lingering moments of winter. The resteep flavor is fine but missing most of the maple at that point, tastes mostly mineral, tobacco, and char.
Flavors: Maple, Oats, Smoke, Tea, Tobacco