I feel like I should take a moment here to appreciate T2’s sample packaging, because it’s the most colourful and functional I’ve seen in a long time. Each sample is sealed in a foil lined pouch, in its own individual serving size; the size, of course, varies according to the type of tea. I think most of their samples come in plain black packaging with the coloured label that denotes which blend they are, but these limited edition ones each have a different pattern, no two the same. Some are very reminiscent of 60s wallpaper, but some are really cute…and on the whole it’s just an extra touch that makes it feel like they’re putting the effort in on presentation. It’s nice. The back of the pouch has a brief description of the blend, and the brewing guidelines, so you don’t have to go searching to find out what inspired it, what it’s supposed to taste like, what kind of tea it is, or any of that stuff.
I say all of this mostly because they’re regular packaging really sucks. If you buy a “cube” from their website, which is the smallest quantity you can buy of an individual blend (at least in the UK…) you get a cardboard outer box containing a plastic bag of tea. The plastic bag isn’t particularly substantial, and is prone to tearing and splitting, and you can’t pour the tea into the box because it would leak out through the folds in the base. Even if you manage to keep the tea in the bag, it’s not resealable or airtight in any way. No-one is going to get through 50-100g of tea instantly, and they haven’t provided a way of keeping it fresh within its original packaging. I find it hard to believe that the perfectly packaged single-serve samples and the larger, more expensive cubes were designed by the same company. I can’t even begin to make sense of it.
Shall we talk about Sticky Date Delight now? According to the packet, this one’s based on a sticky toffee pudding, with flavours of caramel, toffee sauce, and dates. It’s a rooibos blend, and unfortunately that’s really obvious as soon as you take a sip. It’s brassy and woody and unmistakably rooibos, but I guess that’s always a risk when you use it as a base. It settles fairly quickly, and gives way to a really delicious burnt sugar flavour – it’s sort of caramel, sort of toffee, but reminds me most of all of the sugar crust on a creme brulee – if it had been under the blow torch just a few seconds too long.
The almost-tart sweetness of dried dates is there towards the end of the sip, but it’s mostly overpowered by the sweet sugariness that the toffee/caramel combination provides. I almost get sticky toffee pudding, but I “taste” it somewhere between my nose and throat in the moments after I swallow a sip. The flavour in the mouth is really just rooibos and the rich sweetness of caramelised sugar. After a few sips, it becomes too sweet and cloying to be really enjoyable.
I’m not a huge fan of this one. It’s better as it cools, when the rooibos has settled down as much as its going to, but it’s still not quite as cohesive as a flavoured blend as some of the others I’ve tried from this sampler. I think a different base would have helped, since the rooibos is a real distraction. I think I get what they were trying to achieve, and it’s almost there, but in the end it doesn’t quite make it.