I’m honestly not sure whether adding flavors to pu-erh (or pu’erh, or puerh, or pu erh) tea is a good idea. In this case, it’s a nicely flavored tea – but I’m not sure that it tastes anything like pu-erh, and it might taste exactly the same if there were a regular black tea as the base for the flavors. But perhaps not – perhaps some of the strong chocolate flavor I taste is due in part to the dark note of a pu-erh tea. I just can’t tell.
The dry leaves smell quite strongly of both chocolate and strawberry. The little white bits you see in the picture at left are flakes of white chocolate.
When I made the first cup of this, I could not taste any notes of pu-erh at all; all I could taste was the flavoring. Now, I really like the flavor of chocolate-covered strawberries, so this is not a bad thing. When I made a second cup, however, I could detect a slightly earthy-smoky note – almost as if there were a hint of lapsang shouchong in it – and I believe that was the pu-erh. The slightly smoky, slightly dusty flavor – and I don’t mean that in a bad way – gave some complexity to the chocolate. And on a third cup that I brewed, I used water slightly under boiling in order to save the tea for a second steeping – and what I found was that the first cup did not taste of pu-erh at all, only of the added flavorings, but the second steeping had a much stronger pu-erh taste! The smoky/earthy flavor was quite noticeable.
So we have a dilemma here: all that said, the tea tasted good either with or without the pu-erh note being detectible – so is it worth paying more for the pu-erh, rather than black tea? And conversely, if what one is looking for is the distinctive taste of pu-erh, is it worth buying some where the flavor is covered up by added flavorings? Or are people who want to drink pu-erh tea going to insist on being purists, and only buy pu-erh teas where they can clearly taste the unique notes of earth, of mushrooms, sometimes even of fish? I think this will appeal more to the flavored-tea contingent than to the pu-erh contingent. I did like the flavors a lot, myself, and don’t regret ordering it one bit – but I do note that the same quantity of the company’s chocolate-raspberry black tea costs about 23% less than this tea did, and I might order that the next time.
Because of the chocolate curls in the mix, this tea needed no added sugar – it was quite sweet enough for me as is. However, you can add a bit more sugar to it if you wish. I personally would not ever add milk to a pu-erh tea – but since there is already milk in the white chocolate (see note below), I think that if you added a bit of milk to this, it would taste rather like a flavored cup of hot cocoa.
Teas Etc. says about this tea:
Robust Pu’erh is dramatically enhanced with rich, creamy dark chocolate and strawberry chocolate curls, succulent strawberry pieces, and natural flavors.
The latest addition to our delicious dessert collection will change the way you feel about Pu’erh.
This is an office favorite and is sure to be one of yours.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Tea Type: Pu’erh
Ingredients: pu’erh leaf, natural flavors, strawberry pieces, dark chocolate curls, strawberry chocolate curls
Contains: chocolate, milk, soya lecithin
The ingredients list as shown above, on the company’s web site, is not quite the same as the ingredients list on the package itself. The packaging lists the individual ingredients of the chocolate curls – cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural vanilla – and also described the others more accurately as strawberry-flavored white chocolate, the ingredients of which include: sugar, cocoa butter, full milk powder, whey powder, lactose, soy lecithin, vanilla, and natural strawberry flavor. As you can see, there are several things in there that might be allergy triggers for some people. I doubt that the amount of lactose in the tiny bit of milk in the tiny white chocolate curls is enough to trigger lactose intolerance, but I don’t know that for sure. Use your best judgment when ordering!