Le Palais des Thes
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Recent Tasting Notes
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)
It’s… fine? It tastes fine, it’s not bad or anything. It’s just not noteworthy. It tastes like a basic Japanese sencha. Lightly grassy. I feel like this can become bitter more easily than average, but once you figure out what works for you it’s fine.
Unexpectedly, the looseleaf Long Jing from Palais des Thés in the sleek aluminum tube seems not to be as good as the tea in the cotton muslin sachet. Strange.
I had been wondering what their Long Jing leaves would look like and was surprised to find that they are very broken up. It’s quite possible that this is an old batch which has been jostled about a lot, as I bought the box set from one of the social shopping sites. The liquor was darker golden veering peach (not green) in color, but there were lots of particles at the bottom of the glass, so that probably had something to do with it. The taste was not that great either, and the liquor had none of the silken texture which I’ve come to associate with Long Jing.
The best part of this experience was the housing: I love the test tubes and will use them to store small amounts of teas once I’ve emptied them. Which won’t take long—this one contained less than 10 grams…
In my side-by-side comparison of Les Palais des Thés Long Jing (in a muslin sachet) with Mighty Leaf Organic Green (in a see-through sachet), I discovered today that the Mighty Leaf is probably (as I had been suspecting) a blend, not a straight-up Long Jing. The muslin sachet from Les Palais des Thés, in contrast, has a smoother and more silky texture, along with a less vegetal and more chestnutty flavor.
I conclude that this is the better choice for those seeking a portable Long Jing experience.
Another green tea in a muslin sack from Palais des Thés, this one contains Long Jing. The contents are quite broken up, which is a bit surprising. I’d have expected the opposite, given the porosity of these little cotton knapsacks.
The liquor looks like Long Jing: faint peachy green, and the taste is okay. It’s definitely not as smooth, and there is a touch of bitterness, though I followed my usual guidelines for this type of tea. Once again I find myself in the position of saying that this is better than average for a bagged green, but not such a good example of the named tea in question.
(Blazing New Rating #51)
Well, this mug of sachet-prepared Sencha Ariake from Palais des Thés is not bad at all and a lot better than the current competition chez moi in the Japanese Sencha category—all none of it. Yes, that’s right: the only sencha available to me at the moment are the remaining cotton muslin sacks (more than sachets!) of Sencha Ariake. I won’t be leaving this tea-challenged environment for more than a week, so until then I have created my own desert-island testing camp.
Once again, as in the case of this company’s Long Jing, my impression is buoyed through deprivation. Perhaps the key to loving any tea is to drink it in a desert-island scenario, so to speak.
It’s probably not fair to imbibe Palais des Thés Sencha Ariake so soon after having enjoyed ichiban sencha and gyokuro, but it was the luck of the brew.
Sencha Ariake brews up quite a bit more yellow than I was expecting. The temperature was lower than their prescribed 75C, and I kept the brewing time short. Still, the liquor ended up looking more like the color (bright yellow veering gold, not green) I expect to see in a second infusion of many green teas…
The taste is good but less smooth and closer to a bagged green than a true sencha. I am using the muslin cotton sachets, which have the same sort of cotton stitching as the Mighty Leaf Sachets and have the same droopy look. The size is similar to that of the Kusmi muslin sachets.
I don’t know, but the dried tea seemed heartier than I am accustomed to seeing for sencha. It might be that they need to use something a bit more rough-hewn so that the particles will not all rush through the large pores of these cotton sacks.
This tea is pretty good for a bagged green tea, not so great for a sencha. Will not restock once this small supply (from two large sample set boxes) has been depleted.
(Blazing New Rating #47)