1811 Tasting Notes
It’s hot and humid today, and for some reason I find myself wilting in it more than normal. Since my morning involved a long walk across campus in the already murderous sun, I didn’t feel like drinking a cup of hot tea before I went. A nice cold tea for when I got back, however… I brewed this one like usual but let it cool and stuck it in the fridge. An hour wasn’t quite enough to make it cold before lunch, but it was cool enough to be refreshing. Cold, this tea is mostly a strong green with a light jasmine flavor. I found myself wishing for more of that jasmine sweetness, and now that I think about it I bet a bit of sugar might have brought it out (even though I normally wouldn’t sweeten this tea hot). All in all it was a nice glass of tea to have. And today I remembered to put a glass of black tea in the fridge to cold steep overnight for tomorrow’s lunch!
Another day, another oolong. QuiltGuppy showered me in oolongs, which have always been the tea I was most likely to enjoy unflavored, but never had never gotten around to trying some of the really high quality oolongs out there. I feel like I got a mini oolong tasting course from QG, which is awesome!
The dry tea on this one smells vegetal and a little spicy. I looked over the previous tasting notes and chose a semi-consensus brew time and temp for my first cup. The leaves just about completely unfurled in two minutes, which was actually surprising, as It seems like most rolled teas take a second steep to unfurl, at least in my Kati cup (I know, I know, not the best oolong brewing conditions, but I drink tea primarily at work, and I’m not going to be keeping a tetsubin at work). Initially the brewed liquor, a lovely golden yellow color, smelled very much like the dried leaf, but as its cooling way more floral notes are coming out.
This definitely has the complex flavor profile I’m coming to expect from good oolongs. It’s primarily vegetal, but it’s also got sweet floral notes with a hint of nutmeg or other such spices. As it cools, I get a hint of smooth butter, but notably not any bready or milky notes.
The second steep, at 3 minutes, is similar, but this time with a few bready notes. I’ll probably steep this a few more times, but I’m not going to write about them here. In any case, this is a very nice oolong, and I’ll definitely enjoy my sample. It’s probably not on my must-buy list, mostly because I still prefer more strongly-flavored teas, even ones that are all natural (see ATR’s Milk Oolong). Thanks again, QuiltGuppy, for the opportunity to try it!
Last Friday I tried this tea for the first time, and I steeped it a bunch of times (unusual for me, and it takes an impressive tea to make me want to steep it more than once), though I can’t remember quite how many, 3 or 4 at least. I then took those leaves, covered them with water and stuck my cup in the fridge at work “overnight” for lunch the next day… but of course I forgot it was a weekend, and a three-day weekend at that, so they sat there, cold steeping, for 3 days and 4 nights until I got back to work today. The already fully-expanded leaves had somehow further expanded to fill the entire 16 oz cup, floating all up and down the column of liquid like they were suspended in some kind of jelly. I didn’t know what to expect, but the tea was nice and light, probably because the leaves had been well steeped before I put them in the fridge. At this point, the flavor had lost all of the peachy-floral notes and almost all of the creaminess, and it was primarily the vegetal, slightly nutty flavor of a simple green oolong. Still very tasty, and I’m kind of amazed at the result.
It seems like Marco Polo is the first Mariage Freres tea that most people stateside try. It’s their most famous, and most readily available tea. Certainly it has been on my list to try almost since I started drinking tea, and at least since I joined Steepster and heard about it. It’s name is invoked often in tasting notes of Harney’s Paris tea, which I love, and I just had a feeling that Parisian tea would be My Kind of Tea (turns out, I was right). Nevertheless, I came back from Paris with nary a leaf of Marco Polo on me due to my buying restriction that I would only get teas I couldn’t easily acquire in the states. Still, it seemed silly to me that I still hadn’t tried their most famous tea after all of that, so when I swapped JacquelineM for some of my French teas, I asked if she could send a sample of Marco Polo, and she happily obliged.
So that was a long-winded intro. Some people pick out strawberry notes in this tea, and while in the dry tea it comes through as just ‘berry’, in the brewed tea it is most definitely strawberry. Sugary strawberries in syrup, but there’s also a darker, almost caramelized sugar note to the aroma. Maybe even a roasty cocoa note?
In the taste I get the black tea first: a tiny bit bitter, dark, there’s that roasted note. There’s a bright-ish berry note at the back of the sip. As it cools they meld together more and create a nice flavor that’s almost like cooked strawberries? Or strawberry pie (without the crust, but with caramelized strawberry sugars). I described the berry note as “bright”, and there’s definitely a tartness to the tea—and other people have commented on it, so I’m not crazy—but it’s the exact same tartness I experience in MF’s Trois Noix tea, although here it works better. A quirk of their tea base, or flavoring procedure?
Overall it’s nice, it’s tasty, I enjoy it. But am I blown away, like I might have once expected to be? Not really. Maybe it’s because although I love fresh strawberries, I’ve never been enthusiastic about them in their other forms. Maybe it’s because I’ve now had other Parisian teas that have blown me away. Maybe it’s that tartness to the tea base (seriously, what is that?). I think I did expect more than what tastes to me like just strawberry black tea. I’m going to play around with my steeping parameters, and I’ll happily drink the rest of it up (thank you again JacquelineM!), but I am kind of glad I saved room in my luggage for other teas.
Thanks to JacquelineM for sending me a few sachets of this tea to try! We’ve already covered recently that I love passion fruit, but I also happen to love hibiscus. Since it’s fairly hot today and I’m at home where there is no A/C (versus at work where it is overly cold inside), I made this one iced. I brewed one sachet in probably 6oz of water for 10 minutes… I wanted it strong! I also added a bit of vanilla sugar during the brew time. Then I shook it up with several ice cubes until it was nice and cold.
Mmm… it really hits the spot this hot afternoon! Tart and sweet, fruity with a little citrus zing from the lemongrass. I don’t get much distinctly passion fruit flavor, but it’s somewhat tropical and definitely tasty. Definitely hibiscusy, so it’s probably one to avoid if you dislike hibiscus. The light sweetening brings out the fruity flavors, and I can see how it could be too tart without a bit of sweetener. Thanks again JacquelineM!
Let me just first say that this is a tea unlike any other I’ve ever tried, and I have QuiltGuppy to thank! I’ve always been a bit curious about milk oolongs, but I’ve never tried one before. The smell of the dried leaves when I opened the package was amazing… definitely milky (sweet, like a condensed milk), but also with a floral fruitiness.
After a light brew, the liquor is only a pale yellow, but the aroma is full bodied and strong. Here the notes are primarily floral, vegetal, a bit ‘bready’. The milk aroma is still there but a bit muted. I never expected to be this blown away by this tea, but it’s true! It’s so delicious. Sweet, creamy, buttery peaches, like the most delicous fresh peach cobbler with cream. That’s what this tea is recalling. I don’t even love peach cobbler all that much, but I would love one that tasted like this. All the elements are there: fresh, floral peach, right off the tree, both very sweet and slightly tart; buttery crust, and breadiness from the oolong; bubbling caramelized sugar; smooth, rich, sweet cream. Definitely a major yum.
Thank you so much QuiltGuppy for sending me this sample! I have a whole new kind of tea to explore and love!
Before my package from JacquelineM, this was the only rose black tea I had. Since I haven’t had a cup in quite a while, another was in order so that I could compare it to the other rose blacks I’ve had recently. Previously I steeped this for 4 minutes, but I dropped it to 3 minutes this time to match up with the others.
This one definitely has the sweet-rose aroma, but it seems tempered by the black tea. A taste confirms that it seems to fall between Harney’s Rose Scented and Upton’s Rose Congou in that the rose flavor is sweet and floral like the Rose Scented (not herby rose like Rose Congou), but it features equally with the black tea base like Rose Congou (not overwhelming it like Rose Scented). This black tea base is malty, and almost bready, which plays well with the warmth of the rose florals. I think a four minute steep is probably better for this one since it seems a touch weak, but it’s still tasty.
All in all, this tea holds up well to both Harney’s and Upton’s, actually, and it seems like it might be what Harney’s would be like if the rose wasn’t so all-consuming. ’
Side note: I really wish all tea companies would list the origin of their black tea bases. All black teas are not created equally! I always assumed this black tea base was Chinese given the name, but it’s possible it’s only referring to the Chinese process of scenting the tea, not the origin of the tea itself, and honestly it tastes more like a Ceylon than the various Chinese teas I’ve had. Not that I can be totally sure because most of the time I’m not sure exactly what kind of black tea I’m drinking! I guess I really am going to have to break down and go through samples of varieties of plain black teas so that I can start identifying them better myself.
Honestly, I’m a little shocked that I could wait this long to try this tea that QuiltGuppy so kindly sent me. I’ve wanted to try Royal Wedding for quite a while now, but I haven’t gotten myself to the Harney Soho store so I just keep waiting and hoping it doesn’t disappear from their inventory any time soon. But yay I get to try it now!
I smell primarily a sweet vanilla-almond of the dry leaf through the sachet. Unfortunately I forgot to start my timer when I poured the hot water, so I think I probably steeped it about 3 minutes, but who really knows! Well at least I have another sachet for a proper steeping. The brewed tea is a medium amber color (actually almost identical to the amber earrings I’m currently wearing) and the slightly vegetal aroma of the white tea comes through now as a grassy back note to the otherwise very sweet smelling vanilla and almond aromas. I guess I get coconut as well, but I’m having trouble currently distinguishing it from the nutty-sweet-vanilla scent in general.
My first thoughts were this is delicious! I do get a slight bitterness/astringency from the white tea, but also a rush of vanilla-y sweetness, which only gets stronger as it cools. The primary flavors I get are vanilla and a bit of almond; it is a sweet almond, not as much a raw nutty one, but it’s light and thus not quite marzipanny. I can also detect a creamy coconut note, but for me it’s not very strong; I agree with ashmanra that it reminds me of a great cookie. All the sweetness is tempered by the ever present white tea in the background, which grounds things and keeps it from being too cloying (who am I kidding, I wouldn’t think it was cloying anyway, but for some it might have been without the substantial white tea flavor).
All in all… a keeper! I’ll definitely have to make sure I grab a tin, and I hope the run isn’t too limited!
This is the other sample of a rose black I got from JacquelineM. I was excited about trying this one since the reviews say that it is really heavily rosey, and I do love rose! When I opened the packet the smell of rose hit me hard; this tea isn’t playing around.
Upton’s Rose Congou I had yesterday was a very herbaceous rose flavor, and it shared the stage with the black tea base. The aroma of this one… I could smell it all day. Some people might call it perfumey, but to me it smells exactly like fresh, lovely rose turkish delight. My favorite!
And it tastes pretty much exactly how it smells. With some sugar I think it would taste so much like rose candy I might be convinced I was drinking it liquefied. It’s definitely a sweet rose flavor, but I wouldn’t really say the tea has any natural sweetness per se. There’s a thickness and richness that you get with certain types of florals, and I love it. This is a seriously rose scented tea, and I think it will likely be my go-to rose tea when I feel the need to indulge in tons of ROSE!
Rose happens to be one of my favorite flavors, especially when it comes to sweets. It is odd, then, that I only have ever tried one straight up rose black tea, though I often choose teas with it in other blends. Happily, JacquelineM was kind enough to send me a small sample of a couple of rose black teas (even though she got them as samples herself!), this being one of them. Thank you!
The aroma of the rose in the brewed tea is what I consider “herby” rose. While that rose sweetness is still there in part, the overall note is more savory, more… well, herby. I have to say, this is one delicious tea! The main part of the sip is really the black tea itself: warm, thick, a hint of peppery spice. The rose floats above it all and lingers in the aftertaste, but it’s not super strong. Just enough to remind you that you are, indeed, drinking a rose tea. Again, not really a sweet rose; this is not a rose flavor that brings to mind rose candies and sweets. I would have thought that this combination would result in a tea that might have not been quite right for me, but I actually really enjoy it.
Get ready to see a couple more rose teas from me in the upcoming days because I’m going to want to try them in rapid succession for comparison!