300 Tasting Notes
This is illicit library tea. Before anyone gets on my case, please know that the tea is on the windowsill, FAR away from any books and/or my desk. And I create far less of a disturbance this way than by running between the library and my apartment every time I need to have some tea. Okay? Okay. (But whatever you do, don’t tell the in-house librarians.)
Last time I reviewed this, I said I’d probably adjust this upwards rather than downwards, if I were to change the rating. And I was right – after a week of being completely spoiled by all those new Lupicia teas from my lupicia.fr order, it was probably difficult to review this one independently like the shiny gem it is.
Again, scent wise, this is sheer happiness, all plum candy and sweetness. In the cup, there’s the added element of creamy, smooth vanilla – I know I’ve compared the Kiwi Vanilla from Kränku to a liquid version of kiwi fool, and this is definitely similar.
I would like to nudge this up another five after revisiting it, but I’m excited about trying it iced, too, so I think I’ll wait until then.
I wish I had been more elaborate about picking my voting day tea – this is not like me at all. But it was hard – I mean, what does civic duty taste like? So I just picked the black tea that smelled most appealing this morning, and, apparently, civic duty tastes like Studio 54, which I guess makes sense.
There were ticket inspectors on the tram! I’ve heard of that happening, but never witnessed it. So me and F, who came along to hit up the Swedish embassy with me, got to show our crisp, newly stamped and fully legit tickets while numerous Romans threw loud hissyfits around us, because that simply wasn’t acceptable, expecting them to cough up tram fare like that. Monday! Who pays on a Monday?! &c.
I had this with a breakfasty fruit plate and some almond butter, and it was surprisingly good with it. I usually drink fruity/floral greens and whites with fruit, but this tea brought some kind of deep, smooth caramel note to the plate (HA! I wasn’t even trying!) that was really nice and unexpected.
If I had to pick one of my basic black German blends to restock, this would be the one.
I’ve been working most of the weekend, so I figured I’d take some time off before bed and watch a movie and drink a cup of tea. In terms of the tea, I’m trying to be a good decaffeinated Anna and drink my rooibos. I chose this, because it’s so luxurious and smooth and always hits the spot for me. I honestly think this might end up being a restock when I finally manage to clean out my tea stash.
As for the film, well. May I say I’ve been having the most amazing time so far – there’s roughly a quarter of an hour left of this masterpiece, and even though I was quite late to this particular party and have indeed been exposed to much of the hype, I am not disappointed. It’s such a privilege to get to watch one of the actors you adored growing up in the role of a lifetime. From teen heartthrob to this – a deeply conflicted individual, struggling to reach out to his estranged family in a time of overwhelming hardship. The enemies this man faces. The obstacles. Not to mention the stunning visuals. Finally, may I say how rare it is that I watch a movie and am consistently surprised at every twist and turn – I doubt I have leaned forward in sheer awe this many times during a screening before.
Seriously – don’t miss it; unless you’ve already seen Sharknado, hunt it down this instant.
After all this talk of Lupicia’s Melon White I obviously had to have a cup. (TeaFairy, I hold you entirely responsible for this.)
Hilariously, in my latest review of this tea, I commented that I could probably dump 300 degree water on it, and it would still taste perfect. I’ve tried steeping Lupicia’s greens and whites in various temp/steep time constellations just for kicks, and in my opinion, their flavoured greens and whites underperform at lower temperatures. The strength and complexity of flavour diminish, there is the occasional weird aftertaste, and more often than not, the kind of bitterness I generally associate with temperatures being too high rather than too low.
But what I think is really cool is that these teas seem to be so resilient and flexible – this one is a good example – I mean, there are stellar reviews with steeping temps and times covering the full ranges between 100 and 70 degrees, and 1.5 and 11-something minutes.
To be fair, how many teas perform so consistently? In my cupboard there are only a few aside from Lupicia, particularly in terms of greens and whites.
Either way, this is as melony as ever, but not as delicious as the oolong. I miss the wildcard ripeness of the oolong in this one – it lacks a little bit of punch. I’m going to experiment with this one a bit more when I get home, though – I’m pretty sure I use very little leaf compared to most people (probably because I’m overcompensating for a long time of overleafing everything) so I’m going to get one of those fancy little scales so I can be more scientific about the whole thing.
Also, I seriously need to try this iced sometime very very soon.
Every time I pick this up again, I’m all like, ‘I know I rated this a solid 95, but seriously, how good can it be?’ and then I smell it and I’m all, ‘Oh, right, it’s this one.’ and then I steep it and drink it and it’s just so insanely good. The florals are complex and beautifully balanced without ever becoming overpowering or cloying.
I stumbled over a tasting note by a user who’d mostly been reviewing Lupicia teas – it said that the biggest problem with Lupicia was that they recommend boiling water for all their teas… and that any true tea drinker (whatever that is) would know this to be incorrect.
Since so many of my followers find me through my Lupicia tasting notes, and since so many people ask me about Lupicia because I am, obviously, the undisputed #1 Lupicia fangirl (Those pesky Canadians are catching up, though, I have to watch that.) around here, I feel I have to stress this again, because it keeps coming up.
The biggest problem with Lupicia is not the above. It is that prejudiced tea drinkers insist on either ignoring Lupicia’s steeping instructions and hence, in many cases, get a lesser result and/or question Lupicia’s know-how due to these steeping instructions to the extent that many avoid the company altogether.
(Also that their teas are delicious, irresistible and will eventually ruin you, because once you’re hooked, you’re hooked.)
Numerous unnamed tea-litist people have approached me and told me they definitely aren’t going to drink sub-par Lupicia teas because a company that suggests boiling water for a green tea is surely run by amateurs and why am I so excited about their teas since I clearly don’t approve of Teavana and their ilk? (This is particularly hilarious, seeing as Lupicia are Japanese, not American, as most of these people have assumed.)
So no – Lupicia know what they’re doing. Strangely, so do A.C. Perchs when they recommend 11-minute steeping times for some of their teas. And those teas were weird, yet tasty experiences I wouldn’t have had if I’d stubbornly insisted on misguided tea snobbery.
As for the above user, I challenged her to try temporarily dropping that whole all green teas are the same prejudice and to following the steeping instructions, just to see what it was like. (Let’s hope for squees of delight rather than hate mail.)
To sum this up – Bravissimo! is one insanely tasty tea, especially steeped for 1.5 minutes in boiling water.
I’m not reviewing much lately – more than anything, it’s because I currently produce so much text on a daily basis that writing more feels like a chore, plus Steepster has been a bit wonky lately. Not to mention the fact that I just haven’t been drinking that much tea at all. I’ve had exactly this: one pot of Forgeron & Blanc’s jasmine, plus one cup of the same, one pot of the Kiwi Vanilla from Kränku, plus one cup of the same, plus one more cold-steeped pitcher (it’s all been very kiwi around here), and one pot of Mariage Frères’ Thé des Impréssionistes.
Then when I was in Turkey, I brought two bags from Le Palais des Thés because I didn’t check any luggage (please take a moment to be in awe of this accomplishment) and they’re not in tins and a good size for my carry-on. (Some of you asked what I named that very bag ages ago, and I forgot to respond – it is known as The Great Otter, because that’s what it looks like – dark, fat and sleek, yet with a surprising air of delicacy. In addition it swallows anything and is fine with getting wet. Ergo – otterbag.)
So then I had some of the Thé du Hammam rooibos with some new tea frens, and then the Green Vanilla for breakfast every day. And, of course, every day the breakfast guy at the Richmond laughed at me because I didn’t know how to make Turkish tea (the actual tea pot is balanced atop the hot water dispenser and then you dilute it as much as you want) and then I had to demonstrate the delights of green tea and much sniffing and oohing and aahing ensued. I hope it wasn’t the same guy every day, but I honestly couldn’t tell and maybe we were just playing a really funny game and I didn’t even realize.
And then obviously the compulsory apple tea, but that’s not really tea as much as super-sugary granules. And, finally, the amazing new addition to the airport lounge – a tea garden, where I had something like six pots of garnet, jasmine, carnation, and whatever else they had in terms of tea. They had little individual tetsubins! (Tetsubi?) I was there for hours.
Now I’m back in Rome, though, trying to get back into the habit of… habits. This is a reliable Lupicia green – fresh, natural-tasting and delicious. I put some in the fridge to cold steep while I was at it. Again, I’m impressed by how well Lupicia’s greens age – I can’t really tell any major difference between the ones I got in 2012 and 2013, and a full year’s worth of storage can really make a difference for some teas, in my experience. Yet another reason to love Lupicia.
You and me, Lupi – forever.
I’ve always thought I would try this cold-steeped (I know one of my notes says I tried it ‘chilled’, but that’s just fancy speak for ‘I forgot my cup and when I picked it up again the tea was cold’) and now I finally have.
I left it for about 12 hours in the fridge, and it was disturbingly foamy when I took it out. Foamy and opaque. I think the most appropriate word would be ‘pondy’ – frog noises would not have been surprising.
Flavour wise, though, this cold steep makes me kick this one up the last magic five points. This is the ultimate iced tea, and I seriously cannot praise it enough. Just a pinch of sugar, and this would be the most perfect summer lemonade. I need this tea in my cupboard forever.
Congratulations, kiwi vanilla. You’re hired. I love you.
When we were at Dagnino this weekend, I also picked up some samples (and possibly a tin of something, but I will admit to nothing). They sell single bags for €1, which is pretty fair if you just want to try something out. I’ve always been curious about this one, and I’ve been craving rooibos lately (clearly something is wrong) so I grabbed it.
The bag smells of vanilla, however not the vanilla of MF’s Black Vanilla – something even subtler and lightly spicy. I’m still on the lookout for that true, boozy, rich Bourbon vanilla I had hoped for in the black tea, but this is a step back, more than anything. Flavour wise, this is pure gingerbread to me. Vanilla? No. Cloves. That’s all the sweetspicyness amounts to for me. This is a little frustrating, as gingerbread and individual gingerbread spices are some of the all-time worst flavours for me.
What saves this one, though, is the caramelly vanilla notes right at the end of the sip. This is what lingers, and it’s pretty comforting. I’m drinking this in bed, and it makes me want to wear my mom-knit socks and be all autumnal.
This one is not for me, though, in spite of the fair rooibos and endsippage noms.
[Sample bag picked up at Dagnino in Rome, April 2014.]
[Polished off in Rome, April 2014.]
This is the second Tazo tea I picked up. It was actually the smell of this that made me look more closely at the box… because it smelled so strongly of artificial orange candy that I suspected for a moment I’d misread completely.
Who writes this copy.
Who are you people.
This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. It’s so over-the-top pretentious it’s offensive. Also sucky, sucky prose; please enjoy this gem: “Explore lemongrass lawns, carpets of chamomile and the living history of your ancestors.” I guess someone graduated from Alliteration U summa cum laude. And whose ancestors would that be? Are they somehow connected to the great tradition of child slave labour on tea plantations? So lofty! So spiritual! Let’s all pose in First Nations headdresses and bindis together!
The tea is… not quite as bad as its product copy. The vile orange is mostly gone in the cup, but Tazo’s apricot flavouring leaves a lot to be desired. The promised vanilla is nowhere to be found and there is a weird, filmy aftertaste that makes me think of Tang powder.
Tazo, I think I have some random tea bags I’ve picked up here and there, but when I’m done with those, I’m done with you.
[Picked up at Whole Foods in NOLA, March 2014.]
I did score some tea when I was in NOLA. Two kinds of Tazo from Whole Foods, three loose leafs from a local tea shop, and one bag of Intelligentsia’s jasmine (at O’Hare, but it counts). This is the first Tazo – I figured it would be nice to have some easily drunk bagged greens for travel, so this was an experiment.
These are not so ideal for travel, though – the little envelopes are paper, which always irks me. Paper is fine as long as there’s also an outer layer of plastic – however pointless and wasteful – but I do prefer just plastic. (Kusmi have it down for sure; great, pretty plastic envelopes, and really lovely tea bags inside.) In addition, with a recommended steeping temperature of 80 degrees C, this is a little too finicky for travel water.
In the bag, this smells of nothing. Steeped, this also smells of nothing. Possibly a slight whiff of cucumber, but it’s more reminiscent of zucchini, seeing as I so rarely come across warm cucumber. Flavour wise, I don’t get any peach whatsoever, only a somewhat fishy vegetal flavour presence that doesn’t really linger. I assumed this would be a plain green (you know, with a name like ‘Peachy Green’, but clearly I’m just not paranoid enough) but it is, in fact a green-black blend. This would explain the slight fishiness, if nothing else.
This isn’t unpalatable, but mostly because it just doesn’t have enough flavour to have personality. It’s fairly unoffensive and definitely something I will try to cold steep, or drink with food. However, it’s quite far from the perfect, peachy green travel tea I was looking for.
ETA: When it cools, it acquires a round sweetness that is quite pleasing and does carry some small peachy note. +5
[Picked up at Whole Foods in NOLA, March 2014.]