300 Tasting Notes

60
drank Peach Oolong by Adagio Teas
300 tasting notes

Okay, so I finally get around to this – this is from my swap with Kat_Maria, who spoiled me insanely. I mean, I can’t even. No. She sent me EVERY TEA IN THE WORLD. And so much stuff for Project Green and Project Jasmine and Project Peach, I don’t even know how to thank her, except offer to be her European tea dealer for life.

This is a bag – the dry tea smells lovely, and it reminds me of Lupicia’s discontinued Apricot Houji, but with a much rounder, sweeter finish. I was a little surprised to see the suggested steeping time was 5 minutes, with boiling water – I’m used to fairly green oolongs that steep 2 minutes or less. I assume that gives that this is a blacker oolong than what I’m used to, and both in scent and taste this does come off very black to me.

I’m so grateful to Kat_Maria for including this – I have very little experience with Adagio and have been considering placing an order. This sounded like a given Anna tea, but after being presented with the opportunity to sample this beforehand, I won’t include it in my order. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a very good blackish oolong, and the balance of the peach and the tea is very well executed. The peach (a fairly soft, apricoty peach) is present throughout the sip and lingers nicely. And yet, it’s just too black to be oolongy enough for me.

If it were only greener.

[From my swap with Kat_Maria, Rome, March 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

Fellow peach lover: My apricot & peach trees have been blooming, & we shall see if I actually get to eat very many fruits. There was, of course, a late frost, which tends to scar them (at best), so time will tell…

Anna

I look forward to updates! I have a hard time imagining anything more satisfying than having a huge stash of peach/apricot preserves of various kinds from one’s own trees.

Terri HarpLady

Yeah…it rarely works out that way! If I were into eating squirrel, maybe I’d get to eat more peaches. There is, unfortunately, no way to keep them away from the trees. But I do usually get to eat some of them, so fresh & juicy.
I have the same issues with the neighborhood birds regarding my berry bushes, but at least they are well fed. This year I’m planting kiwi vine, more red grapes, 3 colors of currants, & 4 elderberry bushes! I used to have a huge strawberry patch. Everybody was thrilled for the first few days of strawberry season, but then I had them out there, twice a day at times, picking strawberries, which I froze. I let the patch go, it was just too big. I need to start a smaller patch, maybe this year, & keep it manageable!

TeaExplorer

We also keep the local wildlife well-fed with our various fruit trees. We usually manage to get a couple of armloads from each one during a season. Except from the fig tree. The raccoons eat the figs like they were crack. I think we’ve had two figs in all the years that tree has been there. And our cats are way too busy power-napping to be bothered defending their territory. Oh well … such is the balance of life. No sense stressing when there are genuine things to worry about.

Greg_2tea

Peach adagio is a pretty high quality, I had it from some gourmet grocer in Lexington, when I was in Pharmacy college, much adored, but alas, it was not peach season, and my appreciation for peach dwindled. I think we all would have liked to try your strawberry

Terri HarpLady

TeaX, I really want a fig tree, there is nothing like fresh figs! My gramma had a fig tree, along with a bunch of other fruit trees. She made tons of preserves, with my favorites being figs in a thick syrup (so awesome on lavishly buttered toast!), & the spices apricots. Of course, I can’t actually have sweets much (or toast, dammit), so if I ever reallyl have an amazingly productive year, I’m not sure what I’ll do with all this stuff, but I sure love growing it!

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70
drank Jasmin Chung Hao by Forgeron & Blanc
300 tasting notes

This one has grown on me a little bit, to be honest – it smells so completely delicious and I find more complexity in it flavour wise, too. At the same time, it’s hard to tell to what extent this is a quality tea – maybe it’s just bells and whistles and I’m falling for it. I mean – German tea companies, who can take them seriously? (Yes, I said that in a heavy French accent.)

I had another jasmin tea this weekend (my friend Em embarked upon her very first Birthday Week; decadence reigned) the Jasmin Mandarin from Mariage Frères, expertly served, as always, by the lovely staff at Dagnino. It’s such a great place to enjoy tea and dessert – their cassata is out of this world. But I digress – I will pick up some Jasmin Mandarin and give it a fair review at a later date… and wait patiently for dessertster.com for the full cassata write-up.

This cup, though, is pleasantly floral and without bitterness, in spite of the fact that I was distracted and brewed it a little too hot, Lupicia style. I’m having some kind of late morning snack consisting of fruit and almond butter. The latter is so good and I wish I’d picked up a couple more jars at Whole Foods in NOLA. But I felt a need to check out how organic and responsible Justin’s actually were – nothing ticks me off more than pretend organic, like, ‘oh, we source everything locally, except this palm oil that we have no idea where it comes from, but that’s probably not a controversial product at all’.

But I needn’t have worried, because Justin’s are so OCD about their product sourcing they even have detailed carbon footprint charts for every single ingredient on their website. With all the privilege I enjoy, I’m completely fascist about buying organic whenever I can – quality over quantity consumption appeals to me much more. This time around in Italy, there are so many more organic choices on the shelves compared to just a few years back, which is cool.

Anyway, I need to finish my banan(n)a and strawberries and get on with my day.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Charissa

I totally agree with you about buying organic!

Ysaurella

I never heard about this brand before, thanks for helping to discover it

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75

I figured this would be one of Lupicia’s candy oolongs – see, I’ve found there are two main categories. The candy oolongs are all rolled oolongs, and all over the top in terms of bursting-with-flavour fruitiness – like the Melon Oolong, or this one. They all have added pieces of something reminding me of those brightly coloured Japanese sugar candies and they look, smell, and taste very fun and happy.

Then there are the full-leaf oolongs, which are far more earthy and ripe both as regards scent and flavour. Examples would be the Momo Oolong Super Grade, and the Ripe Mango Oolong.

In the bag, this is all candy – it’s a sweet-fruity tangerine candy explosion. but – and here is the surprising aspect of this tea – in the cup, it is far more delicate that expected, and more along the lines of the full-leaf oolongs. Subtle, delicate, complex, natural. It’s supposed to be tangerine, but I find it most resembles satsuma-meets-blood orange.

It’s lovely and infinitely drinkable, but will probably surprise fans of other Lupicia candy oolongs with its subtlety. Objectively, this might deserve a somewhat lower grade, but I’m increasingly fond of citrus-flavoured teas, and if I find a good one – like the Amanatsu – it’s going to be a keeper.

[From my Lupicia order to Rome, April 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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90
drank Chestnut Green Tea by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

How utterly weird – this is so much closer to what I expected the Milk Caramel I tried yesterday to be. And may I say wow. This is a very impressive tea.

In the bag it smells like a gooey, chestnutty bread pudding. There is a toffee-like quality to it, too, which carries through right into the cup. Steeped, it’s all melty toffee and chestnut – it reminds me a lot of making ice cream; as it simmers, the custard base carries the same thick sweetness that comes through in this tea. Every sip is beautifully balanced – silky, creamy and rich.

It’s even ridiculously good cold.

This is probably the last time I’m going to review this many Lupicia teas in a row, because I feel nothing like my disdainful, tea-litist self after six of these lovefests. Read this in the meantime, lest you forget my true nature: http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/212352

Lupicia, please marry me. Please, please, pleaaasehhhh.

[From my Lupicia order to Rome, April 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
TeaBrat

ahh, I love this one too!

DeliriumsFrogs

HAHAHA! I loved your link to your ‘true nature’. Your tea logs are the best, Anna…

Sil

my hairs would be sad if you married tea..

Anna

Aaah! Frawgy! It’s you, I know you! I had no idea you were following me. <3

Aw, Siller, my hairs would only marry your hairs, you know this. You know. And, more importantly, they know.

Sil

my hairs want to wrap themselves up in your hairs..

Anna

They will have hairspoons forever and ever always.

OMGsrsly

Oh, Anna! That linked note is the Best Thing Evar, I think. :D :D So amazing.

Anna

Hahaha, thanks – you know, I actually FOUND the tea of horror in a store a while back, I’m just going to buy it and send out a bag with every single swap from now on. It will be the swap equivalent of a letter signed in BLOOD.

OMGsrsly

You’ll have to include a link to your tasting note when people let you know they’ve received the package. :D

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90
drank Kotobuki by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

I had no special hopes for this one – I know I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here, but this order was the first time I purchased from Lupicia without doing the full-on, in-store smelling thing, so I really just picked out things that could just as easily be a miss.

In the bag, this is a beautiful oolong – it comes out even prettier steeped, and that’s high praise indeed for a pile of wet tea leaf. It smells fantastic. I don’t even know how to describe it – I’m trying to think back to my own experiences with mirabelle plums, and I keep coming back to this cake, or this tarte, really, compact like a clafoutis but far less eggy, with plums. Their skins were a deep burgundy purple, though, not the pale gold that makes me think of mirabelles.

What really, really, really gets me here, though – and keep in mind I’m still just smelling this tea – is the presence of heavy, smooth, thick vanilla. It’s right there, at the end of the sniff, as exciting and unexpected as the return of a long-lost lover. Same thing in the cup – first a crazy, jubilant, sweetplummy fruitiness, and then the lushest of , Baby. You’re back. vanilla sips. There is definitely a floral element here, too, but I’ve had enough of Lupicia’s flavoured oolongs to place this firmly in the fruit category.

This is really quite something, a wonderful tea, but I’ve been so radically spoiled in terms of Lupicia oolongs that I don’t quite know how to grade this. If I were to change this rating in the future, though, I’m pretty sure it would be nudged upwards, rather than downwards.

[From my Lupicia order to Rome, April 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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70
drank Cerisier Vert by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

I already told you about the liquid, cherry-flavoured penicillin that was forced upon me when I was but a tiny Anna, so I will spare you a rerun. Keywords like, ‘very vomity’, ‘traumatized’, and ‘still terrified of Dr. Pepper’ might help jog your memory.

Artificial cherry flavouring, hence, is about as far from what I can take as possible, palate wise. So in the interest of pushing boundaries, here I am with some of this. I don’t know if it’s one of those limited edition blends, but it comes in a special, extra-pretty tin, which is nice.

Again, I am conflicted when it comes to cherry. I mean – what do cherries smell like? What do they taste like? It’s one of the most elusive flavours to me, which might be a further reason (I mean in addition to the PTSD, mom) why it’s so hard for me to accept artificial cherry flavouring.

So does the dry tea smell like cherry? I don’t know. It doesn’t smell of Dr. Pepper, not even close to anything coughsyrupy or medical. It could be cherry preserves, I guess – more like jam than maraschino, though. The scent is rich and thick and darkly, stickily red – it makes me think of the cherry pie in Twin Peaks.

In the cup, the scent metamorphoses to something much closer to the cherry I’m used to. But as you may remember, Lupicia also do the bitter almondy, plummy nuance of stone fruit – Ume Vert is one of my most unexpected favourites. This scent lands somewhere in between. I get both the plum pit and the potentially scary cherry.

Taste wise, I’m surprised to say I can drink this without any signs of retching or wanting to curl up in a fetal position and mutter reassuringly to myself. The steeped tea is in no way cloying, and the aftertaste is lightly floral. All in all, this is a fairly delicate tea – not overly complex, but pleasant and highly drinkable. If I sound detached, it’s because I have no idea what just happened, but apparently there’s a cherry-flavoured tea that I can both drink and enjoy? Okay – mind blown.

ETA: Well, this is definitely a limited edition… with the little kicker that it actually doesn’t exist on the US site. This is a first, but the US do get the black version, and it’s called Cerisier, so that’s the name I’ll enter into the database. Oh, Japan, you and your obsession with French stuff. SO confuse.

ETA 2: In other news, French Lupicia have now added an English version of the website… with English names that are direct translations of the French names for the teas, and not pulled from the US site. Just to make things a little bit more confusing. But hey, somewhere a translator got paid, and I’m all for that.

[From my Lupicia order to Rome, April 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Cheri

I took a lot of antibiotics as a child, and they always put horrible flavors in them. I don’t ever remember cherry, but to this day I hate fake strawberry and especially fake banana. Bubblegum is also terrible.

Anna

I also got the fake banana. Urrrrrgh. It’s still difficult, but I managed to down quite a few banana split ice cream daiquiris (I did it for science) when I was in NOLA in March – so I think I’m improving.

When they wanted to make me try the strawberry-flavoured one, my mom said, ‘No. This child will henceforth swallow huge pills.’ and so I did that instead. Much better.

MissLena

For me it’s bubblegum – we had this horrible fluoride rinse in my elementary school days called Swish that was bubblegum flavored and absolutely terrible. Ughh shudders

OMGsrsly

I still have to use the bubblegum flavoured fluoride. It’s still gross. I actually just recently really got into strawberry flavoured things. I used to hate it so much because of medicines!

Cheri

I can’t imagine enjoying a banana split daiquiri unless it had real banana in it…and even then, maybe not. Ugh. Oh and I forgot about the bubblegum fluoride crud. YUCK!!!

Anna

It was pretty much blended ice cream with alcohol. It was amazing.

Anna

Also that bubblegum thing sounds horrifying, Our fluoride rinse tasted just very… generically rinsy.

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80
drank Houji Fruits by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

Oh, oh, oh, so nice. You remember that little Apricot Houji burial that took place at Fiumicino a while back? http://steepster.com/clareborn/posts/229850

This one has that same perfectly balanced smooth houijicha base with the addition of fruitiness. Comparing this to the apricot is somewhat unfair – in that tea, one fruit was allowed the full range of flavour, and, at that, the fruit in question was one Lupicia pulled off flawlessly. In this case, the fruit flavour is more generic.

It’s not quite Apple & Berry territory, but muscat grape and apple, well – they do blend together fairly seamlessly, and I can’t say I distinguish the individual fruit flavours. I think that’s good, because I was somewhat put off by the apple when I considered this – Lupicia’s apple is a crisp, green one with a slightly yeasty aftertaste I wasn’t convinced would go well with the earthy houji.

Here, though, the apple is rounded off by the muscat grape on the tonguetip – their sweetness slowly dissipates to give way to the full earthiness of the houji, which is as exceptional as always. The booziness of the dry tea is quite toned down in the cup, which I consider a good thing in this case – I do love my boozy teas, but when the base tea is this good, I want it to shine.

(Also a big thanks to darling devious tea temptress Christina for pointing me in the way of some other flavoured houjichas that I am now dying to try.)

[From my Lupicia order to Rome, April 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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75
drank Milk Caramel by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

This is interesting – I bought this with very low expectations, as it sounds so generic – I mean, caramel this or caramel that seems to be in everything – it’s hardly a novelty.

Then again, it’s Lupicia, so I absolutely had to try it.

In the bag, this is a boozefest – a very liqueurey caramel, which really does veer far closer to hazelnut. I think this would have been the potentially fatal flaw of this tea – the blend of sweet, thick dulce de leche caramel and the roasty houjicha adds up to something very close to hazelnut/walnut/whatevernut tea, as it is generally presented in much lesser (yes, I mean German) blends.

But even though the flavour is very familiar, Lupicia take it to another level entirely. This is what really does it for me with their teas – they never feel disgusting or wrong in any way. I have never had a green anynut-flavoured tea that didn’t make my throat slightly itchy as the liquid cooled, or that wasn’t thick and oily from the leaf. But this one? No – every sip is clean and smooth, all toasted nut caramel. Even cold, the dregs of this are beautiful. I’d latte the fuck out of this one if I could.

I don’t want any of the other nut teas anymore (coconut, you are exempt and may go back to your seat) because this is all I’m going to need. (And I haven’t felt like that about anything since, say, February 2012 or so.)

[From my Lupicia order to Rome, April 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
VariaTEA

Anna, we are tea twins today!!!

CHAroma

Mmmm, reading your review reminded me how much I love this tea even though I haven’t tasted it in years. I need to pick some up!

Sil

want

Anna

VariaTEA – yes! And now I REALLY REALLY have to try Japon even more, haha.

CHAroma – have you had it with milk? Was it good?

Siller – add it to the swaplist, then. Type type! Swift pawfeets!

Sil

swap list! oh noes..my hairs, they were slacking…

VariaTEA

I am always happy to share some Japon :)

Anna

Sil – Siller Slackerhairs.

VariaTEA – Aww, that’s so sweet of you. Well, it certainly doesn’t seem like I’ll be getting it any other way (SIDE-EYE LAURENT) so let’s consider a swap, maybe? =)

VariaTEA

Haha I think we decided like a month ago to swap and nothing ever came of it :P. This time, we must be proactive

Anna

Oh, the SWAMP that is my inbox. I really must try to go through it some day, but all those nice messages! I love them! Nooooo.

Do you remember what we talked about swapping then?

CHAroma

The last time I tried this tea was back in 2010 before I found Steepster. I believe I drank it straight with no additions.

Anna

Oh, it’s definitely time to get some more and see if your palate changed! Always scary, but interesting.

VariaTEA

I have no idea. I just remember we decided in the comments of another tasting note and then nothing ever happened. Haha. C’est la vie.

Anna

Haha, yeah – but let’s make it happen. I’ll come find you after my deadlines.

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80
drank Decaf Momo by Lupicia
300 tasting notes

French Lupicia have renamed a lot of the teas on their website – Momo, for example, isn’t Momo, but Pêche blanche, which is well and all, but it’s confusing even for second-language-French, third-language-English me, so I’m going to add the French names to the tea description – I hope this is okay with everyone. Thankfully, all national Lupicia branches use the same number system, so this is still trusty old 5404 all over the world.

So I guess there are three main questions here:

Black fruit tea, Anna? Also, a decaf tea, Anna? And, above all, MORE TEA, Anna?

Yes, yes, and yes.

- I’m not a black fruit tea fan at all, as you know – except that berry one that Ang shared in a swap and that still haunts me sometimes – but peach is one of this year’s projects, after all, along with pushing boundaries. Lupicia’s Momo Oolong is still one of my all-time favourites, and I’ve been eager to compare how the perfect pitch of that peach flavouring translates to a full-on black base. In addition, I don’t have a lot of experience with Lupicia’s black teas, yet my favourite blend ever is one of Lupicia’s flavoured blacks.

- Decaf, because, as you’ve been able to tell, I’m not really getting around to drinking a lot of tea right now. I’m very deep into my work and I can’t really drink tea when I’m off all over Rome visiting libraries and archives and museums – and so when I come home, if I finally do get a chance to steep something, I have to stick to rooibos, which doesn’t feel overly exciting if I only get to have one single cup in a day.

- More tea, because I’ve been really, really curious about French Lupicia and how they handle their stuff. I mean, Frenchies, I love you, but tread lightly, this is Lupicia we’re talking about. They’ve been an absolute dream, though – great service, fair tea selection which seems to be expanding at a solid pace, surprisingly modest shipping and quite adequate delivery speeds.

The tea (wow, that sure took a while to get to) smells insane in the bag, as always – more like peach candy than natural peach, but still without coming off artificial. It’s that typical Lupicia mind game that I can’t explain, but it presents all pure and perfect. The same goes for the brewed tea – light, clean and fresh both in the nose and the cup. It hits just the right peach note, because not only do I get the juicy fruitiness, but also the complex tart bite of the skin, which is baffling.

This is definitely light for a black tea, but that’s what I expected and what makes this so accessible to me. I do prefer my greens, whites and oolongs, and I love knowing there are black teas I can keep around that don’t feel like a full meal to take on.

Now I just need to figure out which Lupicia store I want to live close to, and plan my life accordingly. Priorities.

[From my Lupicia order to Rome, April 2014.]

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

no way for a French marketing service of whoever/whatever to call a product momo…;) you now we are snobbish and Momo is the nickname we give to the truck drivers cliché…eh oui, Momo dans son camion, the big guy with a dirty tee shirt and not an once of refinement vociferating against other drivers…which tea would he drink ?
To discover it I need to plan a visit rue Bonaparte in Paris.They seem to have a tea for all of us and that’s great !

keychange

I always love your notes!

Stephanie

What keychange said :)

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85
drank Montagne de Jade by Mariage Frères
300 tasting notes

I’m so unteaful right now it’s silly. I had a pot of this the other day; it was really nice and made me want more tea, but then I… didn’t have more tea. I don’t know if it’s because I relate tea drinking so much to writing tasting notes now. At the moment all the poetry’s been wrung out of me; I most resemble a limp, smelly dishtowel.

This really is lovely as a spring tea, though – the light green shade of it, the delicacy, the subtle florals. So much less flamboyant than some of the Mariage Frères greens, yet without lacking in personality.

Tomorrow. I’ll try to drink some more tea tomorrow.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
__Morgana__

It’s good to see you. :-) I’m going through the same unteafulness.

Angrboda

Drink some you’ve already posted about for a while. (This is what my queue is for)

TeaExplorer

Anna – I get what you mean about relating tea drinking to writing tasting notes. A number of times I’ve shied away from steeping something just because either I didn’t have the time or was not in the mood to make notes while I drank. And, yes, the poetry is something that comes and goes with most people.

You’ve set a high standard for yourself with the beautiful, clever or funny tea notes you’ve written here on Steepster. Speaking for myself, however, that’s not expected to always be the norm. I’d rather read a post with whatever your thoughts are than nothing at all.

That last bit I should post on my fridge since I need to heed that advice as much as anybody else :-}

Dinosara

Ditto on the unteafulness and tasting notes. I think I need to get a new tasting note philosophy, or something.

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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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