Curiosity got the better of me again. We were at the grocery, I saw boxes of caramel-flavored tea, I showed them to Speedy and, in true caramel lover fashion, he exclaimed, “Wow!” At PHP67.00 per box of 25 teabags, the Casino caramel tea was very reasonably priced.
There are only two ingredients in the teabags — black tea and caramel flavor. I put a teabag in each of two mugs (one for me, one for Speedy), poured in hot water and, almost immediately, that distinct aroma of caramel filled my nose. I waited a few minutes for the liquid in the mug to turn a deep dark brown, I sipped, I sipped again… Okay, it smelled of caramel but I wasn’t getting any caramel taste in my mouth. Bummer.
Unlike herbs and fruit zests that not only impart distinct aromas but flavor as well, the essence of caramel — a naturally thick sweet syrup or paste — cannot be reproduced without the very qualities that make it what it is in the first place. In short, even if your nose tells you you’re drinking something with caramel, that has to be confirmed by the taste buds. Sadly, that didn’t happen all the while that I was sipping my mug of caramel-flavored tea. I think it’s a better idea to stir in a heaping tablespoonful of dulce de leche into a mug of black tea for a real caramel experience.