19 Tasting Notes
This is the one bagged tea to which I look forward every year. I enjoy it’s mild sweetness (I enhance it with honey and milk) but most of all I love the nostalgia of it. This is a core component of Christmastime to me and also one of the first teas I remember purchasing. I like spiced holiday teas a lot (like Mariage Frères’ Esprit de Noël) but this is a nice change of pace, nutty and vanilla and still holiday-rific in every way.
I don’t want this to be taken the wrong way but this tea is wonderful with fruitcake. I mean really good fruitcake that’s more a plethora of real dried fruit than cake. It pairs just beautifully. The tea tastes like dried fruit and the chocolate hint makes it ideal with dessert. I’m not a big herbal tea drinker but this is a wonderful no caffeine choice. I usually steep it for around 5 minutes but I have veered closer to the 10 minute cap on occasion and it’s still yummy.
I was seriously confused as my tea canister reads ESPRIT DE NOËL but I guess it also goes by it’s nickname, NOËL. Either way this is a great holiday spiced tea. Think Constant Comment only much more sophisticated. I can’t wait to have it again this holiday season.
My second time making this tea I used the shorter recommended steeping time and it turned out much better. There are pieces of vanilla bean which stand out amongst the pulverized tea leaves. I drink it with milk and honey as it is recommended by Lupicia as lending itself well to milk tea. I like Harney’s Vanilla tea better but this is a fine vanilla tea as well.
The first time I made this tea I was startled to find something that looked like coffee grounds in the bag. I ordered six teas from Lupicia and this, along with the rooibos and the houjicha, had the earliest “best by” date and I wondered if this sole black tea had such an early expiration date because it looked more like what you would find in a tea bag than loose leaf tea. That may also explain why using the longest recommended steeping time of two and a half minutes surprised me with a somewhat bitter brew. I usually steep black teas for somewhere around five minutes so all of Lupicia’s three minutes and under recommendations surprised me but it seemed they knew what they were about with this one.
I don’t usually enjoy rooibos but this is yummy. It’s perfect for autumn of course. It’s great to have in the evening as it gets colder – especially as it’s naturally caffeine free. I was longing for roasted Japanese sweet potatoes, hearing the call of the street vendors’ “yaki-imo” in my mind, and this tea is a perfect nostalgic treat for those who have enjoyed an autumn in Japan. The pumpkin and chestnut and sweet potato flavours combine well with the rooibos but I can’t say any of them stand out. It’s more of a warm harvest taste, a taste that evokes autumn but not one flavour in particular. It’s a nice contrast and compliment to all the pumpkin spice things one finds in abundance this time of year (which I thoroughly enjoy as well).
After trying La Vanille at the longer brew time recommended and not liking it, I decided to do the minimum brew time suggested on this (two minutes) and it came out just lovely. Unlike La Vanille this looks like a loose leaf tea which pleased me. It smells like a cookie – as it should. It is delicious with milk and honey which is no surprise since Lupicia lists it under teas recommended for milk tea preparation (which, in Japan, means sweetened) and the label recommends adding milk as well. It tastes like a caramel cookie and if that doesn’t appeal to you well, we have very dissimilar tastes.
I was hoping for PG Tips, which is what all the British ladies in the Daughters of the British Empire meetings drink, but found none when I went to the store, so I bought this. I hated it at first because I was steeping it far too long. Luckily one of the aforementioned ladies taught me never to go over three minutes with it and it went from being awful to a nice cuppa with milk and sugar.
This is my perfect tea. So many tasters on here are able to say such wonderful, insightful, things about the nuances of unflavoured tea and they always drink their tea straight. I “pollute” my black teas with milk and sugar/honey on a regular basis and I’ve just had to live with my shame. This tea however, rescued me. I can drink it straight. I can actually enjoy it sans milk or sugar. I like it better with both but I like it without as well. It’s not too bitter. I have to stop it at four minutes,45 seconds on the dot or it becomes bitter but at that precise time it is smooth and delicious.
I don’t like this tea. This is my shame. I LOVE Mariage Frères teas. I wanted to love this one, but now I have almost a whole tin of this and don’t know what to do with it. I like Harney & Sons’ Paris tea and thought since people compare them often and Mariage Frères teas have always been the ne plus ultra of any flavor, I couldn’t go wrong. However, this tastes like flowers to me and although lovely to smell and gaze upon I have never ascended to the level of sophistication wherein I enjoy the taste of flowers.