300 Tasting Notes

60
drank Nuit à Versailles by Dammann Freres
300 tasting notes

This is one of the most popular Dammann Frères blends, it seems – both in terms of ratings and sales. It makes sense – if DF’s overall concept appealed to me, I’d be really excited about this tea, too. Smelling the dry leaf is interesting – at first, it’s a rich, dreamy bouquet with all the different scent strands weaving into each other. After a while, though, it’s possible to identify individual fruits and florals. There’s peach, and violet, some orange… and even what smells like DF’s passion fruit to me.

Steeped, it retains much of the same complexity – the beginning of the sip and the aftertaste leave very different impressions. But it’s just very, very delicate. Too delicate for me, and with a dominant presence of that perfumey note DF are so fond of. It’s a little bit like drinking someone’s grandmother – don’t get me wrong, it’s a grandmother of the Parisian variety, all old Chanel and pearls and dignity, but still. Too perfumey.

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

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

Granny decked out & taking a stroll on a balmy evening :)

Ysaurella

and the DF black teas ? do you like them better ?

Anna

Terri: Haha… and in Versailles, no less!

Ysaurella: Yes, the black teas are definitely better, but I prefer MF any day.

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60
drank Pistachio Ice Cream by Butiki Teas
300 tasting notes

Pistachio is my favourite nut; I think I’ve cooked and served and eaten it in every way possible, but this is the first pistachio tea I try. Random fact: the Swedish word for ‘pistachio’ is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the Swedish language.

In the bag, this smells like fairly generic nut tea; it could be a walnut, or a hazelnut – either way, it’s definitely pleasantly nutty. Steeped, it retains much of the same scent, but it turns rounder and smoother.

Flavour wise, this tastes a little too roasty, or smoky, to be a plain pistachio to me. Roasted pistachio, maybe? I miss the ‘green’, fat flavour of the nuts in questions – pistachios are so characteristic. In terms of the ice cream, well, I should admit I dip into the pistachio gelato pretty frequently when I’m here in Rome, so my assessment might not be fair; either way, I don’t really get a creamy feel.

The tea definitely has a pleasant, mellow smoothness to it, and the base tea is as lovely as ever with Butiki – it’s just not quite what I’m looking for.

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

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

I’m sorry you haven’t had too much luck with Butiki, but am also glad you’re trying them.

Anna

Oh, I think it’s been a purely positive experience exploring their teas – I’ve found three I think I’d like to keep in my cupboard, which feels like a pretty good haul. I think the main issue has been that I tried flavours that I would typically like from companies like Lupicia, and their flavour profile just fits me better. But some of the Butiki teas that I just requested/was given as samples appealed to me far more than I thought they would.

TheTeaFairy

I myself did not fall in love with this one, which is rare considering the massive number of teas from butiki I’m madly en amour with! But it’s a very popular one, I’m part of the minority I believe…

Anna

Oh, you know, exceptions that prove the rule, and all that. I think I might not really be a nut tea nut, you know.

TheTeaFairy

Except for a few exceptions, I am not much of a nut tea nut myself, but i am however a nut nut person, but it doesn’t mean i’m not a nut, ya know? Lol!

Anna

Oh, you’re quite clearly a nut. ;P

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60
drank Christmas Tea Vert by Dammann Freres
300 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
300 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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75
drank Melon White Tea by Lupicia
300 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
300 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
300 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
300 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
300 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
300 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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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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