This is another of the premium imported teas that we picked up at the local Williams Sonoma store this weekend. I wasn’t going to buy it because it also carried a premium price. However, my sweet wife insisted that I do it. OK, she twisted my arm.
I had never tried a French tea before. I realized that the leaves weren’t grown in Paris, but I still thought it would be fun to see if a French twist had been applied to the beverage.
The product came in some impressive packaging. A sturdy and glossy black carboard box protected the black metal tin inside. The tin was capped with a solid metal lid. Beneath the outer lid was a sealed peel-back inner lid with a pull ring, like vacuum-packed food items use.
When I pulled back the inner lid, I immediately smelled strawberries. It wasn’t an artifical aroma, but quite natural.
No steeping instructions came with the product so I opted to brew the black leaves for four minutes at 212 degrees. The steeped liquor was a reddish golden brown.
I could smell strawberries again as I raised the cup to my mouth. My first sip had a strong fruity taste. Again, strawberries seemed to be the dominant resident. There also was an underlying floral flavor, but it was a partner to the fruitiness, not a competitor.
As a rule, I am not crazy about fruity and floral teas. The main problem I have with them is that I feel like I am drinking perfume. I also find these teas to have a strong chemical-like aftertaste that lingers much too long for my liking.
This Marco Polo selection had none of those negative characteristics. The strawberry flavor was natural, fruity, sweet, and smooth. The floral attribute blended softly and amiably with the other flavors. The aftertaste was light, pleasing, and sweet. Bitterness was nowhere to be found. The black tea taste was so far in the background that it was hardly noticed. But, the overall body, taste, and mouth-feel of this brew left no doubt that this was a bona fide card-carrying member of the tea family.
I may have to rethink my philosophy about fruity and flowery teas. I really like this one a lot. Thanks to this Marco Polo blend, I say, oui, to trying more fruity and floral teas, plus grand oui, to tasting more French teas, and, le géant oui, to sampling more Mariage Frères teas!