I didn’t have high expectations for this tea. To be honest, when 52Teas announced this as their tea back in April (this was the tea of the week for the week of April 16th), I wasn’t overjoyed. I might have even been a wee bit disappointed. I’m not a big wine drinker (tea is my drink of choice no matter the occasion), and while I have enjoyed the few wine flavored/infused teas I’ve tried, they aren’t really anything I’d consider a favorite.
So, I really wasn’t expecting much from this tea. I figured I’d enjoy it, but, I didn’t think I’d like it quite as much as I do.
The aroma when I opened the package was very unusual. It has a distinct grape-y scent, but there is also a fermentation kind of smell to it as well, but not so much like a wine-like fermentation, but more like a vinegar-y kind of scent, reminding me a bit of the fragrance that I experience when I open my bottle of red wine vinegar. Hints of wine and with stronger vinegar notes, with a somewhat earthy background. Interesting, intriguing, but, somewhat unusual.
Fortunately, the flavor is not nearly as odd as the scent … nor is it vinegar-y. It does have a fermented type of taste to it, but it is definitely wine-like fermentation, not vinegar. The overall taste is grape-like, but, with a distinct wine-like overtone. It doesn’t taste like the grapes you’d eat fresh, it tastes like wine grapes. And while I don’t drink a lot of wine, this is the kind of flavor I hope for when I drink wine. It isn’t overly sweet, nor is it the dry, astringent kind of wine taste. It has a pleasant, fruit-like flavor and it is nicely rounded.
52Teas used a blend of Assam and Nilgiri teas for this tea, and while this blend is sometimes on the too-astringent side, and even occasionally somewhat bitter, it isn’t with this blend. The flavoring and the black tea work together very well. It is robust and full-flavored without bitter tones or a strong astringency. It’s rather smooth, really, and very enjoyable.
52Teas has this to say about this blend:
Here’s an extra special treat I’ve been working on for a while now, a sweet Merlot flavored black tea with real freeze-dried grapes. My wife and I just recently started getting into wine, and it seems Merlot is a good compromise for us. I’m not necessarily all about those uber-dry wines, but nor do I care for the super-sugary-sweet stuff either. A little sweet is good. Anyway, I think this strikes a nice balance, and more than that, it makes a great compliment to our premium black tea base.
I agree with the above description, as this is a deliciously well-balanced tea. Sweet without being too sweet. If I were out on a wine tasting, it is a wine that tastes like this that I would favor. This taste is kind of what I hope for when I open a bottle of wine, and usually it falls a little short … which probably explains why I don’t drink a lot of wine!
I steeped this tea at a slightly lower temperature (which is something that I usually do with 52Teas black teas because I usually find their black teas to be a little harsh. The lower temperature allows for the flavor of the tea to be released without the harshness, and steeped it for 2½ minutes. This produced the delicious cup of tea that I described above! I’m drinking this one hot at the moment, but, as it cools, I find the tea maintains its flavor, which tells me that this would be excellent iced too … I think I’ll brew some later for the fridge.
A real delight, this Sweet Merlot Black Tea!