Scent in package: Very strong, very sweet fruity-floral-vanilla scent.
Brewed in: Tea for one at work
Steeping: 5 min. @ nearly boiling, 6 min@ around 180 degrees
Cup: Tea for one café mug
Every time I’ve opened the package of Mandarin Silk to sniff, I can’t decide if I like the scent or not. It’s cloying, super-strong, and “in your face” vanilla, caramel and floral notes…like being wrapped up in a honeysuckle bush on a really hot day. The perfect scent, just way too much of it.
In any case, any tea with “silk” in the name seems like it might be a good bet, so I scooped out a couple heaping teaspoonfuls of very twisted large greenish-black leaves and set some water to heat. I was looking for a strong brew, but didn’t want to overcook it, so I stopped it just barely starting to boil, and brewed a 5 min. cup. It was still too hot to drink, of course, but not too hot to smell, so I held the cup under my nose and took a deep breath.
There it was – the silky smooth floral scent that I live for in a good Jasmine tea was right here on my desk, complimented by hints of vanilla and cream. The brew was a light golden yellow, crisp and clear, and I couldn’t wait to take my first sip. But having burnt my tongue enough in the last couple weeks, I set the cup back down to wait for it to cool, contenting myself with that lovely scent wafting over my desk.
When it was finally cool enough, I took my first tentative sip. I knew this was a “lighter” oolong type tea, and since I’m not much for green tea, I was worried that the distinctive grassy taste would be foremost in the flavor profile. To my happy surprise, there was absolutely no grassy, vegetal or green taste at all…just pure, vanilla floral sweetness that truly washed across my tongue like silk. It did leave my mouth a bit dry after, hinting at more astringency than I normally experience, but that didn’t stop me from making another infusion immediately after polishing off the first.
For the second infusion, I steeped it a minute longer with a bit cooler water. It was a little lighter, a little “fresher”, and still had that honey-vanilla taste, but this time the orange blossom finish came through, as promised on the web site. It was completely enjoyable and “silky” to the end.
It’s a bit spendy at $8.00 for 2oz., but if you’re in the mood for a splurge, I’d highly recommend Mandarin Silk for an enjoyable afternoon of smooth sipping. I won’t drink this often, due to the cost, but I can certainly see myself keeping it “in stock” for special occasions, as well as a special treat to serve to guests. I’m quite sure it would be wonderful with shortbread or lemon tea cookies.