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Recent Tasting Notes
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 At DJ38, it has lost the “greeness” in taste and color but this is not particularly a bad thing as it has been replaced by more body and depth.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 :)
Yay, this is my first sample from greenteafairy! I have to say, I was so happy that she was willing to send me some of this, as this is the only Héritage Gourmand tea that I didn’t get from boychik. Also, the dessert that this tea is based on looks and sounds amazing… It’s basically a little cake-like thing baked in a tiny bundt-like mold, and it’s custardy on the inside while being dark and caramelized on the outside. And it’s flavored with rum and vanilla, yums! I think we all need to go to France, just to go on a pastry-eating binge. Anyway! The tea itself has these little white puffs in it, and I’m not sure whether they’re marshmallows or super-puffed rice. I also see something that looks like cacao shells, which confuses me since there’s no chocolate in this dessert. Smells sweet and yummy though!
As soon as the water hit the leaves, I was rewarded with an amazing creamy vanilla and caramel aroma. The scent of this tea reminds me of crème brûlée, sweet and custardy with creamy caramel notes. I added a little bit of raw sugar to my cup. Yum, I think this is the best caramel tea I’ve had so far. It’s not necessarily a super dark and rich caramel, more of a creamy caramel custard or sauce. Yum, vanilla caramel swirl!
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Creamy, Custard, Sweet, Vanilla
Dexter sent me this lovely sample. Normally I look up a tea before trying it, but I figured it might be fun to try this one not knowing anything about what flavors it’s supposed to be. The leaves themselves are small and very dark with a few colored petals mixed in. I’m not getting a ton of dry scent from them, aside from a vague sweetness and something maybe resembling vanilla?
Once it’s steeped up, it smells quite peachy to me. I think I can also smell vanilla and perhaps some strawberry or other sweet fruit. It definitely tastes sweet and peachy as well, and there’s an interesting intense almost raisiny flavor. There’s also a touch of tartness coming from somewhere and it balances nicely with the rich and sweet fruit flavors. Overall, very yummy, sweet, and fruity! Looking at the description, I can definitely see fig being what I interpreted as that raisin note, and apricot as the tart element. Not too shabby! ;)
P.S. – I want more figgy teas!
Flavors: Apricot, Fig, Fruity, Peach, Raisins, Sweet, Tart
I like the idea of smoky tea, but I don’t tend to really drink it much. Still, Lapsang tends to be too strong for me, and this one is a bit more subtle, which I really like. Plus the name Confucius just makes me happy and goes very well with my general mood whenever I actually drink smoky tea… basically, rather Chinese and kind of mysterious and contemplative. My favourite smoky tea so far.
I have a feeling that Mariage Freres shop people in London are far more friendly than the Paris ones. Now, this is not one of those ‘Parisians are snooty’ things, since I’ve met plenty of lovely Parisians, including lovely tea shop clerks, but Mariage Freres Parisians aren’t among them. I’ve seen other people complain about how they grumble about samples, and I had the same thing – I bought 50 eur worth of tea, and they turned their nose up at giving me a sample! They gave it to me, but they weren’t happy about it.
In London, on the other hand, I bought Chandernagor for a friend and then asked if it would be possible to get a sample as well, and the very friendly shop fella started packing up a sample for me right away – a very generous one, too! (To be fair, so was the Parisian one). And he smiled! So. Much. Nicer. And the last time I was at the London Mariage Freres, the other shop guy had a nice chat with me about his home town. I love it.
Anyway, on to the tea. I don’t love it! I am utterly unhappy that I don’t love it. After reading all the glowing reviews here I had really high hopes that I’d found my perfect classic chai, but it’s just far too spicy for me when I leave it in for long, and not particularly special when I don’t. Sigh. The search continues…
I haven’t stopped drinking tea but I guess I haven’t been feeling like reviewing. Winter is coming, though!
Finally got around to trying this, the fancy little linen (?) sachets kindly sent by MissB months ago.
Based on the almonds and floral aspect, I was kind of hoping for something similar to Fauchon’s La Naissance, which I lovvvvvvve.
It is a bit reminiscent but ultimately has a bit of a spicy note that I could live without.
However, that being said, it is a really delicate and tasty tea that I was happy to finally try!
This one is a sample from Sara. I happen to love vanilla, but I don’t feel I’ve found my perfect vanilla tea just yet. Always on the lookout for more! This one has rather tiny black tea leaves. The dry scent reminds me of vanilla bean ice cream, yum!
Once steeped, the tea smells more woody, which always makes me immediately think of bourbon vanilla. I added a tad bit of raw sugar to my cup, as I am wont to do with flavored teas lately. The flavor is somewhat woody as well, which seems a perfectly natural combination with vanilla to me. The vanilla flavor is definitely similar to a good vanilla extract, and it’s of medium strength. It’s a perfectly nice, slightly more manly vanilla tea (as opposed to the custardy dessert kind).
Flavors: Alcohol, Malt, Oak wood, Sweet, Vanilla
Finishing up the last of this one! It’s definitely a favorite, the dry leaf smells just like a Creamsicle. Of course they describe it with rather more sophistication – but yes, the tangerine and vanilla come through quite clearly, and the green tea takes the edge off the black a bit.
I like to steep this for 3 minutes at 180 degrees; anything more than that and the green starts to sharpen up too much for my liking. This does rather mellow the flavor, but makes for an overall pleasant cup. Brewed up the scent is lovely, with the black tea itself meeting the flavored elements for a more muted Creamsicle, as it were. The taste matches the scent, with the black base leading and flavors layered over like a thin frosting. The tangerine is usually much brighter, but I think that’s just the consequence of the tin’s end.
This was the last three teaspoons from the tin, so she’s not giving her best performance today, but I’ll wave goodbye fondly and hope to see Paris Breakfast back in my cupboard again soon!
Continuing my tour of European black teas and this morning I chose MF’s French Breakfast. Another tea about which I’ve been quite curious but unfortunately I think I may have over-steeped or over-leafed (3.5 g in 9.5 oz for 3m 45s) and there is a little too much astringency for me detect the richness of flavors described by others. Grateful to have the chance to enjoy this gift sample and I’ll try to improve upon the cup a few days from now.
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!