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258 Tasting Notes

85
drank Jasmine Silver Needle by Adagio Teas
258 tasting notes

Oh.

The bag is really, genuinely, irrevocably empty now. I shook it and held it upside down and everything.

And I can’t get any more right now.

Flurr.

[Sample from the EU Travelling Box, autumn 2013.]
[Sample polished off in Rome, January 2014.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Dag Wedin

I can add some Jasmine silver needle pearls if im before you in the next round. Seldon drink it. Superb quality thou.

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80
drank Blackberry by A C Perch's
258 tasting notes

I had a tiny craving for this the other day, and one more just now. I was going to send the rest of it to a friend, but maybe just one more cup before it goes.

Honestly, I have no idea why I enjoy this so much. A pretty basic berry-flavoured black?

It’s an evil tea, though. It makes me wish I had a cookie.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
JustJames

cookie wish teas are great! they make me think of…. http://alpinegarrison.com/images/Come_to_the_DarkSide_cookies.jpg

Anna

Update: I FOUND A COOKIE.

Anna

(Then I eated it.)

JustJames

what kind?

JustJames

aw! nevermind the cookie! look at the store front… wow! although orange ginger is one i’d go for, no doubt.

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60

I’m slowly going through the last of my untried DF teas, and I honestly feel like I’m writing the same review over and over. When I dipped into my Mariage Frères haul, I felt nothing of the kind. Not the slightest hint of it. Their greens all had completely different personalities, and put me in different mnemonic mindsets from the first sip.

DF’s teas, on the other hand, do nothing to my brain. It’s like being on a date with someone who’s pretty and well-dressed and highly sniffable, but they do nothing to my brain so I’m simply too full for dessert and may we have the check, please?

In the bag, this is an exuberant berry explosion – definitely not artificial, Dammann Frères don’t do artificial at all; they somehow manage to get even the most insane berryfest come off as natural.

Steeped, also very berryful. I like that I can taste individual berries throughout the sip – cherries, currants, blueberries – but that there’s also a nice intermingling of the various flavours. A smooth, round, green sip of berries.

And yet?

Check, please.

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

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

yes it is clearly a deceptive tea

keychange

It is very important for a good date to be highly sniffable indeed. High sniffability (of the appreciated kind) is unbeatable!

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75
drank Dune d'épices by Dammann Freres
258 tasting notes

Haha, I added this tea to the database a few months back, and now BOOM! A whole slew of tasting notes! That Dammann calendar has really been getting around, and I enjoy seeing so many people try their teas.

I want to emphasize that translating ‘pain d’épices’ straight to ‘gingerbread’ is wrong – this is absolutely not supposed to taste like gingerbread, it’s supposed to taste like pain d’épices, which has a completely different flavour base. Sloppy, DM, very sloppy.

Reading about this tea, I didn’t love the idea of it, but I was still curious about the bitter orange note. In the bag, that’s mostly all I get, and it doesn’t disappoint at all, even if it threatens to maybe turn a little overly pungent. In the cup, though, it mellows out considerably.

Flavour wise, I’m equally surprised; I really wasn’t planning on liking this one, but I do. The orange comes through so well – something I’m not accustomed to in terms of DF; I think they mostly drop the ball on citrus altogether.

It’s a great Christmas tea – it would be perfect with actual pain d’épices (http://www.gustave.com/recettes/265/pain-epices.html) and right now, I will confess, I am eating a piece of candied orange dipped in dark chocolate, the final dregs of our pre-Christmas Dagnino shopping spree… and it goes insanely well together with this tea.

I’m very happy to have tried it, but as impressed as I am with its orangeity, this is not one I would feel a need to keep around.

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

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

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60
drank Mousson sur Hanoï by Dammann Freres
258 tasting notes

The base tea here looked really interesting – I didn’t recognize the leaf; apparently, it’s Vietnamese green tea.

In the bag, I get bamboo and rose more than anything – in fact, I find this very rosey throughout, even in the cup. This is a bit of a mystery, seeing as there is no trace of rose in the ingredient list. It might just be one of those taste overlaps – I’m pretty sure what I’m smelling and tasting is DF’s lychee. Thing is, both Butiki and Lupicia make beautiful lychee teas that I love, and that’s the taste profile I want – not this perfume-like, floral variety.

In no way is it a bad tea, but like many of DF’s other products, this seems so staged and contrived. It’s a colonial dream! Indochine! The Hanoi monsoons! If marketing must be based on this kind of historicized, romanticized dreamscape nonsense, can’t it at least be a less tainted fantasy?

I enjoy the base tea, but it’s more sensitive than DF’s usual sencha – there’s the slightest hint of bitterness in spite of the fact that I stayed well within the steeping parameters.

Overall, a nice tea, and thoroughly Dammann Frères-esque.

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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60
drank Clair de Fruits by Dammann Freres
258 tasting notes

Okay, so I’m going to curl up in bed with a cup of tea and a few articles I have to read online. Bed, because it’s where the internets are strongest in this apartment… also it’s warm. And there are fresh linens. So it’s just a really good place to be right now.

I have a theory about tea making at Dammann Frères. I think I already dramatized enough for one week in my Mamma Mia review, but imagine the exact opposite of what happened at the David’s Tea headquarters – instead, try to remember that scene in Love Actually where Rowan Atkinson is putting together the gift package for Alan Rickman’s disastrous, horrid little extramarital fling. These very elegantly dressed men who throw in a pinch of this, and a pinch of that with an expert flick of the wrist and then step back and reflect and then add another pinch and then it just goes on like that forever.

Because, in the end, all these blends are almost exactly the same. They have nice bases and high quality ingredients, but they’re the same bases and high quality ingredients – they’re just put together in different manners. I would have a very hard time telling any of the DF teas I’ve tried so far (with a few exceptions) apart in a blind experiment.

This is one of my favourites of their same-same-but-different teas, though. I have a hard time writing a tasting note for it, as I constantly want to refer to their other teas, ’It’s the almond used in X, and the berry used in X and the…’ But that seems unfair – instead, let me declare this a tremendously well-balanced green with notes of berries, exotic fruits and really elegant florals. Would I be able to tell it apart from any other fruity and floral DF tea in a week? Probably not.

Oh, and speaking of Love Actually, here’s a brilliant and hilarious takedown of that sexist-beyond-comprehension cringefest of a movie: http://jezebel.com/i-rewatched-love-actually-and-am-here-to-ruin-it-for-al-1485136388

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

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

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

Atter having such a meh ginger yesterday, I wanted to remind myself what a good one tastes like. This turned into one of my staple travel teas last year, since I’ve been doing most of my transfers in Copenhagen, and in the lounge there they stack bags of it pretty much floor to ceiling.

There was a crazy blizzard when I was returning home for a brief visit right before Christmas, and my flight was delayed. It wasn’t so bad, four hours or something, but it didn’t really matter, since there were Christmas decorations and an open fire and mug after mug of this tea.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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85

I’m up early, which is always absolutely horrible for me, so I decided I deserved a cup of this. It’s such a very good tea. So much flavour – this is what I love about Mariage Frères’ greens – they’re present throughout the entire sip. None of that Dammann nonsense where you have to sit and inhale in a staccato-like manner at the end of each sip to possibly get an inkling of an aftertaste.

No – this tea is right there, all along, just like a good friend.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Fjellrev

Ha, I’m not a morning person either. You definitely deserve a nice cup of tea if someone or something is making you get up earlier than necessary.

Anna

Thanks, F. And yeah, it was me who made me do it. I should seriously give myself a good talking to.

cteresa

I got issues with them, sometimes, but they are also a company where I think somebody with a working nose and palate does taste and veto their blends.

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75
drank Pumpkin Creme Brulee by Butiki Teas
258 tasting notes

Oh, oh, oh. Where was it. I had this luscious dessert back in October when I was in Chicago – a pumpkin bread pudding. It killed. Right! Yes! Sable! It was their warm pumpkin-pecan bread pudding, with bourbon whipped cream and toasted buttered pecans.

Droolface. Seriously.

The dry tea doesn’t smell that much – mostly there’s a hint of warm vanilla – but steeped? So pumpkin bread puddingy! I know it’s supposed to be crème brûlée, but now I’m dead stuck in my dessert memory and there will be no escape.

This was a sample I asked for mostly because it had such a high rating. Pumpkin was very much an acquired taste for me, but now I love it. It’s something I rarely consume, though, and mostly when I’m overseas… and never in liquid form.

This is fairly rich in cinnamon, which is a tea flavouring I generally avoid, and added to my personal is-pumpkin-really-fit-to-drink issues, this really shouldn’t appeal to me as much as it does. It’s very well-balanced, round and smooth, and I doubt I could find a better, more natural-tasting pumpkin tea.

This is a really lovely and well-executed tea. All in all, I could definitely see myself drinking this seasonally, a few times a year, but a pumpkin tea is not something I’d keep as a staple.

[From my Butiki order to Santa Clara, October 2013.]
[Sample polished off in Rome, January 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec
caile

Ohh, that pudding sounds delicious!

Anna

It was so, so well done. I have a thing for bread pudding. <3

caile

hehe..and I don’t even like bread pudding but this one sounded so good that I wanted some! :-)

Anna

Gasp! Heresy.

caile

lol I am always worried that it will just be soggy bread.

Anna

Aww. And eww. No, there should be a no-sog rule. I like to make challah bread, and soak it in runny custard (cream, egg, really good vanilla) and then layer it with rum-soaked sultanas. I think that was one of my entries for the custom blend contest, actually!

caile

That sounds like it would make a tasty blend!
And yeah, if there is a no-sog rule, then bread pudding is ok – especially one with pumpkin and pecans! :-)

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45
drank Thé des 2 Chinois by Dammann Freres
258 tasting notes

This is a sample that came with my order. It looks like a nice enough blend on paper, I mean – mango, rose petals? Other delightful fruity things?

But then there’s Dammann Frères’ ginger. And boy, is their ginger not for me. It’s a faux-exotic ginger. It’s a dirty ginger. I don’t know if I can explain it better. It’s just so medicinal.

Furthermore, this tea isn’t at all as well-balanced as I’ve come to expect from DF. Both in the bag and in the cup, and both in terms of scent and flavour, the ginger overpowers everything else.

In additional news, tonight’s game is killing me.

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

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

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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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