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258 Tasting Notes

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

We had all the foods, me and Em, we really did. Also possibly all the drinks.

Then we had this tea.

And now I need some sleep.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 7 min, 0 sec
__Morgana__

All + 1. Awesome. :-)

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95
drank Pleine Lune by Mariage Frères
258 tasting notes

Just one more cup before I run off – and as always, this makes for a flawless one.

I have a little more than half of this tin left, which makes me ponder the logistics of tea storage. I mean, I have a lot in my cupboard now, which I assume is typical for this stage of tea obsession – you tend to overbuy once you get completely hooked, because you want to explore certain brands and tea types.

There are definitely numerous new teas I’d like to try now, too, but I’d really prefer to have a cupboard consisting only of teas rated 80+ before I get anything else. However, that’s roughly 1/4 of the 100+ teas currently in my cupboard, which means I’d have to finish 3/4 of all the tea I own before I buy more. I don’t see that happening, even though I have not yet purchased any tea this year, which is quite a feat in itself.

I really like when there’s a system, though. I need a system.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec
keychange

Oh god, I need a system, too. I don’t seem to have a system for anything. Like when I order new tea, I don’t have a system for when I’ll open each tin: do I open them all at once? finish one before visiting the next? open two or three at a time and cycle through? what if I open one or two and don’t like them? can I move on? aaahhhh!

Sil

i have a quasi system…it’s mostly working lol but i think i need to sit down and figure something better out haha

keychange

do share, sil! inspire us!

Sil

Maybe when I geta. Second to breath!!! First day back at work is insane!

Anna

We clearly.
Need.
A system.

gmathis

Nah, organization takes all the fun out of it.

Anna

Organization amps the fun up for me!

Sil

i’m with anna haha

keychange

Yeah, organization gives me hope…and a nice concrete plan for buying more tea! although this is no claim to being an organized person: I am not one.

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85
drank Momo Oolong Super Grade by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

I cold-steeped some in the fridge over two days – I’ve found if I do less leaf/more time, it’s more flavourful and definitely sweeter. That sounded scientific, right? Obviously, I just forgot I even had the pitcher in there last time around. But hey, that’s how we got champagne! (I know, I know, it’s just a legend.)

First tea of birthday week! I’m only going to drink my faves.

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more
mars1

a whole for your birthday? Looks like someone is really special.

Anna

You mean a whole week? It’s something I started doing when I turned 30. More years HAVE to entitle me to more fun, right? So it’s more ’I’m really old’ than, ’I’m really special.’

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65
drank Raspberry Mint Herbal by Teavana
258 tasting notes

The tins for these four gift teas are so pretty, but since they’re plastered with the name of the tea they’re pretty much useless for anything else. That always rubs me the wrong way. What do you expect me to do with these tins when I’m done with them, Teavana?

Anyway, I’m trying to get into the habit of drinking something warm before I go to bed, and as I find sleeping very pleasant, I figured decaf herbals would be a good idea for this time of the year. Rooibos isn’t very springful to me.

I’d like something marshmallowy and vanilla-esque, maybe fruity? I’ll look for forum hits later – I figure there have to be at least a few threads on herbals.

Anyway, this is still pretty nice, but the tartness continues to make me a little squinty.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
keychange

I have also wanted to get into the habit of drinking something warm before bed, and I still want to, but getting up to pee in the middle of the night is so annoying.

Anna

I was going to write, ‘Oh, I never pee.’ but that would be inaccurate. I have a magical bladder, though. Surprisingly helpful – so very little have-to-find-a-restroom stress in my life.

keychange

You know, it’s funny you mention this magical bladder, because mine tends to be that way also—although mine isn’t so much magic as it is that I probably don’t drink enough-because I pee like three times a day and apparently that’s messed up. Late night tea drinking may be my undoing, though.

cteresa

Put washi tape in layers over the tins. Or paste Japanese paper or other pretty papers. No wasted tins around here.

pyarkaaloo

i hear you on tartness & feeling ‘squinty’. i just had a blueberry superfruit tea by Stash. very hibiscus.

if you’re looking for marshmallows & herbals, Teavana actually just released Marshmallow Macaron (herbal). have you heard of it? it also has fruits. ingredients: apple, raisin, papaya, toasted coconut, creamy marshmallow, hibiscus (uh-oh!) & orange. from what i’m able to gather.

gmathis

Along with Dr. Sheldon Cooper, I can confirm that repeating “I am the master of my own bladder” is ineffective. (Especially from midlife forward. You all have so much fun to look forward to!)

pyarkaaloo

i love Sheldon!!

Anna

pyarkaaloo – Thanks! Yes, I’ve read some reviews and I’d consider trying it out. However, considering how quick Teavana’s product turnover is, it most probably won’t be something I can rely on to remain in stock. Plus, and more importantly, no Teavana in Europe.

Anna

gmathis – Hahaha, thank you for putting some pep in my step this Birthday Week. It’s always good to know there are still body surprises to look forward to.

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85
drank Ume Vert by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

The amaretto discussion we had in CrowKettle’s comment field for this post: http://steepster.com/CrowKettle/posts/227481 made me think of Ume Vert. This really is all bitter-almondy plum pits and tongue-tip plum tartness and I still love it. A lot of people seem to have enjoyed it iced. It’s not the first choice I’d think of, but I guess I have to try now.

Cold, crisp, plum pit almonds?

We’ll see.

Knocking this down five points because it doesn’t age as well as Lupicia’s less subtle teas.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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70

I had dinner at The Gage in Chicago some time in October-November last year, and I was excited to see they actually had loose leaf tea on their dessert menu. I don’t remember what I had for dessert, but I do remember the tea, mainly because I brought some home with me.

This was because they served it in a teapot without a strainer. A green tea. A 2-3 cup teapot. Generous, for sure, but imagine the bitterness of the second cup, not to mention the third. I obviously didn’t have more than one, then flagged down our waiter and asked him why they were torturing their tea like that. I asked for some to bring home, and he was incredulous, because he wanted to comp a dessert, and I was like but the desserts were fine, I want tea.

What I also wanted was for them to stop serving the tea in that inane manner, and he promised they’d fix it. So dear Ji Yoon, Executive Pastry Chef – I will check up on you next time I’m in town. Oh, when will that be, you ask? The answer to that is always, sooner than you think.

A while back, I compared this to a tea by Comptoir, reviewed here: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/212008. The blood orange tea has more of a metallic/mineral tang to it, both nose wise and flavour wise, but it comes off as an aspect of the citrus, and doesn’t bother me at all in this case.

My two favourite citrus teas are the mandarine tea by Comptoir linked above, and Lupicia’s Grapefruit Green. The latter is characterized by Lupicia’s typical perfect pitch in terms of flavouring, whereas the mandarine tea is multi-faceted, well-balanced and overall just very well-executed.

This one comes off dustier and darker, but also, somehow, more exquisite than the other two. Lupicia are always so playful, so completely super fruity (yet without ever being artificial) and the mandarine tea is very French, very elegant and well put together. Being a mid-price-range restaurant tea, this logically can’t be that fine, but it does a very good job convincing me that it is.

That much said, I’d prefer some more personality and complexity – this is a very pleasing cup, but I don’t grieve not having more than six or so cups’ worth of leaf.

[Sample picked up at The Gage in Chicago, fall 2013.]

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Jennkay

I had a similar experience a few days ago where my sencha was served in a teapot without a strainer. Bitter bitter bitter, sigh.

keychange

I need to try this grapefruit green, even though I typically despise everything ‘grapefruit’

Anna

If you don’t like grapefruit, don’t try it, unless it’s for science. It’s like drinking a grapefruit, if tea were a fruit, or fruit a tea, or whatever.

keychange

Oh ok, good to know. I like the way it smells but often find it too bitter.

Anna

Right, yeah – I stand by my review. (http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/199758) Just the right amount of bitterness. If you put your usual sugar in it, it should be completely lush.

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75
drank Thé du Hammam by Le Palais des Thes
258 tasting notes

This poor tea – it’s been offered to guests on numerous occasions, and swapped, and I have snuck an un-Steepstered cup on occasion. There’s not that much left now, and this is only the second tasting note for it.

The shame.

I’m so on the fence about Palais des Thés. I know they’re not even comparably as high quality as Mariage Frères. MF have such excellent base teas, and such exuberantly debauched flavour profiles that it’s not even a fair comparison.

But when I just want a simple, comforting cup, I admit I go with PdT more often. Because MF’s teas are demanding – all head games, smoke and mirrors. PdT’s teas, on the other hand, are simple, accessible, predictable.

And I just turned into Gone Girl’s Nick Dunne, didn’t I?

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
keychange

That book was so messed up, eh?

TheTeaFairy

Aww, poor tea…don,t worry, I had it once as a sample and I’m pretty sure I gave it some love, lol.
Funny, I was just discussing Gone Girl yesterday with a friend. Haven’t read it yet but I hear the calling, it’s screaming at me “read me, read me”. Did you like it?

Anna

You should definitely read Gone Girl, The Expats and The Silent Wife and make a book circle out of it.

The Expats is very well-written, GG has less polished language and less elegance of plot – but is far more commercial and action-oriented plot/language wise. (And is hence the bigger commercial success.)

Crassly, The Silent Wife mostly coattailed off Gone Girl’s momentum (sadly, considering how long it took her to finish it) and, even more crassly, books by a recently-dead author always gain some extra momentum.

TheTeaFairy

Thanks for the suggestions Anna, will keep in mind :-)

Christina

For me, the real strength of GG was the characterization. Both in the fact that the two main characters were horrible people, but that they stay horrible while changing in compelling and believable ways. /So/ glad I didn’t read it until after I got married.

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100
drank Cookie by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

So French Lupicia ship all over Europe now, which makes life a little easier. But just somewhat, because they have changed all the tea names, so you have to play detective to find the right ones. Also they have this completely un-Lupicia website, all clean and proper.

What they don’t have, however, is Cookie.

I don’t blame them – I doubt it would be a hit with the French palate. It’s quirky, which would work, but not quirky-elegant – and to not be elegant? Is there a greater sin?

For every sip of this, it just gets better, right down to the bottom of the cup. As usual, I can’t quite find the words to tell you how much I love this. I’m just going to drink it and be quiet.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
keychange

They also don’t ship to Canada, which is the greatest sin of all.

Anna

Yeah, I don’t even know what that’s about. You’re right there.

Rosehips

Yay, you got some cookie!

Anna

Totally cookied up now.

Stephanie

You guys are making me want to try the cookie :)

Anna

It’s safer not to. You will forever be craving the cookie.

Stephanie

HAHA! Good call ;)

Angrboda

And yet, I notice you’ve sent some of it to me, you fiend… eyes Yet To Try Box warily

Anna

Yeah, but that’s totally safe, Angface. You know my likes are your dislikes and vice versa!

Crystal O.

The best tea, my fav tea.

Anna

Crystal, I would share my last-ever Cookie with you if it ever came to that. I would.

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50
drank Green Darjeeling by Kusmi Tea
258 tasting notes

Okay, so darjeeling can be black, white, oolong or green, allegedly – this is a green. I find this whole thing somewhat confusing, since darjeelings always seem to be marketed as black teas even when they’re green or oolongy (I’ve never come across a white).

Let me just say how much I love this lounge for stocking Kusmi. I usually pick up a bag of lemon ginger to drink on my flight, and I’m so grateful they have something other than the eternal chamomile-or-EG on offer. (However, I need to figure out if there are any lounges that offer Mariage Frères and then try to weasel my way into one of those.)

This sample bag isn’t very old, but it’s so subtle it might just as well have been ancient, mummified tea. This sounds weird, but if this had had a flavour, it would have been a pretty good flavour. That is, what I detect is very, very, very subtle, but it’s definitely pleasant. Like a nicely vegetal, unflavoured green.

I will definitely pick up another one of these and try again.

[Bag snagged at the CPH lounge, Copenhagen, winter 2013]
[Bag polished off in Rome, February 2014.]

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

Maybe blasphemy to your normal habits but try adding just a hint of your favorite sweetener. Usually for me this brings all sorts of notes out of hiding.

Anna

It’s not blasphemy, I have frequently considered trying a specific tea with additions, but the problem is that I never have cream or milk at home – and here in Rome I neither have those, nor any sugar. There literally is no form of sweetener in this apartment. :P

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45
drank Afternoon Tea by Lupicia
258 tasting notes

Let me state right from the start I am really not the target audience for this tea. Unflavoured blacks are the hardest ones for me to stomach overall, and even though I’m still in the process of trying to figure out which base teas I actually like (considering I only come across them in flavoured blends) I do know I possibly take issue with darjeeling. Or assam. But I think darjeeling is the actual problem. And seeing as this is apparently a darjeeling-assam blend, all bets are off.

But hey, it was a free Lupicia sample bag, so how could I say no? Maybe if Lupicia were more readily available to me I’d feel I could afford a more cavalier attitude, but now it’s more like give me a free sample any sample I will perform tricks for samples okay just give me all the samples please come on I will sing for you and babysit although I can’t sing and loathe children please samples.

Scent wise, it’s just a bag of meh. Just black tea. That black tea scent. Same in the cup. It’s like that peppermint tea from Bluebird I tried the other day – I wish I liked this kind of tea, and this really is a fair cup of this kind of tea, so it honestly is all on me – but no.

I just don’t.

[Sample from my Lupicia spree at Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara, October 2013.]
[Sample polished off in Rome, February 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec
Terri HarpLady

I am the opposite of you, in that I tend to detest a lot of flavored teas, in part because I have reactions to some flavorings, especially the artificial ones. However, I do enjoy some flavored teas, sometimes. We can both agree in not being big fans of darjeeling, however, & I personally don’t care for ceylon. I do agree on samples though! :D

Anna

Aw, right – I remember reading you had a reaction to Momoko (also from Lupicia) which made me sad. That would definitely make me detest flavoured teas, too. But hey, I’m on a quest to try to figure out unflavoured greens a little better and it’s going pretty good so far. I’m sure I’ll be all gong-fu/pu’erh madness quite soon if I keep hanging out with you guys, haha.

Terri HarpLady

Hahaha, no doubt. One of my very first posts on steepster started with, “I need a Gaiwan”. Before I joined, I’d never even heard of one. I’d seen them somewhere, & I’d seen yixing pots & thought to myself, “Well, that’s ridiculously small, but adorable. Doesn’t hold much tea though.” Now I have 5 Gaiwans (why??) & 4 tiny teapots. And other teapots, many of which I already had. And lots of cups, & way too much tea. But I use them all, & will probably have more before it’s over with. Everyone has to have a hobby, right? :)

Anna

Hahaha, that’s so Steepster. I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t consider tea your typical equipment-heavy hobby. Little do they know.

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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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