99 Tasting Notes
This is a curious blend – it smells and tastes strongly of chocolate, but it isn’t actually flavored, it’s supposedly just tea. The smell and flavor are both a mix of smooth, un-sweet dark chocolate over a base of faintly woodsy and (very faintly) smoky, but otherwise indistinct black tea.
I’m not wowed, and I don’t really see this as a breakfast blend, but it’s very drinkable, smooth and pleasant, with a nice aroma and simple flavor. When I want a tasty tea, but I don’t feel like I am in the space to properly appreciate one of my more expensive and complex single-origins, and I don’t want the morning punch of Russian Caravan, I can see myself reaching for this. The chocolate is remarkably distinct, I don’t know how they did it, but it makes this stand out above the average smooth and inoffensive blend in a major way, letting you know this was blended with care.
This is an interesting blend – being a white tea, it wants to be steeped briefly and gently, but being peppermint tea, it wants to be steeped long and boiling… Lupicia recommends 1.5-2min and boiling, I compromised with 200F, since boiling water is a waste of white tea.
I am a big fan of peppermint tea; as simple as it is, a good fresh peppermint is one of life’s greatest pleasures. This offering keeps with Lupicia’s standard of quality, with large pieces of unbroken mint leaf, interlaced with whole, snow white tea leaves. It’s so fluffy that it comes in a double-tall Lupicia tin for the same weight, and you need 2x the scoops for the same amount of tea. Many peppermint teas are broken down to save space, or because peppermint is more forgiving of broken leaves, lower grade etc. As always, Lupicia’s about tea, not cost balance: big pieces of obviously fresh dried leaf because it’s better that way for the drinker. They could have skimped on the white tea, too, being an herbal blend, but it’s some of the prettiest, most consistently unbroken white I’ve had, and there’s plenty of it, almost leaf-for-leaf balanced.
Brewed, it has everything I love about peppermint tea, from the warming, calming aroma to the faint psychoactive calming effect, but the taste is mellowed, the white tea coming through clear and fresh, not at all overpowered by the mint. It’s hard to judge the tea side of this one in depth, as any real complexity or fanciness the white tea might have is lost in the mint, but it tastes like peppermint flavored, high quality white tea, not like peppermint tea with a faint sprinkle of white tea, or just watered down peppermint tea (as some takes on this blend do).
This is everything I could want from a peppermint white – it’s a tea nerd’s blend, with true attention and care paid to the quality, blend proportions and handling. So often, white tea blends are aimed at people who like sweet+iced white tea bottled drinks, and skimp on the quality with the assumption it will end up iced, sweetened, and the customer wouldn’t be the type to notice either way.
Lupicia is constantly proving to me that they’re something unique: a company with a wide range of flavored teas, fruity blends, and other such hallmarks of shitty Teavana-style hackery, except they actually deliver on the quality. For every fruity, flavored-up blend, there’s a Yame gyokuro, or a fresh winter-picked Taiwan oolong, or this-season plantation-specific shincha complete with photos and information about the farmer who grew it and the region it’s from… and they’re all taken equally as seriously when the leaves are selected. The stores don’t try to upsell you, and you can have an expertly prepared sample of that Yame gyokuro ($3 of leaves in the sample alone) without so much as a glare should you choose to leave the store empty-handed.
Having finally replaced my very, very old tin of this with a fresh one, I’ve got to bump the rating up a few points.
It’s smoother, cleaner, more complex, and far better than I expected, in comparison. I didn’t think it had changed too much, but it certainly had.
I’m also getting a note of umami in the aftertaste, which I don’t remember ever tasting in a pu-erh before.
For the second steep, there’s a citric, almost earl-grey-bergamot sort of flavor in place of the first steep’s umami aftertaste. The earthy flavor is a bit more pungent, fruity, no longer as mellowed-out. The tea went black within seconds of hitting the water, and again only needed a minute’s steep. As one expects from a pu-erh, this isn’t a one-steep tea.
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.
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.
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.