236 Tasting Notes
In the bag, this is perfection – the most elegant, sumptuous fruitiness, ripe with peach and passionfruit.
But steeped, it’s so subtle it’s silly – I’m going to refrain from rating this, and will henceforth follow Dinosara’s advice and steep these DF teas much hotter.
Seriously, peach, where did you go? We had a date.
[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]
This is insane. I’m drinking a sticker. And I mean that as a good thing. See, when I was a tiny Anna with braids and glasses and knee socks, we used to trade stickers during our breaks in school. This was a huge deal; I carried something like five albums on any given day. Some of the most highly prized stickers were scented, my favourites being a large strawberry with the best sweet berryful vanilla-esque scent ever, and another one, the shape of which I can’t currently recall (and this is driving me crazy) but that smelled…
…exactly like this tea.
Nose-in-bag, this is almost too lush. Malty and dark and nutty and sweet. I very much want to eat something that tastes just like this tea. Preferably in cake form.
Steeped, the scent is far more subtle, but equally gorgeous. Flavour wise, it’s all there – the malt, the maple, the pecans – and I absolutely love it. I think I might have underleafed slightly (trying to measure out a teaspoon of spindly oolong leaf is about as awkward as trying to put pants on a cat) so it’s much too elusive and I find myself savouring the aftertaste more than anything, as the sip itself is a little watery. I always try to follow the instructions to a T (Ha! Punface!) on a first brew, and this definitely meant using less leaf that I would have chosen myself.
This is the second massive nostalgia trip a tea has given me in the past month (the other one was this: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/196900) and I’m enjoying it immensely.
[From my Butiki order to Santa Clara, October 2013.]
When I received the kind gift of Anna time for tea shopping before leaving the US plus a ride to my favourite mall in Santa Clara, I obviously went straight to Lupicia. The very nice person working the store was helpful and patient with my many demands and inquiries and I found almost everything I wanted.
One thing I was looking for was a gift for my friend T – some tasty, more cookie-like alternative to that vile Bailey [sic!] tea from A.C. Perch we’ve shared samples of. What could be better than a tea named Cookie?
So I asked the salesperson if they did samples – they never have in any other Lupicia store, but it’s always worth a shot. They said yes, though, and not until far later in my tinsniffing adventures, did I realize they meant they’d brew up the samples for me. Thankfully, I’d only asked for two – Yume and Cookie. I’d asked for the latter solely because I wanted to be able to relate to my friend’s tea experience without asking for a sample from her – it wasn’t like I needed another black tea in my collection, considering how many 90+-rated blacks I’ve already found this year.
Yume was way too rosey for me.
And then Cookie.
Seriously, I had to get another tin for myself.
This must be compared to Wedding Impérial by Mariage Frères, which is among my most beloved teas ever, but it’s a lighter, far more playful approach to the same flavour spectrum. In the tin, it’s tempting, but not overwhelmingly so. The brewed tea, however, has a distinct note of buttery popcorn in the nose, which is absolutely irresistible, and brings something completely new to the table (cup). It’s also lighter than Wedding Impérial, both in terms of colour and texture, so it feels more like an everyday tea. I never really use additives, but I’m dying to try this with some sugar.
Flavour wise, it’s just perfect – a lighter version of my favourite tea, with added complexity and some surprises. Exactly the kind of tea I always look for.
I’m so happy I found this.
[From my Lupicia spree at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, October 2013.]
So I dropped by the Water Tower Place Teavana in Chicago to pick up some teaware. I’ll just be honest – I’ve never tried a Teavana tea that I’ve loved; I find them mostly plain and bland and poorly executed, and it’s vile how much sugar they put in the brewed samples they offer in-store.
Their teaware, though, is a whole other story. I think they carry beautiful tins and nice utensils and I’m all for going to Teavana just for that. I needed some filters, as I wanted to drink loose tea on my flight, and my thermos needed a proper wash before getting used again. Surprisingly, Teavana were about $2 cheaper for the same number of filters than every other store I came across, including grocery stores.
As for the function – they’re filters. Bags that filter tea. In water. They work just fine and predictably manage to do their job. No funny business.
Speaking of funny business, though, corporate culture doesn’t seem to have changed a lot since Teavana were acquired by Starbucks. I was still hounded by one of the salespeople in-shop who insisted that I try the samples.
‘Would you like a sample?’
‘No, but thanks anyway.’
‘Of course you want a sample!’
‘No, not really.’
‘But it’s amazing!’
‘Has sugar been added to the sample?’
‘No, not at all!’
‘Sorry, let me rephrase that – has any kind of sweetener been added to the sample?’
‘Well… yeah, but…’
And so on.
Hilarity ensued, of course, when there were ALL THESE TEAS that I just HAD TO BUY, and I was all, ‘Oh, but I don’t like your teas. I’m here for teaware!’. What do you even say to that? I felt like the most evil customer ever, but I swear I was really very nice and smiley about the whole thing, even as the salesperson got progressively more aggressive and rude.
Then upon checking out, I was told that these filters were ‘Pretty impractical’ (Whoa! Reverse sales technique! Mind blown!), and that the salesperson swore by this new thing.
‘Oh, but I already have your travel thermoses. They’re great.’ (But they could be easier to wash so I didn’t have to buy pretty impractical filters. )
‘This is much better, let me show you!’
And she showed me this: http://www.teavana.com/tea-gift-center/tea-gift-sets/p/tea-voyager-travel-kit which I do like a lot and have considered buying, but after researching it, I knew it wouldn’t meet my standards.
’It’s a full travel kit!’
‘Yeah, I absolutely love that, I looked at it online, and I would have bought it if the holes in the infuser had been smaller.’
‘Oh, but that’s not a problem at all! I have this product myself and that’s not an issue in any way.’
‘Yeah, but if you go read the reviews on the Teavana website, you’ll note that that’s THE MAIN COMPLAINT concerning this product.’
At this point the salesperson just stopped talking directly to me altogether.
I’m all for a hard sale, and with nice execution it can be a fun time for all. But incompetent salespeople who first talk down the product you want to buy (and which is absolutely fine – don’t cry, little filters, you’re quite adequate) all the while trying to push a product that’s obviously flawed without having the first clue about the criticism raised against said flaw..? Meh. Amateur hour.
When I first reviewed this here: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/195695 I know I found it on Lupicia’s website, but as I executed my attack on the WVF Lupicia earlier this week, the very nice and patient man helping me told me it had been discontinued.
Definitely a sad day, because this tea really gives me massive travel nostalgia, and it manages to remain at a solid 75 in spite of the mistreatment I put it through in terms of varying cup sizes and steeping times and water temperatures.
Everyone’s always very nice about getting me hot water, even on really short flights, but it’s strange how surprised many people are that I bring my own tea. Like, what could possibly be better than the oversteeped, lukewarm English Breakfast we serve? Is it liquid gold?
I now have one last bag left, and I will give it a proper sending off sometime soon.
I chose this as my first Butiki tea to try (Thank you, Stacy!) because unlike the others, it came in little tin and hence balances precariously atop the rest of the pile of bagged-teas-to-try (No untried teas go in the cupboard! Rules are rules! Stand down, Cantaloupe & Cream!) but also because it’s one I got against my principles – generally, I’m reluctant to drink teas containing actual chocolate chips rather than chocolate flavouring, but this seemed like such a well-done chocolate-orange that I couldn’t quite resist.
In the (very cute) tin, it’s all Terry’s Dark Chocolate Orange, but in the cup, the tea base becomes more prominent nose wise. In terms of flavour, the steeped tea balances the orange and the chocolate very well, but it’s very subtle. What I assume is the marshmallow is a hint of very lightly vanilla-esque sweetness topping off the chocolate notes. I enjoy how the tea base is present throughout the sip, without overpowering the flavouring, in spite of its lightness.
I’d like the flavours to pack just a little bit more punch, mostly because I’m used to my arsenal of rich, French blacks, and I find myself missing some added element of complexity. This is a very honest tea, which I admire, but I’ve always been one to pay far more attention to the trickster anti-hero than the golden hero, so what I’d like is for Three Friends to trick me just a very little.
An additional element of excitement is how well the rich, natural orange is executed – it’s a very difficult flavour to get right, and as the (hopefully winning!) Lemon Macaron entry in the Butiki Custom Blend Competition states, it would be a treat if Stacy were to make a lemon blend, something I agree with fully.
[From my Butiki order to Santa Clara, October 2013.]
I had so much Momoko on my flight.
And every single person on the staff made fun of me, as per usual. I cup-steeped after lunch and they were all like hue hue hue, you brought your own little strainer, how adorable. And then I was hanging out in the pantry filling up my thermos and everyone was all ooh and aah about my tea tin and had to smell it and I took note (actual, physical note, with note pads and pens!) about Lupicia and the name of the tea, and I was seriously like a traveling tea circus.
And Argo are expanding like crazy over here and I’m not quite sure how I feel about them.
(This is my 100th tasting note.)
I had Ginger Lemon tea and very lovely company on my flight between Rome and Stockholm; double win. (Or maybe even a triple win, because I got two steeps out of this bag.)
Now I feel a little Romesick, because that’s where my tea stash is. <3 My pretties! My sweet treasures! I will be back soon.
This whole Dammann Frères experience is turning a little too existential and emotional. I just wanted to drink some tea, okay? And now I’m forced to reminisce about my dead grandmother and maybe even reevaluate my whole outlook on black teas. I’m packing my trans-Atlantic suitcase right now; I don’t have time for these shenanigans!
But fine. My two top blacks are teas from Mariage Frères – they’re rich and luxurious and very flavourful. I love all those things. But they’re also fairly thick, almost a little muddy, and very dark, which pretty much sums up what I have a hard time handling when it comes to certain blacks.
Dammann’s black bases, on the other hand, leave the liquid a dark amber, and they’re very light and easily drunk. In this case, though, the flavour is a little too delicate to leave me entirely seduced. It’s quite smooth and elegant, but I think I’d like to try a somewhat longer steep to see if I can get some more flavour out of this.
[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]