861 Tasting Notes
I got this in a pyramid bag as a sample with my Lupicia order and I brought it to work, on the theory that I might actually get to have some decent tea this way before I figure out how best to support a loose leaf habit at work.
This is the first time I’ve tasted anything by Lupicia, and I’m going to try to keep an open mind in case this is disappointing, given the lack of control over water quality and temperature at work.
The bag smells terrific. Very caramelly, not bitter despite its description. The tea smells toasty, but caramel is the main scent.
My steeping here is going to be full of unknowns because I don’t have a thermometer to measure water temperature with me, but here goes.
I steeped for approximately 4 minutes (I think), maybe more like 3. The aroma is mostly of caramel, and it isn’t bitter smelling at all.
My sense is that the water I used wasn’t good quality and hot enough to bring out the true flavor of this tea. It’s ok. I can taste caramel, and it’s not bitter. It’s not sweet either as best I can tell, but mostly the flavor isn’t very strong at all. I can taste the tea in the aftertaste, and it’s smooth and sweet. I just wish there was more of it. A lot more.
I wish I had more of this so I could give it another shot under more controlled conditions. Then again, these days I’m mostly drinking tea bags at work, so these conditions are more representative for how a bagged tea would taste to me than controlled ones at home would be.
I’m finishing up my mistake purchase tonight and decupboarding this one. Hasn’t grown on me since the first note, and if anything as I’ve become more accustomed to the flavor it has become somewhat more rooibos-y. But on the upside, I’ve freed up one of those cute, small Teas Etc. tins, which I plan to put to good use!
The idea of a mango flavored black tea intrigued me, so I got a sample of this with my first H&S order. Mango is a flavor I usually see as part of a larger cornucopia of fruit flavors in a tisane or with a green tea base. It seems a fairly delicate flavor, and I wondered how it would stand up to black tea.
In the packet it does smell amazingly of a single fruit flavor, mango. The first time I made some of this I accidentally made it too strong. My boyfriend loves mango so he wanted some, and so I meant to make twice the amount I normally make in the Breville. I measured out the right amount of tea but then got distracted with something else and ended up only putting in half the amount of water I was supposed to. The result was very strong, but tasty. However, not how I expect this was meant to be. So I tried again, this time with the right amount of water.
The aroma is very mango-y, with a floral bent. The tea is very nice as well. There’s nothing artificial tasting about the flavor, which is sometimes an issue with fruit flavoring. It’s a substantial flavor, but the tea is still present underneath, and its a flavorful, smooth, sweet black, particularly in the aftertaste.
Although I’m not a big iced tea maker, I think this one would make a really nice iced tea as well.
This is another H&S sample I’d been meaning to try for a while. It smells really delicious in the sample packet. “Heady” is the word that comes to mind. It’s a rich, malty, earthy, slightly sweet smell with some fruity notes as well.
The liquor is brandy colored and the tea’s aroma is mouth wateringly malty. I’m getting some lovely, unexpected notes in the taste. Mostly cocoa, but also a bit of mocha java and berries. It has a substantial mouth feel and an aftertaste that leans toward sweet.
Very nice. I’d definitely drink this one again.
It’s official. I’m at the point in tea over-acquisition where I no longer know what I even have. Scary. Very scary. I forgot I had a sample of this, or I would have tried it before trying the TeaFrog Chocolate and Cream flavored black as a baseline.
In any case, the dry leaves smells exactly like Florence minus the hazelnuts. Really tremendous, deep unsweetened chocolate fragrance that borders on syrupy and is really smelling awesome to me as an after lunch tea right about now.
It diffuses some after steeping and becomes about equal parts tea and chocolate. The tea has an aromatic sweetness to it, a slight sugariness.
It tastes about equal parts tea and chocolate, too, which is a nice balance. The sweetness of the tea is not enough to sweeten the chocolate significantly, but the chocolate is not bitter (it just isn’t really sweet). I’m thinking some milk might make this even more tasty.
I’m thinking this is a reorder and that it isn’t an either/or choice between this and the TeaFrog. They’re very different. The TeaFrog is more tea-as-base-for-flavor, this is more tea-as-part-of-flavor. Which I’d have at any given time would depend on mood, I think.
I do wonder as I start to narrow down the universe of teas whether I’ll start to gravitate toward some teas more than others even within my narrowed universe, but I’m hardly to that point yet.
This was another present from Doulton tucked into the box she sent me with my Dammann Freres order. Thanks, again, Doulton, for your generosity!
There is really one major fragrance to the dry leaves: smoke. There may be a tiny bit of citrus underneath but you really have to search for it. I’m wondering how this will work, given the overpowering nature of lapsang smoke. It seems ambitious to try to combine it with any other flavor.
The main ingredient in the tea’s aroma is also smoke. And in the taste, too. It’s got a lighter smoke than a full blown lapsang, more along the lines of a Russian smoky tea, but I am constrained to find any Earl Grey flavor under the smoke.
Trying a second time at 205 instead to see if that brings the bergamot out. It doesn’t so much in the aroma, but it helps in the flavor. There’s a definite citrus note combining with the smoke, and a mild tea flavor as well. It’s still balanced a little more toward the smoke than the citrus than I would choose, but it is flavorful and has depth. It’s the kind of thing I probably wouldn’t have on a daily basis but would be happy to enjoy every so often.
I can’t seem to get the link to the little picture of the bottle on the Ito En site to work. Oh well.
Today, my four year old and I went to Whole Foods to shop and decided to have lunch there. I picked this as the drink to have with my salad for lunch, mostly because unlike a lot of the other things on the shelf this didn’t have any flavorings.
As I have mentioned before I don’t have a lot of iced tea experience and most of what I have had has been on a scale on which the highested end point is unremarkable, and the lowest is retch-inducing. This is certainly better than anything on that scale, and it was a good accompaniment to lunch.
It has a vegetal, mild, sweet taste, with no bitterness and no artificial or chemical odd flavors or aftertaste. It’s only real downside is that it is a little on the ordinary/plain side. I didn’t really have a lot of time to spend with it but that’s my initial impression. I’d drink it again (but in the near term I’d probably pick something different just to gain more experience in RTD teas).
I got a sample of this as part of the same experiment described in my note here:
As I mentioned, I’m now more about de-rooibosing my life except for the very few blends I really really like. So I’m gonna drink this one and say goodbye to it, I expect. It would take something on the order of a miracle for me to want to order plain rooibos. But if anyone could make me do it, Samovar probably could.
Initially though, we’re not off to the best start. I sniffed the dry needles next to the Harney ones and the Harney ones have a more robust smell and a much more pleasing one. The Samovar smells shallow by comparison, and there’s a scary thing about it. Um. Well…. there’s no pretty way to say this. It has a note that reminds me a little of stale urine. Now, before I met pu erhs I might have run screaming from this sort of smell, but fortunately I’ve matured some. And doubly fortunately, the smell is not strong and it goes away after the mixture is exposed to air for a while. Like the time it took to write this much. I wonder whether it had something to do with how the rooibos interacted with the plastic of the sample package?
There’s a sign of redemption after brewing. The color is unbelievable. Deep, ruby red, almost garnet. The aroma is pretty nondescript, which I view as a plus. It signals to me that this may be an obedient rooibos, which may make their rooibos blends work the way I like them. Really, it doesn’t smell like much of anything.
The flavor is, frankly, pretty similar to the aroma. There is a rooibos-like flavor, but it isn’t strong. It has a clever citrus note, which I don’t think I’ve experienced in rooibos before.
Because it is so un-rooibosy, it’s pretty good. It’s the first thing I’ve had from Samovar that hasn’t made me want to rush to order it immediately, and unless someone discovers tomorrow that the Samovar rooibos is in fact the fountain of youth, I will not be buying it. But it does help me understand why some of their rooibos blends have been so popular, and it makes me pretty interested in trying them.
Another of my Dammann Freres purchases from the Doulton led adventure. I still have a few left to taste. Did I go overboard, do you think? (The angel on my should says “of course.” The devil on the other shoulder says “nah..”)
There are huge pink petals and tiny blue ones in among the dry leaves, which smell sweet and flowery and not at all like marzipan. Love those little blue cornflowers in anything. They make me all goofy. ;-)
The tea steeps dark reddish amber, and has a very gentle aroma that is most definitely marzipan. I can smell the sweet almond, down to that somewhat alcoholic scent and taste marzipan sometimes has. Mmmmm.
Taste wise, I get the marzipan as well. It’s not overly sweet or pastry like, which is one of the things I like about it. It truly is marzipan flavored tea, not a cake superimposed on the tea. There’s also a gentle floral taste and feel to it, particularly at the beginning of the sip and there’s also a slight saltiness that is extremely interesting.
It isn’t a heavy taste as marzipan can sometimes be, and was perfectly yummy on a day like today that is bright, sunny and warm. At some point I’ll have to assess all my Dammann Freres experiences and think about which ones are worth repeating through additional purchases, but for now I’m just enjoying drinking my way through them. This one could end up being a rebuy. Time will tell.
I can hold myself back no longer. I have to try this tea. I’m going to use Auggy’s time and temperature settings and see if I get rye bread to form in my cup.
The leaves, as has been said, are unbelievably, almost freakishly, long. I just had to take a ruler to them. Here’s the measurements on a random sample of 3 leaves. Understand that this is from end to end, and they twist and curve like climbing rose vines, so their actual length is longer.
1. 1.75 inches
2. 1.5 inches
3. 1.75 inches
They’re basically rake-able length leaves. Imagine that. Or maybe don’t. Wouldn’t want anyone inadvertantly to induce a catatonic state while contemplating such pure tea rapture.
They are a very dark green. Like a few shades closer to black than olive drab, and intensified. There are some amazing, silvery buds in there. The leaves have a patina that gives an impression of softness. Really gorgeous. A+ for the look of the dry leaves.
Their smell is toasty, roasty, nutty, green (!), fruity, sweet and there is even a coffee-like note in there. Fragrant, complex, deep. A+ for the smell of the dry leaves.
I’m steeping them in the Breville for 4 minutes at 205. It’s like watching grass grow. I can’t wait! It occurs to me that I may not have put in enough leaf. The Breville comes with its own scoop, which it suggests you use. However, the scoop doesn’t really accomodate leaves that are almost 2 inches long. So there was a lot of white space in there. I’ve decided that if I don’t get a terrific result this time I’m going to call a do over and use a scale measure instead before proceeding. I don’t want to short change this tea.
And the verdict is, I’m not sure. The liquor is very light in color, rather oolongy. I’m thinking that’s not how it’s supposed to be. So I’m going to do it over and make sure I use 3g per serving on the scale. Here goes.
Fascinating. I used 6g for 500ml this time. And I still get a liquor about the same color. This is the yellowest, most un-black-tea-colored black tea I’ve ever brewed! It’s not what I would describe as “crystalline amber” but it does reach amber, on the lighter end of the scale. Do I give it an F in liquor color for not being an example of its class, or an A+ for being different and interesting and true to its description? Pass for now.
The aroma is like the smell of the dry leaves writ small, plus it opens up to give a preview of what one might expect in the taste. I totally get the rye bread! I don’t know if I could have identified it that specifically on my own, but I get the unsweetened bready, grainy aroma (which could also be the barley identified in the description), and right at the beginning there’s a dry, almost sharp note that is very reminiscent of rye. And yet, there’s a fresh, almost green smell as well as a lovely, soft, sweetness around the edges. And gosh, I still get something roasty that’s a little like coffee. A+ for aroma.
Light bodied, but deep flavored. Smooth, but slightly astringent. There’s a complexity that is suprising given the body of this tea. I usually associate complexity with full body, but that association has just been defenestrated.
There’s a sweet, bready, flavor and a dark, black tea taste that sneaks up on you to remind you what this is, just when you thought you were drinking something else. A sweet, coffee-like aftertaste.
Random wet leaf measurement: 2.5 inches! Wow!
I haven’t ever given a perfect score and I’m not sure I’m ready to. But this is definitely an A+ of a tea.