Out of the four teas from Mariage Frères gifted to me this was one of two chosen because the giver “thought the name was cool.” I am absolutely speechless before her rationale. What makes “Alexandra David-Néel” sound more appealing than teas with names like “Eros,” “Mandalay,” or “Pleine Lune”? I will never know. I’m happy to try a new tea and learn about an interesting historical figure, either way!
In summer the aroma reminded me of winter spices and mandarins but now that it is damp and wet the impression changes to dry desert and floral fruits. This tea does transport me places I’d rather be.
When I first opened my tin and caught a whiff of the aroma I thought “new chai! I need to add milk.” So, without even take a sip, I went straight for the milk and was dismayed at my spicy and fruity milk creation. This tea is actually tasty without the milk; the fruity, mellow, floral notes do not need it or do well with it anyways.
The flavours are complex. The first spices to hit me are the cloves and ginger. After I had my wisdom teeth removed I received a “clove” cleaner so it’s usually the first spice I detect. I will never forget you, cloves.
The ginger is a nice balance of sweetness and zing and leads me to noticing the next jumpy spice, cinnamon, which blends so well with the others I can barely single it out. The cardamom is spicy sweet and I think it may contribute to the last surprising bit of floral sweetness- reminiscent of something potentially citrusy and creamy. While this last note adds another dimension to the tea it tones the spice affect down a notch, and that’s ok.
Aftertaste is peppery and sweet. There’s a pleasant tang from the spices and a black leaf astringent streak but no bitterness that I can pick up! Floral endnote and cinnamon are more pronounced in second steep.