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111 Tasting Notes

60
drank Paris by Harney & Sons
111 tasting notes

I had this in a bar with friends and the non optimal preparation might explain some of my disappointment.
I obviously could not smell the dry leaves but only got the teapot. The loose leaves were swimming freely in the teapot. The water had been poured boiling on the tea and I could not drink my first cup (a bit underbrewed – probably around 2 2 and half mibutes, as I could realize at the first sip) for a few minutes. It was nice but a bit too mild; I liked the body given to the tea by vanilla, though could not really identify the other flavors, a bit fruity but not too sweet, rather pleasant. The second cup (steeped for 6 mn I guess, maybe a bit more) allowed me to realize the tea base was indeed rather nice tasting, though coming out a bit strong. The third and fourth and last cups were unfortunately rather bitter and not so pleasant any longer.
I’ll have to try it out in better conditions, but however I’m not sure it’s going to be a complete love story between me and this tea.

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
cteresa

This has been one of my disappointments as well – I got a sample and kept trying to love it with no luck. But my theory is that this and Kusmi´s St Petersburg are twins and siblings to Dammann´s Paul&Virginie!

LaFleurBleue

Given the review and overall rating, I guess my expectations were too high. I’ll definitely will not deliberately look out for more and especially not to buy a full bag. I’ll have to remember to check all your reviews before splurging on my next purchases in Europe to avoid any undue disappointment. Anyway it should not be before next Christmas, as I promised to empty my cupboard first.

cteresa

I have tried a few Harney teas and apart from the bagged sencha which was IMO absolutely lovely, I was meh about them all (be really careful with the very popular hot cinnamon spice!). But the tins, oh I crave the tins.

I know the feeling about the Christmas purchase, my tea buying season seems to be October-December! I have also promised myself to just go on finishing things. But if you are going to order from Europe and you can find it without the shipping being too exhorbitant try Theodor – really good quality fresh interesting blends. In fact I can send you some samples while I still have those (Thé du Loup is disappearing very fast, and Mélange de Galice is one of those subtle things which has became a huge favorite as well).

LaFleurBleue

I could take you up on your swap offer. However despite my good intentions, I guess I’ll buy out a few more teas this week-end, from TWG (I realized last WE that they sell by 50g and wanted to try them out). I’ll definitely stick with their lower prices blends first and will anyway never try their ultra-expensive ones (S$850 or Euro 510 for 50 g!!! I guess it’s something ultra rare and precious, but no way could I pay this price!).
The shipping price from Theodor was hefty (25 euros for 6 bags). Doesn’t matter I buy them directly in the shops when I come over at Christmas or have them delivered there and pick it up when coming.
My cupboard should otherwise be more or less up to date, if you feel like looking through it.

cteresa

oh wow those TWG special ones are indeed pricey! The normal ones smell lovely, though here they are pretty expensive (21 euros for 100 gram tin) and the only place which sells it does not sell by the weight – when spending money on tea, I tend to make my money last longer by buying by the weight and Theodor and Mariage I can get by the weight!

I will send you a mail about a swap then! Smallish one OK’

LaFleurBleue

Same price her for the tins (from $36, hence Euro21.
Loose: the prices vary widely but many are ok – a lot of them being around Euro 4 to 6 for 50g; a few are mid-priced around Euro 10 for 50g, and a few others (mostly white or single origin) are between Euro 40 and 45; I’ll definitely wait before trying those. The one I mentioned above at $850 just caught my eye, which could not go away from it as I could hardly believe it.
I’ll come back to you regarding the swap. Fine with a small one too!

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30
drank Earl Grey by Dilmah
111 tasting notes

Had this tea yesterday at the airport while waiting for my flight.
I did not leave it steeping long. And even with this extra short steeping time, what came out was a strong brew, with an underlying undeniable bitterness. The bitterness was actually so strong that I could not really appreciate either the tea or the citrusy bergamot flavor, which seemed rather nicer than average (for bagged tea).
Drinking this actually reminded me why I did not like tea at all when I was a teenager, as I only had had bad quality dust in bag oversteeped.
A complete miss for me, that I would not recommend to anyone. I was surprised to see so many positive comments on this one. I may have to try it again sometime to be really sure. The Twinings is however a much better bet IMO.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec

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84

I was a bit wary before drinking this one. The smell of the dry blend was obviously fabulous; but the advertised biscuit taste did not fully appeal to me. I was thinking it might have an artificial cake taste, like those flavored and overly sweet La Laitiere yoghurts.
I finally tried the sample offered by Isaurella this morning.
While taking the first sips, I was actually surprised by the tea base, which was stronger than I expected. Now it’s cooled, I think it’s quite mild, though not too weak.
Let’s now talk about the flavors: the very good news is that they all taste very natural, not something coming out of a bottle. The flowers complement well the sweet almond-marzipan underlying taste, and allow the blend not to seem overly sweet but rather really well-balanced.
Delightful; a perfect morning / late morning tea for my taste.

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

I am glad you liked it.
It was the very last sample I put in your parcel because I went to DF shop in Le Marais the day before sending it over :)

LaFleurBleue

Thanks very much for that!
Just thinking I can make another teapot of this one puts me in a good mood;)

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94
drank Berry Berry Nice by Yumchaa
111 tasting notes

After the Kusmi genmaicha disaster, I needed to drink something safe and strong flavored to cover all lingering unpleasantless both in my mouth, as well as in my apartment’s smell.
I decided then to open a new bag from my Yumchaa order.
FYI I ordered a few bags that I had delivered at my in-laws and collected there at Christmas. It was nicely wrapped in a thick enveloppe and the whole room was already sweetly fragrant even if the enveloppe had only been there for 2 days and had not been opened yet. My whole suitcase seemed to have the delighful smell when I opened it after arriving home. A much nicer experience than when I bring back cheese…
Putting this aside, I decided to try Cteresa’s favorite rooibos, the one that had motivated my initial order.
When opening the bag, I realized it was way less fragrant than the raspberry vanilla, that there were actual pieces of dried strawberries and other unidentified, as of now, fruits.
I was looking forward the tasting;) And this time I was not disappointed: the flavors blend harmoniously together. Strawberry and vanilla were the two most easy to identify flavors. But not the only ones definitely. I’ll keep looking but tonight, I just feel like enjoying my brew.
I love the remaining taste of fruits which last on my lips, much better than a gloss artificially flavored.
I can definitely see how this one could become an all-time favorite of mine.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
cteresa

I am so glad to not have misguided! I love this one, am on my 4th or 5th pack of this and I swear is a magical mood lifter. But I like all Yumchaa rooibos.

LaFleurBleue

I trusted you on sight on the basis of some share common tastes, combined with the realization that rooibos go down much faster than any other teas in my cupboard. I absolutely do not regret this decision.

cteresa

I am getting pickier and pickier about rooibos – I love it, but it has to be good rooibos. My favorite companies for rooibos blends are Mariage fréres (Sigh, predictably. Saw your note about Surabaya and I love lychee black tea so that is going on check list!), Yumchaa and now Theodor – I am crazily in love with Theodor teas right now and their rooibos mixes are also awesome!

Berry Berry Nice might be addictive though!

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34
drank Genmaicha by Kusmi Tea
111 tasting notes

I received the afternoon tea set by Kusmi for Christmas (and have been regretting the fact that it was not the Russian-flavored set ever since).
This one is the first I tried of this set, after the Anastasia, which I really liked.
The experience is however not as positive with this one. I’ve never been a huge fan of green teas, and especially Japanese green teas. Their taste is often too grassy for me.
The green base has a strong fragrance and flavor and seems to be a nice Japanese green, better than the ones I had had in the past.
Add to this nice though not craving-inducer base, some pieces of roasted and puffed rice, and it turns out not so nice-tasting any longer. The roast of the rice gives to it a slightly burnt taste, the puffed rice brings in the flavor of puffed rice snacks, whose taste I always associated with styrofoam.
The blend is therefore not really a success to my tasting buds.
I have the strange feeling to be drinking the liquid that you would get doing that:
1. while cooking rice in a pan, forgetting it on the fire, until all water has evaporated and the bottom gets burnt
2. after taking out most of the overcooked and burnt rice, putting back some water in the pan and some freshly cut grass, heating it before tasting.
It seems vile; yeah but unfortunately that’s really what it reminds me of.
Even though the box held only 25g, I assume it’s going to be very difficult for me to finish it…

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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74

I had really high expectations for this one, following my first tastings of Dammann teas, thanks to Isaurella.
The tea base was fine, though not fantastic, better than that of Kusmi Anastasia. However to me the disappointment came from the flavoring, mild, really mild, I kept searching for it. I mostly found it in the lingering pleasant aftertaste left in the mouth after drinking.
I preferred Anastasia’s flavors to this one, which are subtle but not as subtle (ie. almost weak) as this one.
I’ll definitely have to try the second sample on a positive day, as I know I feel gloomy today and this might also explain part of my disappointment.

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

I’ve had a cup of this today, in the middle of Anastasia’s teapot. This may not have been a good idea. The flavors of this one are really mild, and in comparison with the others appeared washed out, even though the tea base stood out as really good quality.
I definitely have to be super careful with my tasting of the few remaining leaves in the sample.

LaFleurBleue

I finished the sample today and got a tea more black than citrusy; indeed a nice and well-balanced black tea, but too weak-flavored. I’m glad that I could try it, thanks to Ysaurella, as it allows me to avoid a purchase that would have left me frustrated.

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50

Had a cup of this at the airport with my boss who ordered an Earl Grey and received this.
I am not a great fan of breakfast teas and I really felt that this one really had nothing special; the leaves quality seemed quite ok, it was not really bitter, but there also wasn’t anything that might approach a wow factor.
If I was really in the mood of a breakfast tea, this would not be it.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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81
drank Raspberry Vanilla by Yumchaa
111 tasting notes

Wow. Both when taking the pack off the cupboard and right after brewing, the raspberry smell is incredible.
When drinking it, I first noticed the delightful raspberry taste, nothing subtle about it; it was like I had been thrown in a raspberry bucket – if you’re not a big fan of this fruit, this blend might come as too strong for you.
What I really liked is that when the brew was getting more luke-warm than real hot, the vanilla flavor started to come alive, despite its being muted to my taste buds in the hot brew.
While drinking my second tea-pot (another evening), I realized the vanilla and rose flavors were there, right from the start, though almost muted by the overwhelming raspberry.
I then decided to try it iced, to see how it was coming. Amazingly the vanilla taste is now prominent, up to par with the raspberry, making the brew seems smooth and creamy.
I am not sure yet how I’ll feel about this flavored rooibos in a few weeks, as it’s possible I might have enough of it and prefer some more subtle blend. Or maybe not. Let’s see ;)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
cteresa

I notice that about the vanilla in a lot of teas – for example one of my current infatuations is peach and vanilla, as the tea cools the vanilla starts to rule! I suspect it is a characteristic of (real) Bourbon vanilla. It is interesting how the flavours became dominant at different temperatures!

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70
drank Surabaya by Mariage Frères
111 tasting notes

I like rooibos, flavoring that mix flowers with fruits and had purchased this tea on the pure basis of the description without smelling it in the shop.
When opening the bag, I was startled by how nice this blend was looking with the blua mallow petals being softly curled and not crushed into small pieces. I believe this is probably the nicest looking rooibos blend I’ve seen yet (very shallow comment but nonetheless true – I always look at it with pleasure).
I brewed already a few teapots of this and was totally puzzled by the taste, which was very different from what I expected, did not really correspond to the description, as I could not find any hints of vanilla, blackberry and could not reconcile the fruit taste with exotic fruit (I was thinking at the flavors of exotic fruit juices).
Then two nights ago, I got hit by an awakening: lychee, the sweet and sour taste that puzzled me was that of lychee. It’s supposed to taste like guava, but guava gives me a completely different gustatory experience, in the sense that the fruit has a grainy texture which almost dries the tongue. I do not reconcile that experience at all when drinking this blend.
Now that I have identified the main flavor, I’ll try to look out for the secondary ones…
My rating takes into account the fact that I really prefer sweet and tart fruits and flavors to anything a bit sour, like lychee, which I only eat in very small quantities at one time. Had I realized that this would be the dominant flavor of this rooibos, I probably would not have buy it.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec
cteresa

Lychee indeed! sipping this right now, going to write a taste note.

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83
drank Anastasia by Kusmi Tea
111 tasting notes

After another early awakening (why is the jetlag so difficult to overcome this year?), I tried this blend, feeling that an Earl Grey kind of tea would pe perfect to perk me up.
I was really surprised when starting drinking it, as I found this blend much milder than expected and much milder than the usual Earl Grey I’ve drank. First of all, the tea base is really mild and definitely more an afternoon tea base than a morning one; I would say it is a bit too weak. The flavors were surprisingly smooth, the bergamot being nicely blended with the lemon; I guess the orange blossom also helped a lot to give mellowness to what could have been too tangy. I really liked its taste. I might have to try using mor tea or less water for the next brew to see whether it’s the reason why I found it a bit weak-bodied.
Once again it’s more an afternoon than a morning tea IMO.
Thanks again for Ysaurella for making me try this blend, which really made me want to try the Kusmi’s signature Russian blends.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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Profile

Bio

I’ve started drinking much more tea quite recently, almost completely quitting espresso for it!
I’ve been introduced to high quality tea by one of my best friend, MF Marco Polo addict since more than 20 years. I’ve only rarely bought tea-bags since then, preferring the quality-price ratio of loose leaves.
I drink my tea natural, without any milk, sugar or sweetener. I only add honey when a sore-throat is coming along.
I usually either brew a large pot at home or resteep my leaves at the office. I cannot seem to learn to master the use of a gaiwan in an elegant and not clumsy way…
My tea preferences :
- I really like flavored black teas, with a preference for fruity flavors, from a tangy Earl Grey to a real fruit smoothie-like tea. I’m trying some single origin unflavored blacks from time to time but always end up having trouble to finish them. I usually do not really enjoy the strong breakfast teas.
- I do not like chai or teas with strong spice flavors. Strange considering I really like spicy food, but not what I drink.
- I am quite afraid of pu-erh and lapsang souchong, though I probably have never drunk any real good ones and I’m quite sure it can make a huge difference… A few years ago, I had been introduced to scotch whisky and can definitely attest that you cannot say you don’t like whisky, if you’ve only drunk blended stuff and not tasted yet single malts. I hope to get the same happy discovery for those teas.
- I discovered very good oolong, without going through the step of drinking bad-one first, and really enjoy it, especially with a meal. I’ll definitely try some flavored oolongs in a near future.
- I’ve just started discovering white teas, which feels very delicate. The only problem is that those can be awfully expensive…
- I also really like rooibos which I discovered a few years ago while searching for low-theine/caffeine teas that I could drink at night without suffering from insomnia.
- As with green tea, we’ve had a long-standing difficult relationship. I’ve occasionally had some that were real smooth, refreshing and so very many that turned bitter very quickly. And I cannot stand a bitter tea.
- As for jasmine tea, I used to like it but have indeed drunk too much of some bad quality bitter brew, and now I even have problem finishing the high-quality pearls I bought in Beijing.
- Yerba Mate: I’ve had some in one blend and am quite convinced that I would never like that as bitterness is one of its main characteristics. I’ll try to avoid it like the plague.
- Herbal tea: I used to drink more or those before discovering rooibos; finding good ones is unfortunately really difficult – even in organic shops, the herbs sold are far from great.
I loathe artificial flavoring of any kind in any beverage or food.

I’m quite opiniated and try to leave room for further improvement and better discoveries, which explain why I haven’t rated any tea in the 95 and above range.
Teas above 80 are among my favorites
Between 60-80, I could or could not give them a second chance or recognize that they are made with high-quality ingredients though their taste does not please my buds.
Around 50, it starts to be rather bad and a not so pleasant experience to drink.
25 to 40+ cover low quality products that I manage to drink when nothing else is available.
Below that, it’s really vile and basically almost undrinkable IMHO.

Location

Singapore

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