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Recent Tasting Notes
Next in line! This sample came from boychik and, originally, CharlotteZero (whom I wish would come back so I could thank her!). I’m unsure how this one got missed, as I’m usually rather eager to try French tea samples. I guess it must have gotten lost at the bottom of the sample box! The leaves are very small and dark. I can’t smell much, perhaps a hint of fruit.
I can immediately smell that this tea is French – it has that powdered sugar aroma. I can also smell red fruits and some sweetness. Hm, this is actually quite good, especially for being rather old. There are definitely red fruits here, mostly heavily strawberry and raspberry. It got a teeny bit bitter, but I did steep it for 4 minutes, and the leaves looked quite broken. I can taste a hint of vanilla, but I wish there was more. Pretty tasty, I would like to try a fresh sample of this one. :) Withholding rating because I suspect flavor loss here.
Flavors: Fruity, Malt, Raspberry, Strawberry, Vanilla
Where do I even start?? This tea is amazing!! Opening the red and gold canister I’m immediately greeted by huge curls of toasted almond, juicy looking raisins, large chunks of orange and cherry and an almost overwhelming brown sugar and candied fruit scent.
First sips really are reminiscent of Christmas pudding!! Oranges, vanilla, brown sugar, almond… Ohmigod! So expensive but SOOO worth it!! I really need to make sure this lasts til Christmas morning!! A splash of milk makes the vanilla and sugar notes really stand out.
I swear I have reviewed this one, but I can’t find any notes on here from me. So here we go…
This is one of the teas my daughter picked up for me when she went to Amsterdam and Bruges. She brought it to me while we were still in Ireland, and youngest and I had a ritual of having a pot of tea in the breakfast room of the house and then heading out for scones and more tea and at 9am, which is when the fresh scones came out at the Java Café. We had a pot then and I think I had it once since, and today we have had two big pots of it.
I was a little confused at first because I thought macarons were the same as macaroons, but they are completely different. This is definitely macaron. The dry leaves are beautiful, with the mix of flower petals and bits of nuts and dried apple pieces. The aroma is largely apple, almond, and pure biscuit. I still don’t know how they make tea smell and taste like biscuit, but they do.
I found it to be smooth and flavorful, very nice even without milk or sugar. The different flavors are well balanced and none overpowers the others. My hubby still has trouble drinking black tea without milk and sugar, but he drank several cups of this plain and enjoyed it very much. Big thumbs up here!
Yay, this is the last of my Héritage Gourmand samples from boychik and CharlotteZero! This one is based on the madeleine, which is a little baby sponge cake that’s baked in a mold that resembles a shell. The base of this tea appears to be sencha or something similar, and there are yellow cornflower petals mixed in. Dry scent is generic grassy green tea with some sweet cakey notes.
The steeped aroma is pretty much the same – grassy and sugar/butter. Meh, I think this sample is pretty old, it seems to have lost all of its flavor. All I can taste is mediocre grassy green tea. Withholding rating!
This sample came from boychik and, originally, CharlotteZero. Thanks ladies! I really enjoy macarons and almond-related things in general, so I hope this one lives up to its name! The tea itself is a mixture of small black leaves, dried apple pieces, and little white things that look like tiny popcorn but are apparently amaranth. Dry scent is kind of vaguely sweet and dessert-ish without really smelling like anything.
The steeped tea smells like apples and caramel, which is pleasant even if it’s completely unrelated to the intended flavor. Hm, for some reason this cup came out a teeny bit bitter, which is odd since I used rather conservative parameters. I can definitely taste apple, although I’m not sure how that relates to macarons. There’s also a bit of a burnt sugar kind of flavor which makes it taste somewhat desserty. Overall, it’s not bad, but it’s nowhere near a macaron… Closer to caramel apple. :P
Flavors: Apple, Burnt Sugar, Caramel
I’ve been very keen on nut-flavoured blacks in recent months, so when we ordered from MF, this seemed an obvious choice. I don’t know what kind of nut is in here, but one of them is definitely almond. That marcipan-y note is impossible to miss. Then I expect one of the others is likely hazelnut and the last one probably walnut. Those seem the most likely choices anyway, as they’re so common I reckon any other type of nut would probably be mentioned in more detail. If the French version of the description offers more detail on this, feel free to inform me.
The leaves smell very sweet and almond-y. Husband thought it was quite Christmas-y and I agree with that, because marcipan is closely connected with Christmas in this country. You can have it all year, but I’d wager 50% of the average Dane’s yearly marcipan consumption happens around Christmas. After steeping it smells more hazelnutty and walnutty which fits nicely with my guess of other nuts in this.
The flavour is more sort generally nuts. There’s a sweet hint of marcipan to it, but mostly it’s just generic nut. It doesn’t bother me, though, that I can’t tell the different nuts apart and identify them separately because they come together in a rather well-rounded whole which also suits the base quite nicely. It feels like they’ve used a fairly strong base for this and that’s a good choice, I think. Nut flavoured teas tend to get rather sweet on their own, so a strong base balances it out a bit more.
I’m quite happy with this one. I have to say I find that something of a relief, really, since earlier this year I tried a number of French brand teas which others had found to be the best thing ever and I kept getting a little disappointed by them. I mean they were nice enough, but not all that. It’s good to know that there are still lovely French teas out there for me as well. I used to be very keen on the subtlety of the French blends in general. It’s like French brands blend and flavour to a particular style. My tastes must have changed a bit since then.
So I’m off today, and I slept in, really late, since I’ve been sick for the last week, and really fatigued at work (I did take Sunday off so I had 3 days in a row last weekend to take it easy). I got up, made this tea, and heated the tea biscuits I got from the Timmies at the airport yesterday morning when I took my husband there.
It tastes a little bit like an earl grey, when I added the milk, but it was more mild when it was without. Neither taste was bad. I did not steep this very long, afraid of getting a bitter base. I might they it again with a longer steep.
I’m glad I picked this one out of the SSTTB to try. It’s nice and just what I wanted this morning/afternoon. I think I may head back to bed soon, when this cup is finished, and rest up some more.
A little while back, I stopped in at the Holt Renfrew holiday shop and picked up some beautiful Mariage Freres teas. Unfortunately, the beautiful tins came with a not-so-beautiful price tag of $45 a tin. Plus, I had the added bonus of having the Holts employees basically glued to me as if I came to steal all their precious tea. So, I was not too motivated to splurge on anything. Consequently, I bought two tins: one of Mousse au Chocolat, which I tried before and really enjoyed, and this tea since it is one that I have been eyeing for over a year.
When I smelled this tea, it smelled deliciously rich and fruity. When I brewed it up, I hoped the smell would transfer into the taste and it did to some extent as the tea was quite fruity. However, it had a generic red fruit taste and not much else other than a mediocre base that fought for center stage. With that said, I steeped it for 5 minutes at 200F according to the Mariage Freres instructions and I think that might have thrown things off so I will be trying this again and again until I get it just right. I mean, at $45 a tin, I’m not about to just give up on it :P.
Another Mariage Frères arriving to me straight from Lisbon : obrigada cteresa.
It had been super wrapped by Teresa to not contaminate the other samples and it was so right because that Lapsang Souchong has a smoke smell really stronger regarding the others I had until now.
I have a very soft and mellow cup of Lapsang Souchong , medium bodied. This is a very nice tea, very smoky so rather not recommended for novices in Lapsang Souchong unless you have an highly developed taste for all that is smoked.
Smoke , despite its strength, is extremely refined – the wood used was probably selected on high profile and one can clearly feel it in his cup. It is extremely enjoyable. I just finished my full teapot .
you can see pics of my session with this tea here : http://thevangeliste.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/lapsang-souchong-imperial-mariage-freres/
Flavors: Smoke, Wood
This is the third tea I bought at MF in Berlin. I decided to take a chance on it because of the bergamot and rose combo. I am not disappointed in my purchase! (Side note: I know I have rated all of these new teas the same, but it’s hard for me to really pinpoint my feelings on them right now. I really really like all of them, but I don’t know if I loooove them. Anyway, probably jet lag brain).
I enjoy this tea quite a bit. The base is smooth and pleasant, the bergamot is relatively stong, the florals (mallow, rose & lotus) add a nice counterpoint to the bright citrusy bergamot. It’s kind of like Amore from DF, but slightly simplified (without the chocolate and almond notes). It may (like that tea) become a regular rotation of my morning tea; an Earl Grey with interest. Another winner.
Flavors: Bergamot, Floral, Rose
I had not planned on buying this tea, but one sniff of the caramel and rose blend and I had to have it. I was again crossing my fingers on the base tea for this one.
And yay, it’s one I like. This is also pretty delicious. Base tea is smooth, caramel is on the burnt toffee type flavor to it (not so buttery or creamy), rose is light but adds a nice sweet note.
Neither of these special edition teas are quite special enough for me to justify ever purchasing them again (since they only come in pricey tins), but they are special enough that I will be happy to have them in my cupboard.
Flavors: Caramel, Rose
Here are some short reviews since I have been really bad about tasting notes lately.
I had this one again and it was SUPER almondy. Definitely very good. I think I should keep the temp on the lower side, though, because it was edging toward bitter at times. I also think that, for me, my ideal almondy tea is not just powerfully almondy but also has an all important bakey-ness too it, like a cookie or cake. Just almondy ends up feeling kind of thin, and like it has nothing behind it; I have found this to be the case in several teas now, and it is also true of this one. I mean, this is super delicious, but it also feels like it’s missing something. Maybe I need a punch of vanilla with my almondy teas. Basically what this comes down to is that this tea is super similar to Fauchon’s La Naissance, but Naissance has those cakey notes that round it out and make it just a bit better, for my tastes.
I have historically not purchased a lot of MF tea because the bases vary so much and I never know whether I am going to like them or not, which is problematic when you are buying 100g of tea at a time. But I’ve had a couple of recent successes so I decided to take a chance again when I went to the MF shop in Galeries Lafayette Berlin; this one was on my list of get, with almond and rose (my faves). I closed my eyes to the steep price and bought this one and another limited edition tea in a tin, as well as a loose tea in a bag.
I was hoping that the base on this would be similar to Full Moon Party, and it is… smooth and tasty. I will have to pay attention to this one more the next time I have it, but it was overall very nice. Neither the almond nor the rose is super strong, but both are present. It’s not quite as good as La Naissance (my fave almond and rose blend), but it is good. I should remember to drink it while it’s at least warm because once it got cold an earthy note came out of the base tea that wasn’t my favorite, but I didn’t taste it when it was hot.
Flavors: Almond, Rose
Another tea that comes from Lisbon , from a with cteresa … Teresa Obrigada ! yes, I know I could find Tea Tibet here but I did not want to buy it and this is really a good way to taste before you buy a tea that you might not like at all.
It is a blend that is unremarkable at first , dark black and green twigs ,shot cut. It smells Jasmine and Jasmine and a touch of rose.
I decide to brew it 4 minutes no more.
I get a very dark liquor , more than I would have thought given to the colour of the leaves that are very green once infused .
I start to taste it : it’s pretty amazing. So here I remain quite quiet … cannot tell if I like it or not . Very strange . It is relatively floral : Jasmine is the star. The rose softens the entire body of the cup. We can also clearly detect citrus . bergamot . and ? So I jump on the MF site and I read that it is supposed to contain as well mandarin . I ’m not sure to get it.
I am at the end of my mug … and if I drink this tea without displeasure I cannot say that I am excited . Probably too floral for me. Yet I like some very good jasmine teas . But there, blah . I understand that one can appreciate it but it is really not a cup for me.
Here are some pics : http://thevangeliste.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/the-au-tibet-mariage-freres/
This tea came from boychik and, originally, CharlotteZero. Thanks, ladies! The leaves are of medium size and jet black, and I can see a couple of teeny pieces of dried strawberry mixed in. It has a delicious sweet caramel and tart red fruit smell, yum.
Mm, the steeped tea smells delicious as well! I can definitely pick out tart strawberry along with a light and sweet caramel scent. Hm, I’m not sure how old this one is, but it doesn’t have much flavor at all. I can taste a bit of strawberry and caramel in the aftertaste, but mostly it just tastes like a slightly bitter black tea. Withholding rating…
Flavors: Bitter, Caramel, Strawberry
This tea arrived straight from Canada , from a swap with Jillian – Jillian Thank you so much . It’s crazy , isn’t it? A French tea which did the way France – Canada and is now back to its " home " country … Hello carbon … not to mention the first trip of the original tea which probably came from China :) Anyway, even if I feel a little guilty for being a nasty polluter of the planet I can enjoy this superb Earl Grey.
There is nothing to do for Earl Greys, I ’m definitely a huge Mariage Frères fan . I tasted at least 7 or 8 of their EG and I loved them all. Some more than others but all have in common a perfectly balanced bergamot , balanced and scrupulously respectful for the tea base used to accompany it.
This tea has the distinction of containing tips silver . They usually make tea more delicate and refined. This is actually a lovely tea and refined tea. Still relatively smooth and with the perfectly balanced sweet bergamot which slowly but surely tickle the palate. Very successful.
The liquor is very dark amber .
You can see pictures of this tea here : http://thevangeliste.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/earl-grey-silver-tips-mariage-freres/
Going through my green tea samples and I found this one. I could go for a bit of flavour with my green tea on this dark and dreary Saturday afternoon.
The raw blend consists of dark green leaves that are (for the most part) small and broken with a few tiny pieces of yuzu fruit rind amongst them. Nothing the size of the picture though I understand this is only a sample, perhaps a larger package would be more similar. It has a sweet yet sour scent, more perfumed than citrus like.
Flavour is heavily perfumed and sour, so thickly that it coats the tongue and makes it dry. It doesn’t taste orange or citrus as much as it does perfumey, which matches the raw scent. I dislike perfumed teas like this. It’s drinkable though I’m finding it to be a let down. It’s green tea is bitter and completely lost amidst the heavy perfume, and the citrus is also bitter and somewhat submissive. There is some sweetness to it though it disappears quickly.
This blend was not for me, it was much too perfumed and bitter for my liking. Not only did it not taste like green tea but nor was it citrus like. Plus the dry bitty coating from the after taste feels rather disgusting on my tongue. A shame.
Side note – I re-steeped the tea to see if it’s strength was toned down any. The second steep was actually much preferable to the first, it was less perfumed and bitter though remained dry and still lacking flavour. Perhaps a slight waxy touch of citrus though nothing major.
This sample came from boychik (and originally, from CharlotteZero). This tea is based on a type of French candy which is made of a paste of candied fruit and almonds covered in a layer of royal icing. Sounds delicious! The tea itself is a red rooibos base, and there are pieces of sliced almonds, cacao shells, and perhaps some kind of dried fruit mixed in. Dry scent is both sweet almond and tart fruit, possibly apples.
Once the tea is steeped, the rooibos aroma is fairly strong, but I can definitely smell sweet almond/icing along with the cacao shells and perhaps a touch of cinnamon. Hm, this one doesn’t taste like much, unfortunately. I don’t know the age of this sample but I assume it’s fairly old since it’s had three owners. There’s a little bit of almond in there, but even the rooibos flavor is weak. I tried letting it cool and it didn’t seem to help much.
Withholding rating on this one, as I think the age of my samples has affected the flavor.
Flavors: Almond, Cocoa, Rooibos
Picked this up while in Germany and finally had time to try it.
I don’t really get a lot of jasmine but I do love a strong jasmine so maybe that’s why I don’t get much of it.
I get a nice smooth black flavor, perfect for the morning. I do get a bit of the bergamot too. I’m glad it’s nice and subtle as it just adds to the black jasmine instead of overpowering it.