Popular Teas from Mariage FrèresSee All 280 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
I’ve done a really good job with sipdowns today! Yay me!
Anyway, made the last pf my sample of this from VariaTEA in a timolino and drank it on the walk home from work. That means it sat in the timolino for a good, solid 8 hours. I point this out because it wasn’t even the SLIGHTEST bit bitter – so that’s fantastic.
However, as far as the other taste goes I found it nice, if maybe a little too floral (I don’t mind floral teas too much, but I dislike that flavour quality a lot in black blends specifically). On a whole, this is SO generic though! Like, if I hadn’t made it myself and known what it was there’s nothing about this tea that distinguishes it enough for me to go “Oh yes, that’s a cup of Marco Polo! Nothing else like it!” and for that reason most of all I’m glad this is gone and out of the way.
Holy cow! This is all caramel with a hint of vanilla, and then some honey poured on to boot. A very sweet tea, almost too sweet and decadent… but not quite. ;)
Thank you Ysurella for sharing this with me. Wow, I can see this fulfilling any sweet cravings I have.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey
This is a tea that Scheherazade shared with me. I have never heard of anything by the name of Yuzu before, so I had to look it up. Initially I thought it was the name of the type of green tea, but it turns out that it’s the fruit it’s flavoured with. Further investigation reveals that it’s a kind of citrus fruit that grows in East Asia. It looks like a mandarin and supposedly tastes like a mix of grapefruit, mandarin and lemon. So I’m left to expect something that can somehow manage to be sweet, bitter and tart at the same time. How is that going to work?
Citrus-y conundrums aside, I tend to find that green tea and citrus go quite well together, so I’m rather looking forward to tasting it now.
It does actually manage to smell like all those three citrus fruits mentioned earlier all at once. Imagine a triangle with grapefruit, lemon and mandarin at the corners. Right there in the middle of the triangle. That’s what it smells like. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible. Now, the danger of lemon-y things is that they might wind up smelling a bit like washing up liquid, but I don’t think this one does. It smells rather like a fruit I would like to taste.
There’s a good deal of bitterness in the flavour. It’s not oversteeping-bitter or too-warm-water-bitter, it’s more like grapefruit-bitter. Like when you get a bit of the peel as well as the fruit. Apart from that the flavour isn’t really reminding me all that much of grapefruit, mandarin or lemon, although it is decidedly citrus-y. More sort of bergamot-ish to me. Like a bergamot that has been tarted up a bit with some lemon. It does go really well with the green tea though.
Hmmm… I’m not sure what I think of this. It seems to be rather refreshing, but I’m not sure I can drink very much of it without getting a bit tired of that bitter note.
I’m happy that my first ever Mariage Freres tea is this blend, Marco Polo, which the company is very well known for here on Steepster. The sample was provided by my tea triplet VariaTEA – I’m assuming because she wasn’t all too impressed by it.
Dry, I don’t smell a lot. I guess some fruit – but it’s light and generic. I suppose that could be from the packaging and the fact it’s been sitting in my sample drawer for a little while now. I’m hoping the taste it much more flavourful.
Brewed up, it didn’t smell nearly as delicious and aromatic as the Creme Brulee from DT I was brewing up so it really didn’t hold my attention all too well. And then, once it was brewed up I wanted to dig into the Creme Brulee – and instead had to force myself to get to this one so I could try it before it went stone cold.
Now that I am trying it, I think it tastes pretty decent. I really like the black base used here and if all Mariage Freres’ black teas have a base like that then I’m sure this company and I will get along just fine. However, as for the rest I think the fruit here lets me down a little. I can’t for the life of me figure out what kind of fruit this is supposed to be. Strawberry? It’s definitely not a stone fruit – that’s for sure, and I don’t get apple, banana or any type citrus in any distinct way. So, to me, that kinda leaves berries as the most likely thing they’re going for. I don’t know.
The other thing I get from this is a floral in the end of the sip and aftertaste – and overall I’m not minding it but as I get to the bottom of the mug it’s kind of starting to build up in a perfumey/chemical way. I’m not smiling too fondly on that.
I don’t know… It’s just not distinct enough! I want more!
So overall thoughts? I think I side with VariaTEA all in all with not being incredibly blown away by this one or totally buying into the hype. I’ll stick to many of my other blacks over this one.
I had an odd amount left over in the packet after transferring this to a tin, so I thought I’d steep it in the interest of clutter reduction. I suspect that I may have under rated some of the other Mariage Freres blends because I was feeling my way into my system for the teas with the French thing, a/k/a the je ne sais quoi, at the time. I would discount from this the ratings on the Earl Grey and the Breakfast Blends because those I would have rated much more along the lines of others of their ilk rather than the more mysteriously flavored blends.
I went a bit to the opposite extreme with this today. I overleafed and steeped hotter than before.
I think the happy medium is going to be overleafing, but slightly less, and steeping just a little cooler. The first time I had this it was a tad on the thin side, and today it is perhaps just a smidge too strong. However, I can definitely enjoy the flavors today.
What those flavors are is apparently a mystery. Mariage Freres’ description doesn’t say and some folks are getting tropical fruits from this. I’m not, really, though the banana reference makes some sense, because of the creamy interplay with the fruits. To me, it’s mostly dark red fruit. Berry, more raspberry than anything else but maybe a little strawberry, and some plum/prune/currant. Definite red fruit notes. And something along the vanilla/chocolate continuum. I found a seller on the internet who says this is chocolate and cassis. http://www.furansunocafe.com/produits.php?no=400&lg=en&base=salon_de_the That makes sense to me, but it’s not overly important.
With the magical French blends from Mariage Freres, Dammann Freres, etc., the individual flavors concern me less than they do with other blends. I’ve said before that I like to be able to distinguish each flavor even if the tea takes an ensemble cast approach.
But the French blends seem to beg for a more impressionistic tasting experience. I often feel while I’m drinking them that I’m tasting them through the gustatory equivalent of Renoir’s dappled sunlight, or Monet’s reflections off the pond at Giverny. Whether I can distinguish chocolate or black currant, or any other flavor for that matter is about as important to me with this tea as finding a hard edge in a Monet painting.
Which is to say, not at all.
Ah, figs. I do love them, although more so cooked than fresh… we have two huge fig trees at this house, and the fresh just plain overwhelmed me last fall. Lots of cleanup, lots of mess everywhere, lots of animals (skunks!) coming to feast on them as they plunked to the ground.
This tea ? It’s a rich, baked fig to me, however much less sweet and with a creamy black base. Yep, this I do like!
Ysurella you sure do know how to pamper someone with French teas. Thank you so much for this!
Yesterday was my Mom’s birthday. To celebrate it, I took her and my daughter this morning to have a brunch in Paris at Le Bouillon des Colonies :http://www.bouillondescolonies.com/
It was a nice brunch and the waitress was exceptionnal, very kind and sweet with a real sense of service.
Everything went well even if my daughter decided at one point to suddenly eat bacon with her hands !
The restaurant is serving Mariage Frères teas and this one with the Brunch.
I had a lovely teapot and a teabag.
You know how unsure is a steep in a restaurant, we never know which temperature they used for the water. I would say it was a 85 or 90°C.
I left the teabag 3minutes only and I have had a splendid light amber liquor, smelling delicious bergamot.
This is surely an Earl Grey but very floral, refreshing and sparkling. The base was really wonderful and made me think to try more first flush Darjeelings even if I tended to think 2nd flushs were my favourite. A very thin but lovely hint of astringency.
A very refined and elegant tea. Very unusual tea base for an Earl Grey but clearly a success.
I’m packaging some of this to send off to sil, and figured I might as well try it myself. I actually got this at the Balzac’s cafe (guffaw guffaw balzacs omg), and it came in the most adorable tin with a really tight lid and this vacuum sealed under-lid thing. Wow that was articulate.
Anyway, the dry leaf smells quite strongly of ginger and cloves, and you know instantly that it’s a fairly spicy tea. You’re encouraged to add milk and sugar to this, which I took liberties to do.
The spice profile definitely holds true for the taste as well. It’s a chai that’s heavier on the cloves and ginger, with sweet cinnamon and a hearty dose of pepper rounding out the sip and warming your throat. In fact, I can imagine this being a really good “sick” tea, because of the throat-warming effect and also the ginger. This is no delicate, sweet cinnamon chai, and as such, might not appeal to those who avoid spicy chais, but for chai-lovers, I think it should definitely be on the to-try list. And given that I don’t currently have a chai in my collection, I don’t feel at all bad adding what I consider to be generally a ‘winter’ tea to it.
Soooo this is still one of my favourite teas. There’s something that i just love about the dark chocolate, mousse taste that just makes me happy. I’m going to be so sad when this is gone and all i have is the tin to remind of how delicious it was. I just can’t justify the price, unless it happens to be in stock if i ever make it back to France :) Then i can splurge heh. I just like that this is chocolate mousse…real chocolate mousse made with dark chocolate, that isn’t sweet…. not the typical chocolate mousse you find in restaurants that is stupid sweet and not as delicious :)
I’m drinking this tea out of my new birthday mug, and it’s been poured from my new birthday teapot. I have named the latter Freddie, after the character Freddie Miles in The Talented Mr. Ripley, because it’s fat-yet-elegant, showy and has weird colouring. Birthdays aren’t very gifty to me, unlike Christmas – I’d rather get together with friends and chosen family for activities and Symbolic Things. I prefer getting myself birthday gifts – small things I don’t really need, but that make me happy. So on Monday I was out all day on a magpie spree with my special sweetface Em. When I got this, they offered to deliver it for me. I mean. It’s a tiny teapot. It was hilarious. When it had been settled that it did, in fact, fit quite easily into my bag, they knocked €2 off. It really cracked me up.
My friend T. inspired me to pick this up (Hey T. – good news, I have enough to share!) She’s been ogling it for a while and I figured I’d do us both a service and act as a test subject. I wanted something fit for spring – complex, floral, but yet light and not too overwhelming. Mariage Frères definitely delivered on all accounts. First of all, this is a beautiful tea. Long, thin, needly leaves in various dark shades of green, the occasional light leaf breaking it up nicely, and an absolute abundance of lovely petals.
Scent wise, it excites me a lot, because to me, this is the spring counterpart of Marco Polo Vert – and that, to me, is the ultimate green tea for autumn, with its thick fruity ripeness. This has the same boozy character, but it’s a light, floral booziness. A perfect spring tea party tea – when I close my eyes I see tiers and tiers of dainty sandwiches and cakes.
I’m sometimes frustrated by teas that have no discernible, individual flavours, but in this case the multifaceted florality present in each sip is like a lovely, delicate veil of tea. It’s perfectly achieved, and I’m very pleased with this one. Like most Mariage Frères teas in my collection, it has a very clearly defined personality that grows on me with each sip.
Anyway, one of the Symbolic Things I did yesterday was to dye my hair for the first time in… well, forever. I have never altered my hair colour, ever, in any manner whatsoever, during my 34 years. We went with chocolate, tobacco and a dash of gold. In other words, just like my own hair, only without the greys that emerged overnight some time in late November. http://tinyurl.com/qe7jd58
I love my pervy old uncle Rick.
[Purchased at Dagnino in Rome, March 2014.]
backlog from yesterday since my internet went poof! trying to work from home today so here’s hoping it doesn’t go poof again. I seriously hate internet providers in canada. all of them.
This was my pick me up tea yesterday and it was a good thing i had it. I LOVE this tea…the deliciousness of it always makes me feel better :) So glad to be back with my cupboard! (even if it IS still unorganised)
A birthday week tea rerun (trearun?). I figured this would pair well both with the chocolate cake and the almond cake in case someone else wanted tea. It was so nice to get to see everyone in the same room for once – we all work very different hours and the building is pretty big. I’m often out and about, too, so there are some people on the staff I adore but don’t get to see more often than once a month or so.
(To make this post a little bit more about tea – the cleaning staff teased me about my tea cupboard. And, uh, rightfully so.)
Anyway, I got everyone caffeinated and sugared up, so let’s hope we all get a lot of work done before we collapse around lunchtime.
I’m a bit early for Easter, yet I really wanted to try this tea. And so… yum!
The base is very mellow, with touches of something creamy and citrusy with zero flowers anywhere in the flavoring. Almost a meringue-like flavor and feel to me, which I’m quite happy with.
Thank you Ysurella for generously sharing so much with me! :)
Hmmm, interesting.. very interesting. This is one of those “wait, is this tea or is it an herbal blend?” teas, but done very well in my opinion. I am really thinking people will either love this or hate it because it is so unique. Being born in the Year of the Horse as well as this being the Year of the Horse, I picked up a tin of this from MF on my last order.
First, the aromatics – the green lemon/orange zest, coupled with the very noticeable ginger immediately remind me of taking cooking classes in Thailand. I feel like I’ve just prepared some fresh lemongrass and ginger, and am smashing it in a mortar and pestle getting ready to add some Thai eggplant and chili peppers to make an awesome fresh curry. I almost want to brew a cup of this and add some garlic, peppers and eggs to try making a soup, but there are just enough sweet notes in there (probably from the kumquat) to stop me… today. In fact, when I add some stevia it really brings out the tart goji berries (or is that still the kumquat, I can’t tell). I definitely will try adding some cayenne to this on my next brew, and if that works out I’ll even try some fish sauce! LOL.
I can barely tell from drinking the liquor that there is tea in here. I see it, it’s the majority of the leaves, but the ginger, citrus, and really make this taste like an herbal blend, and quite a savory fresh green thai curry one at that (not the kind you buy, but the kind you make fresh!). There really is no astringency to lock in on and the ginger gives it a bit of that smooth but tart mouthfeel, so it almost feels like an herbal.
If you have ever had TWG’s Poetic Star oolong and/or TeaGschwendner’s Bamboo-Pomelo herbal tisane, this is somewhere between those two for me, plus ginger. I definitely like it a bit more than either of those other two.
Try it if you have a chance, it’s definitely one I’ll be reordering next time.
The all-faves birthday week tea consumption concept clearly calls for some more Mariage Frères. If you’re still on the fence about getting this, and like Cookie, or if you’re on the fence about getting Cookie, and like this – Cookie is like Wedding Impérial with popcorn.
Now I’m off to pick up cakes number 1, 2 and 3 so I can spoil the staff tomorrow. They really are the very best and take care of me so well.
Just one more cup before I run off – and as always, this makes for a flawless one.
I have a little more than half of this tin left, which makes me ponder the logistics of tea storage. I mean, I have a lot in my cupboard now, which I assume is typical for this stage of tea obsession – you tend to overbuy once you get completely hooked, because you want to explore certain brands and tea types.
There are definitely numerous new teas I’d like to try now, too, but I’d really prefer to have a cupboard consisting only of teas rated 80+ before I get anything else. However, that’s roughly 1/4 of the 100+ teas currently in my cupboard, which means I’d have to finish 3/4 of all the tea I own before I buy more. I don’t see that happening, even though I have not yet purchased any tea this year, which is quite a feat in itself.
I really like when there’s a system, though. I need a system.
This came in a swap from Ysaurella.
This is an enjoyable cup. There are hints of vanilla and caramel/honey. I would say more caramel than honey. I’ll try a resteep after I’m finished this one as well. So many of these French teas are enjoyable, but not overly memorable. Thus far it’s just L’Automne and Japon I require in my life.
Thanks Ysaurella for expanding my French tea repertoire!
This tea is….(drumroll)… Eros 2.0. Well, a slightly modified version of Eros. In fact, I brewed a cuppa Eros just to try them side by side, because I thought I had brewed the wrong tea!
OK well with a direct comparison, there are some differences. All the floral notes are still there, drinking this tea is still like walking through the gardens of Château de Chenonceau. HOWEVER, the hibiscus is gone, and with it all the tartness and sour notes of Eros. Comparing the two, this tea tastes a little bit sweeter and the tart is replaced by a slight hint of spice – picking through the leaves it looks to me like they replaced the hibiscus with french marjoram blossoms, but for all I know it could be sweet rocket, purple marigold, or some herb/flower I don’t recognize.
This also has a slightly smoother, creamier mouth-feel than Eros. Once again, probably attributed to the removal of hibiscus which has a pretty low pH.
Eros is a nice solid foofoo girly tea, and so is this. I loved visiting Château de Chenonceau but it wasn’t the gardens I loved the most, it was the display cases filled with swords and antique guns. ;-) I guess that being a pretty manly guy will get in the way of giving this a great score, but it will make great tea for my mom or female guests. If you love “flowery” flowers (think French garden, perfumes, etc.) in your tea, give this +10-20 points, depending how much you love flower gardens. If you are a woman, give this another +10-20 points, depending on how feminine you are. Voila, your personalized score. :-)
It is at the very top of my “Standard cuppa” rating though, since it still is tasty. I mean, if I ever break a nail while welding a metal statue of guns that fire bacon, this tea would fit perfectly and will be wonderful for guests. Would I recommend it? YES to certain audiences.
I realize this review may sound a bit sexist LOL. I guess after having 700ml of flowery foofoo tea, I guess I feel like I had to overcompensate in manliness to restore the balance in my evening. Excuse me, I now have to go smoke a cigar and cook some steaks over a campfire. Mmm puts me in the mood for a lapsang souchong LOL.
Flavors: Flowers, Peppercorn
You guessed it: vanilla. Not the chemical/artificial vanilla flavor you find in a lot of teas… a good, solid, pleasant natural vanilla. Not quite as good as splitting fresh beans from Papua New Guinea and dropping them into a bottle of grey goose for 6 months, but hey it’s tea not vanilla extract, and still beats the taste of typical grocery store vanilla extract or vanilla sugars/syrups I have tried adding to tea & coffee before.
The vanilla isn’t overwhelmingly strong. It’s there but doesn’t drown you in it. Not necessarily a bad thing, as the tea itself is pretty mild as well – the website says “black tea” but I’m guessing it will be a partially oxidized Darjeeling because it brews coppery/amber somewhere between an oolong and a BLACK black, and I picked up a bit of muscatel flavors in there. Balanced, but I have had better vanilla flavored teas, and there’s not really much else to it. Tea Merchant’s Silk Dragon holds the top spot on my vanilla leader board right now and wasn’t in any danger of being unseated by this, but when I want a little less vanilla without having to skip the first infusion, combine 3-4 infusions, or without any other additional flavors, I’ll come back to this.
No complaints, but not wowed. Nice, pleasant vanilla tea I won’t bother restocking after I run out – too many quality alternatives with less hassle and lower cost. Now, if I lived in Paris that would be a different story and I might stock it more often ;-)
Okay okay, so I finally see what all the fuss is about. And now that I have tried it, I am torn.
First, this is an awesome tea. It is essentially the closest thing to my all-time favorite black tea (TWG 1837 Signature black) I have ever had. It has all the rich and dark wild European berries you’d find from blackberries in Germany’s Bavarian woodlands to the prized bilberries people hunt for in Lithuania’s peat-covered pine forests where they filmed “Robin Hood Prince of Thieves”. It successfully muddles them with fresh black Vietnamese sugarcane you’d buy at a roadside vendor on the way from Hanoi to Mai Chau. It’s got that unique hint of wild and rare flowers in the background. The black tea adds that subtle but perfect touch of tannins, as if you brewed your cuppa in some monastery’s old wood barrel they once used to age berry wines for decades. It’s fragrant, it’s fruity, it’s rich, it would have earned a perfect score of 100 and made it to my all-time top list, were it not for the fact I was already spoiled and had tried something a little bit better.
Marco Polo’s berries are ripe, dark, and sweet, but they’re missing that handful of indulgent over-ripe berries, the kind that fall apart with the slightest agitation and dye your hands deep blue and purple hues. It’s also missing that hint of hot caramel your mom would make on the stove with fresh cream and butter from the farmer next door. And this is why I am torn. TWG’s 1837 seems like a copy of Marco Polo (don’t let the 1837 fool you as those guys only started in 2008), but it’s not some cheap Asian knockoff. They actually managed to improve the already decadent flavors and even enrich them.
So, I love this stuff but it doesn’t dethrone my current favorite (scented/flavored) black tea. Bonus points, however, as this is much more readily available and cheaper, and I can have MF ship it direct to my house. Downside of 1837 is that I’ve tried the bags from Dean & DeLuca and they don’t do any justice to the stuff you buy at their salons in Asia.
I can’t wait to try them side by side, that should happen in about 6-7 weeks once I restock the 1837. But for now, I am sooooo happy to have over a pound of this in my cabinet, I will be drinking it daily for sure. I’m liking Mariage Freres more and more with every new tea I try from them – and while I haven’t moved on to their “purist” (read: not scented/blended/flavored) teas, it’s something I will definitely have to consider next time I order or drop in on them.
Flavors: Berries, Flowers, Jam
Another tea from Sil, I made a cup of this to enjoy with my breakfast: homemade suasage patties, greens, eggs, & almond flour pancakes topped with sauteed peaches, heavily spiked with cinnamon, nutmeg, & ginger. This breakfast required a potent tea, & this assam fit the bill. It’s a little on the astringent side, but nice & bassy.
This is definitely a magnificent, well balanced cuppa of quality tea I’d expect from our favorite brothers Mariage. The dry leaves have a very strong, intoxicating smell, like a shot of krupnik (a spiced honey liquor from my homeland) diluted with Amaretto.. smells almost like it has alcohol. Made me think I’m about to get drunk brewing a bit of Amaretto with maraschino cherries or some other divinely sweet desert drink.
The brewed tea loses the “alcohol” scent but the almond/spiced honey fragrance is joined by some smashed red berries, I’d say closest to strawberries and dark brandied cherries. One of the “spices” is definitely mahlab, which gives that bitter almond & cherry flavor. That part brought me back to Egypt the moment I took my first sip, but in some European-style cafe in Cairo next to a hookah/sheesha bar. I can’t quite pinpoint the other spices (saffron? black sesame?), but they are very well balanced, neither muting the concert of sweet honey with cherry amaretto nor fading into the background.
The brewing suggestion was 3-5 minutes at 95C water, 2.5g/20cl. I found that 200F, 2tsp/300ml at 3 minutes works best for me, as some bitter notes from the mahlab start becoming more pronounced at 5 minutes. 4 minutes and I already needed some sweetener to bring it back to balance, but the flavor was a bit more robust. When I brewed a cup for my mom at her house, I used freshly boiled water (no precise kettle) I’m guessing was around 205-210F for 4 minutes and it definitely needed sweetener.
Finicky and you’ll have to play around with the temps to get it just right for yourself, but when you nail it, it’s a real treat. Also got mine fresh direct from Mariage Freres, so maybe the longer steeping times are for leaves that have been sitting around for a little while.
Flavors: Chestnut, Honey, Nutmeg, Nuts, Stewed Fruits
Every Thursday night I go to the Toronto Reference Library to meet up with my writing critique group. The Balzac’s Cafe inside the library is one of the only places I know of in Toronto to stock Mariage Freres’ tea, but I certainly wish this wasn’t the case – I’d love to get more!
I don’t have any info about the steeping parameters (temperature, water/leaf ratio, etc) since I purchased this from the cafe, but here’s what I remember about the first steep I drank this evening:
- Yellow-green liquor that shaded down to light amber as the tea steeped and cooled down.
- Vegetal, but not too grassy. Some of the flavours I picked up in the steep were hay, spinach, and asparagus. Because of this, I suspect that it might be a first-flush tea.
- This tea is rather astringent; as I progressed further into the cup, my tongue got that “dried up” feeling that sometimes comes from astringency.
- This wasn’t particularly brothy, but it was riding the cusp between savory and sweet.
I’d really like to get my hands on a full package of Fuji-Yama, rather than having to get it through the cafe. Even so, this feels like the kind of tea that’s best reserved for special occasions or when you have the time to sip and savour. This is not a “sitting in front of the computer gettin’ shit done” kind of tea!
Bottom line: this tea was so good that I saved my disposable cup and the teabag, and brought the teabag home with me so I can see about resteeping it tomorrow morning!