300 Tasting Notes

50
drank Jordgubb vanilj by Tehörnan
300 tasting notes

Here’s another basic, plain, fruity rooibos. It’s the kind of tea I’d put in my thermos on a chilly autumn day I planned to spend in the forest, hunting chanterelles.

It’s chanterelle-picking tea – robust, simple, foresty.

[Purchased at Tehörnan in Uppsala, fall 2012.]

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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20
drank Körsbär (Cherry) by Tehörnan
300 tasting notes

When I got this, it was mostly an experiment – I haven’t been a fan of any artificial cherry flavouring (Dr. Pepper is death in a can.) since the liquid antibiotics incident back in ’84. Ugh.

This smelled more like berries in the store, though, so I went for it. The good news is that the berry note stays with the rooibos all the way into the cup. The bad news is that it doesn’t have a lot to do with cherry. It’s pretty bland, and it’s pretty simple. I don’t get any cardboard, but a hint of the old cardboard would have given this brew a bit more complexity, at least.

[Purchased at Tehörnan in Uppsala, fall 2012.]

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
cteresa

cherry flavouring is difficult to get right. I can not think of one single good cherry flavoured tea – maybe a couple where there are other red fruits as well, not no solo cherry teas!

Anna

I agree – I guess I can understand why it’s so hard to recreate; cherry flavour is elusive!

Ysaurella

I had one good : Cerise noire from Betjeman & Barton – but I had a lot of meh cherry teas before finding this one. I shared some with Nicole who had the same experiences and loves cherry and she had the same opinion about it.

Anna

It is now on my shopping list. Ysaurella, you are lethal.

Ysaurella

don’t buy it, I can send you a sample as you can taste before odering.

Anna

How bountiful! I really have excellent sample karma this week; thank you.

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70
drank Tokio by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

I attempted a pitcher of this iced, much like I did with Paradise Green (also from Lupicia) the other day. This was also very good – but not as good as Paradise Green, which I also have rated slightly higher.

So, as opposed to A.C. Perch’s White Temple (And I’m sorry if this is ming-numbingly dull to read, but I want to remember this little discrepancy.) which went from good to divine after a cold steep, Lupicia’s greens seem to remain fairly stable, quality wise. Which is reasonable, considering how much they depend on their exquisite bases.

So no, this pitcher won’t last long.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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15
drank Samurai Chai Mate by Teavana
300 tasting notes

So this is the fourth and final tea from the gift pack I first talked about in this note: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/184829

Today is an important day; it’s Swedish Cinnamon Roll Day! http://www.su.se/english/about/news-and-events/cinnamon-bun-day-kanelbullens-dag-1.5166 Please go honour this sacred occasion by procuring a suitable cinnamon pastry this very instant.

And as I can’t get anything even remotely similar today (Seriously, Rome. Sometimes you’re just so Italian.) I’m tackling this chai mate. See, I despise cinnamon in tea. Loathe it. In food and pastries, cinnamon is one of my favourite flavours of all time, but drinking it is just vile.

In other words, I’m not the right person to review this poor tea. It has a weird sweet-sour hint to it – I can taste it on the sides of my tongue far better than on my tongue, which is a very weird feeling – disregarding the flavour, the mere act of drinking this tea is unsettling.

The tea tastes like it smells and looks – like spicy tea leftover salad. I guess it’s supposed to appear bountiful, but it just seems like there were all these bits and pieces that didn’t fit anywhere else, and that were just thrown together, resulting in this blend.

Just… no.

[Purchased/gifted at Teavana in Honolulu, January 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
keychange

I must leave work at once to procure my pastry. This is of immediate urgency!

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65
drank Hua Ki by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

This is another of the few bagged teas I own. Not only that, it’s also from Lupicia, an anomaly in itself – I generally only buy greens and oolongs from them. Not because I’ve had a bad experience, but their blacks always come off as so very lightly scented, and I tend to go more for really full-bodied, rich black teas.

But hey, this was on sale.

In the bag(s), it smells light and fruity. In the cup, it smells light and fruity. The first taste is also very light and fruity, but the high temperature isn’t really doing it any favours – now that it’s cooled, however, it’s very smooth and light and nice. And yes; fruity.

On the one hand, I feel that Lupicia’s delicate, perfect flavourings are better suited for greens, on the other, I get a craving to fully explore their assortment of blacks, as this is so much more easily drunk than the ones I usually favour.

I’m increasingly aware of this divide in my tea preferences lately – on the one hand, there are all those lush, elegant French blends, and on the other, unassuming, fresh, gorgeous Lupicia everything.

I really love this tea company over any other.

[Purchased at Lupicia in Honolulu, December 2012.]

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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85
drank Apricot Houji by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

Okay. So FINALLY I’m getting around to writing tasting notes for those last tricky teas in my cupboard. This is one of very few bagged teas I own. I got it on sale when I did my big Lupicia run in Hawaii; I’m generally a little cautious with flavoured roasty teas, mostly because they’re confusing to my palate, but this one was so cheap it would just have been silly not to try it.

Plus, I really love apricots. The best thing about the scent of this tea is that smelling it, I get instant apricot mouthfeel. It’s uncanny. Lupicia are so spot-on in their flavourings, and this is no exception.

The reason I label this tea tricky, is that I’ve used it as one of my travel teas. Every sip of this puts me at an airport or on a flight. The first time I drank it, I was sitting on the floor at Heathrow, waiting to catch a flight. This was the last time ever I traveled without my thermos, because Starbucks had the nerve to charge for hot water. Pff! The insolence!

Either way, I really like this tea. It instantly calms me, which – again, I know I wrote about this in one of my tasting notes yesterday – seems unfair to add to a note, because it only reflects the fact that I’ve conditioned myself to perceiving this as a post-luggage hauling, post-security check, post-travel chaos treat; something I reward myself with when all I can do is placidly wait around for someone to make a boarding call or land a plane.

But either way, the body of this still has a good roastiness, and a nice, juicy, entirely authentic apricot.

And there’s just enough of it left for my next trip.

[Purchased at Lupicia in Honolulu, December 2012.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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85
drank Thé à l'Opéra by Mariage Frères
300 tasting notes

This was just as beautiful as the last time around – a light, elegant, floral pick-me-up.

It’s struck me on several occasions that many of these greens from Mariage Frères would probably be excellent iced, but somehow they appeal to me more brewed hot. I think back at chilly winters in Paris, I guess, whereas Lupicia’s greens are all Hawaii to me and hence my favourites to ice.

I wish it were possible to redrink all these teas for the first time, entirely without the shackles of mnemonic, emotional and spatial attachments; to crumble and toss away the madeleine, if you will.

But, then again, that would lessen the experience. Beauty lies all in the context, after all.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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95

How to decide what tea would go best with the last ever episode of Breaking Bad? There was just no way. I chose the last of this sample purely for symbolic reasons – so the dregs of my first ever batch of Pleine Lune would go down with Mr. White.

I have nothing left to say, except there was some bitterness right at the end.

[Sample acquired at Mariage Frères in London, May 2013.]
[Polished off in Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
Nightshifter

<3 Breaking Bad.

ashmanra

My future son-in-law gave me this tea for Christmas. In a few weeks, my eldest and youngest daughters are going to Northern Ireland to fetch him back to the USA to live! I will be a mother-in-law before Thanksgiving, if all goes according to plan. :) I am going to give him Grand Amour by Nina’s as a wedding gift, among other things. He loves tea so their engagement gift was an electric kettle!

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90

This was not, in fact, the one I dropped into the pitcher (see the previous note) but I’m going to give it its five points back, because I’ve had massive cravings for this one lately.

I feel like I’m cheating, because I usually write one tasting note per… what? What do I call it? Leaf cluster? Yeah, that’ll do. So one tasting note per cluster, no matter how many steeps. But I’ve had this three times without writing individual notes. Three times! Three clusters! An(n)archy!

Thing is, I’ve been experimenting with temperatures and steeping times, and it’s been so inconclusive it has just seemed pointless to log. What I can say, however, is that this tea, as opposed to the Vert à la vanille (also from Le Palais des Thés) responds very well to a longer steeping time and a lower temperature.

It comes off as far more balanced and flavourful like that, so I’ll keep steeping it for roughly 2-2.5 minutes in 70-80C water.

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

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80
drank Paradise Green by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

Right, so someone on my dash (Who was it?) recently talked about wanting to try this one iced, so I figured I’d be a helpful little steepsterer and give it a shot.

And I did. And forgot about it completely. So I think this cold-steeped for a little over 24 hours.

I assumed there would be at least some bitterness due to the long steep, but there really is none. Not a hint. Even if there had been, I would have been delighted with the experiment, as it demonstrated quite clearly how very useful even these somewhat less amazing Lupicia greens are iced.

Because this is seriously beautiful – almost up there with A.C. Perch’s White Temple. The floral notes really come out very nicely in the cold tea, and the base is so good. This is something I could drink all day. I will keep the grade at 75 for now, though, until I see how the higher rated teas fare iced.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
TeaBrat

Ah, maybe it was me? I’ve cold brewed this a few times and it’s good that way!

greenteafairy

I love this one cold-steeped!

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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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