300 Tasting Notes

95

I smelled this in the Selfridge’s (Apostrophe Protection Society 4 lyfe) store and had to try it. Almondy teas all-too-often hit that cheap, artificial bitter almond essence note, but this is much closer to amaretto-drizzled marzipan cake – but without being cloying.

Re-steeping is quite acceptable – but it really brings out the cinnamon in the nose and tones down the almond body of the flavour – it’s still round and warm and pleasant, though.

This is one of those teas that do something to me. The leafy equivalent of shakabuku, maybe; a spiritual kick to the head that alters your reality forever. In this case, the kick is aimed at the taste buds, but it does feel like some small aspect of my tea-related brain chemistry has been adjusted. After just one cup, Pleine Lune already appears familiar and self-evident.

I look forward to living with this tea very much.

[Sample acquired at Mariage Frères in London, May 2013.]

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

Some people find cloves are overpowering the entire blend ,I’m happy to read you don’t find the cloves too present in Pleine Lune, this is the experience I have as well with this tea which is my favourite since a long time now.

Anna

Interesting – I never closely read others’ reviews if they’re about a tea I really want to try, and in this case I forgot about it entirely. I found no clove-ishness at all, just that very light note of cinnamon.

Anna

(And now I have to go read all the reviews! Thank you for the reminder.)

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40

This is tea #2 from the selection of four I first talked about in this post: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/184829

The scent is fairly subtle, half grassy and half freeze-dried strawberry. The tea itself is rolled oolong; I tend to find the leafy kind more soothing – all that rolling-out action reminds me of Alien, but I digress.

The tea tastes of… tea. Not displeasing, but completely anonymous. It leaves me with no lasting impression at all and no distinct notes to pick out.

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

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

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65
drank Raspberry Mint Herbal by Teavana
300 tasting notes

I very rarely acquire teas I don’t know I will at least enjoy to some degree – I know what I like, buy nothing un-sniffed, and my nose rarely deceives me. So when I hit the post-Christmas Teavana sale and found a couple of super cheap, much-needed thermoses, I seriously tried to haggle my way out of the four (2 oz./56 g.) gift canisters included in the gift set. ‘You can just knock off another $5!’ Obviously, Teavana being what it is, I had no luck. (Incredibly, however, the included teas were NOT overmeasured! A miracle!)

Accordingly, it is with some trepidation I now set about trying these. The first one is the Raspberry Mint Herbal Blend, the ‘night’ tea of the bunch. (There’s also the Soothing Strawberry Oolong for dusk, the Golden Needle Black Tea for noon, and the Samurai Chai Maté for dawn.)

I love the scent of the dry tea. I rarely go for straight-up raspberry teas, as they often tend to be unbalanced and a little too tart for my tastes. I’m also not overly enthusiastic about mint teas. Combined, however, this has some promise – at least nose wise.

The first taste of the blend is actually really good. It doesn’t quite live up to the lush ripeness suggested by the scent, but it’s nicely rounded off. As it cools, however, the familiar raspberry tartness becomes far more dominant and overpowers the mint/berry harmony entirely, which is a shame.

Cooling it de-tarts it almost entirely, but leaves it tasting more or less like artificially sweetened, watered out lemonade. No.

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

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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85
drank White Temple tea by A C Perch's
300 tasting notes

When I bought this, I got the tea in a paper bag, as per A.C. Perch’s usual routine. At Kastrup airport, my whole carry-on smelled like a ‘Caribbean whorehouse’, according to the security guy, who looked like he knew what he was talking about. The tea proceeded to invade my kitchen cabinet for more than a week, even after I put it in a tightly sealed plastic bag (I was out of canisters! Stop looking at me like that!). I do love a richly scented tea, but this over-the-top fruit explosion just seemed too artificial. It reminded me of those crazy technicolour infusions you get at Apostrophe (UK) or Argo (US).

Since those initial doubts, I have proceeded to treat this tea very badly, by continuously ignoring the ‘steep for 8-10 minutes’ directions. Let’s just say shorter steeping times suit my current schedule better. Today, however, I tried the 8 minutes. The difference isn’t huge, to be honest. It gets significantly darker and exhibits a slightly bitter aftertaste I’m not used to. The general body of the taste, however, doesn’t really change. This is a fairly simple tea, both scent wise, in the bag, and taste wise, in the cup – to me, both amount to a nicely balanced tropical fruitness, but picking out individual notes is a challenge. It’s tropical. It’s fruity. And that’s it.

Still, I’m very pleased with it. It’s easy to drink, works well to re-steep (at least if the initial steeping time isn’t so long, otherwise it tends to lose too much flavour) and I enjoy it very much cold – I’ve kept a big pitcher in the fridge for the past week. Drinking it cold (and steeped for a shorter period of time) brings out more character and complexity. A definite summer staple for me.

[Purchased at A.C. Perch’s in Copenhagen, June 2013.]

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 8 min or more

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70
drank Ofelia by Sing Tehus
300 tasting notes

Smelling the dry tea, what I pick up more than anything is apricot and a hint of cornflower. Both scent- and flavour wise, it’s a fairly mild tea, and has none of the oily pungency I’ve experienced in many other floral and/or fruity blacks. This mildness, however, robs the cup of much of the personality found in the bag, in my opinion.

I’m sure this is a perfect black tea for someone with a more refined palate, or someone looking for a fairly subtly flavoured black. As for me, though, Ofelia only partially delivers what I want from this type of tea – complexity of flavour, originality and a lot of personality.

I didn’t bother re-steeping this time around; I wanted something else.

[Purchased at Sing Tehus in Copenhagen, June 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

I saw you posting in the debugging thread and followed you. I find it interesting that you are posting where you brought the tea at and when. And I’m curious about your travels this summer now ?

Anna

Thank you for finding me – I’m so happy to see someone who actually loves rooibos! I look forward to reading your notes more closely.

Haha, yeah – we recently bought a new apartment and since most of July and August were going to be a complete mess (we’re trying to merge four different storage units/houses/apartments into one, basically) we decided to squeeze all our vacationing into one big block. So first we went to Tel Aviv for a bit and then Copenhagen and then we had one day to repack and then we hit Japan. It was hectic, but lots of fun.

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85

This is a fairly sophisticated rooibos. The berry flavour is very prominent nose wise, but the tea itself tastes far more of (bitter) almond, in my opinion. It’s a nice, full flavour, though it seems to kick in the most by far in the aftertaste. There’s a creamy vanillaesque roundness to top it all off. I really wish the distinct blood orange note that carries through so strongly scent wise would be more noticeable (or rather noticeable at all) in the cup.

Completely pointless re-steep; smells and tastes of nothing but generic rooibos dregs.

[Purchased at Le Palais des Thés in Tel Aviv, June 2013.]

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Momo Oolong Super Grade by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

This is a very lovely Lupicia oolong. It has just the right balance of fruity and floral. The peach is definitely present and noticeable, but not overbearing. For me, the first taste is more complex, while the peach note is what lingers.

Works well to re-steep; triple steep, however, not so much.

This is another one I really have to try cold.

[Purchased at Lupicia in Kyoto, July 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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75
drank Vive le thé! by Le Palais des Thes
300 tasting notes

Unsurprisingly, this reminds me of another ginger-lemon green tea – the one by Kusmi. Maybe I’m just more used to that one, but this packs less punch and seems flatter and less complex in terms of taste. The dry tea is beautiful to look at, though, and smells very good – two areas in which Kusmi fail to deliver. This is a very fair ginger-lemon tea, and I have a feeling it’ll grow on me.

I usually stick to 1.5 minutes steeping time for greens, but I went with the 3-minute suggestion on the bag for this one, and there was no hint of bitterness.

Flavour wise, not significantly weaker re-steeped.

[Sample from Le Palais des Thés in Tel Aviv, June 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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95
drank Bravissimo! by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

This is not a typical Lupicia tea to me – generally, I find them (I only buy their fruity teas) simple, but yet perfectly balanced in terms of flavouring. Bravissimo!, however, strikes me as fairly complex. I really love everything about it, from the appearance (lush with flower buds) and scent (floral, berryful) of the dry tea, to the initial flavour, and then finally to the aftertaste, which adds yet another note that lingers beautifully. It’s not really similar to any other tea I have tried, and it’s my absolute favourite at the moment.

The only negative aspect, really, is the significant loss of flavour when I re-steep.

I should try this cold, but I fear I’ll be all out by the time I get around to it.

[Purchased at Lupicia in Kyoto, July 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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70

This tea smells absolutely gorgeous dry, but this doesn’t really translate to the cup. However, I do prefer the very natural, albeit subtle, vanilla flavour to something artificial that’s more present. For me, this can be summed up as a very basic and plain green tea with hints of vanilla that almost completely disappear after a re-steep.

So I find myself still looking for a green tea with a flavour that better matches the scent of Les Palais des Thés’ Thé vert à la vanille – rich and warm, with a hint of caramel.

[Purchased at Le Palais des Thés in Tel Aviv, June 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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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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