Review: Culinary Teas Cherry Almond Black Tea

Almond Tea, Black Tea, Cherry Tea, Culinary Teas Add comments
Raven’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!" The tea drinks like a black tea more so than a flavoured one, as the cherry and almond are there but seem more to round out the black tea’s flavour rather than dance on top of it. The harmony is tasty though."
Raven’s Teaview: 7.3/10
Other Teaviews: CJ gave it 4/10, Vanessa gave it 7/10
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Few things have such a prolific association as cherry and almonds and I’m not sure why. As far as fruit nut pairing, I’d say only banana and peanut could beat ‘em. Regardless, they do go well together and they are more abundant in tea than in food or forest, it seems. Despite their abundance, not ever having a cherry almond tea before, Culinary Teas seemed to know their cherry teas with two other cherry blends amidst their bounty of wacky and sumptuous blends. Featuring a Sri Lankan black with sweetened cranberries, almonds, rose and safflower petals, blackberry and lime leaves with natural flavours, it certainly offers an interesting spin on the pair and the price leaves plenty for the cherry on top.

Upon seeing the tea, the ingredients bring a colourful mix but it didn’t look quite as expected. It’s not bounding with cherries or almonds but it is eye catching. Cardinal red safflower flowers and petals blaze against the softer pink tinged yellows of the rose petals and herb sized bayleaf green leaves throughout the dark matte blackish brown of the black tea. Still mostly black tea, there’s also several beige almond slices accenting the cut leaves and stems. The cranberries are deceptive though, hiding in the black tea easily but I still only found one whole one in the sample. It’s not so coiffed a mix with an array of shapes and sizes but it definitely has an appealing colourful zest.

Despite all of the ingredients, the tea’s scent is simpler but just as colourful. And sweet, delightfully sweet. As the aroma blooms, there’s cherry, happily with a very natural dried berriness which often seems harder to find, versus the cough syrup cherry tea, than tying a cherry stem with one’s tongue. The berry notes seem like dried cranberries but maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me with so few in the tea. The berry scent is close enough to be dried cherry-like with a bit of tart and a nice red, concentrated, dried berry sweetness. Adding to the tart, smelling the tea too long made my eyes water from a strange wave similar to hot vinegar with a slight vinegary scent. The black tea is subtler, as is the almond. There is a ruffle of toastiness and strength to the fruitiness but it is mostly just splendid cherry berriness with some hints of rose. The rose petal floral adds a soft elegance that makes the cherry aroma seem more like freshly dried cherries and natural. Apart from the odd vinegary twist to the bouquet, the lightly sweet blush of cherry is just great.

Culinary Teas offers general steeping tips for their black teas using boiling water for three to seven minutes. Brewing two teaspoons, I couldn’t wait longer than three minutes as the cup filled with a medium dark orange brown and the toasty sweetness of the brew beckoned.

The medium bouquet isn’t highly aromatic but it has a nice fullness and the sweetness is lovely. The sweetness centers on cooked berry notes that are kind of cooked cranberry and kind of cherry red, natural and delightful, as they weave through the warming aromas of the black tea. While the almond doesn’t scream, there does seem to be a kind of a rosy almond extract note that lends a bit of cooked raw almond roundness to the soft tannins of the black tea’s scent. Although, I still notice a strange trickle of vinegar in the bouquet that seems like yellow mustard, the cherry, almond and black tea have a pleasing mellow harmony. Plus, the mix of sweet and toasty notes is quite enjoyable.

In the cup, the integration of flavours is similar, a bit understated but good-humoured. The tea drinks like a black tea more so than a flavoured one, as the cherry and almond are there but seem more to round out the black tea’s flavour rather than dance on top of it. The cherry adds a subtle tartness and cranberry, rosehip-like berriness that hits the same note as the mild toastiness of the black tea. The almond is perhaps the least noticeable, noticed more so, in the wholesomeness than a prominent flavour. Yet, there seems a cooked almond kind of morselly character, aided by almond extract-like flickers, that gives the tea a satisfying weight, despite it’s smooth, relaxed brown earthy flavour. As such, the black tea itself is tasty and not so dark or rich, to keep the tempo of the cherry and almond accents, although a bit more power behind it wouldn't be such a bad thing. From the medium body, the tea lightly finishes with little aftertaste but the cranberry builds in one’s breath through the cup. With the mellow flavour and light sweetness, the tea easily stands alone without milk or sugar too.

Despite the tea’s mellowness, a second steeping of the leaves doesn’t disappoint, appearing almost the same brown as the first but a bit less clear. The bouquet isn’t as aromatic but still toasty with Ceylon’s warm coppery aroma. Hints of rose and fruity sweetness flutter at its edges with, perhaps, a nuance of almond but they harmonize so well, it seems mostly the black tea’s scent. The aroma is more spirited than the flavour as it lightens, however, light tobacco flavours of the black tea recline through the sip with a quick finish without any aftertaste. There’s subtle accents of wineyness and nuttiness playing into the black tea flavour, although the cherry emerges gradually in one’s breath through the cup. A third infusion retains a light bran scent with a touch of berry but the flavour seems a bit too subtle.

After trying the tea several times, I did find the tea somewhat inconsistent, as it varied in how much cherry or almond were apparent, which seemed more than usual. Whether it was me or the blending, it may be worth giving the tea a good mix before digging in.

I don’t know if Culinary Teas Cherry Almond tea was quite what I expected. For a flavoured black, the cherry and almond surface enough to know it’s a flavoured tea but don’t jump out at you. But in that vein, they harmonize well with the easy going black tea. Even though it might not be my first choice if I had a craving for cherry or almond, it could be an elegant sip for a special moment with one's own pair.

— To purchase Culinary Teas Cherry Almond Black Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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