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Recent Tasting Notes
Acquired Darjeeling The First Flush as part of Lupicia’s 2015 Book of Tea.
Lupicia suggests steeping the tea for 2 to 2.5 minutes. Because I enjoy a stronger flavor, I did a full 2.5 minutes.
To me the tea was the epitome of “aiight.” Not great but not bad, and certainly not memorable. It was on the lighter side for a darjeeling, slightly fruity, and ever-so-slightly astringent.
Thank you Marzipan for this one. You were right. I loved this one! Sweet honeydew with a bit of honey on the side. I wasn’t such a fan of this hot but I LOVED this one iced. So good.
Flavors: Honey, Honeydew, Melon
Yikes, looks like I’m one of the odd ones out regarding this… beverage. I didn’t know that a beverage could possibly smell and taste carcinogenic until I got my hands on this. To be fair, the dry ground up substance in the pouch initially smelled tantalizing: like roasted coffee with sweet caramel. But then it all goes south from there.
Steeped, it goes incredibly burnt. Not like, “Whoops, let the toast get a little too dark for my liking” or “Drat, that rice at the bottom got a little browned.” It’s more like I left a pot of grains cooking on the stove with not enough water, buggered off to check some emails, got distracted by YouTube and forgot about the sustenance cooking away in the distance, and then start to smell something charred. But it’s too late. The grains are burned beyond recognition. Only soaking the pot for two days followed by using the most brutally strong cleaner with steel wool and a ton of elbow grease will end this nightmare. It’s that kind of burnt.
As a matter of fact, my mom happened to walk in just now, looked around confusingly, and asked if I made and consequently burnt toast because to her, the entire kitchen and living room area smells like something is burning. What’s hilarious is we don’t even have bread in the house at the moment. So I think by now you get that this smells like annihilated carbohydrates.
The liquor is black and grainy. Like coffee with the grounds floating all up in my cup’s business. I simply cannot drink this plain. It’s too burnt in taste, as well. Adding some almond milk marginally helps. The caramel pops out a touch but the overall taste and texture is off. Yes, it’s thick. Yes, it’s bold. But it’s burnt, not roasted.
When we go grocery shopping tomorrow, I’ll make sure to pick up some light cream or half-and-half which may help to counterbalance the charred notes and make this a little more tolerable to finish.
Coming back home from the grand city means having time to actually drink tea again! This is one of my favourites from Lupicia so far, as most have been a miss for me up until now. I’m a fan of houjicha so it’s no surprise that I’m thoroughly enjoying the sweet, roasty base with the creamy caramel-like notes floating in the background.
Lupicia suggests steeping this with boiling water. I personally think that’s nuts, so I let the water cool for a few minutes then let it steep for two minutes and those parameters seem to work very well.
Woo, finally got to try some of this tea (which has been on my wish list for at least a couple years) courtesy of Sil :D
Although I certainly enjoyed drinking it, I was kind of disappointed in the flavour – nice lightly toasty houjicha, but not nearly as much creamy caramel as I was hoping for. The flavour was definitely there, just not overly strong. I’m pretty sure I’ve read other reviews with similar experiences, so I’m guessing it’s not an age or storage issue, but I’d try it again if I had the chance, if only because I think houjicha is a great base tea that’s underused (and I want to encourage its use).
Cold brew sip down! Thanks to that method, I was able to burn through this a lot more quickly. Otherwise, it would have been sitting in my cupboard for a year. I found that I prefer these black blends of theirs cold brew since their bases get so freaking bitter when steeped in hot water. This one also made sense as a cold brew since their champagne note tastes more like artificial grape to me, which I don’t mind. You’re left with a cold, refreshing, healthier version of grape pop. Win! But I still wouldn’t buy more. But! I’m glad I tried it.
I had the craaaaaaziest day yesterday! I got not one, but two makeovers yesterday. First was one with Dior at the department store since I signed up for some event. I still feel bad complaining, but it ended up being awful. The makeup I did for myself in the morning was by far nicer. I still had things to do for the rest of the day and was feeling so self-conscious that I ran crying to Sephora and asked if I could get a VIB Rouge makeover, something you can do pretty much anytime as a Rouge but I haven’t done it before. They luckily fit me in in an hour and I ended up with the most awesome freaking dramatic eyes ever.
But now that life is calm again this morning, I am able to sit down with a cup of tea. This one smells like grape and strawberry, straight up. Sweet and sparkly but not necessarily wine per se. Like the other black teas of theirs that I’ve tried thus far, it can easily go crazily bitter but this second cup turned out relatively smooth and not too bold. The grape note is by far the most prominent, whilst the strawberry gets buried underneath. To note, the grape note tastes like grape pop, not fresh grape. But I kind of like that. Fake but nice fake.
A longtime perennial in my tea cabinet, and one of my favorite Lupicia teas, despite my general dislike for puer. There seem to be real dried strawberries and cocoa nibs blended in there, which is amazing! It’s worth brewing for a full three minutes to really bring out the smoky-bitter chocolate and puer flavors.
Taken straight, this tea is as dark as coffee, and the bitter cocoa flavor comes through strongly. It combines with the smokiness of the puer for an almost coffeelike experience, although milder and (to this non-coffee-drinker) much more palatable. The strawberry just floats around subtly as a warm, pleasant aftertaste in the mouth.
Add a dash of sugar and cream, however, and the whole character of the drink is transformed. The sweet strawberry flavor leaps to the fore, and the cocoa notes combine with milk to create a texture and flavor almost like fruity hot chocolate. The puer recedes to a background hint, just enough to give it a little personality.
I enjoy it either way, but drunk as a latte, it’s my go-to dessert tea for relaxing and playing video games on a chilly evening.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Strawberry
A sample, from a pre packaged set of 3 teabags, which I shamelessly requested at Lupicia in Paris. And wow, I really doubt the translation in the package. BOILING water for this, as well as for an oolong and a darjeeling earl grey for 5 minutes? Seriously, you guys?
I also got their tea catalogue which has much more sensible temperatures and steeping times. I ignored the sample packaging instructions and while I could not measure the water temperature it should have been around 80-85 at most.
I have a problem with this tea, which is I do not much like grapefruit, nor the fruit not grapefruit flavours. Maybe it is a geographic thing, but coming from a place where citrus grows very easily almost wildly, there is so much better citrus than grapefruit. No, grapefruit is not a first, or even second, choice citrus for me. It´s so overpowering, so sharp. Not a favorite flavouring.
The teabag cames in a hermetical sealed envelope (I like Lupicia packaging very much) and it smells very intense, very grapefruit when opened. Thankfully for me the taste is much milder, very balanced in the liquor and there is a very nice, very smooth, Japanese (? seaweedy?) green tea underneath. Drunk with pleasure and a tea I would not mind repeating though not enough to include it in my shopping list.
I bought this in France, labelled as “Bambino”, number 9202. I do think it is the same tea.
I drink a lot of rooibos, after a certain hour, caffeine gives me insomnia, and rooibos is the tisane I feel closer to drinking real tea. I find it really digestive as well. Rooibos is something I keep needing to renew my stock of, and which I was looking for in my first Lupicia visit. The rooibos on offer did not seem too inspiring but this was the most appealing.
And at first brew it does not disappoint. It smells dry, very much of strawberry, vanilla and apricot. The apricot taste disappears in the liquour which is mostly berry -vanilla like (I sweetened this with honey, because I had a cold so don´t know how honey like it is without real honey added), but as it cools down it reemerges in the background again. The flavour is very intense. The rooibos base is pretty quiet underneath it all, nothing much to say about it in this first time.
A note, I really really like this hermetic packaging of theirs. It´s very tough and squashable (I bought a LOT of stuff in this visit), no smell cross contamination, and the tea is incredibly fresh when you open the package. 50 grams will probably be drunk fast enough to not get stale. I think we pay more for this packaging (I paid 5 euros for 50 grams, which would aka 10 euros for 100 grams, a bit more than Mariage Freres or The o Dor rooibos), but if we discount this type of packaging is expensive it might be worth it, for the extra freshness. More packaging to recycle, and maybe harder to recycle though, but to keep tea fresh, I can not resist.
Flavors: Apricot, Honey, Strawberry, Vanilla
Just a short tasting note here. I honestly didn’t know what this was and thought it was a black tea so I used boiling water with it. It still came out fine though, just reminds me of genmaicha. I don’t think I am picking up the black soybean flavor… it is nutty and rice-y though. Not a bad morning cuppa, I don’t think I need to get any more though.
My favorite flavored black tea on earth, hands down. It’s a bright, buoyant black tea base (maybe a bit of darjeeling in there? I’m not sure), blended with real lavender flowers and the leaves of an indigenous Japanese berry plant, the haskap (also called honeyberry or blue honeysuckle). There’s some haskap-berry flavoring in there, too.
The haskap leaves give the tea just a touch of tartness, reminiscent of raspberry-leaf tisane, which combines with the lavender to help offset the berry sweetness. It smells very fruity and sweet when dry in the bag, but brews to a more subtle, fruit-and-herbal flavor. A dollop of cream and sugar really brings the haskap berry flavor to the fore, if you prefer that.
Unfortunately, it’s an exclusive “tourist” blend only sold in a few Lupicia shops in Hokkaido, Japan, my old stomping grounds in my JET days. (This is why it’s named after the Korpokkur, a sort of gnome or fairy creature from the local Ainu mythology.) I do appreciate that exclusivity is a big marketing trend in Japanese culture, but it’s a little frustrating when you’re back in the States with no access. I ended up buying about five bags on our last trip over to visit friends, and seriously amusing the cashier.
Flavors: Berries, Lavender
For all those who have been wondering – yes, this is Champagne Rose under a different name. Most of Lupicia’s teas are the same in Japan and overseas, but they’ve been providing slightly different versions of Champagne Rose for years (I think because of an import issue with the pearlescent pink and silver dragées in the Japanese version, which are banned in some US states).
A few months ago, they finally pulled Champagne Rose from their site altogether. After a bit of a wait, their “signature” tea is back at last…but under a new name, to differentiate the domestic and overseas versions. “Champagne Rose” for the Japanese version with dragées, and “Rose Royal” for the overseas version without.
Fortunately, it’s still the same light and lovely flavor of strawberries and champagne, with a hint of rose, that got me hooked on Lupicia’s flavored teas to begin with. This was my first Lupicia purchase, some eight years ago, and it’s still among my favorites. A bright, elegant flavored black tea, good with milk and a touch of sweetener or on its own merits. As the Bard said, a rose by any other name…
Flavors: Champagne, Strawberry
I think this is Cookie. My package is actually called Biscuit Gourmand and labelled in French, since I did get it in France. And it makes sense that they translate their original japanese names for teas into both English or French, as the place of sale. Their catalogue number seems to be 5537 which googling leads to Cookie.It fits marvelously all other descriptions of this tea on steepster, black tea, marvelous cookie, bakery type of smell, like sugar and almond and butter. My first attempt at making it, quite carelessly, because I wanted something to drink with lunch (yes, this is a weird choice, but I could not resist and it worked) and I loved it. I was struck also by how smooth the base was.
This was another of the three I used at work to get me going. I use Nilgiri as my everyday black based on its consistent quality and low price. I’ve heard great things about this company, and this will the first of their products I’ve have tasted. The leaf quality does not lie; this is BOP. The flavor was very malty with subtle chocolate tones. This was all encapsulated by a woodsy flavor. This wasn’t a terrible brew, but it wasn’t the best either. This helped a lot though in motivating me.
Flavors: Chocolate, Malt, Wood
It’s starting to get warm out, and I just couldn’t face a steamy hot beverage this morning, so a nice cold glass of iced matcha latte sounded like a good plan. Super easy to make, and the tiny clumps of powder ended up dissolving into the milk with no problem. Lightly sweet, creamy, nice matcha flavor, and quite satisfying, although I couldn’t detect any caramel notes. Not a lot of the mix comes in the bag, so I may end up going through this rather quickly.
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Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Cookie, Nutty, Sweet
This is the bagged version.
After going tea shopping only at T2 for a while when visiting Melbourne, I decided to change things up and I had the pleasure of visiting Lupicia’s Melbourne store recently . This was the tea I sampled while I was there.
So good! The lovely scent of sweet cherry blossoms and berries was the first thing I liked, and initially drew me to it. Once tasting, it is nicely delicate and has a subtle flavour that is not too sweet.
Overall, very happy I purchased this.
Flavors: Berry, Sakura, Sweet
Interestingly enough this kukicha had a subtle sweetness to it that was detectable upon every sip. This was a free sample that was given to me so I had no idea what it was by looking at the package but once I opened it I knew. Pretty nice brewed liquid. The teabag version was a bit chopped compared to what the loose leaf would be but I don’t think it changed the taste at all. Enjoyable, but doesn’t have the taste that a sencha or gyokuro tea would capture in regards to the freshness of Japanese teas.
Had this again this morning in a smaller 6 oz. mug and while steeping, I could already tell the difference in scent in comparison to the last cup. The caramel has become more alive. I added fat-free creamer (first time using it too), and combined they taste pretty good together. This cup is marginally more flavourful than the last one, however. Based on the scent, I was hoping for more.
I ended up having to settle for sachets because they were sold out of the loose leaf. In a way, I like the convenience, but I ended up not taking into consideration that there’s only like 2g of tea per sachet, so steeping it into a Nordic mug full of water may yield a slightly diluted cup.
The dry tea itself smells scrumptious. Very creamy and caramelly, even slightly boozy, but not necessarily like baked goods. It reminds me of a cross between caramel- and hazelnut-flavoured Bailey’s Irish Cream.
But the end result isn’t nearly as flavourful as it smells. Just a tiny hint of caramel. It luckily didn’t get as astringent/bitter as their other blacks, but it may be because of the ratios. Next time I try it, I’ll have to just use a regular mug or just pour less water into my Nordic mug.
For now, I’m not terribly impressed. I definitely prefer ATR’s Brioche over this, as it’s more complex.