When I made a list of teas to buy at Mariage Freres, I initially thought that I should go for all of the myriad of teas that I want to try, and the standards like Marco Polo. But then I decided that actually I should only buy teas I couldn’t get in the states… and you can order quite a few Mariage Freres teas online from shops in the states, it turns out! But this was one that isn’t available here but that I had to have. On Mariage Freres’ English site, this tea is merely described as a blend of “three nut flavors.” But google translate tells me that on the French site they identify the nuts as almond, walnut and pecan. I initially thought that hazelnut would be one for sure, but no. The dry leaf smells wonderfully nutty, with a strong dose of marzipanny almond. I haven’t had a lot of experience with walnut and pecan flavors (since the concentrated flavors can be a bit different from just eating one of those nuts), but I can tell there are other nut flavors that aren’t almond in with the mix. The dry leaf is speckled with bits of nuts.
Brewed, the aroma of the black tea base comes out much more. I’m also getting a kind of earthy, nut-meat scent, with a lighter almond and again some other interesting aromas that I can’t quite place.
The flavor on this one starts out very subdued, then blooms in my mouth throughout the sip. I definitely get that sweet marzipanny almond flavor, but I’m also getting an odd, bright, almost metallic flavor. On some sips it is almost lemony citrus. I suppose a more accurate way of putting it is slightly acidic, which is surprising because I think of nuts as been smooth and rich. As the tea cools a bit the acidic flavor takes over more of the sip… it’s just really unexpected. It’s almost like I added lemon to the tea (but I didn’t). I am at once wanting to try a longer steep time to see what it tastes like a bit stronger, and also thinking that it would probably be pretty refreshing as an iced tea.
This is the first of my French teas that hasn’t quite lived up to my expectations, but I’m not ready to give up on it yet… fortunately I have plenty to fiddle with. I also may have to realize that while I love some nut flavors (almond, hazelnut, pistachio), this may not extend to all nuts. I think I like pecan flavoring, so perhaps it’s the walnut that’s the issue.
ETA: I’m deleting my previous rating of this because I can’t actually sure that it’s not my water that’s tasting funny! When I had some water at lunch (the same water I make my tea with), it also tasted oddly acidic. Or maybe it’s just my tastebuds today. Either way, I’m rescinding my judgment on this one just yet.