|"This is truly a fine example of the elegance that a caramel black tea SHOULD be. Kudos, TeaGschwendner!"|
Upon first sight/knowledge, this tea appears identical with the caffeinated cousin simply known as "Caramel", but there is undoubtedly more mysterious forces working here. This tea refers to "creamy caramel bits" as opposed to "caramel pieces", leaving one to wonder if there was an actual addition of cream, or at least cream flavors. It does appear quite apparent, and may be responsible for taming the typically gritty caramel flavoring all-too-often found in such teas.
The aroma of the dried blend is not unlike walking into a coffee bean grindery (wait, that's probably not a real place, and not a place I would ever have been. But I envision it smelling this way). A rich, fresh aroma, pungent on coffee-like scent. A heavy hazelnut influence is in here as well. While the decaf black tea is of unknown origin or species, the leaves exude an absurdly-high quality. Akin to wood shavings of rich mahogany tones, the majority of the leaves are medium-sized, and rolled/dried expertly, with a sprinkling of smaller-sized bits of equally-rich-toned quality.
TG's recommendation is to brew with boiling water for 2 minutes. Again, herein may lie part of the secret. Oversteeping, I suspect, may end in less-desirable results. Here, two minutes seems to hit the bullseye. Upon first scalding sips, I was rash to write this off as another sub-par attempt at the caramel-flavored tea market. However, as the cup cools to drinkable temperature levels, the flavor intensifies in a very favorable way. None of the hazelnut that was so omnipresent in the dried form seems to eke through in the cup. The creaminess on the caramel clearly does though. And that coffee-like nose makes its way to the palette as well.
Without knowledge of the actual tea base (and how it compares to the caffeinated version), I can't truly say whether or not that has an overall effect on the final result. I'm not one to sip decaf black teas very often. When I am in the mood for something sans-caffeine, I generally want to reach for a rooibos or an herbal tisane. I rarely ever drink decaf black tea, but this would be my one selection to keep on hand for just such purpose. This is truly a fine example of the elegance that a caramel black tea SHOULD be. Kudos, TeaGschwendner!
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