236 Tasting Notes
A small backlog.
So I promised I’d give the last of this a fair sendoff. It’s the last bag. The last bag FOREVER, because it doesn’t seem like Lupicia make this anymore. Unfortunately, because this has really grown on me. Or rather, I’ve been the one doing the growing, and I can now appreciate the complexity of this tea. +10 points.
The base is a subtly roasted houjicha, and this is what made this a little hard for me to fully embrace earlier, as I hadn’t quite decided how I felt about roasted teas. I’m completely swayed now, though – and roastiness intermingling with one of Lupicia’s perfect fruit flavours? It’s so, so good, and beautifully balanced. It gives me apricot tonguefeel if I close my eyes.
If this had been available, it would have been an instant restock, but as it is, I’ll just add fruit-flavoured houjicha to the list of teas I absolutely need in my cupboard.
Either way, it’s a fair sendoff – I’m at the airport lounge and the bartender sings his usual showtunes. ‘Is it really the very last of the tea?’ he asks, shaking his head sadly. He seems to understand the gravity of the situation. I will leave the tiny bag corpse with him.
[Purchased at Lupicia in Honolulu, December 2012.]
[Polished off at Fiumicino, March 2014.]
I’m drinking this tea out of my new birthday mug, and it’s been poured from my new birthday teapot. I have named the latter Freddie, after the character Freddie Miles in The Talented Mr. Ripley, because it’s fat-yet-elegant, showy and has weird colouring. Birthdays aren’t very gifty to me, unlike Christmas – I’d rather get together with friends and chosen family for activities and Symbolic Things. I prefer getting myself birthday gifts – small things I don’t really need, but that make me happy. So on Monday I was out all day on a magpie spree with my special sweetface Em. When I got this, they offered to deliver it for me. I mean. It’s a tiny teapot. It was hilarious. When it had been settled that it did, in fact, fit quite easily into my bag, they knocked €2 off. It really cracked me up.
My friend T. inspired me to pick this up (Hey T. – good news, I have enough to share!) She’s been ogling it for a while and I figured I’d do us both a service and act as a test subject. I wanted something fit for spring – complex, floral, but yet light and not too overwhelming. Mariage Frères definitely delivered on all accounts. First of all, this is a beautiful tea. Long, thin, needly leaves in various dark shades of green, the occasional light leaf breaking it up nicely, and an absolute abundance of lovely petals.
Scent wise, it excites me a lot, because to me, this is the spring counterpart of Marco Polo Vert – and that, to me, is the ultimate green tea for autumn, with its thick fruity ripeness. This has the same boozy character, but it’s a light, floral booziness. A perfect spring tea party tea – when I close my eyes I see tiers and tiers of dainty sandwiches and cakes.
I’m sometimes frustrated by teas that have no discernible, individual flavours, but in this case the multifaceted florality present in each sip is like a lovely, delicate veil of tea. It’s perfectly achieved, and I’m very pleased with this one. Like most Mariage Frères teas in my collection, it has a very clearly defined personality that grows on me with each sip.
Anyway, one of the Symbolic Things I did yesterday was to dye my hair for the first time in… well, forever. I have never altered my hair colour, ever, in any manner whatsoever, during my 34 years. We went with chocolate, tobacco and a dash of gold. In other words, just like my own hair, only without the greys that emerged overnight some time in late November. http://tinyurl.com/qe7jd58
I love my pervy old uncle Rick.
[Purchased at Dagnino in Rome, March 2014.]
A birthday week tea rerun (trearun?). I figured this would pair well both with the chocolate cake and the almond cake in case someone else wanted tea. It was so nice to get to see everyone in the same room for once – we all work very different hours and the building is pretty big. I’m often out and about, too, so there are some people on the staff I adore but don’t get to see more often than once a month or so.
(To make this post a little bit more about tea – the cleaning staff teased me about my tea cupboard. And, uh, rightfully so.)
Anyway, I got everyone caffeinated and sugared up, so let’s hope we all get a lot of work done before we collapse around lunchtime.
This white should be lo-caf enough for the evening. Lupicia are just too good – whenever I open this bag, I have an instant, irrational, want-to-turn-around-and-check, ‘But where is the melon hiding?’ type reaction. It’s just that melony. I honestly can’t think of anything that could make this better or more melon-esque.
And to continue my general praise of Lupicia, I think I could probably pour 300C water on their most delicate teas and let them steep for five minutes and they would still taste good. I mean – every single tea I love of theirs have boiling/1.5-minute steeping instructions. And they taste fresh, natural and amazing.
I swear they’re not paying me to say this. It’s more like I’m paying them, and I still say this.
(Lupicia, I love you.)
There isn’t that much left of this. I will absolutely try to remember to try it iced before the rest of it disappears.
I was so sure I’d feel like putting together a huge Lupicia order for my birthday, since I’ll be in US next week anyway, but I haven’t felt the urge. It’s true I’ve been finishing up some of my favourites lately (Momoko just this morning! I still have some in the fridge, though.) but I still have so many good teas to choose from I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of urgency.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have shopping lists from Lupicia, Adagio, Le Palais des Thés, Comptoir des Thés et des Epices and Mariage Frères all put together, though.
No, that would be going a little far.
The all-faves birthday week tea consumption concept clearly calls for some more Mariage Frères. If you’re still on the fence about getting this, and like Cookie, or if you’re on the fence about getting Cookie, and like this – Cookie is like Wedding Impérial with popcorn.
Now I’m off to pick up cakes number 1, 2 and 3 so I can spoil the staff tomorrow. They really are the very best and take care of me so well.
It’s not as cold anymore (Okay, Canadians, I know 10 C doesn’t seem very cold to you considering your current weather situation, but it’s really been unusually chilly and wet here.) so I can drink copious amounts of iced tea again.
I saved the last of this much beloved and somewhat aged Lupicia tea in order to try it iced again. It’s absolute perfection – delicate, with that perfect natural peach perfume and some lush vanilla to round it off.
Nothing beats a just-opened package of Lupicia tea, but I must say I feel they age exceptionally well.
[Purchased at Lupicia in Honolulu, December 2012.]
[Polished off in Rome, March 2014.]
Just one more cup before I run off – and as always, this makes for a flawless one.
I have a little more than half of this tin left, which makes me ponder the logistics of tea storage. I mean, I have a lot in my cupboard now, which I assume is typical for this stage of tea obsession – you tend to overbuy once you get completely hooked, because you want to explore certain brands and tea types.
There are definitely numerous new teas I’d like to try now, too, but I’d really prefer to have a cupboard consisting only of teas rated 80+ before I get anything else. However, that’s roughly 1/4 of the 100+ teas currently in my cupboard, which means I’d have to finish 3/4 of all the tea I own before I buy more. I don’t see that happening, even though I have not yet purchased any tea this year, which is quite a feat in itself.
I really like when there’s a system, though. I need a system.