85
drank Ginger Lemon Green Tea by Kusmi Tea
300 tasting notes

I’m used to drinking this one bagged – I got a mixed set of Kusmi tea bags from my friend E., and this was the one that really did it for me. When the airport lounge I spend most of my transfer time at started stocking it, too, it somehow turned into one of my standard go-to teas for travel. I picked up a bag here and a bag there and never actually bought it for myself until this spring. Consequently, I’ve never had it in loose leaf form before.

The scent of the loose leaf is surprising. So much less of the lemon I’m used to from the bags, replaced by a grassiness and the slightest hint of bitter chocolate – both of which I have never encountered in the cup. Drinking it, though, is very familiar. I steep it far less than the recommended 3-4 minutes, as I feel it easily gets a bitter aftertaste. This is nearly completely avoided with a shorter steeping time (and without significant loss of flavour).

The perfect ginger-lemon tea is a bit of a Rosebud thing for me, to be honest.

I’m haunted by this Proustian reminiscence of a perfect bouillabaisse lunch shared with my best friend. We were getting ready to pay and leave when the waitress told us coffee and dessert was included, which was a nice surprise. What we got was a very dense, yet crumbly, beautifully aromatic white chocolate cake. The cup of tea I was given to go with it was an elegant green ginger-lemon; perfect for that cake. Retrospectively, that tea and this Kusmi tea have somehow merged into one, although if I dig deep, I think the restaurant tea was more sophisticated. I had a similar experience at Café Pesto in Hilo. I had a cold coming on and I exchanged my pre-, during-, and post-dinner cocktails (What happens on the island, stays on the island.) for three cups of it, enhanced by local honey. I escaped the cold unscathed. That tea also carried itself with more elegance and sophistication than the Kusmi does.

I think.

Until I know for sure, this will be the ginger-lemon green I stock.

[Purchased at Atatürk airport in Istanbul, April 2013.]

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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I’m going to try all the teas.

Then I will choose a lucky few perfect specimens, and we will live happily together in my tea cupboard.

Forever.

  • * *

2014

This year, all bets are off. I am going to drink both peppermint and chamomile and possibly suffer a little. But it’s okay – it’s for science.

I’m doing Project Jasmine, Project Peach and Project Unflavoured Green.

In terms of flavoured teas, Lupicia and Mariage Frères have become my massive favourites, and I have learned that Dammann Frères/Fauchon/Hédiard and Butiki aren’t really for me.

The O Dor, Adagio and Comptoir des thés et des épices are all on this year’s I’d like to get to know you better list.

2013

Getting back into tea drinking last fall, I was all about rooibos. This past spring has been all green tea, all the time, with some white additions over the summer. Currently attempting a slow, autumnal graduation to black teas. Oolongs are always appropriate.

The constant for me, flavour wise, is the strong presence of fruity and floral notes. Vanilla is lush, as long as it’s not artificial. Peach, berries, mango. Cornflower, rose, lavender.

No peppermint.

No chamomile.

No cinnamon.

Ever.

  • * *

My ratings don’t reflect the ‘What does this tea do for me?’ standard, but rather my own ‘What would I do for this tea?’ scale.

100-90
My absolute favourites. Teas I would travel for – or, in any case, pay exuberant postage for, because they simply have to be in my cupboard. Generally multi-faceted teas with complex scents and flavours. Teas with personality. Tricky teas.

89-80
Teas I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again if and when I came across them. Tea purchases I would surreptitiously weave into a travel itinerary (Oh! A Lupicia store! Here?! My word!).

79-70
Teas I enjoyed, but don’t necessarily need to make any kind of effort to buy again.

69-0
Varying degrees of disinterest and contempt.

Location

Rome, Italy

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