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Recent Tasting Notes
Wow, I’ve been neglecting these generous Héritage Gourmand samples from boychik (and originally CharlotteZero). To be fair, I’ve amassed a giant mound of flavored tea samples, especially since I started doing my tea rehoming. I was sorting through them today and this sounded amazing, so I had to try it. The black leaves are small and very dark, and there’s a generous amount of cacao nibs mixed in. Dry scent is sweet chocolate heaven, a mixture of milk and dark varieties. I let a heaping teaspoon steep for 3 minutes at 200 degrees. I think I might let it go longer next time.
Mm, the aroma is intoxicating! Creamy milk chocolate combined with the richness of dark chocolate. And the taste is spot-on as well! The texture is somewhat thick and luscious, almost like actual Mousse au Chocolat. I added a teensy bit of raw sugar to mine. I would say it’s mostly milk chocolate here, but there’s a touch of rich dark chocolate mixed in to give depth. It’s creamy and delicious and chocolate heaven! I can’t even imagine how amazing this would be with milk added.
Flavors: Chocolate, Creamy, Custard, Dark Chocolate, Sweet
Another from my swap with Cameron B! I’m always so excited to try Mariages Freres teas, they’re probably my favorite tea blender. I have plans to visit Paris next year and am excited to bring a basically empty suitcase and come back with it FULL OF TEA.
The dry leaf is lovely – twisty blacks and curled whites, lavender and rose petals. It smells strongly of lavender, which I’m beginning to embrace right now. Brewed up the liquor is paler than I expected, more like a well-steeped green than a black tea. This may be a function of how long I let it steep, as I don’t generally pass the three minute mark on black teas unless it’s a chai.
I’m drinking this on and off and liking it more as it cools. One of my favorite MF teas is their The des Impressionistes, which is a lavender cream green tea, so I can’t help but compare it to that one. Impressionistes definitely wins because the vanilla element gives the lavender a depth which I feel is lacking here. Still, this is tasty! Smooth and faintly floral. The rose doesn’t stand out, which I appreciate because a Fauchon experience made me leery of intense rose flavors.
The white really mellows the black base, so I didn’t get any astringency or anything. I’d be interested to try this heavily leafed and iced. Not one I’d buy probably, but I’m very happy to drink it and to have a little bit left for a few more cups!
A sample from Ysaurella. I enjoy Christmas in general (not as much as Halloween, though!), so it comes as a surprise to me that I’ve not tried all that many teas which attempt to capture the spirit, or essence, of Christmas. I can think of one or two, but none that spring to mind as readily as this one! Finally, thanks to Ysaurella, I have the chance to try it.
I chose a cool autumn day for my first tasting — I’m just too impatient to wait for December, or Christmas itself. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 3.5 minutes in boiling water. I made no additions to my first cup, but I think milk would work here. The base tea and flavouring seem robust enough to carry that.
The main flavour I can detect is clove, followed by orange/mandarin, and then cinnamon. The base tea is pleasantly malty, and adds a delicate sweetness that really seems to help enhance the almost savoury flavours. It’s quite a heavy-tasting tea, and the aftertaste lingers long on the palate like a slow-fading memory of Christmases past. There’s a very slight dryness, but I’ve come to expect that from spice teas in general.
This one does capture the scents and flavours of a traditional Christmas well enough for me. Christmas isn’t always a happy time of year for me, though, so some of that is very bittersweet. This would be the perfect cosy tea for a cold winter day, though. It’s a spot-on evocation of winter, and traditional happy family Christmases.
Second cup today, for which I used 1 tsp of leaf, brewed for 4 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk. I’m getting a strong banana flavour this morning — almost candy banana, really, and which is absolutely delicious. There’s a little almond and cinnamon kicking around in the background, and a hint of passionfruit. I got far more passionfruit in my previous cup, but I really like the banana I can taste this time. It’s a really wonderful pairing, and makes for a great mid-morning cup! Delicious. One I’d really like to add to my cupboard in the near future.
A sample from Cteresa. I’ve not had brilliant experiences with green/black blends before, but it’s something that intrigues me. I can see how, in the right circumstances, the notes could be beautifully complementary. My biggest struggle is usually with the brew temperature — it feels wrong to put green tea in near boiling water! There isn’t a huge amount of green tea amongst the dry leaf that I can see, though, so I went with1 tsp for 3 minutes at 95 degrees.
The resulting liquor is golden brown. The scent is quite almondy, with a hint of cinnamon in the background. The real surprise is in the taste; on first sip, passionfruit comes out very, very clearly. It’s followed up with almond — almost like a tropical bakewell — and then a tiny hint of cinnamon right at the end of the sip. I can taste a light roasty note, which I assume is from the green tea, and a mild, sweet fruitiness (almost like lychee) which could be the black base.
This is a pretty unique tea amongst those I’ve tried so far. I wasn’t expecting it to be so fruity, but I like how that flavour works with the almond and cinnamon. Definitely one I’d consider for my cupboard, if I wasn’t so leery of the black/green base combination. Another couple of cups should help to reassure me that I can cope with it, though!
I’m afraid I just don’t do rooibos well. The ingredients in this tea sound just like perfection to me – chestnuts are one of my absolutely favourite things ever. Figs and chestnuts are probably hanging out together at the top of my very tall ‘yummy yummy things’ pyramid. But alas, I just don’t like this tea. To me it tastes primarily like rooibos, no matter how many times and in how many ways I prepare it. Sigh. I should probably give up on rooibos, but as it seems to be the non-tea base of choice for amazing-sounding blends, I probably won’t.
By the way, I’ve recently discovered lapacho bark, and it is delicious. I got a pack of Rhubarb Lapacho tea at Hebden teas in York, and it is utterly delightful. Wish more places would make lapacho blends…
At the moment, I’m drinking a sample from Cteresa, which she tells me might be Se Chung…The leaves look similar to the photograph on here, so I’m going to pop my note here for want of a better location!
I let the water cool to around 180, added 1tsp of leaf, and gave it 3 minutes. Fairly standard oolong treatment, for me. Unfortunately, it looks like this is one of the varieties of oolong I don’t get along with so well. It tastes a little like a hojicha green, roasty with a sort of background seaweed/saltiness. I generally prefer my oolongs sweeter and more buttery, definitely greener.
As roasted oolongs go, this is super smooth, with absolutely no bitterness or astringency. There’s a clarity to the flavours; no over-complexity or muddiness here. Sadly, it’s just not for me. It’s good to keep trying and challenging my tastebuds, though!
A sample from Cteresa. I’ve had relative success with a few orange/jasmine/vanilla blends recently, so I pulled this one out to try with interest. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. It smells beautiful — sweetly cirtussy, just like an actual mandarin, with a light floral edge.
To taste, it’s everything I’d hoped. The orange is sweetish, but with a slightly zesty edge, and the vanilla and jasmine combine into a creamy light floral, which complements the citrus flavour beautifully. The base is smooth and delicate, with no bitterness or astringency at all, and it doesn’t detract in the slightest from the flavouring. I do appreciate how well balanced many MF teas are; the more I drink, the more that stands out to me. Thy’re the quiet, unassuming geniuses of my tea cupboard. Their flavouring might not be loud and brashy, but it’s certainly subtly awesome.
This is one I’d definitely add to my cupboard if the opportunity arose. My favourite orange jasmine tea prior to trying this one was Mighty Leaf’s Orange Dulce, but I think it might just have lost its crown! Thanks so much to Cteresa for sharing this one with me.
I was in the mood for a French tea after excitedly discussing the Dammann Freres advent calendar with Miss Stephanie, so I decided to give this one a try! This sample came from boychik, who originally got it from CharlotteZero. So, a big thanks to both ladies! This tea has small, dark leaves blended with blue cornflower petals, small pieces of nuts, and some cinnamon bark. Dry scent is cinnamon and honey with an odd tang, maybe from the blueberry? I steeped a heaping teaspoon of leaf for 3 minutes at 200 degrees.
Mm… This tea has a warm and comforting aroma – mild cinnamon and clove with sweet marzipan and a hint of berry. The taste is a tad bit milder than I would like, so next time I will try a longer steep. There’s mild cinnamon combined with a smooth nutty flavor and a touch of berry juiciness. The aftertaste is sweet marzipan. For some reason, I am getting a bit of a chocolate note, perhaps it’s from the base tea? Either way, a delicious and comforting melange of flavors, and I’m sure this one will be even better with a longer steep.
Flavors: Berry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Marzipan, Nuts, Sweet
A sample from Ysaurella. This is today’s afternoon tea at work. I gave 1 tsp of leaves 4 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. The flavour of this one is one of the strongest I’ve ever encountered from a MF tea. I can taste apricot straight away, and fortunately it’s an accurate, natural apricot and not a terrible chemical monstrosity. I can also taste the deeper, darker sweetness of fig. It adds a sweet syrupyness to the fresh, sweet top notes of the apricot. I’m not really getting peach, but that’s a small complaint when everything else is so present and correct.
I like this one, and that’s not something I usually say about apricot teas. A cupboard candidate for sure! Thanks again to Ysaurella for sharing this one with me!
I also received a sample of this one from Ysaurella, so today’s cup comes courtesy of her. This time I’m drinking it without milk, and I’m enjoying it just as much. It’s such a smooth tea, and the base is so light and mild in flavour it’s almost ethereal. A little like the full moon, perhaps?! The main flavour I’m picking up is, as previously, cherry. It’s a lightly floral cherry, rather like sakura blossom, but with enough fruitiness that it’s not a purely floral impression of scent, which is how cherry sometimes comes across to me in tea. It’s definitely a fruit flavour. I can detect almond in the mid sip, and a very light smattering of cinnamon in the aftertaste. Here and there, I’m sure I can taste a tiny splash of blueberry.
This is still an intriguing tea, and one I find particularly interesting to drink. I like cherry tea, especially when it’s a natural, accurate flavour as it is here. I probably wouldn’t have thought to put almond and cinnamon together with cherry in a blend, but it works really well. A little like cherry bakewell! A delicious sweet treat, and one I’ll certainly seek out again in future.
A sample from Cteresa. This is another subtle, interesting cup, with a lot going on. I’m enjoying contemplating these teas as I drink them, picking out the flavours, considering how they work together to create the overall effect…
I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water, and added a splash of milk. The main flavour I can detect is cherry, underscored with a light floral (like blossom?) and just a touch of spicy cinnamon at the tail end of the sip. With successive sips, I notice a note of honey dancing somewhere in the middle — it complements the cherry/spice dynamic really well, and helps to make this a very smooth, delicately sweet cup. At times, I can also taste a very light nuttiness, perhaps hazelnut, although it’s a little overpowered by the cherry and spice. They’re definitely the main players here.
It’s not really putting me in mind of a full moon, but I am enjoying this one. Natural tasting cherry teas are a rare thing, but MF seem to pull it off better than most. A delicious mid-morning cup, and another I’d consider adding to my cupboard. I’ll be overrun at this rate!
A sample from Ysaurella. This is a tea I’m already slightly familiar with, as I drank the iced tea version earlier in the summer. I liked it, and so was interested to try the black tea version that inspired it as well. I gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in boiling water, and (based on the colour of the resulting liquor) left it black.
I was expecting a little astringency, but there is none. It’s actually a gloriously smooth tasting blend, and the spicing is perfectly done. It’s distinctive but not harsh, and it’s still possible to taste the pleasantly malty black base underneath. An example of a spiced tea well done, in my book.
Although it’s spiced, it’s not reminiscent of chai. Rather, it tastes very eastern inspired, very exotic, reminiscent of a walk through a souk. The spices are so well blended, it’s actually quite hard to pick out individual notes. I fairly sure there’s cinnamon, but I’ll need to think on this one a little more (and try it when I’m not at work, perhaps) in order to have time to really think about what I’m tasting. A positive experience, though, and a pretty unique blend. I’ve not tried many (any?) like this before, which is actually quite refreshing! A possible for my cupboard.
A sample from Ysaurella. After having skimmed a few of the notes below, I allowed 1 tsp of leaf 5 minutes in water around 90 degrees. The scent is fairly generic, and it’s hard to pick up any clues about the tea from that alone.
To taste, this one is, to me at least, a fairly unusual combination. I can pick up on a light edge of citrus, but on the whole this tastes rather like the sugar shells on chocolate mini eggs . A rich vanilla flavour emerges in the aftertaste, but that’s the only point at which I would have thought “creme brulee”. The custardy vanilla mellowness is there, but I think I’m looking for a caramel/burnt sugar taste to really round out that impression.
Somehow, though, this tea does make me think of Easter. It’s sugary, spring-like in its light flavours and delicate taste…fresh, somehow. It’s not quite what I was expecting, but it grows on me with successive sips. I’ll certainly enjoy finishing up the sample, but I think I might need to experiment with brew time and the amount of leaf I’m using a little. It’s like the waters are a little muddied at the moment, and it’s hard to really pinpoint what I’m tasting.
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.