Le Palais des Thes
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Recent Tasting Notes
Queued post, written May 21st 2014
Another green tea for Green Tea Day. Apparently it’s not only Green Tea Day, it’s also Ancient Tea Day because this one came from Auggy and it’s even older than the other two. Well. By a couple of months but even so. Still older. In my defence she sent me a few of these and I’ve only got one left. I just haven’t written about it until now.
Smells lovely of green tea and cherry. A very fruity juicy sort of cherry. The sort that I hope some of all the myriads of cherry trees in our garden will produce. (Little hope there, though. Husband’s father thinks it’s a decorative sort of cherry, not an edible one. And he’s worked with plants in some way or another, both at his job and in his garden, for 40 years, so he should know. Still. When there is fruit, I will test it the best way I know how. By biting one.) It strikes me that red fruits generally go quite well with green tea. I think a 4 red fruits blend on a green base might be rather lovely, but I expect that already exists somewhere out there.
The flavour is very floral, reminding me that this is scented with cherry blossoms, not flavoured with cherry. Isn’t it funny though how the flowers sort of smell like the fruit? The green tea is fairly strong compared to the other two I’ve had today, and it’s got a smidge of bitterness to it. No, not bitterness… But a note that tells me that if brewed hotter or longer, it very likely would turn undrinkable. It’s borderline. At the point where it is now, though, it lends body and strength and is quite enjoyable.
This was a sample size that the extremely nice lady at the shop gave me when I purchased the Grand Cru Yunnan. She said “So you can compare!” And so I did. :)
I may prefer this one. I still have enough left for one more cup of this, so I should try them side by side. Maybe this weekend. It would be nice to prefer this one since it is the less expensive one, that’s for sure! :)
I had 2 steeps of this today. One at work with filtered water and one at home with tap water. Cameron B. has been commenting in some of her recent reviews that she is having problems nailing down her water. This is a perfect example for me of how water does matter and bottled or filtered is not always the best for my tastes. The cups I had at work with filtered water were unremarkable. Very plain. Not even really sure I could have said it was a Yunnan – just a black tea. Or as gmathis says, “brown leaf juice.”
At home, the cups I had have been malty with some honey and wood. I’m not sure what they mean in the description by “acid.” I don’t get anything I would say is acid. That conjures up bad thoughts, not nice tea thoughts. :) I do get the “animal notes” though. I’m not even really sure how describe it. Like burying your face in a warm cat or puppy. I had never thought about it in those terms but a lot of Yunnans give me the same impression. No wonder I like them! Nothing better than face fuzzies!
Not sure I’d buy either of the Palais Yunnans I’ve had especially in the 3.5 ounce sizes (the only sizes available online). I know I’d get this one over the Grand Cru Yunnan Buds, though.
Was lucky enough to discover this tea while studying Oolong at the Ecole du Thé (Tea School) in Paris. Dong Ding Tea is therefore kind of special to me. This tea is at the same time subtile and strong. I really love it and I wrote a review on it on my tea blog: http://www.monarmoireathe.com/2014/06/le-charme-discret-du-oolong-the-dong-ding-palais-des-thes.html
Flavors: Freshly Cut Grass, Vanilla, Wood
Palais des Thé Vive le Thé! is another case where I find myself puzzled by the needless adulteration of a pretty decent green base tea. It’s smooth and silken, with a flavor slightly vegetal, but also somewhat buttery. The ginger and citrus just seem like distractions to me.
This tea should not be covered up. It’s a bit like putting ketchup on filet mignon. Or perhaps I should choose another metaphor, since I no longer eat mammals. How about Wild Alaskan salmon with barbecue sauce on top?
second infusion: I decided to try another round and found it to be more likeable than the first—because the added flavors were lighter!
What a lovely yunnan! It smells intensely of honey, and some of that comes through in the taste too. There are also some hay notes and a deeper earthiness that keeps it from being too light. It’s much smoother than some yunnans I’ve had, which makes for a good cup to savor slowly. I think I would get this one again.
I have a few of the muslin sachets of Palais des Thés Thé du Hammam and since I did not awaken until 1pm I figured that drinking green tea at 9pm will simply cement my nocturnal summer schedule. Here I come, 4am…
This may be a case where I’d be happier to see the tea. I certainly did not grasp any of the apparently abundant florality present here: roses, sunflowers, and blue mallow. I really only tasted the green tea (which I do not believe is sencha, in contrast to some reviewers) and the berry flavoring, which seemed somewhat artificial and, what is worse, much louder than the green tea base.
I don’t usually enjoy the taste of sunflowers in tea, so I did not miss it here. I have no idea what blue mallow should taste like, but I love rose and do not really taste or smell it in this blend. I should probably do a second steep, since generally by then the flavor on top subsides, allowing the underlying green tea to reveal some of its character.
Oooo… now that I’ve had this twice more I can say with certainty that I like it quite a bit. It’s a thick, leathery, masculine Earl that still smells very feminine. The bergamot is really bold and strong. Mom noticed right away today that it also smells of roses when dry in the tin. I hadn’t picked that out before but yeah – really, really rosy. In scent only, though. In taste, this is pure bergamot with that thick, mildly malty Yunnan base.
And having tried this with 3 different preparation methods I now know how I like it. My first time was here at home with tap water. Just kind of meh and somewhat disappointing. Second time was at work with filtered water. Okay, but still underwhelming – I have since discovered that my hot water at work isn’t really hot enough for most of the teas I drink at only 150F!
This time I made it here at home with boiling spring water. That’s more like it. I no longer feel like I wasted my money buying a tin of this. :)
This is an odd tea. I would guess it is the Yunnan base that makes the bergamot stranger than in other Earls. It both smells and tastes highly perfumed but there is also a depth to it that isn’t in other Earls. It is thicker. I haven’t decided yet if I like this blend. It is, at the very least, interesting. But I need more cups to decide. :)
I love lavender more than people should. I opened the bag and was punched in the face with it. I was worried it would get that perfumey, soapy taste, but I was very pleasantly surprised. It was soft and floral and I could taste the oolong alongside the lavender. It tasted great with a few steeps too, but the balance of lavender and oolong differed a bit each time. Highly recommend.
You guys! So. Much. Tea. I’m going to be glad I brought just enough clothes and I can wad them up on the way back along with a spare empty bag to use as a carry on.
I must not have done my homework well enough because I completely missed that there was a Palais des Thes store in NYC. I stumbled across it completely by accident. We had just had lunch on 71st & Columbus after leaving Central Park. Decided to walk a bit south on Columbus since there was a Magnolia Bakery location within a couple of blocks. Couldn’t find a cab right off so went ahead and walked down a little further and there it was!!
They were sampling this one. It was really, really good. Steeped very well, not bitter at all, medium bergamot with a really nice base. The ladies in the store were super nice as well. This is their smaller boutique store. Apparently there is a larger store in Soho. So happy to have stumbled across this one. I almost bought some of this but decided at the last minute to go with the Blue of London – an Earl with Yunnan. And a couple of other things… My husband is being so patient with all of my tea, chocolate, bakery obsessions… :)
I now have the aluminum test tube set of Le Palais des Thé’s Signature Classics. I bought the green set first, and then I decided to buy the classics as well because I am obsessed with the test tubes. Difficult to believe, perhaps, but nonetheless true…
The good new is that this Margaret’s Hope loose leaf is better than the cotton muslin pillow case version—at least it seemed better today! I should say that I used quite cool water: only 80C, and my usual 3 minutes for darjeeling. The light amber liquor was very tasty and smooth and not at all grassy, interestingly enough.
I should be able to make two more glasses with what’s left in the tube after removing 3 grams today. Then I’ll be using the test tube to store small amounts of tea. I should probably add that I bought these sets from a social-shopping site for a fraction of MSRP.
Here’s a really good example of what I was just talking about in my tasting note on Norbu Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP Autumn Flush Darjeeling (http://steepster.com/Shera%20Pop/posts/248914).
Palais des Thés sachets in the shiny silver foil envelope offer zero information beyond the fact that this darjeeling came from Margaret’s Hope estate. It’s aimed for people who don’t even know where Margaret’s Hope estate is, as revealed by the text:
A superb tea from the high Himalayan plateaux.
Of course that gives no clue as to ftgfop1, first, second, or autumn flush. That means that the company is free to throw n’importe quoi together in the sachet and call it a day.
All of that said, this sachet darjeeling tastes pretty good. I used the same steeping parameters and the resultant amber liquor is definitely grassier and a bit rougher than the Norbu. Still, this is certainly a good example of the general category of darjeeling for people who are working their way through the sampler box.
(Blazing New Rating #67)
Thank you Dexter for sending some of this my way. I was holding off trying it in hopes of having it when I freed my variable temp kettle from storage jail but that doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon so I just decided to go ahead and make it. My first few sips were a nice fruity flavor, though not a distinctive flavor. Then, I ate dinner, and as I ate, the tea cooled and the green base took over and left a grassy taste in my mouth. So this isn’t bad when hot but really should not be given the chance to cool. Hopefully this isn’t reflected in the cold brew of this that I made a couple days ago…
With the memory of another sakura-style green tea fresh in my mind, I decided to go ahead and try Palais des Thés Fleur de Geisha. This is also a Japanese style green-tea base (theirs appears to be from Japan), but the flavoring is somewhat more floral and less intensely fruity.
The liquor is pale greenish gold and the taste is rather more harmonious than I’ve come to expect from cherry-scented teas. According to the description, cherry blossoms, not cherry essence are used to flavor this tea, so that must make the difference.
I’m looking forward to trying a second infusion of the spent sachet (which plumped up quite a lot) later on tonight.
(Blazing New Rating #59)
Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers
This afternoon I tried the loose-leaf version of this Tamaryokucha Imperial from Palais des Thés. It did not taste at all like genmaicha, as I found with the cotton muslin pillow cases. From which I can only deduce that the cotton muslin pillow cases are really made of popped rice!
Soyons sérieux. There are plenty of other possible explanations, above all, batch variations. Anyway today’s two-glass tetsubin tasted very good and Japanese—which will only mean something to people who are amateurs of both Chinese and Japanese green teas!
The liquor was slightly cloudy pale green, and there was quite a lot of particulate matter in the bottom of the glass, which may have imparted astringency to the brew. It was a bit bracing, but very tasty, nonetheless!
I remain convinced, as I believe that I reported last time I brewed up a glass, that the flavor and aroma of the tea in this muslin sachet are very similar to genmaicha—so, yes, Japanese. I am tempted to dissect my way through the cotton to see whether I’ll discover some popped rice in here somewhere…
Well, what can I say to conclude this steep-off chez sherapop? I am not at all sure that Tamaryokucha and Tamayokucha are the same tea at all! I am happy that the Tea Leaves version is organic, but when all is said and sniffed and sipped, I prefer Le Palais des Thés. Despite the small amount of tea in the modest sockish sachet, I find that the resultant liquor tastes better, in the end. I do believe that this tea is very close to genmaicha, but that would be a high-quality version, with a good base tea, not one of the cheaper versions which sometimes use low-grade green tea under the assumption that the toasted rice will cover it up.
One final note, since I tried two different muslin sachets from Les Palais des Thés today. I noticed in both cases (this and the Long Jing) a small snippet of cotton thread floating in the glass! I presume that it is safe to eat, as I could just have easily swallowed it while drinking the tea. I have wondered, actually, about the flavor of these little socks. They must taste like something, no? It seems to me that they should be changing the flavor of the teas, if ever so slightly.
That’s not, however, the real reason why I dislike the cotton sock method, pace Kusmi and Les Palais des Thés and whichever other companies are using them today. I also dislike not being able to see the dried and the infused tea leaves. I feel that I am missing out on some of the full tea experience when I use sock sachets…
This Tamaryokucha Imperial is definitely my favorite from Le Palais des Thés so far from among the green tea offerings. (I do like Thé des Moines probably as much!) The texture is very smooth and the flavor midway between a darker Chinese and a lighter Japanese variety. I have only tried one other tamaryokucha before, and this one seems better than my memory of that one.
The liquor, which I prepared using one of the cotton muslin sachets, is pale greenish yellow. The flavor is not really like sencha or gyokuro. In some ways it reminds me more of genmaicha, though there is no popped rice here—only green tea. There is something of a cereal note, however.
(Blazing New Rating #55)