333 Tasting Notes

90
drank Rouge Sahara by Mariage Frères
333 tasting notes

Well this was an unexpected dud, but one which made me realize something about the peculiarities of my personal likes and dislikes.

I love rooibos, but I am very picky about rooibos – the base has to have certain characteristics. Some rooibos bases I dislike, seem musty or woody or even silty to me. But when rooibos is good, I do love it and it´s an extremely comforting evening drink. It´s far more difficult to me to find good rooibos than good tea, I got 3 (plus one south african supermarket brand which is an occasional random find) brands whose rooibos blends seem great to me – apart from those ocasional finds which seem good, but many others I do not even come close to finishing.

Mariage Fréres is one of my reliable rooibos brands, and wanting to try something new, the saleslady recommend this as her personal favorite. It smelled different, so minty, I decided to give it a (small) try. It´s rooibos with a lot of dried mint and rose petals, not sure if it has extra flavourings.

And the problem is with the flavouring – this made me realize I dislike dried mint leaves steeped in boiling water. I love fresh mint, I like mint in green teas (which do not steep in water so hot), but plain mint tisanes, noooo. Mint and boiling water, it is like the mint leaves this oily hint of bitterness which I dislike. And that was the problem here – I used boiling water and the mint had that oily boiled-mint thing and that was indeed a problem for me. Now I do not know what to do with is, I like rooibos very hot and very long, but if I do that the mint is going to annoy me. Will try again with water a bit colder, to see if there is rescue to this.

TLDR: Mint and boiling water: no-no. Mint only for lower temperature teas.

PS – also not a good rooibos for my late at night rooibos since I leave the spent leaves on the gravity infuser overnight. I never had a problem with smells (apart from the time I tried something with another variety of mint), but there is a definite minty overtone in the strainer now. This really is not a rooibos for me.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

too bad but you have now a new material to swap

cteresa

I have not quite given up yet, am going to try to brew it colder just to see – the review was more to make me remember my new insight into boiled mint being very much a dislike for me. And share in case other people also have a problem with it.

I, roiboosista that I am, have a problem with not having enough (rooibos) teas! I have 10 times more of other kinds of teas than of rooibos, but I am so picky about what I like with rooibos and somehow, because I always have rooibos in the evening and I like rooibos strong, examining the composting tea (it does not smell, really) half the tea I is rooibos. I am sniff running out of proper rooibos (do not pity me, I am a total snob about what is proper rooibos, and well it is a motivation for a tea order one of these days).

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84

If only all green teas were like this …

A sample so kindly sent by Hallie (and yes I am breaking my two caffeine teas a day rule. Temptation is too hard to resist…), I was glad of a chance to compare with the dragon wells I could find locally and there is not much of a competition – this is really much better. At all levels. Weird taste note – there was a nutty taste which is lovely and which I can not quite describe. The seller mentions chestnuts, not to me – for me it was something more like pumpkin seeds or something even greener… Lovely just the same, even if impossible to describe.

PS – downrating this a little bit. Tried to resteep and it does not work! Second steep was extremely weak, even using my tricks of much less water and hotter, and third steep was plain hot water. My generic worse-quality dragonwells are more generous. I think it is usually unfair to expect a tea to be re-steepable, it does not work with ALL teas nor should it have to – but this is a dragon well and can not help comparing it to other dragon wells!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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77
drank Nepal Black by DAVIDsTEA
333 tasting notes

I had been intrigued by the idea of Nepalese tea, and was so glad when Angrboda sent me some in a swap (I have an embarassment of riches of swaps to try. It´s a lovely feeling, except am trying to be good about too much caffeine.. the pains of too many new so-delicious seeming teas to pick. Thank you Angrboda! Nothing is forgotten and unappreciated even if I take my time to pick it).

This is very interesting – it´s like an Assam on a few things (malty! astringency), but a bit “rounder”. It is a little bit “hay”-like Darjeeling style, but not quite. I don´t get any honey notes, but I get a raisin sort of quality which seems Muscat. It is sort of sweet. The dry leaf had aniseed like notes, but nobody seems to have spotted anything like that, so it is possible I am imagining it – I don´t get it on the liquour anyway. So at the same malty and muscaty, which is interesting and good.

I brew it wrong, I think I used too much leaf or water too hot, it turned out a little bit too astringent for me – but still drinkable which would not have happened with an Assam.

I definitely want to explore more Nepal teas even if this particular one might not be the “one” for me.

PS – it is better with some milk and sugar. I am not usually a milk and sugar person but this is a milk and sugar tea.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

some teas need milk and sugar to help a little ;)

Mercuryhime

I agree with the milk and sugar assessment for this one. It’s a shame since its a bit pricy.

cteresa

Ysaurella, I have to remember that sometimes – it is not my default mode admittedly. I had the most wonderful surprise with one of my standard rooibos lately, with milk and sugar became a sort of amazing milk shake thing!

Mercuryhime, did not know it was pricey though! I have been stalking a particular Nepal tea from Theodor which is(was) quite moderately priced (around 7 euros for 100 grams) but it is sold out – OTOH I will probably only do the Theodor order I have been planning next Autumn. 9.50 canadian dollars (or is it canadian) for 50 grams of this is a lot I think.

Mercuryhime

It is 9.50 Canadian. For something that I’m going put milk in I think anything more than $5 for 50 g is too much. The one from Theodor sounds reasonably priced!

cteresa

Maybe too reasonably priced, it´s been sold out for months! Only in tins and Theodor tins are NOT reasonably priced (20 euros, no matter the tea, except some more expensive teas which are higher). I am afraid that when it gets back on stock it will be more expensive, like they did with their sublime Milky Oolong which is now quite a bit more than it used to be. Though I just might be fool enough to rebuy that…

Angrboda

I’m glad you enjoyed it, even if it could have been better. Husband quite likes it, I’m a little more ‘meh’ about it. I think it’s probably a little too high-grown for my preferences. :)

cteresa

I enjoyed it and thought it was so interesting – I got to try to find out if I got an altitude bias as well.

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85
drank Cocotte by THE O DOR
333 tasting notes

This is the famous tomato tea, which I have been intrigued by for ages and never been able to find on stock even in places which usually have it on stock – who knew that tomato tea sold out? Ysaurella came to the rescue and sent me this sample and I could (finally!) try it. Thank you, Ysaurella!

This is a very unexpected tea : flavoured darjeeling, with tomato and lemon. Recently I was talking of vegetables which fruits (tomato, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, etc) and vegetables which are fruits (rhubarb). Tomato is indeed a fruit, in my country a popular jam is made with tomatoes and I know someone who snacks on tomatoes as if they were apples (or carrots, now I think of it). So of course, tomato should have a chance to be something more. And it is very typical of Thé-o-dor teas that they experiment with it (and also typical that they could make it work).

I am not usually a fan of darjeeling and apart from Arya Rose d´Himalaya I do not recall ever having a flavoured darjeeling. I was very very careful brewing this, water was perhaps a smidgeon too cold, and used a timer for 2 and a half minutes. It was still a bit astringent, though IMO a desirable level of astringent for the flavours – but this is going to be indeed a tricky tricky tea.

The dry leaf is beautiful, and smells of hay-ish tea, lemon and tomato with the lemon being more noticeable than the tomato. While brewing the scent changes, the ripe tomato becomes the predominant flavour and I worried I was going to like this after all. The liquour thankfully has a more subdued, less liquid somehow (oh the irony), tomato note, lemon becames again noticeable. The non-verbal parts of my brain like it and do not care what it is. The verbal ones are still trying to figure out how came this works, but works indeed.

This is the strangest tea I ever tried, and amazingly it is good. It tastes not like an experiment or something meant to just shock, but well, it tastes perfectly finished, an interesting very eccentric tea which is so smart.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 30 sec
Ysaurella

I’m glad you like it :)
I put a biggest amount of this one in the sample bag because it’s a tricky tea to brew…Hope you have enough to try it several times. I wasted myself 3 full mugs before getting a correct mug.
Now I had this one I might dare tasting the Toupet de Légumes tea…

cteresa

I had your tip on how to brew it, so the first cup was OK! It is a little bit astringent, but I sort of liked it, tomatos are also a little bit astringent themselves, it worked. It is so strange, that darjeeling works so well with tomato – wonder if this blend started out from the tomato or from the darjeeling with flavours.

Toupet de Légumes, ah that seems even more brave – that should be a 50 grams tea. I confess I am also curious. If anybody could make it work it would Theodor. And these “different” teas, Cocotte or Adele H they are so pleasant when you are bored with the regular stuff…

Lindsey

Ohhh, I think I may have to start a quest to find this one myself! I’m fascinated by the idea of a veggie tea – especially a tomato tea! (Well, tomato-anything always gets my attention, to be honest!) I do enjoy a nice savory cuppa.

cteresa

This might be one for you then Lindsey! Though it is a tricky one to brew right. And they have a Toupet de Legumes tea with peppers and zucchini which maybe one day I will try! This tomato-lemon somehow just works….

Hallieod

Great tasting note! It’s funny because the Golden Monkey I sent you has the usual tasting notes but the smell to me was first and foremost stewed tomatoes. Which I love and therefore my mind was more accepting of the sound of this tea. :)

cteresa

I have not gotten to it yet, but will keep it in mind! I just made a cup of the zhen qu and am now pondering it (it is lovely, oh a chinese black tea, and maybe this is what you mean by too round…)

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86
drank Rose Congou by PureAromaTea
333 tasting notes

Oh, this is a classy classy rose congou. I was comparing it with my random generic rose tea from this old tea (coffee actually) shop and this is so different.

Not that the generic tea is bad, it´s actually pretty good (and the 100 grams I bought before this one was good, though this latest batch is not the same. They deny being a different tea, maybe it was due to freshness or being crushed or just differences with the blender. The problem with “generic” teas), and large enough leaf. But this is quite different – less roses, and a different rose smell. The generic tea is more full of rose petals (pretty filler but adding very little to flavour) and is richer in aromatic oils (oil can became bitter and just cloying). The generic tea is more one-note rosy. This tea has a different, more complex, more realistic but just as intense rose smell. Its leaves are also a smidgeon bigger and plumper. It brews much more subtle and much smoother. A very classy tea, if that description makes sense to anybody but me.

Notes – it is of course a rose tea. I usually find rose teas sort of fruity , in this case it reminds me a tiny bit of grapes.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec
Ysaurella

yes I can see perfectly what a classy tea is

Hallieod

I’m so glad you liked it! I was feeling a bit unsure, given the number of amazing French floral blends you have, but figured it would be interesting to try anyway. Made me think of tea roses, rather than other varieties of rose. Ysaurella, I’ll send you some too.

cteresa

Awww, not all french floral blends are amazing (though I admit I am a bit of a francophile when it cames to flavoured or blended tea). This is just lovely by any standards, and the seller site seemed very respectable indeed.

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87
drank Mademoiselle by THE O DOR
333 tasting notes

I just got a very nice surprise with this tea – expectations are funny things! Ysaurella had kindly sent me a sample, and just last night she had reviewed it, and led me to expect more lavender. She in fact compares it to another lavender tea I also had, Gryphon´s Earl Grey Lavender (a very kind sample as well, this time from LaFleurBleue). And for once Ysaurella and I have diverging opinions – I prefer Mademoiselle and find it less lavender-ish.

I confess I might have mistreated this when brewing, and did not pay too much attention to how long it steeped. I think it might have steeped too long or too hot, it has a small hint of astringency but one which seems to bring out the bergamot. I get the lavender only as a background soothing things. The bergamot is a great bergamot and the base tea just right. Love it, it might be the one lavender earl grey for me.

PS – maybe it is water alchemy? I notice bergamot teas seem to react so differently to different tap waters! Though with my tap water usually it´s violent rebellion not improving alchemy.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 min, 15 sec
Ysaurella

I am happy you loved it ! I brewed mine at 90° and 3 minutes only and I get a hint of astringency too, I think it is the tea base.
but yes to me too much lavender even if I appreciate the blend it suffers the comparison with the gryphon one for my palate :)

cteresa

It is very funny because to me this is less lavender than the gryphon – but I really am convinced bergamot is a tricky thing and reacts very differently to different waters (maybe the bleach?). I still got one Gryphon tea bag, I shall compare when I use it. Maybe try Gryphon with bottled water, surely it deserves that!

Ysaurella

next time I’ll send you a sample of Pouchkine from Betjeman & Barton, it is my favourite bergamot tea along with Earl Grey French Blue (even if sooooo different)

cteresa

Oh, you temptress! In a couple months, if you loved it, then yes I am sure it will be so interesting. But you know, I am not usually a earl grey person – though good earl greys seem to win over just the same. I got to go and up the rating in Aïda though, it was quite OK the first time I had it, but that tea the more I had it, the better I liked it.

Ysaurella

so I’ll need to send you too some Mélange Hédiard as well, these Earl greys are addictive !

Hallieod

Definitely take her up on the Pouchkine, Teresa! I was wowed by the way the bergamot is controlled by the other citrus flavours and the hint of smokiness, and I’m not always an Earl Grey lover.

cteresa

Ah,ok, I believe you both, one of these days (though do not save it specially for me, drink and enjoy as you will), when I have made a sort of dent in the teas you two ladies have sent me.

It´s sort of torture (a good one, but still), me trying to be sensible about caffeine and two packages arriving on the same day and full of precisely the teas I have been wanting to try. I am restricting myself to two cups a day of something caffeinated (though cheating with second steeps. And plenty of rooibos)

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80
drank Regent's Park by Yumchaa
333 tasting notes

Look at what I found in the back of the cupboard – I still got some of it. Sadly aged a bit, I love Yumchaa but I really wish they had more air-tight packaging – tins ideally, or foil packets (which are indeed great and pratical).

While this is a bit less scented than it originally was it is still very smooth and a very lovely combination of flavours (not as weak as you might think. Yumchaa is really good at intense natural flavours). I love papaya, but not sure I get its flavour here, for me this is green tea with pineapple and strawberries and it is a lovely summer drink indeed.

Hallieod

Totally agree about the packaging – I was going to call for your backing when sil said that Mango Sunrise was very mildly mangoey. I had transferred it into a tin, but didn’t have one for quite a while, and I’m sorry I didn’t send her a sample of it at its best. My last bit of Regent’s Park was in even worse shape than yours.

Yumchaa tins — that is the dream!

cteresa

The ageing is definetely worse for the green teas – the black fare better, the rooibos in between. Such a pity, because they are so awesome when fresh.

I got a set of cheap identical tins which I use for a few yumchaa teas, but teas are always scarce round my parts! And you know those foil like plastic bags with ziploc? Those really really work, as well.

Theoretically I should just use the tea up fast, but I am a hoarder, and try to order several teas at once to save on shipping – I drink faster the favorites but then I get hoarding urges to save a bit for an emergency (favorite tea emergencies, they happen), and then do not drink my non-favorites often and get tons of those using up tins.

Hallieod

Boo – trying to reply while watching Eurovision and lost the comment again. (We certainly won’t be hosting next year!) Was just going to say that it’s odd Yumchaa does have the foil packages, but only for the white teas. And have the exact same problem of hoarding favourite teas. I’m slowly building up a tin collection, so hope to be better!

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87
drank Adele H by THE O DOR
333 tasting notes

Adding another note, because I can not believe I missed the nutmeg| Duh, it´s so definitely there as well, adds a background, some solidity to the peach and pepper.

I am liking this a little bit less this second time, but I think I brewed it too hot and well Assam is a tricky thing for me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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86

I made this a little bit too hot and I think a little bit too long – should have been 5 degrees (real degrees that is ;) Kelvin or celsius) and one minute less. It is, like a lot of Théodor teas, a forgiving tea. Though I think due to it being brewed hotter than my first attempts, I am finally getting a hint of the apple mentioned on tea description.

This is a masterfully well blended flavour tea – a great smooth green tea base and then a blended mix just in proportion of evocative flavours. No flavour is really dominant, this is not a one note or predominant note tea, but different flavours seem to work at different levels. The mint is the first thing, then the rose and apple and the date last. I do not detect the almond, but sweet almonds are not very strongly flavoured anyway.

A truly well done tea blend – and a very elegant one as well somehow.

PS – to add, it resteeps very well! Slightly different notes on resteep, a little bit more rose and more date and maybe the elusive almond, maybe not. I expected a lot more mint because the spent leaves smell so minty, but not so much on the taste. But a definite two steeps blend.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

yes this is a lovely tea.

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71
drank So Long by THE O DOR
333 tasting notes

This is a tea which has been having rotten luck at my house. Whenever I make it I get distracted while doing it, and do not give it much enough attention. Ysaurella, to whom I had sent some in a swap did a tasting note before I ever got to it. Poor neglected tea!

Even today, I used water which was too cold – should have been a bit hotter. But even so, since the result was so nice, here goes. This is a tropical fruits oolong. Site says “pineapple, red passion fruits, mango and bergamot” and it is a nice touch to distinguish between the passion fruit type – I suppose their red is what we call purple passion fruit and which is indeed the better and pricier kind of passion fruit (green passion fruit grows better in our climate, it´s the only one which will grown on the mainland and produces tons more but is just not nearly as nice).

The oolong is not too dark, not too green, not too large, not too small – and not too noticeable underneath the fruit. There are some filler petals – rose and something else. There is bergamot in this tea but it might possibly be the most subtle use of bergamot I ever noticed (of course, uses of bergamot I never noticed would be more subtle even ;). For me the main note is passion fruit, with a touch of bergamot second and only then mango and then I take on faith there is pineapple. It´s fruity, smooth, and I think it would be delightful cold. I love passion fruit with its inherent tartness and funny how the bergamot seems to amplify it.

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 4 min, 0 sec
LaFleurBleue

Purple passion fruit is also my favorite. Does the yellow / green passion fruit grown in Portugal also have yellow flesh inside? In Indonesia, there’s a sort of passion fruit I’ve not seen elsewhere with the inside being greyish with bigger seeds than the purple. Honestly I do not enjoy eating it.

cteresa

The green passion fruit is sort of green-yellow inside – and it´s sour, I really do not like it very much. Even on juice, it´s only good mixed with orange juice. (and I love love purple passion fruit juice. Fresh when possible which is rarely or Compal Fresh Maracujá which is the bestest fruit juice ever packaged ever).

The green is like this http://www.google.com/search?q=maracuj%C3%A1+verde

It´s a lot tougher and more prolific and easier to propagate (just stick a cutting in thr ground) than the purple one so i guess that is why it is so popular. But everything traditional (liqueur, mousse, etc) is always done with purple passion fruit.

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Bio

Inconstant tea drinker – I mostly drink tea when not too hot. I hang around steepster much more frequently in (northern hemisphere) cold season.

- Teas -

I like all sorts of tea, flavoured and unflavoured, though I am picky. I am always willing to try anything new. I am now particularly interested in single origins.

I am one of those people who actually loves Lapsang Souchong. I am not crazy about Earl Grey, in general. I don´t quite get Darjeeling teas, but I am trying to make sure …

I like rooibos, though not all bases. I loathe hibiscus. I do not like fennel/liquorice/anise in blends or teas with chicory. I am picky about what I consider true cinnamon.

As you can probably tell from my cupboard, the brands I find more interesting right now are Mariage Fréres,Thé-o-Dor and Yumchaa.

Location

Portugal

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