Popular Teas from Mariage FrèresSee All 280 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
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!
A sad sipdown. It’s also sad because I think this is going onto the “don’t reorder” list. I do like it, but I don’t think I like it enough.
With cranberry honey, it’s really fruity even though I steeped it for something ridiculous like 10 mins. Apparently I forgot to press “go” on my timer! Oops. :)
Thank you for the chance to really try this one out, MissB.
I received a sample of this in the wonderful swap package Ysaurella sent me. Thank you so much for including this one.
Honestly, I didn’t look it up – I had no idea what what Prince Igor was or should be. Sometime I like not looking and then seeing if I “get it right”. Even after looking I’m not sure what “right” is.
“A rich blend of green Japan tea and black Ceylon tea, flavoured with rare citrus and other fruits.” That’s what the description is – kind of vague. I’m not getting any citrus at all. I’m agreeing with the other reviewers. For me this is red fruits, vanilla, and maybe a hint of floral. One of the other reviewer said it reminded them of Marco Polo – I can see that but I think what it really reminds me of is Fruits d’Alsace by Harney & Son’s. This is more “French”. I think French teas are more scented than flavored. It’s like you get a whiff of a scent and that translates into taste rather than being hit over the head with flavoring like the US teas are. Does that make sense to anyone other than me?
I really liked this (I know Fruits d’Alsace isn’t getting much love on my dash board tonight but I like it). It’s fruity and vanilla and not too floral for my tastes, it’s subtle and gentle, nice and comforting.
Thanks Ysaurella for introducing me to this one. It just makes me love the French style even more. :))
I opened this package over a month ago. Had it precisely twice being underwhelmed by it, and actually Anna, to whom I sent a sample, reviewed it before me. So I feel like, yeah, I should get to it, and just say something about it.
First thing, I am screwing up brewing this. I have not nailed it it, yet, though I think this tea for some reason does not like my tap water (some teas do not mind even some very grand teas, some do mind. Unpredictable) and I had to up the dosage from my first attempts. And today got distracted while brewing it, brewed it slightly too long and it showed in a bit of bitterness towards the end of my cup.
The dry leaf smells fabulous (which was why i got it), boozy! Rhum, and good rhum, none of that Bacardi or worse stuff, a sugary sweet scent so different from the other more usual sugarcane derivatives. With vanilla and a hint of chocolate. Awesome! Beyond awesome , count me in. 100 grams please.
But I am still trying to crack how to brew this. This third time, it was better, a discernible taste closer to the scent. But I still think I can get more out of this tea, must experiment and not forget it.
I remember reading cteresa’s note for this four months back and laughing so hard at the following, “…have no idea why they call it samourai, I can´t think of anything less samurai like than this tea.”
Now I’m sitting here with the remaining half of her hard-earned sample – there’s no way I can top the sheer hilarity of her review, though, so I’m not even going to try.
Scent wise, this is very lotion-from-l’Occitane, in other words, absolutely not for me. Smelling this for more than five minutes would give me a headache – it’s too medicinal. Brewed, it’s not so bad at all, much less lotiony, with hints of citrus, and with the tea base (which is quite nice) coming through distinctly. There’s a jubilant, grassy, vegetable note in there, too – I’m guessing it’s the MF bergamot – I’ve never tried theirs before.
In the cup, this just blooms. It’s very floral, and I like floral. I wouldn’t go as far as to call this a complex tea, but the tea base adheres to MF’s usual high standard (although it tastes surprisingly green to me) and I’m not having any problems finishing the cup. I also wouldn’t turn down a second cup, but I wouldn’t buy it – it simply isn’t something I crave as a staple. Maybe it’s because I’m just not samurai material.
Thanks, cteresa, for letting me try the least samurai-like tea in the world.
[Spin-off sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]
[Sample polished off in Rome, February 2014.]
The rooibos version of this is one of my favourite reds, so I had to try the black. It has very little to do with the familiar one in my cupboard, though.
Scent wise, the dry tea has a thick, buttery richness to it that I recognized so well but couldn’t quite place. And then it struck me. Rice porridge. In Sweden we make a difference between rice porridge (runnier) and rice pudding (baked in the oven, more of a cake-like texture) and the former is mainly served as a traditional Christmas dish, warm, with milk, and with cinnamon and sugar sprinkled on top.
It can be a bit of a hassle to make the actual porridge, as it easily burns (the rice is cooked in milk) – my mom has a sneaky trick, though; she takes it off the heat after it comes to a boil, and then wraps the whole thing in blankets to keep it warm until it’s time for Christmas dessert. It usually rests for five or six hours, which allows the rice to slowly cook and swell. Unwrapped, the porridge has the perfect texture and temperature, and it’s seriously the best trick ever.
And this is exactly what it smells like, on Christmas Eve, when that lid is removed.
I’m pretty sure the rice porridge effect is what’s supposed to pass for marrons glacés, but I haven’t had those since I was very small, so the rice layer is simply much further up in my memory stack.
The tea base is very pleasant, classic Mariage Frères, and I know this is one that would have appealed to me immensely if there hadn’t been such an outlandish scent/flavour parallel. As it is, I don’t really know how to feel about the whole thing. Every other sip is, ‘I like it..’, and every other, ‘…but it’s weird.’
Thanks for adding this and messing with my head, cteresa!
[Sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]
Right, so how do I even explain the origin of this sample? Well, we’re doing the second round of the EU swap box, and cteresa forgot to put one of the samples she wanted to send out in the box… so she sent an envelope, too, a few days later. Of course, seeing as cteresa is cteresa (i.e. completely awesome) she added even more tea samples (hey, empty envelope, gotta fill it).
Among these were a couple that I’ve been dying to try, including this one. I have a pretty decent MF reseller here, but they haven’t had Jamaïque in stock since I moved back.
My prediction for this tea was that it would be like Vanille des Iles with a twist – and yes, that’s more or less what I find myself with here. Scent wise, there’s much more caramel in VdI, making for a rounder, sweeter profile. In terms of Jamaïque, though, there is this perfect, boozy note topping off the vanilla base. The same goes for the brewed tea, even though I find myself struggling more with flavour recollection than scent recollection this time around. In short, however – Jamaïque fronts less caramel and more booze.
It’s a very enjoyable, smooth cup, but just as in the case of VdI, I would have enjoyed a more exuberant vanilla presence.
Thank you, cteresa!
[Spin-off sample from the second round of the EU Travelling Box, spring 2014.]