93 Tasting Notes

84

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Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec

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66

I bought this one because when you open the tin, it punches you in the face with delicious berry-candy aroma, and while that’s not usually my thing, in this case it was just intoxicating.

I find that things flavored with blueberry are generally pretty gross, but I adore blackcurrant/cassis (they’re the same thing, people) – and ultimately, the combination of the two added up to awesome. Once brewed, the cassis thankfully takes the lead in the flavor, with the blueberry remaining subtle and a background note. Unlike the face-slammingly intense smell, the flavor is well tempered. This is a blackcurrant tea with a blueberry tint. Blueberry fans would probably be disappointed, but I’m in it for the cassis.

It has a certain dryness to it, and is definitely not sweet, but the fruity flavor still comes through in spite of that, and it ends up working. I don’t think I am going to be having this too frequently, as it’s pretty distinctive and rich on the added flavor, but I’m definitely glad to have it in my collection.

As always, Lupicia means quality.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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72
drank Earl Grey by Lupicia
93 tasting notes

To me, “Earl Grey” has always meant mediocrity – I thought of it as the boring, bitter, miserable stuff of cheap complimentary teabags. Then, I smelled Lupicia’s take on it…

The aroma hits you like a truck out of the tin, pure fresh bergamot – absolutely love at first smell. Tin sold. When brewed, the bergamot explosion mellows out to allow the smoky smooth keemun base to take the lead. Unlike the terrible greys I have had in the past, the bergamot is fresh, complex, fruity and multilayered, the kind of quality I’ve come to expect from Lupicia. No “someone sprinkled citric acid on some Lipton” here.

I don’t know that I would call myself a fan of Earl Grey just yet, but I am most certainly a fan of Lupicia’s take on it. Fresh, complex, energizing and pure quality.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 15 sec

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84

This morning’s Russian Caravan was mixed with ~1g of Lapsang Souchong, so I can’t alter my existing rating of Russian Caravan with this tasting note. (I use a ~3g Lupicia scoop, 2 scoops for a 300ml mug for most teas – so ~1g stronger than the usual cup).

There’s not a whole lot to say on the mixture beyond my initial review, besides that it’s pretty damn good. A Lapsang-ier Russian Caravan works just as well as I’d hoped. I don’t think I’ll do it every time I make this tea, but this probably won’t be the last time I put a touch of Lapsang in my morning brew.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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89

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Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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94

It’s difficult for me to articulate my feelings on this tea, as I haven’t had a Darjeeling I remember, and lack a point of reference.

That said, this is one expensive, fancy Darjeeling… and it lives up to what it says on the tin. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had in a tea, which I suspect is mostly my inexperience with Darjeelings talking – but I can tell this is truly something special. The flavor and aroma are immensely complex and layered, with all sorts of nutty, floral, spiced, fruity flavors coming and going as your palate processes it all, ending with a distinct note of umami.

If all the flavors came together, it would be an unpleasant, boring, overpowering mess of a tea, and I wouldn’t much like it – but they come a few at a time, shifting through sets, just enough of a procession that you can appreciate them all. There’s near-zero bitterness, just many delicious flavors that unfold in your mouth for a good 5-10 seconds after you take a drink, leaving a nutty mushroomy umami in their wake.

The concentrated intensity of flavor packed into this tea just screams first flush – this is what first flush is all about, in any kind of tea. Go light, 185F and 2-2.5min steep. Like most first flushes, this one’s delicate relative to the rest of the family.

I might just have ruined myself for Darjeelings forever, by starting with the best of the best. Oh, it is good.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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84

I absolutely love Lapsang Souchong, and am a fan of other smoky black teas like Keemuns – so everything about this blend had my expectations high. They were absolutely met. Russian Caravan is a wonderfully smooth and smoky blend, truly perfect for the morning pick-me-up with a caffeine kick, but no real bitterness.

The smokiness isn’t just the “subtle smokiness” some teas “evoke”, because this blend has actual Lapsang Souchong in it, and by extension actual smoke. The Lapsang’s presence is absolutely clear, but it doesn’t overpower the other flavors. Unlike a straight Lapsang, Russian Caravan still tastes first and foremost like black tea, rather than a campfire.

The distinct aroma and flavor of Lapsang are cut by the mellow and smooth roasty tobacco flavors of a good Keemun, diluting it enough to make this a balanced blend, an achievement considering how the smell of Lapsang so permanently embeds itself into everything it ever comes in contact with.

If you do not like Lapsang Souchong, you probably will not be able to come to terms with this blend – but being such a polarizing, cult-inspiring tea, if you love it, you’ll likely love this. This, like Lapsang, is a tea for people who see “It just tastes like ashes”, “this is way too smoky” or “It tastes like a campfire” in other people’s negative reviews, and salivate because those people just don’t get it.

The roasted, mellow best of a Keemun, with the true smokiness it needs and only a Lapsang can bring, in the endlessly drinkable lightness you get from a blend. I think this is by far my favorite black tea so far, if one counts straight Lapsangs, Pu-erhs etc. as their own categories.

Hello, new morning wake-up tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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89

Oh Lapsang Souchong, how I’ve missed you all these years. Amongst all the five-year-stale teas I discovered in my cupboard recently upon returning to tea-nerdery, Lapsang was the one tin that was empty. But, but, but… now I have more.

This is the most beautiful tea, the tea of teas. It smells like a campfire. It tastes like a campfire. It makes your tea-basket permanently taste and smell like a campfire, infusing it into anything else you ever make with it, forcing you to keep a second basket just for Lapsang.

And you do.

Because it’s beautiful and perfect.
The reason I’ve rated this only 95 is because there’s probably a Lapsang Souchong out there better than the one Peet’s offers which is even more divine, and one day I may taste it. Also, because Gyokuro exists.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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88

Previously, I’d been making this unintentionally 5-year shelf aged tea of mine with water that wasn’t full boiling point, and had commented that it seemed to have a certain excess pungency from so long being ignored. This morning, I used boiling water as intended with pu-erhs, and sure enough, it’s gone. With boiling water, this tastes mellower and a bit more complex than it did new, but not at all unpleasant. I have some fresh tuo-chas on the way, so I’ll be able to compare better at that point.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec

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91
drank Uji Sencha by Lupicia
93 tasting notes

This is among the absolute best green teas I’ve ever had. Made right, with a one minute steep in 165F water, it is pure fresh first-flush. Everything about it screams fresh, grassy, alive, and the aroma alone is worth the price of admission.

Flavorwise, it’s an especially mellow and smooth green, astringent without being bitter, grassy without being earthy, and unusually umami in the mid- and after-taste, shifting from the grassy freshness into a faintly salty savoriness that doesn’t disrupt the fresh and clean feel one bit.

This is how green tea is supposed to taste, this is green tea in the purest of forms. The blue-rare Kobe steak of green. Just a touch of oxidization on the best leaves, letting the tea speak for itself, not the process… and what a tea it is.

With the proper steep time and temperature, you’ll be able to get a second brew out of this that comes very close to the first, just steep for 15s longer or so.

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 15 sec

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Bio

Her Highness Rozen Maiden No.5, Shinku, is my tea-soulmate.

I am a tea nerd. I only brew looseleaf, I keep an instant read thermometer with my stash and never, ever brew a cup without getting the water temperature I want first. I can’t stop buying teas that capture my heart, even if I have more than I could ever finish before they go stale – though I do my best to keep delicate ones sealed until I’m ready to dig in.

I rate things on a different scale than I think most people do. For me, 50 is not a bad grade, 50 is take it or leave it, I probably wouldn’t turn it down but I wouldn’t ask for it. 50 is indifference, sub-50 is dislike.

Also, I live near Lupicia SF, and can get there and back in the span of my lunch break. I’m jealous of myself.

I like just about everything, but my true loves are shincha, gyokuro, pu-erh, and lapsang souchong. Grass clippings, dirt, and campfires, mmm mm.

What I won’t touch is blasphemous grossness like candy-flavored rooibos, fruit-and-vanilla white teas, etc. – don’t even get me started.

Location

SF Bay Area