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Recent Tasting Notes
A sample from Cteresa. I tried Rouge Provence earlier today, and was half expecting this to be very similar, but it’s actually a completely different experience. A more complete experience, perhaps. I used 1 tsp of leaf, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180. The liquor is a bright, grassy green; it’s a completely fabulous, young grass on a bright summer day, kind of colour. Very sunny! Just looking at it cheered me up.
To taste, the flavour I pick up straightaway is cherry. Black cherry, to my tastes, followed by a hint of blackberry. It’s a beautifully natural, fruity, juicy flavour – no children’s cough medicine here! In the mid-sip, I can pick out a hint of rosemary, maybe a touch of thyme. Finally, rounding out the whole thing are lavender and rose. It really is like a journey through Provence — from fruit, through herbs, into flowers. There’s a mild grassiness from the green tea base in the aftertaste, and a tiny bite of astringency. Perhaps two minutes brew time would have been enough, but it’s so slight it’s hardly worth complaining about.
It’s not often that I prefer a green tea to a red or a black, but in this case I’m happy to say that I do. This version is a far more complete experience, to my tastes — it puts me in mind of France, and Provence, far more than the Rouge did — although I really do like that one also. Many thanks to Cteresa for allowing me the opportunity to compare the two. It’s made for a very enjoyable morning’s tea tasting!
I also have a sample of this one from Cteresa, so this afternoon’s cup comes courtesy of her. I gave 1 tsp of leaf approximately 3 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. The taste is a little different to the previous cup I tried. This time, I’m getting a flavour much more reminiscent of rum raisin ice cream. There’s a very clear raisin flavour, followed by a tang of rum (navy, rather than white), almost as if rum infused raisins had been added to the tea base. There’s also a sweet, silky creaminess, which I’m assuming is the vanilla, and which is so reminiscent of ice cream it’s almost unreal. At the very end of the sip, there’s a hint of dark chocolate. It’s deep, dark, decadent and delicious.
Last time I drank a cup of this, I was a little cautious with the brew time. I think the extra minute helps the flavour immensely, although I definitely need milk to cut through the tiny bit of astringency that creates. This is such a boozy, intriguing cup, it almost feels wrong to be drinking it at work! Gorgeous, through, except now I’d also like a bowl of ice cream. Ah well, I can dream sweet dreams until it’s time to go home!
A sample from Ysaurella! This was my Sunday afternoon cup, which followed Saturday morning’s Vanille des Iles perfectly. Not that I haven’t had tea since then, but tea this good? I’m eeking out my MF samples, making sure I brew them when I can pay attention, and drink them when I have the time to really appreciate them. I’m hoping to become a bit more familiar with the brand so that I can choose wisely when I do finally make my long awaited trip to Paris, hopefully next year.
I gave 1 tsp of leaf 2 minutes in water around 90 degrees, and added a splash of milk. I chose this unconsciously, but it’s pretty much the perfect follow up to Vanille des Iles. It has a very similar light, creamy, vanilla flavouring, on top of a fairly prominent base, but this time with a delightful run twist at the end of the sip. It’s delicious, right there in the final moment when all of the flavours blend together. Sweet, delicate vanilla with a deep, almost plummy, boozy kick. It’s another one I’d be wary of brewing too long, although I have come to be careful of most MF black teas in this way. I think it could potentially tip over into bitterness, and lose its flavouring amongst the base tea. Not so with this cup, though, which delights me considerably. I don’t think I’ll need both Vanille des Iles and Jamaique in my cupboard at the same time, but I’d certainly drink either again if given the chance!
A sample from Ysaurella! This was Saturday morning’s cup. I’ve been so tired lately, I felt I needed something sweet and decadent to help me get going. A treat in tea form. This one seemed like the perfect choice! I used 1 tsp of leaf, and followed Ysaurella’s advice with regard to brewing for only 2 minutes in water around 90 degrees. The resulting liquor was fairly dark, so I added a splash of milk.
I was expecting quite a strong hit of vanilla, but this one is actually quite gentle. Creamy, delicate, soothing. It’s a completely natural vanilla taste — no artifice here. It reminds me a little of the vanilla ice cream I made myself a few months back — such a change from the vanilla-flavoured ice cream I’d been eating up until that point. Similarly with this tea.
I think the milk has aided the creaminess a little, and I’m glad I didn’t steep as long as I would have without a warning, because I fear the base may have overtaken the flavour completely had I done that. It’s quite a present base, as is. This is definitely black tea and vanilla, rather than just vanilla tea. It’s delicious for it, though, and it makes for a wonderful breakfast time treat. Enough black tea not to be overpowering, enough vanilla to be a pleasant treat and a gentle wake-up.
I like this one lots. It’s up there with the best vanilla teas I’ve tried this far, and it’s definitely one I’d like to add to my cupboard when I get the chance. Many thanks to Ysaurella for giving me the chance to try this one!
A sample from Cteresa! I’m lacking variety in my teas at work, and have got myself into a bit of a tea funk, so in an effort to dispel this I brought some samples with me this morning. This is the first of them, and I have to say it smells divine! I’m a little leery of lavender in tea, and while this brews it smells quite strongly of lavender, and a little of rose. It also smells generically sweet. I gave 1 tsp of leaves 3 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk, just because. I have enough sample left to try a cup without if it turns out milk was the wrong thing, but it’s what I fancied this morning.
I have to say, I enjoyed this one from the very first sip. Looking at the dry leaf, which is fairly heavily strewn with rose petals and lavender, you’d think it would be a heady, floral brew. I’ve come to half expect this from french tea, and I feel I’ve made my peace with it fairly successfully. Floral tea can be okay. It’s not floral at all, though, really. Instead of the perfumey lavender/rose taste I was expecting, I’m actually getting a very berry-like flavour. A mixture of blackberry and raspberry? It’s sweet, not at all tart, with a faint undertone of lavender that somehow helps to round things out. I agree with Cteresa that there might, just might, be a touch of juniper in here somewhere. Gin and its constituents speak to me from a considerable distance.
To sum up, this is absolutely lovely. I’d say it’s a favourite of the MF teas I’ve tried so far! I’m enjoying the berry flavour, and I’m even enjoying the light floral notes. They combine well to make a pretty unique tasting cup. The rooibos is delightful, too. It adds a very delicate woodiness, which supports the flavours well while remaining fairly unobtrusive in itself.
Thanks so much to Cteresa for sharing this one with me. It’ll definitely make my shopping list for my future pilgrimage to France!
Another Héritage Gourmand blend to try tonight! These samples came from boychik and before that, they came from CharlotteZero. Thanks to both of you for the opportunity to try these coveted teas! This one is based on Tarte Tatin, which is basically an upside-down apple tart that’s baked in butter and sugar. Om nom nom! The base is rooibos, and there are pieces of dried apple as well. Dry scent is rooibos (woody, not medicinal) and caramel with some sweet cooked apple notes. I steeped about 2 teaspoons for 5 minutes in boiling water.
The liquid smells fairly strongly of rooibos, but it’s not the medicinal sort so I’m okay with it. There are also sweet cooked apple and caramel aromas. The apple flavor here is very nice, although I would call it more of a fresh and somewhat tart apple rather than cooked. There’s a touch of caramel and a definite buttery pastry note. I think this one would be amazing with a touch of sugar, but I find that I don’t like the taste of sweetened teas these days, so I’m going to forego that option. Very good rooibos blend! :)
Flavors: Apple, Butter, Caramel, Pastries, Rooibos, Wood
Okay, time to break into these Heritage Gourmand samples from boychik. Actually I’m told these samples originally came from CharlotteZero, whom I don’t know and who hasn’t been around much lately. All I can say is, thank you and I hope you come back soon! :) This tea is based on a financier, which is a French almond and brown butter cake similar to a pound cake. Yum! The tea itself looks like a sencha, the leaves are large and flat and somewhat broken. There are a few toasted almond slices mixed in. Dry scent is sweet with honey and almond notes. I steeped about 1.5 teaspoons of leaf for 3 minutes at 175 degrees, which is my general flavored green method.
Once brewed, this tea smells very sweet and cakey with lovely butter, vanilla, and almond (nut, not extract) aromas. It smells so sweet, it’s almost like frosting or meringue. This one is a bit lighter on flavor that I would like. However, it definitely does taste like a butter and almond cake. There’s something here that tastes like vanilla frosting as well, yum! The green tea itself is just kind of grassy and nondescript, which is a shame. I could see this being very good with a nice buttery dragonwell or something similar. Overall, it’s good, but not great, especially considering the price.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cake, Frosting, Grass, Vanilla
A sample from Ysaurella, and the second tea I’ve tried from the MF selection she sent me. I used the parameters she recommended — 4 minutes at 80 degrees. The resulting liquor is yellow-green, and surprisingly smooth. 4 minutes is a longer brew time than I’d typically give a green tea, so I was expecting some bitterness or astringency. Interestingly, there’s neither.
The main flavour that comes out is cherry; sweet, floral, almost syrupy cherry. The biggest fruity-floral hit comes mid-sip, before it tails off and the mildly vegetal green tea base makes its presence known. It’s on the edge of bitterness right at the end of the sip, to my tastes, but it hasn’t tipped over. I think next time I may nudge the brew time down a little to 3.5 minutes, just to see how that works out.
The scent is beautiful, thought. Cherry blossom through and through! It’s such a spring-like, happy smelling tea! It’s impossible to inhale, take a sip, and not smile. Another MF I’d consider purchasing when I make my long-planned pilgrimage to France.
A sample from Ysaurella, and a long overdue tasting note! This was the first tea I tried from the MF samples she so graciously sent me. I followed the parameters she recommended — 5 minutes at 80 degrees. The resulting liquor is yellow-gold, and very smooth tasting. I was expecting a little astringency, for some reason, but fortunately there is none.
The oolong is floral, slightly buttery and “green” tasting on the whole. There’s a light flavour of orange blossom in the middle of the sip, but it fades relatively quickly. I’m finding it quite a calming, reflective tea, which is just what I need at work sometimes. It’s perfect for a late summer day, when there’s still some warmth but the seasons are definitely turning. If a tea could capture the last rays of sunlight on a grove of orange trees in blossom, this one would. I could wish the orange blossom was a little stronger or more lingering, but we can’t have everything we want in life. A beautiful cup.
I love this tea. The name suits it very well – it’s a very relaxing, soothing tea. I almost group it with my herbal teas, because it just feels really mild in a very good way, but with the added ‘character’ of green tea. I will have to do a more proper review once I have actually made a cup, but I noticed that there weren’t any reviews on here yet and I wanted to give my thumbs up.
This also happens to be one of the teas I was going through quite quickly. I actually stopped drinking it much for a while because I was worried I’d run out, but then I moved to London where there is a Mariage Freres shop, so all is well again and I can safely sip away….
Today brunch at Mariage Frères rue des Grands Augustins. I’ve been very disappointed with the brunch card.It often changes but what they were proposing today wasn’t really for my tastes. However I drank a Margaret’s Hope and I did not like it … raaaaah.
My friend Valerie has chosen a Genmaïcha and I liked it so I bought 100 grams.And I asked for a sample of this Kaori Cha which is also a Genmaïcha but with Matcha in .
The tea liquor is obviously very green, semi opaque, hazy … mysterious … and this liquor smells crisped rice.
The taste … a good Genmaïcha, matcha is present but really in a supportive role. Crisped rice is very present, green tea is definitely there.
I like this tea but I do not know if this is a tea I would often drink. I find it perfect to use during a dinner or lunch. It is very well balanced. But, no chance for me for a breakfast, not even if the contribution of matcha caffeine would wake me gently up … I cannot imagine breakfast without a black tea or an Oolong tea heavily oxidized. At least not for now.
I took a lot of pics of my session with this tea, Genmaïchas are so lovely… you can see them here : http://thevangeliste.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/kaori-cha-mariage-freres/
Flavors: Green, Herbs, Rice
This was my big indulgence for the day, I was being spendthrifty, which is not good for someone who’s unemployed but somehow it needed to be done and it was difficult to resist! As I am looking at the website for Market Hall Foods, I see that their price for a tin of this is about 1/3 cheaper than at Chantal Guillon so I don’t think I will be looking at CG for my future tea purchases. Even Dean and Deluca is cheaper. sigh
Generally I have found the MF teas that I’ve tried to be not worth their hefty price tags. I really wanted to try the Plein Lune, which was out of stock. I ended up getting this based on the smell of the dry leaf, and I don’t have a good vanilla tea at the moment.
I don’t know how long this cup steeped for because I forgot to set the timer. I was definitely not disappointed in this one. It has a smooth, almost velvety texture and the flavor is definitely vanilla as well as caramel. This is a really nice tea for the afternoon, or for an after dinner tea. I can drink it plain but it was also nice with a splash of soymilk. Doesn’t need sugar at all in my opinion. It doesn’t seem as “fakey” as a lot of vanilla teas I’ve tried. It’s elegant, even the name is elegant to me. It’s nice that I’ve found something from M.F. that I’m really fond of… but still not sure it was worth the price I paid for it. I will savor this one as an elegant treat. It will go very nicely with cookies, I think. I’m a happy camper! I need another cup of this now…
I had lunch with a friend in Hayes Valley today and couldn’t resist stopping into the shop Chantal Guillon, which has a large selection of macarons, and more importantly: Mariage Freres teas. I ended up getting this to go and I have to say it was a disappointment. I didn’t get the flavors that others picked up but I feel my cup was underleafed, perhaps. I had one teabag for approximately a 12 oz. cup of hot water. To me it just seemed very light, with faint cocoa and nutty notes. I wish I could try making this myself without having to buy a whole tin of it. Not giving it a rating for now.
This tea is pretty fantastic. It kind of tastes to me like what coffee would taste like if it weren’t bitter… or something. It’s a very satisfying, strong brew that you can nevertheless very easily drink without any milk or sugar. Actually, that’s when it does the coffee-ish thing. If you do add milk and sugar, it tastes wonderfully dessert-y. All around, a beautiful tea. Try it!
So, I’ve been looking at this tea a bit more and I could swear some of those flower buds are lavender. I did actually do a side-by-side comparison of this and Oosterse Liefde, and they weren’t actually that similar. There definitely are some similarities, but not anywhere close to the same. I think it’s more that Impressionnistes reminds me of how I remember Oosterse Liefde. Interesting.
I’m knocking the score down a tiny bit just because I think I got a bit too excited when I first had it. It’s lovely, but I’m not sure it’s quite in my 90s yet. Let’s see if that changes again.
Ha! I worked out what this tea reminds me of:
And quite a bit! Strange, considering that Impressionnistes isn’t supposed to contain lavender as far as I can tell and I always thought that lavender was what gave Oosterse liefde its top note. Also it’s spices vs. vanilla. It’s a bit of a mystery. I’ll have to do a sip-by-sip comparison soon.
I absolutely love this tea. I went on a mini tea shopping spree today and got this one at Selfridges and White White Cocoa at T2. A very good day.
This tea tastes really familiar to me, like I’ve been drinking this kind of tea for years now… only I can’t think of what tea it could possibly be of the ones I have. I think maybe it’s just my head playing tricks on me. Whatever it is, though, it is just a remarkably soothing, gently sweet tea without a trace of bitterness or anything else that’s not lovely. I don’t really know which notes and such I was tasting – will have to do round two for that. All I know is that it is utterly delicious. So there.
I don’t know what kind of crack flavoring is in this. It smells very strong but when brewed tastes very strawberry shortcakey to me. I almost exclusively use this to make butter tea (tea blended with coconut oil or butter, some sweetener and salt) making it taste more biscuity and delicious. Also I’ve had this tea
forever—many years in fact, and I don’t think the flavor has decreased (which kind of scares me).
Flavors: Cream, Strawberry
A solid Yunnan for a good price—bought it in-shop in le Marais! Excellent astringency with an assertive body and prominent earthy and caramel notes. Nothing too elaborate or subtle going on, but that’s not the point here—this tea is upfront and well-rounded. Absolutely great in the morning.
Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Oak wood
No notes yet. Add one?
Well, sad of not being able to get a sample of their oriental beauty, I lower my sights and asked for a sample of this tea. A full change of registry! But I also wanted to taste this famous tea.
“Butterscotch” the term for a French, does not really mean anything. In fact I know by now there is a kind of Scottish caramel made of brown sugar mixture and butter, molasse. But before I thought it was a kind of cake … well … I had to taste a butterscotch shortbread … which explains my mistake … I’m ignorant :)
The dry leaf displays a very strong fanatic fragrance (yes fanatic, not fantastic) of caramel: even with a big cold I don’t think possible for anyone not to detect the caramel because it is really so strong. And it’s not the smell of a light, sweet caramel; it smells like an aggressive caramel, very very red, not the little light caramel found on a tiered cake!
The leaves are cut rather short with a lot of very small twigs: suddenly I get scared and decide not infuse it more than 2 minutes 30 and at 90 ° C.
I get a wet leaf that looks like “packets”. I wonder what taste I’ll get in the end…
The liquor is a very dark amber brown very …caramel … actually …
And the surprise happens at the very end and essential chapter in the art of tea: the taste ! this tea is amazing! It is relatively smooth, very soft and the taste of this caramel is truly unique, very present but not too strong – that unique taste that I do not know, I love it … it’s probably that… the butterscotch … it should make sense isn’t? :)
Some pic of the tea (dry, wet leaves and liquor) are available here : http://thevangeliste.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/butterscotch-mariage-freres/
Lune Rouge (Red Moon) is a delicate tea with a twist of wildness. I am not a huge fan of honey and I was happily surprised by the subtile mix they made at Mariage Freres. This tea was a great discovery during my lazy summertime. Made a review on it on my blog (in French):http://www.monarmoireathe.com/2014/08/degustation-the-vert-tendre-lune-rouge-mariage-freres.html
Flavors: Floral, Ginger, Honey, Rose