Mariage FrèresEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
Mmm… oranges and cinnamon.
On Halloween, yes, but I’d say that oranges and cinnamon are good Halloween flavours. So I’ll just pretend that this is a lovely Halloween tea.
SSTTB2, some #, a tea that I’ve yoinked. I might actually need to get more of this one closer to Christmas, but I’ll wait and see what Sil can grab me before I spend the $25 at Holt Renfrew. (I have a feeling that the Christmas tea won’t be available loose, but if I end up loving it outside my travel mug, I might get more.)
Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange
Pass the Stash TTB #4
I was really looking forward to this one. It smelled divine. Though once I drank it, I could not wrap my head around the flavor because it tasted exactly like lychee black tea. I’m not sure where the apple and “stone fruit” taste is supposed to come from because it’s lychee 100%. Which is not a bad thing; I love lychee tea. But it was not what I was expecting.
If I hadn’t tasted lychee tea first, I probably would have been blown away by this tea because it is lovely.
An 80 on the tea scale yet not recommended? Why? Read through to the end and you will find out.
Last year, 2013, it seemed important for Mariage Freres to get the very first picking of the Spring Flush teas and I feel they chose immediacy over taste. It’s nice to know in 2014, this is not the case for a small portion of their Darjeelings. Like this 2014 Margaret’s Hope Supreme FF. At DJ38, it has lost the “greeness” in taste and color but this is not particularly a bad thing as it has been replaced by more body and depth.
I had an extremely difficult time trying to find the best brewing parameters for this tea. As a whole, 1st Flush Darjeelings tend to be temperamental but this tea took it to a higher level where even plus/minus 10 seconds of steeping would alter the taste and characteristic of this tea. I tested numerous steeps at 3, 3;30, 4, 4:30. I found the sweet spot at 3:45. I was adjusting tea leaf amount as well. 3Tpsp, 4Tpsp, 5Tpsp, 6Tpsp, and finally the amount which really hit the spot was 7(!)Tpsp. The water temperature remained constant at 195F. After everything was said and done, I settled at 7 teaspoons (actually 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon), water at 195F, steeped for 3 minutes and 45 seconds.
Brew this tea too short and you get a flat light taste. Brew it too long and the astringency begins to assert itself. Use too much tea leaves and you get an overly rich, berry tasting tea. Nail everything down and this teas yields a great tasting cup. It has great depth, moderate body, with a slight taste of astringency complementing and balancing all the flavors this tea has to offer. It also reminds me of why I like 1st Flush Darjeelings so much. Yet requiring 7 teaspoons for 360ml of water is an awful lot of tea to use. Couple that with the premium price of 50 euros and purchasing this tea becomes hard to justify. Is it good enough to command a 14 Euro upcharge from the standard Margaret’s Hope. No. In some ways, I prefer the taste of the standard Margaret’s Hope better than the Supreme.
Dexter was kind enough to send me a sample of this one, thanks! I must admit, I’m not a huge chai person. It’s not that I don’t like chai, but for some reason I never tend to reach for it. Perhaps that will change as the weather grows colder. This looks very chai-like – black tea leaves with lots of pieces of various spices mixed in. It smells quite nice, like a nice mix of the spices instead of being dominated by either cinnamon or clove. I only did a 3 minute steep, as I was planning on drinking it without milk and I didn’t want it to become too strong.
Steeped up, it smells lovely and warming. I did add a bit of raw sugar, but no milk or cream (I do enjoy chai with milk, but I feel like it’s hard to judge quality that way). Yum, this is a tasty chai. I can taste cinnamon, clove, ginger, and cardamom, but none of them overwhelms the blend. My cup is quite mild since I did a shorter steep, but I like it this way when I’m not adding milk. Yum!
Flavors: Cardamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Spices
This sample came from my swap with Sara. It’s a mixture of black and green leaves, although there looks to be more black to me. Dry scent is vaguely sweet and somewhat vanilla-like, perhaps with some caramel notes.
Mm, once steeped, this smells like a creamsicle to me. There’s definitely a strong vanilla ice cream aroma going on. Whoa… For some reason, this tastes extremely earthy, which I did not expect at all. And it’s almost a little bit bitter, and a touch soapy. I’m not sure whether these tastes are due to the fact that my sample had a lot of broken pieces, but this one is definitely not for me. Dirt creamsicle?
Flavors: Cream, Dirt, Earth, Orange, Sweet, Vanilla
Another old sample from Shmiracles, though the age (my fault, for hanging on to them for so long) does not dim my appreciation for getting to try these fancy French teas!
This one I can cross off my list. All of MF’s Heritage Gourmand teas sound amazing, but this one didn’t live up to its potential for me.
First, it’s bitter. BITTER. Also, I’ve had macarons in various flavours, and all of them were more delicious than this tea. Last, I didn’t realize it was appley. I dislike apple flavoured things. Who’s ever had an apple macaron anyway? Not moi.
So I’m happy to have one to cross off my list! Since they are bloody expensive teas to covet.
Forcing myself to finally drink up samples of fancy French teas that I’ve had for an embarrassingly long time. This one came from Shmiracles!
I’d like to order some French teas one day so I must drink up to figure out what I love!
This one smells really good in the bag, very juicy. I thought it was a decent berry green tea. It struck me mostly as strawberries. Admittedly, about 3/4 of this was guzzled down cold because the baby woke up shortly after I made my cup. C’est la vie!
Overall, a delicate and enjoyable strawberry green tea, but not one I need to own :)