300 Tasting Notes

95
drank Ripe Mango Oolong by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

This tea, this tea, this tea. I know exactly when I first made it, how cool the counter was against my fingertips, where we went for dinner that day, what the text message I wrote just then said (you were barely awake; maybe I woke you up; oh you), and what this smelled like.

Exactly what this smelled like.

When I find a new scent or flavour, and it’s one of my scents or flavours, it feels like coming home; like simultaneously burrowing into myself and stepping outside myself. It’s one of the best feelings. There’s a distant little click as one of my puzzle pieces snaps into place and I am nudged one step closer to completion.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Fjellrev

Your reviews always make me want to try Lupicia. :)

Anna

Lupicia wants to try you, too.

Sil

I need to place an order soon….ugh go go tea mules

Anna

You can order for me, too, and then in return I can come house-sit for you and your Person while you’re on that trip of yours. EVERYBODY wins.

Sil

hahaha that would be awesome

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80
drank Momoko by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

This one is also still very good, in spite of having been a travel tea on more than one occasion. I think there’s enough left for a cold steep of this one as well. I didn’t think I’d drink cold tea again for a while, but it’s 15 C/59 F in Rome, and very balmy; it might as well be spring.

I really love Lupicia’s peach flavour.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Ana

This is my favorite to cold brew. it’s very refreshing!

Anna

Sounds very promising, Ana – I’ll see if I have time for another cold steep before I leave on my trip.

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90
drank Strawberry & Vanilla by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

Oh, these were the saddest leftovers – just tea dust, really, enough for one cup, barely. And forgotten in a plastic bag since some time in October, no less. Insanely, it smells great, and tastes quite acceptable. Still my favourite strawberry.

Thankfully, I restocked when I was in Santa Clara, but I clearly don’t need to open that one for a while.

[Purchased at Lupicia in Honolulu, December 2012.]
[Polished off in Rome, January 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Fjellrev

Aww, too bad ordering from them isn’t a lot easier. This just means you’ll have to go back to Honolulu! Or California. Or hell, jet off to Japan.

Anna

I love how you think, my dear. However, they now ship to most of Europe from the French website. Only a selection, but many of my favourites are available. LETHAL.

Fjellrev

You partially win.

Anna

(Off the record: plotting and scheming hard to make Hawaii happen for Christmas again this year.)

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70
drank Apple & Berry by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

This is the last of this – me and my friend did a good job cleaning out the most of this tin when we were huddled under the covers in autumnal Venice. It did an exceptional job being our foremost biennale tea, however.

This is a potential restock in spite of its lower grade, because it’s been with me for so long (and we’ve done so much together, on three continents, no less) that I feel very attached to it.

Maybe next time the berries will show up for the party.

[Purchased at Lupicia in Honolulu, December 2012.]
[Polished off in Rome, January 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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85
drank Tsugaru Green by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

It’s been a while since I had this – I’ve been too busy trying new teas. I’m impressed by how well Lupicia’s flavoured greens have held up for this 1+ year I’ve had them. This one has lost some scent and flavour, but it’s far from flat or stale.

Either way, it’s time to start cleaning out the old Lupicia stash, so I’m cold-steeping some for tomorrow.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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60

Rose can be really tricky for me – I got this one mostly on a whim. It’s one of the prettiest teas I’ve ever seen – it’s mostly rose buds, really, so it looks more like a potpourri. The same notion is very present nose wise as well – it smells like a high-end rose potpourri.

Obviously I assume it would be like drinking a potpourri as well (I think I just broke the record for the most times I’ve ever used the word ‘potpourri’ in one day.) but alas, I was wrong. The flavour is far more subtle and complex than that. I don’t get individual, discernible champagne and/or cream notes, but for me, they rather add to the complexity of the floral tea as a whole. It’s a very cohesive tea, all flavours weaving together nicely.

In spite of this tea not quite being for me, and much like the case of With Open Eyes from the same company, I think this is probably the rose tea to end all rose teas for those so inclined – it should definitely be tried by rose fans.

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

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

good to know, I am a rose lover and especially the DF rose on black tea base

Anna

Either way, I have broken up with this tea, and it is now for sale in the forum.

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60
drank Nosy Bey by Dammann Freres
300 tasting notes

This tea would have fared better if it hadn’t been the last stop on my Dammann Frères journey. It’s a bit unfair, I know – I will try my best to keep an open mind. It’s just that both the dry tea and the steeped tea are saturated with this – as I have now come to know it – unmistakable DF perfume.

I can’t really explain it, but it’s this opulent, contrived richness that just seems inescapable. It’s the tea equivalent of orientalizing, exoticizing 19th-century art, pretending to be something it’s not, glorifying something that shouldn’t be glorified.

I guess the evident response would be, ’It’s just tea,’ but I don’t think we should make it too easy on ourselves.

Either way, this is a beautifully scented fruity black. In the cup there’s a light peach-apricot presence, some floral notes, and a smooth vanilla to round it off. Again – and this is turning into a bit of a broken record, I know – DF’s vanilla isn’t really my favourite. It’s a little too much, a little cloying, and has the slightest aftertaste of alcohol.

For someone who’s into elegant fruity blacks, though, this would be a perfect choice.

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

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

:( I have my answer for black teas.
I loved this one, very refined and elegant but I liked the DF Vanilla and it is a very present vanilla in Nosy Bey

Anna

I would have rated it higher if I’d tried it last week, I think. There was another black, or maybe two, that got a higher rating earlier. Now they all just sort of taste the same to me. Why do they have so many similar teas? It’s the most frustrating thing for me, I think.

Ysaurella

they more than often use the same base (china and ceyton mix). Lazyness is a nasty sin…
but sometimes the flavours make them so different, it’s rare but it happens.
Never really tried their greens because I think now I am not a green lover (except for Oolongs)

Anna

I think it’s definitely more obvious in their greens – so many similar ones there. You don’t like MF’s greens either?

Ysaurella

let’s say I can drink them more than I like them.
Except Sakura 2000 I really love

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70
drank Caramel Vanilla Assam by Butiki Teas
300 tasting notes

This is one I really wanted to love a lot – it sounds like it’s made for me, and it smells like it’s made for me. There is no end to how luscious this tea smells in the bag. It’s not quite up there with Lupicia’s Cookie or Mariage Frères Mariage Impérial, but it’s seriously good, nonetheless. There’s caramel, vanilla and the lush, malty tea base.

It brews up rich and dark – most of the depth of the scent of the dry leaf is lost in the steep for me. Flavour wise, I do get most of the notes from the bag, but it’s just so subtle. If I’d tried this before any Mariage Frères or Lupicia teas with similar flavourings, such as the two mentioned above, I would have been completely sold. At this stage of my tea safari, though, there’s just no need for a tea this delicate.

This is beautifully put together, the base tea is silky smooth, and it’s definitely high up on the list of the Butiki must-tries. That much said, there’s no room for it in my permanent collection.

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

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Fjellrev

I so hear you. I really wanted to love this one too but it’s not just doing it for me.

Anna

Thank you for your support during this difficult time.

Fjellrev

It truly is. I nearly cried real tears.

Ysaurella

complicated after Wedding Impérial…sure I understand even if I liked this one too, but WI remains my “chouchou”

Anna

Fjellrev: There’s a reason they’re called tea-rs, after all.

Ysaurella: Aww, right, WI is your special friend, I forgot about that. <3

Kamyria

Hmmm… this is the one I’m waiting for Butiki to restock because I really want to try it.

Sil

WI is amazing. That is all.

Dag Wedin

What is WI? :)

Tea Pet

WI is Wedding Impérial :)

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60

Haha, oh, wow. Flashback to childhood, white milky liquid penicillin. At the hospital they always said, ‘Oh, no small child can swallow pills this big,’ but I very happily did, seeing as the option was that terrifying milky-thick, fruit-flavoured stuff. I’ve sort of gotten over artificial banana to some degree, but artificial cherry? Never. One sip of Dr. Pepper and I start to cry, begging for mercy.

This is just me and my freaky hangups, though – I gave a collection of DF’s Christmas teas to my friend when she came to visit me right before the holidays, and she allegedly loved this one.

Anyway, this isn’t necessarily artificial – it’s pretty much what candied cherries, or cherry preserves taste like – there’s sweetness and that hint of bitter almond. Both in the nose and in the cup, the cherry/almond combination is what comes through most noticeably. It’s a nice flavour idea for Christmas, and the dry tea is really gorgeous.

Just not for me.

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

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Dexter

LOL – based on what you’ve said – I’m going to LOVE this. LOVE Dr. Pepper and have have many an experience with the chalky cherry liquid penicillin. Yep this should work for me.
Sorry it wasn’t for you. :((

Anna

Meh, I just love trying different kinds of teas – it would be really annoying if I loved ALL of them. I mean, my tea cupboard would look like… yours!

(And if you really end up loving it, there’s a whole bag of it for sale in the forum.)

Dexter

But buying every tea I like caused my cupboard to end up looking like that…. I have some, will try it soon – see if anyone else buys it – if I love it and if it’s still there in a few days…. well who knows. :))

Anna

Dex, my friend, seeing as I wrote the review I wrote, I’m pretty sure it’ll be around forever.

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80
drank Watermelon Xylophone by Butiki Teas
300 tasting notes

This is the fourth and final melon tea I have to try – it’s been great fun to compare. In this case, the dry tea smells perfectly melony – I often find that melon scents are a little hard to keep apart; I know it’s melon, but which melon? With this one, I get a lot of cantaloupe from the start, but then there’s this little coolness rounding it off that makes it more watermelony. I’m at a loss to describe it better, but it’s definitely melon, and definitely watermelon.

In the cup, the scent lingers nicely. Flavour wise, this is a subtle yet present melon, very smooth and tasty. I opted out of the recommended additives, and I have no regrets – this tea works just fine on its own.

This silver needle is definitely one of my favourite Butiki base teas – it’s wonderful to drink, and ever so pretty in the bag.

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

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 30 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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