524 Tasting Notes

drank Rooibos de Noël by Dammann Freres
524 tasting notes

Smells like orange and bubblegum, but mostly bubblegum! How strange. Wow, it tastes like bubblegum! Like woodsy bubblegum that leaves your mouth kinda dry. I’m not getting any of the flavors that are described. This is really weird and I don’t know what to make of it.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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drank Black Orchid by Mariage Frères
524 tasting notes

I got this tea in a bulk section of a shop in Berkeley almost a year ago, so I’m not sure how it compares to fresh and better stored samples of this tea. For some reason my brain is telling me I smell chocolate in both the dry and steeped tea. I can smell the rich vanilla, but why chocolate? Maybe the base is the same as a chocolate tea I have had so it is by association that I smell it? When I sip, it is smooth and vanilla like at first, but quickly turns to a burnt caramel taste… almost coffee with a tiny bit of bitter. I read Ysaurella’s notes about wanting to try steeping it at a lower time, so I only did 3 minutes at under boiling water. Considering that, I’m surprised there is any bitterness. Adding sugar knocks out the hint of bitter coffee and brings out a rich vanilla in the aftertaste. On the sip I taste the tea base, which is a nice one, but I don’t get vanilla until after I swallow. As it cools it gets sweeter and I taste the vanilla a little sooner. It is a very nice cup, but it is a little plain for my taste. I might try it cold brewed in the fridge before I totally give up on it tho. I have had some boring teas surprise me when cold brewed.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

where did you find MF teas in bulk?

Dustin

At The Pasta Shop in Berkeley. They have two locations, but only the one right off the freeway and next to Teance has them in bulk. They have a larger selection of MF in tins too and a few other brands of tea!

TeaBrat

Good to know, thanks!

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drank Place Saint Marc by THE O DOR
524 tasting notes

I got some of this in a long ago swap with Barbara. I was having so much fun trying the The O Dor brand while traveling last March, but when I got home I was distracted by all the teas I had purchased in San Francisco and the swap teas got tucked away.

When brewed and in my clear glass cup, this tea looks like a giant piece of amber with the light filtering through it. The smell is red and fruity, but I don’t know that I’d be able to peg the scent as strawberry if I hadn’t read the description. On my first few sips I was met by a quick sweetness followed by a touch of bitter. Perhaps I steeped it too long or the water was too hot. The black base is nice and tastes familiar, but I’m not yet able to identify them. The base also masks the flavor of the fruit a bit at the moment, so I’m adding some sugar. Sometimes adding sugar makes certain flavors stand out more or taste more natural and sometimes everything still tastes the same, only sweeter. This time it tastes the same. I’m getting a slight smokey aftertaste mingling with some strawberry. It is pleasant, but unless I’m able to get better results with different brewing parameters, this tea won’t make it on my must purchase list.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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My first steeping of this tea was for 40 seconds at 175. I got one sip in before getting distracted and coming back to it when it cooled. It tastes slightly green and grassy, but it is really smooth too and leaves a nice buttery aftertaste that later fades into a grass again. If I wait long enough before taking another sip, I get this brief strange feeling on the back sides of my tongue just like a get when I drink a shot of wheatgrass. It is almost like a pucker or shudder.

The second steep was for a minute, but I had some eggs with this delicious hot sauce I have recently become addicted to (sometimes I search my kitchen for anything that I could put the sauce on just so I can have more) and the long lingering burn is still dominating any delicate flavors like tea. After some time has passed I can taste my tea again and it is a very similar cup as the first. The buttery flavors arrive a little sooner this time.

Third steep was for two minutes and the taste in the sip is much lighter on the grass. Mid sip is mainly buttery, then nothing immediately after and finally more butter which transitions to grass a while after each sip.

This tea is really nice and I am enjoying it, but I don’t know that I like it enough to have multiple cups of it in the same day. I start to get a little bored with how bright and light it is and find myself desiring something a little more heavy and earthy. I know I don’t have to drink multiple cups, but I’d feel like I was wasting it if I wasn’t. Still, this would be a nice tea to keep around when I was in the mood for an awesome buttery green.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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drank Lemon Cardamom Chun Mee by 52teas
524 tasting notes

I got a small pack of this in last year’s (or maybe it was the year before?) 12 Days of Xmas pack. Either way, it has held up well. I’m finding that my favorite 52teas are the greens and oolongs. This tea is no exception to that rule. I love cardamom and it pairs really well with the lemon to make this tea bright without over doing the cardamom. The tea base is very nice, mellow and smooth. I get the buttery quality mentioned in the description. it leaves my tongue a little dry after each sip, but it isn’t a whole mouth dryness. I don’t think can see this tea as a permanent addition to my cupboard at the moment, but I could see buying a full bag of it and having it around for a while.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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I’m trying this tea again, minus the mistake of eating smoked salmon just prior to drinking it. Whoops!
I am loving the smell of this tea! It is hard to pick out the pumpkin over the cinnamon right now, but the overall blend of the spices smells amazing. Once steeped, the spices mellow out and I think I can pick out some pumpkin in the scent. When I taste it, pumpkin is the first thing I taste followed by spices. Adding a little sugar brightens it is a bit. I think I can taste burnt sugar, reminiscent of creme brulee. The tea base seems smooth and subtle, managing to not overpower the pumpkin. On most sips I first get spices and in the aftertaste get a wave of burnt sugar, then pumpkin. As it cools I get more pumpkin on the sip. Second steep is pretty good. A little weaker which is expected, but still a really good cup.

I am a sucker for all things pumpkin and have tried and been disappointed many times by pumpkin tea with spices that obliterate all other flavors. I think this is the first pumpkin tea I have had that had a pleasing balance of spices that didn’t hog the stage and let the pumpkin show it’s stuff!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Noël à Paris by Dammann Freres
524 tasting notes

Skipping around the remaining teas from my advent calendar. This one sounded good, cherry, almond and ginger! The dry tea smells promising! Cherry and almond scents are sometimes hard to decipher, but I find the two rather distinct in this tea with the cherry dominating. It is a syrupy cherry smell. When brewed the scent is still present, but faded. I’m finding it difficult to be patient enough to let it cool before sipping. First few sips… I’m finding it has a very flat taste to it, like cherry juice soaked into cardboard. Is that the ginger? Adding sugar makes the cherry stand out more, but I’m also getting a dry mouth feeling from it too. I was really hoping to fall in love with a tea or two from DF, but I think this brand is just not for me.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Tuscanteal

LOL! Cherry soaked in cardboard!!

Dustin

I feel pretty cruel describing tea that way, but sometimes it is the only way to describe what I’m tasting!

Anna

So I guess there are now TWO people in the world who don’t love DF. We should have a (very small) club.

Tuscanteal

Don’t, that’s what makes it great. Very honest :)

Dinosara

Anna, there are some others (cteresa I think would join your club!). I am however in the other (very small) club of people who don’t love MF. Sometimes I feel like the only one!

Tuscanteal

I’ve never tried DF, but I adore MF… they were my first loose leaf tea company!!! Pricey but delicious!

Anna

Aww. Sara, the last dinosaur!

Dustin

A very small club has that exclusive feel about it. Pretty soon everyone is going to be begging to join our club and we can give them the “I don’t think so” look and not let them in to keep up the hype! Mwah-ha-ha-ha!

There is a fine line between honesty and being an a-hole. I try to stay on the honest side, but sometimes I take a quick leap over the line. ;)

I like MF alright so far, but they haven’t wowed me the way other French companies have like La Palais de Thes and Nina’s. Still, I’m finding most French tea to be surprisingly smooth even if the flavor tastes like packing peanuts.

Anna

It’s a product, you paid for it, it’s a huge tea merchant that turns over who knows how much money, and it’s very unlikely that anyone who could have their feelings hurt by your honest impressions of their tea would ever read one of these reviews.

I have to say, I find it really helpful when people write their honest opinions about these teas, even if they’re negative, because then you feel like less of a lunatic when you also find the product underwhelming.

Have you tried Le Palais des Thés’ pear tea? I am so into that.

Dustin

There are some smaller companies here that read the reviews of their teas that might be bummed by someone slamming something they worked hard on, but I think you are right about the big companies.

I haven’t tried their pear tea! There are only 4 or so teas of theirs that I have had so far, but they have all been very lovely.

Anna

Exactly, I agree – it’s important to take into account the huge challenges smaller companies face and what a privilege it is to have so many of them actively participating on Steepster.

The pear is one of those teas I’m sort of hoarding, because I worry I’ll run out. Thankfully, my friend is moving to Oslo soon, and there are two (?!) stores there. Le Palais des Thés have stores in the strangest places.

Dustin

I got to visit a Le Palais store this summer when I was in Dublin for a month. I hadn’t heard of the brand before, but I was thrilled to find it! It looks like the only stores they have in the states are in New York which is pretty far away for me.
That is great that you will have a friend able to send you tea! If I knew of more teas that I liked of theirs I’d start looking into who I knew who lived in New York and could do the same for me!

Anna

I know, Dublin! I mean, who has stores in Dublin, Oslo and Tel Aviv? Either it’s completely random, or a brilliant, strategic marketing move. (Hoping for the latter.) Their unflavoured teas are supposedly not-so-high-quality and very overpriced, but I haven’t tried them myself.

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drank Almond Cookie Green by Tea Embassy
524 tasting notes

I am now on my second bag of this tea. It has become a permanent staple in my cupboard because I love it that much. I can envision my permanent tea collection being a variety of almond teas and nothing more! It will be just like my wardrobe, mostly different shades of black. This is such a delicious comforting desert cup. I got two good steeps out of it today and may go for a third later.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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drank Violette by Le Palais des Thes
524 tasting notes

Earlier today I read Cteresa’s notes about a violet tea and it made me want to drink one too. I’m so impressionable when it comes to food and drinks!

The sweet scent of violets is overwhelming when I open the bag of this tea and take a whiff! It smells amazing. I have had this tea a few times before and enjoyed it, but I guess I have neglected to write a note. I just ate some Indian food, so that is competing a bit which is unfortunate. The first few sips were a little bitter. Le Palais suggests a 4-5m steeping time, but I think that could be lessened a little for the first steep. Aside from possibly over steeping, the tea is pretty evenly flavored. When I sweeten it, it tastes just like violet candies. It is a very lovely flavor for those who are fans of floral (which I am). I do appreciate this tea being only violet, but I’m curious what else would pair well with it. It is the only violet tea I have tried I don’t have much to compare it to, but I like this tea. It is a good thing too since the minimum purchase amount was a pretty large bag! I’ll be sipping on this one for a while.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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I was super excited to see Mariage Freres teas being sold near my hometown on a visit. I decided to buy one black and one green tea to get a feel for the brand since I had never had their teas before. This one smelled really nice and gingery so I decided to give it a go. I have to admit that I was less than thrilled with it the first time I tried it, but I have been giving it another go and found it much nicer this time. When it is hot, the ginger seems a bit harsh and dominating, but as it cools the ginger mellows out and I swear I tasted a carmel like note at one point. I’m now on my third steeping and the ginger is still going strong. It is hard for me to pick out the green tea base, but there is a second or two in the middle of each sip that I can taste it. As the cup cools even more to room temperature, I find the tea less enjoyable again. It seems there is a middle temperature window that I prefer for this one. I like this one, but I feel like I might have picked a different tea to purchase if I had tasted it first.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Bio

My name is Dustin and I like tea.

I’m an added flavor kind of tea fan. I want my tea to remind me of cookies and cakes with coconut and almond slices with a hint of chocolate drizzled on top. I want dancing ponies and flying monkeys shooting off fireworks! I like a little sugar in my tea. I love caffeinated tea, but since I limit myself to one cup a day, I have been exploring more rooibos and honeybush teas. Rooibos now = meh and I have upped my caffeine tolerance. BRING ME CAFFEINE!!!!

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Austin, TX

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