My first Pukka tea was during my time as an intern at a photographic arts agency in London, rummaging through the kitchen and finding Three Tulsi by Pukka. Remarkably unpleasant is an understatement for that tea. I dismissed that experience as herbal infusions aren’t my cup of tea, pardon the pun. So, finding Pukka teas in Sydney, I give them a second try with a fruit infusion: Pukka Lemon & Mandarin with Lemon Verbena.
Infusing for 5 minutes in 200 ml of freshly boiled water gives a slightly cloudy orange-pink liquor. The first sip is a citrus flavour without the brightness of fresh lemons or mandarins. A slight acidity recalls lemons and a subtle bitter sweetness reminds of mandarin peel, but the stale lemon flavour dominates. That’s to be expected, though, as the ingredients list is filled with lemon flavours: lemon balm leaf, lemongrass, lemon verbena leaf, lemon myrtle leaf, whole lemon peel and lemon essential oil flavour. The mandarin flavour could come only from two: orange peel and mandarin essential oil flavour.
After a disappointing start, the sweetness develops with loud notes of aniseed throughout the remainder of the sip and continues to build in the aftertaste to almost nauseating levels — and I actually enjoy a strong liquorice flavour in sarsaparilla. Unfortunately, lemon & aniseed more aptly describes this tea, which sits very close to the bottom of the teas I’ve tasted. So, maybe it’s Pukka and not my aversion to herbal infusions.
This box of Pukka Lemon & Mandarin with Lemon Verbena contained 20 tea bags. It was packed in the United Kingdom and purchased in Sydney, Australia in 2015.