Fortnum & Mason

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Recent Tasting Notes

75

Tried some more of this last night. I remain unimpressed. It would have gotten a higher rating if it weren’t for the ridiculous marketing and the outrageous price. As it is, it is a pretentious blend that could have been better if it would have spent less time preening itself and more time balancing its flavours.
This tea, with a better choice of a darjeeling base, and a better price, is called “Darjeeling Earl Grey” and is sold by a company called Ronnefeldt. Buy it from them.

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75

This is a blend of Darjeeling with Bergamot, fancily named after Prince George’s Christening – for the tourists. It epitomizes all that has gone wrong with F&M’s tea over the last few years. They could have called it “Darjeeling Earl Grey”. They could have called it “Light Earl Grey” or “Special Earl Grey”. They could even have called it “Earl Grey Superb”. That would at least give you an inkling to what’s in the tin. But F&M’s marketing department seems hell-bent on touting their connections with the Royal family, instead of focusing on really good and unique tea. As it is, it’s an Earl Grey Darj, which is a combination that I’ve already tasted from Ronnefeldt. The two go together well, but R does the combination more justice. F&M’s is slightly rougher, with the Earl Grey and the Darjeeling not really married together in harmony.
It’s an 80 from me, because I happen to love the combination, and the caddy is, as usual, pretty great. 5 points off for the price and pretentiousness, and no recommendation – you can get better for less from Ronnefeldt.

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92

We have been on a somewhat Assam-and-Breakfast-Tea binge lately at work. This tea now comes in one of F&M’s new caddies (check out the picture here: http://www.fortnumandmason.com/p-5173-assam-tea-assam-superb-tea-indian-tea.aspx). The caddy looks great, but I wish they had kept the old design. The new design is a nicer colour, and has an easier to open lid, but otherwise is useless. You can’t stack it in the cupboard like their old caddies, and it has zero useful tea info on it. Nothing about the tea’s provenance , about steep times or strength. The design, touted by F&M as a change for the better, is indicative of the alarming change that I’ve seen in the company over the last few years. Gone are delicious blends like Piccadilly Blend, Fountain Blend and others. The only blends now have “Royal” in their name, or are somehow tied to the royal family. Useful information has been scratched from the caddies, they’ve become ridiculously ornamented, and many of them are available only for a short period of time. F&M, in other words, have become a tourist trap filled with “British” souvenirs or grossly overpriced “speciality” tea, and no longer a place where I can send people shopping for tea and know that they can’t really go wrong.
That’s a shame, because they used to have wonderful teas, and they still sometimes do. This “Assam Superb” was a very very good, bass-y, malty, deep Assam, brewing almost black in colour, and taking milk with great aplomb. High in caffeine content, we’ve had it several times over the last week or so, as a morning pick me up. Recommended.

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80

Sipdown 1 of 2 today! Despite being alarmingly old (2 years, 3 years maybe?), it held up well to the very end. Maltiness is reduced, but still there. A bit vegetal from the Ceylon (or age). Balance was starting to be off a bit. This was a versatile tea, good for when I wanted a solid unflavored black, great as a base for my homemade chai. I’ll probably get more eventually, but I’ve got so many other teas, plus so many more I’d like to try, it may be awhile.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

This tea is a bit of a workhorse for me. It’s a well-balanced blend of assam and ceylon, but it brews strong, so if you’re not a fan of strong tea, it’s better to just “scare it” with the hot water rather than brew for a full 5 minutes. I use this tea as a base for my homemade chai, I drink it iced when I want a nice, strong black iced tea without flavoring, I drink it hot when I’m not feeling well or just looking for a well- balanced, unfussy black tea. So, to summarize, very versatile, very balanced, solid, but not a showstopper.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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87

This caddy is breathtaking. I saw that this tea was a blend of Darjeeling and Ceylon, thought to myself that that sounds unpromising, and still bought it (at a hefty price), because I just couldn’t resist the caddy. Also, I had just had afternoon tea in Fortums restaurant, with wonderful tea served in beautiful silver teapots, so I really wasn’t in any position to resist this tea.
I was faintly surprised by this tea. It’s actually decent. There is some astringency, but not much, and even a bit of sweetening gets rid of it, if you are sensitive to it. There are floral elements to this tea, but they are very muted – merely hints, not full blasts, as you can get from certain oolongs. Also present is the bright, “Teaness” of ceylon, but it too is subdued enough that even Ceylon haters will approve. The result is a delicate, light, complex brew that really does evoke the Edwardian era, with tea served in fine silver teapots on green lawns, and bees buzzing lazily in a gentle summer.
A tea for proper ladies and gentlemen.

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83
drank Jubilee by Fortnum & Mason
412 tasting notes

I’m pretty sure that I reviewed this tea in the past, but Steepster shows no record of it. Ho hum.
I felt like something sweet and fruity, and I hadn’t had this tea in a while so I brewed me a cup. The caddy is more gorgeous than it seems, and the blend tends towards the Ceylon end of the spectrum – so stone fruit tastes and a good bit of astringency. I like it – it has a bit more complexity and depth than plain Ceylons, and there’s something about its light body that makes me think that it will make for an excellent cold brew.

Flavors: Fruity, Sweet

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70

A bold, astringent blend of Assam and Ceylon black tea that is slightly overpowering for the average palette, but a treat for those who enjoy their tea strong :)

Flavors: Astringent, Heavy

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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81
drank Jubilee by Fortnum & Mason
401 tasting notes

Thank you Adagio Breeze for this tea.
It is a little too mild for me but not a bad tea at all.
Very refreshing in those hot days here (36°c) and one of the few teas I am able to drink hot since 1 week.
It seems to be a straight tea but it is so much sweet and fruity it can make think to a light flavoured tea.
My daughter adores it. Lovely

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

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80

Had a cup of this for breakfast. Deep, dark flavor. I really enjoy this. It has this slight bitterness (not from oversteeping, just from the tea’s flavor) that is really enjoyable. Complex, strong, flavourful. I recommend this tea if you like strong black teas, that is.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML
Ysaurella

Fortnum & Mason have very strong blends in my opinion, typicals from what I imagine an English tea base is…perfect to add a dash of milk. I drink all my teas without milk but I am not able to do so with some of the F&M ’s blends :(

MartinSimonnet

Yeah, this tea really is quite strong. Doesn’t fit every palate, but definitely tasty on a palate it fits!

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95

The best Earl Grey (in a tin) I´ve ever bought. If you ever want to have a complete Earl Grey experience, with the bergamot fragrance all over, this is the one to prepare. Quite pricey, but considering the enjoyment, worth every bit of it.

Flavors: Bergamot

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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drank Queen Anne by Fortnum & Mason
224 tasting notes

Last tea of the night since it’s getting rather late.
This is nice on the front of the sip, but horribly bitter at the back. I can’t really even drink it. And the astringency is pretty awful. Maybe it’s an error on my part, but I didn’t do anything off the company’s suggestion except maybe brew a smidge cooler than recommended.
Bleh.
(1.5tsp)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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83

Backlog. I’ve been reaching for this one most mornings this past week for two main reasons. It’s convenient, and I have a ton of it! Today, I have a little more to add than usual because I was only able to drink half my mug before rushing out of the house. When I got back, my tea was stone cold, but I tried it anyway. Surprisingly, there were some sweeter, honey-like notes in there that I don’t really taste in the hot tea. This makes me think that this tea will be an interesting experiment for a cold brew!

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83

Backlog. Yesterday morning, I was making this tea hot, but at the last minute, I changed my mind and wanted something cold to drink. So I just poured this over some ice, and voila. Iced tea! It certainly wasn’t the smoothest black iced tea I’ve had. There was some bitterness and astringency still apparent. I think that this tea is just very finicky in general. It was still pretty good, though. Nice and bold.

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83

Backlog from this morning. I’ve been a little extra clumsy today due to being sick, so I made this waay too strong. Even through my stuffy nose and dulled taste buds, I could taste the bitterness. However, upon resteeping, the boldness became manageable and actually enjoyable. My coffee-loving mother especially loved this one. I have a feeling she will be the one to finish off most of my 3+ oz of this tea.

Mikumofu

I hope you’ll feel better soon!

Jennkay

Thanks!

TeaBrat

hope you feel better soon too!

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83

Backlog. This is one of the teas that I picked up from Fortnum & Mason in London because for me, breakfast blends can never go wrong. That being said, this was a pretty decent breakfast tea, but nothing too spectacular. I think I would have preferred if it were a bit stronger. It would probably help to use more leaf and tinker with it some more, but alas, I had to leave it behind in California because I had too many other souvenirs to bring back to Boston as gifts for others. I will return to it soon, though!

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drank Royal Blend by Fortnum & Mason
564 tasting notes

Another back-back-backlog from afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason. This tea reminded me the most of my beloved breakfast blends: bold, smooth, but not bitter. Other than that, there were no other special flavors or anything that jumped out at me. It was especially good when paired with the scones & jam or the desserts because of it’s strength.

Nicole

Ooo…I would love to go to tea there someday. :)

Jennkay

I really enjoyed it! Plus, their store is like four stories, so there was a lot of tea-related shopping going on afterwards!

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Back-back-backlog of this tea. A couple weeks ago on my trip, my mom and I went to high tea at Fortnum & Mason in Piccadilly Circus. This was the tea that she chose, purely because of the description about Prince William & Kate Middleton, haha. It’s very light for a breakfast blend. It actually reminds me more of the afternoon blend from Fortnum & Mason (that I happen to be sipping on right now). I think it paired nicely with the finger sandwiches, but was a bit weak to accompany the desserts and scones.

The really good thing about this tea was that it didn’t get bitter quickly. And considering the fact that the leaves were just left to sit and steep continuously in the teapots, this was a very good attribute for our high tea adventure.

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78
drank Afternoon by Fortnum & Mason
564 tasting notes

Backlog. I had this tea this afternoon because I was being indecisive and this blend is literally called afternoon, haha. I think I was a bit careless with my preparation today because it was a bit bitter and cardboard tasting. This isn’t necessarily one of my favorite black tea blends, but I think it’s just a nice standard cup. I think it would be nice with some milk or sugar, but I don’t generally add anything to my tea, so I may need to experiment with that in the future.

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78
drank Afternoon by Fortnum & Mason
564 tasting notes

Alas, my great European journey has come to an end. I actually refrained from buying a ton of tea because a) not enough room in my luggage & b) family & friends not so patient with my tea habits. Anyway, I had high tea at Fortnum & Mason in London, and picked up two teas afterward: Afternoon Blend & Breakfast Blend. Of course, the first day I’m home, I’m breaking them open for a spin!

Afternoon blend is surprisingly light compared to the look of the tea leaves. I actually thought it may have been too light, so I steeped it a little further, which resulted in bitterness. It kind of seems like a weak breakfast blend to me. Next time, I will try with more leaf/water ratio. This tea also seems like a good contestant as a base for my fruit-infused cold-brewed iced teas. I have a whopping 4.4 ounces to play around with, so I can’t wait to experiment!

Nicole

I hear ya. My husband was very patient on the NY trip with my tea desires, but I really need to go back with a tea person. :)

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89

Thank you, Sil, for sending me this sample!!!

I really like this tea. It reminds me a bit of the only other Fortnum & Mason tea I’ve tried: Assam Superb. My father works for a London-based company, and he used to bring home tins of Assam Superb when he travelled to London for work. This tea seems like it may also have some Ceylon blended in (just checked, it does), but the Assam is still the most noticeable for me. This is a perfect tea for this morning. It’s assertive, yet smooth, and it reminds me of being at home. I usually am not a fan of Ceylon tea, but in this blend it lends (I believe it’s the Ceylon) a honey-sweetness to the cup.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

This one isn’t half bad….I’m enjoying the few f&m teas I’ve tried

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83

I used this entire sample (sent by Sil ages ago!) on a cold brew because I figured it was mostly fruity and fruity teas deserve to be iced.

I had read tasting notes of this brewed hot and being bitter so I decided to just put it all in the DAVIDs mason jar and let it steep. I only intended to have it go for around 18 hours but it ended up being at least 28, so I was super worried about astringence and bitterness. But when I tried it it was AMAZING!

This was exactly what the name purported it to be: sweet, natural strawberry flavor with a smooth black tea base at the end of the sip. No real creamy vanilla notes (which my other two strawberry teas have, and which I like okay hot but do not want cold), and no need for sweetening. I easily like this as much as the Dammann’s fig blend for icing, which is sad, as it’s a sipdown. Figures.

Ah well, I’m hoping to try my Dammann Freres Moroccan Mint iced (as I had a sip of Honest Tea’s bottled equivalent yesterday and it was really good) so I imagine that that will keep me busy for a while until I get around to stocking this again.

My tea inventory is a revolving door currently – and I’m excited to get some fresh blends (and their tasting notes) up soon!

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85
drank Royal Blend by Fortnum & Mason
5761 tasting notes

well now that i’m almost organised for tomorrow, i figure i should log a few of the teas i’ve had this morning. I left for vancouver with 139 teas in my cupboard and came back to a cupboard of 158 (with one incoming swap).

This is a sipdown, since i need to work in a few of those to justify my 20 tea purchase! (oh and a few teas are living with Cavo at the moment…so technically i’m a bit higher).

I thoroughly enjoyed this one from F&M – better than the queen Anne, but nothing to hold in my cupboard forever and ever. This is a good every day sort of tea that is good for those times when you don’t really want to think about the tea you’re drinking, you just want to enjoy it while you do things :)

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