|"Vanilla and Dian Hong are a nice match, like watching two of your best friends fall for one another, holding hands in the park and smiling coyly at each other."|
The dried blend appears to be somewhat of a lower grade Dian Hong - small to medium sized broken leaves, approximately 90-95% uniform deep mahogany color, with only a sprinkling of those sought after golden-tipped buds present. The lesser grade is not to its detriment - as I alluded to earlier, you would not want to tamper with perfection by using top shelf tea in a blend. Ample chunks of vanilla bean are evident in the mix as well.
The dried blend has a rich, cocoa aroma on the nose, even more so than traditional Dian Hong teas. The addition of vanilla gives off a familiar aroma - one that carries through perfectly into the cup, which Samovar expertly pinpoints in their own description as "Cocoa Puffs and toasted marshmallows". It's very reminiscent of a cup of Swiss Miss.
I keep with a 3 minute steep, which presents a copper cup. Those flavor profiles listed above are immediate and spot-on. The vanilla at first seems a tad too manufactured, but as sip after sip passes the palate, it somehow becomes more subtle and complementary rather than out of place. The cocoa really transpires in the flavor here, surely a result of being extracted and enhanced by the vanilla. Samovar also uses "baked graham crackers" as a descriptor, which I can see being the ultimate food pairing with this tea. In fact, were some sort of pie to be prepared utilizing a graham cracker crust and this tea as a base substitute for pie ingredients, that could be absolutely divine. A second infusion holds up well. Even when I made the mistake of steeping a second infusion one time for 9 minutes, it still produced strong flavor with virtually no bitterness or negative taste. Nice.
Back to the comparison to a pair of best friends: It is absolutely wonderful to see them together, and so happy at that. But alas, you still love to spend time with each of them individually and independently, as that is where they are truly their own lovely creatures.
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