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258 Tasting Notes

60
drank Christmas Tea Vert by Dammann Freres
258 tasting notes

Again, one of those Dammann teas that exploded with tasting notes after I added it to the database. It’s been a lot of fun reading reviews of teas I acquired completely blindly.

In the bag, I get a strong, well-balanced cherry-orange. Definitely a nice combination for a Christmas tea, but, as always, the Dammann Frères tea smells like something very-tasty-but-not-for-me. It’s like most Italian pastries. Everyone goes crazy over all these cakes and cannoli and Sicilian anything, but I honestly wouldn’t get out of bed for any ricotta filling. This country is the country of the worst croissants (or, you know, ‘cornetti’) ever. I get better croissants in the Midwest, for crying out loud. No. French pastries, though? I don’t even want to imagine a world without them. (This is my bible, available in English now, too: http://www.amazon.fr/P%C3%A2tisserie-Lultime-r%C3%A9f%C3%A9rence-Christophe-Felder/dp/2732442119/)

So when I go to my favourite bakery here, to get some unassuming, basic almond cookies, and I’m surrounded by all these tourists devouring cannoli and more cannoli, loudly expressing their delight, I feel exactly the same way I do when fellow Swedes get really into soccer, or when friends get together for a Lost marathon, or when I read reviews of these Dammann Frères teas. I’m glad everyone is pleased, but I’ll be over here in my corner, eating my pain aux raisins, wearing my 49ers tee, watching Veronica Mars, and sipping something that isn’t a Dammann Frères tea.

It tastes nice enough – with some cherry and some orange and a little cinnamon, but we just fail to connect, this tea and me.

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

Let’s say Italian pastries are often a little dry to my opinion but for me the worst croissant on the word I found it in an hotel in Lisbon !

Anna

Ugh, yes, I remember the Spanish croissant attemps, too – not so good. But in Italy, they’re not just bad, they’re offensive. There’s always this lemony aftertaste, and they put powdered sugar on them.

Ysaurella

des croissants belliqueux…I need to try that !

Anna

Haha, yes! But you don’t try them, you battle them.

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100
drank Cookie by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

I deserved a treat, and this tea is the ultimate treat.

Just smelling it makes me grin like a madwoman.

I use the Perfect Measuring Spoon from DT a lot, not so much because it measures very perfectly (because it really doesn’t) but because it has such a pleasant, sleek, ottery roundness to it; just like the person who gave it to me.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Melon White Tea by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

Lupicia, how are you even…

Lupicia, how can you even…

Lupicia, how is this even…

I can’t even.

Just like the melon oolong from the same company (Reviewed here: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/199405) this is a perfect melon, both in the bag and steeped. It’s light, and smooth, and in every possible way beyond reproach.

It lacks the dirty ripeness of the oolong, which I really enjoyed, so I nudged that up five points, because this is a solid 80 and the oolong is even better. I’m sure this will be absolutely perfect iced, so I look forward to trying that very much.

In terms of melon teas, now that I’ve tried a few, I still feel it’s something I don’t have to have in my cupboard. If I just rated according to some, ‘Is this a good melon tea?’ standard, this would be a 90-95, but my ratings reflect what I feel I’ll want to restock my cupboard with until the end of time. I guess we’ll see what happens when it’s warmer; maybe I’ll get insane melon tea cravings. The weather right now isn’t what I’d call melony, after all.

[From my Lupicia spree at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, October 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
keychange

Melon twins!

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55
drank With Open Eyes by Butiki Teas
258 tasting notes

I’ve spent the past few days contemplating how Dammann Frères’ violet, ginger, rose and citrus are good, but just not the ones for me. And here I am again, but with Butiki.

This is a great, natural strawberry. In the bag, it smells so ripe, like those near-moldy strawberries you’ve kept around lust a little too long. Strawberry rot; dirty strawberry.

So definitely natural, but maybe too natural for me – I like a smooth, round and very inoffensive strawberry flavour, preferably mixed with something that sweetens it further, like vanilla. The ginger here, albeit mild, only kicks up that eerie little is this berry rot note for me.

I know this must be a dream come true strawberry tea for a lot of people, so any berryfan should definitely try it.

[From my Butiki order to Santa Clara, October 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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60
drank Bali by Dammann Freres
258 tasting notes

If Bali smells like this, I need to go there (I need to go there, anyway, but still). This is what scented island-life travel ads would smell like – floral, fruity and with a dash of something boozy.

The florals, however, amount mostly to a distinct rose flavour in the cup, drowning out the fruit notes. Rose is not one of my favourite flavours, and DF’s take on it is far too perfumey for my tastes; it’s a very cosmetic rose.

I understand why this is a bestselling tea, and why so many people like it – it’s just another case of DF not being a good match for me.

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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40
drank Mango Lassi by Butiki Teas
258 tasting notes

This one confuses me – I like my flavoured rooibos well enough, but this is like drinking straight-up rooibos. It smells like rooibos in the bag, it smells like rooibos in the cup, and it tastes like rooibos in the cup. Any hint of anything else, mango or otherwise, is simply absent. I can’t really add anything else – it’s just rooibos.

Again, this might be a case of me not picking up Butiki’s more subtle flavourings, or just that I’ve taken my sweet time trying this tea. I keep everything in air-tight containers, but you never know – mangoes can be so devious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piWCBOsJr-w

[From my Butiki order to Santa Clara, October 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

that’s funny because this is one of the very rare rooibos I liked :)

Anna

So weird! Do you like Rouge Provence by Mariage Frères? That’s what I look for in a rooibos.

Ysaurella

no I never tried this one. Maybe I have some in my samples thanks to Teresa, I should check

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55
drank Soleil Vert by Dammann Freres
258 tasting notes

This smells so very richly citrusy in the bag, it reminds me of this lemon fudge-esque candy I used to love as a kid. These: http://webshop.gottelisa.se/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/5e06319eda06f020e43594a9c230972d/M/I/MIX_FOX_Citron_01_5.jpg

It’s a little too much, though, and it comes off as too artificial to me. Citrus is hard to get right, and the scents often land too close to household cleaning products (I never buy lemon, it’s one of the worst things ever) or over-the-top flavoured candy (the rules for candy are different, though).

In the cup, it is – just as I have come to expect from DF – much more subtle and bland, but the artificial note remains. I guess, as in the case of the ginger and the violet, some of DF’s flavourings just aren’t for me.

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
caile

lol at candy rules! :-)

Anna

But it’s TRUE!!!

caile

haha yes, yes it is! I love candy but probably mostly have peppermints – the English mints without the candy coating – and keep a jar of them at home and a tin in my purse that I refill..

Anna

Mostly peppermints! Welcome to the dark side – this is the by-the-pound candy section of your average Swedish grocery store: http://girlunmapped.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/img_5607.jpg

Anna

(By the way, top row in the middle – the lemon candies I was talking about!)

caile

Oh my goodness – that’s the average Swedish grocery store aisle!! I may have to give up the peppermints! Yep, those lemon candies look good.. if one can find them nestled amongst the millions of others! ;-)

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65
drank Happiness by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

I was so sure I’d reviewed this that I’d put it in the cupboard. The shame. It might have been because it’s not a favourite – this is one that leaves me fairly indifferent.

In the bag, the dry leaf smells very boozy, but not a ripe, fruitrotty, autumnal booziness like Marco Polo (vert) from Mariage Frères, but a much flatter, staler scent, like forgotten home-made lemonade going to waste. Yeasty, almost.

The yeastiness carries through into the cup, and unfortunately there’s very little fruit to balance it. Peaches? Grapefruit? No, not really. They decided they’d have more fun somewhere else. What there is, is a lightly perfumed sweetness – it could be either fruity or floral.

This tastes like something I had – I don’t remember if I ate it or drank it – in Japan, which gives it an unfair advantage of familiarity; it’s hard to rate fairly. But, then again, this is a rooibos/green blend. I usually say I’d rather drink a Lupicia tea than most any other because I like their bases so much, but this blend doesn’t really appeal to me as much as their straight greens.

[From my Lupicia spree at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, October 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 15 sec
Ana

This tea is just… weird.

Anna

It just feels like they forgot something. But I have yet to feel like I don’t want to finish a cup of Lupicia tea, I think that’s what makes them so consistent and reliable to me.

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95
drank Bravissimo! by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

There’s a whole, perfect little rose bud in my steeping basket, and that makes me happy.

Just like this tea.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
keychange

I’ve added this tea to my shopping list, but I think it’s hilarious that all I know is that it’s a green-black that’s floralish. But it still sounds delightful!

Anna

It’s super floral; a whole garden. I had no idea it was a black/green blend until you wrote that just now – it feels just like a regular Lupicia green to me.

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60

This is a nice idea – currant, violet, macaron. Ideally, this would have a nice balance of berry notes from the currants, elegant florals from the violet and a sweet. light, pastry presence keeping the whole thing together.

Nose wise, I mostly get violet, but also an almondy note, which, generously, could be deemed the pastry.

In the cup, it’s mostly currant, with a slight minty hint to it; I suspect this is the Dammann Frères violet. We don’t really get along, I think; I definitely prefer Comptoir’s violet flavour.

The macaron, to use a now clearly established Steepsterism, RSVP:d to the party, but did not show up.

Is it a tasty tea? Yes. Is it a tea for me? No.

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 3 min, 0 sec
cteresa

I think I never had this one, though I think I have smelled it on their (Absolute fabulous, open on sundays, and nice staff) shop at Place des Vosges.

I actually think their violet tea is the best violet tea ever, Ysaurella sent me some and it was totally in my shopping list till I was there and found out the price – 14 euros per 100 grams, rather than say 5-6 at Mariage Freres. I strategically decided to buy more teas instead of getting the Dammann violet tea, but I am sort of regretting it now, their violet tea was really incredible, the other teas I got instead are sort of meh.

Anna

Oh, interesting! I might just be DF-biased; overall, I’m not that impressed by their products. Well, I’m going to sell and/or trade most of my DF teas soon, including three teas containing violet – let me know if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in.

cteresa

I will keep an eye out then! Do you have any of their plain violet tea?

I sort of get what you mean about Dammann. And their tea bases (Seriously how hard would it to be to change it from time to time and to make it stronger for example?)

But their plain-old-just violet tea is just about the only one tea of theirs I ever had where I can think, best version of this kinda of tea ever. Totally on my shopping list, except I found out the price and then decidedly (Wrongly) to get more teas instead. So sort of despicably greedy to try to swap for it now when I passed on the chance to buy it but wow if you got any of their plain violet tea you do not want, yeah, it´s awesome to my palate (not totally sure it´s that price awesome but would love to swap for it if anybody has it and does not love it)

Anna

No, sadly I don’t have it, nor have I tried it. Is it black or green?

I’m curious now, though – if I get my hands on some, I’ll make sure to tell you, and send you some.

cteresa

Black, just plain black violet flavored tea. Very simple and traditional and totally worth having but it was 14 euros for a 100 grams a few months ago and my frugal side just said no. My hedonist side now is complaining ,it was really quite perfect.

Anna

Next time.

Ysaurella

Teresa, I never paid such a price for the Violet DF : http://www.instant-the.com/violette-the-noir-parfume.htm
http://www.dammann.fr/lang-en/thes-noirs-parfumes/912-violette-3259920005542.html
your salesman place des Vosges should have made a mistake

Ysaurella

Anna : why did you steep this green at such a low temperature ? would you do a try at 80°c ?

Anna

I looked at the Instant Thé website, too, but it doesn’t say ‘Dammann Frères’ on it – all the other teas have that, are you sure it’s from DF?

Oh, and I followed the steeping instructions, I always do that for a first try:

http://www.instant-the.com/macaron-cassis-violette-the-vert-parfume-dammann.htm

cteresa

Ysaurella I did not ask the sales lady, but they had printed catalogue and that is what it said there – Charlotte au chocolat also I think. I think I got that catalogue, or brochure saved somewhere, will double check

Ysaurella

Anna, really give a try at 80°
I think the webmaster forgot but they use to work with DF essentially + 2 other brands. I am almost sure it is.
@ Teresa, sure, on their website it is 6 € for 100g
Charlotte au chocolat is more expensive yes, 15 € something like that but at least the tea base is different for one time : a keemun :)

Anna

Oh, interesting – cteresa, maybe you can e-mail them and ask if it’s the DF violet?

As for the temperature experiments, I could, and I’m really grateful for the suggestion, but I’m just not enamored with DF at all. I find myself just being happy the teas don’t taste that much, because I essentially don’t enjoy the taste.

I think I only have two more to sample, and then I’ll just trade/sell/give these away to someone who appreciates them more. I’m really happy I got to try them, though – my goal is to try all the teas, after all!

Ysaurella

gosh what a HUGE goal….ahahaha good luck !
did you get the envelope ? I never sent anything to Italy but I find it long to be delivered !

Anna

I haven’t checked my mail for a few days, I will tomorrow. Italy is sooo slooow sometimes, though – you never know how long it can be. Plus they sometimes hold things hostage and then you have to jump through all sorts of hoops to get them.

cteresa

It was not a webmaster, it was at the place des vosges shop and their printed catalogue. But I just found it, it is summer 2013 catalogue and on section Thé noirs parfumés nº234 Violette 14€. wait, I took a photo, let me find a hosting site

http://awesomescreenshot.com/08926p9p88

Anna

cteresa: No, Ysaurella was referring to what I said about it not being marked on the IT-website that it was a DF tea, sorry to add to the confusion.

Ysaurella

noo Teresa, the webmaster of Instant forgot the name of the brand for the Violette tea on his website, it was to Anna.
well anyway there is too much for the violette tea, this is not its real price.

cteresa

Oh, that is good to know, 14 euros really is kinda of outrageous (LOL, though seeing what north americans are willing to pay for mediocre tea, maybe not). It is really the wildest-freshest violet tea i tried yet, thanks Ysaurella!

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Profile

Bio

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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