1946 Tasting Notes
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.
I briefly considered not having a French tea for my afternoon tea… but then I stopped kidding myself and grabbed this one. This tea has a powerful scent. When I got it at the shop it was the only tea that I could smell very clearly through the bag without even holding it up to my nose. I think it scented my clothes in the suitcase on the trip home! The dry leaves smell overall very tropical. The first thing that hits you is the passion fruit, mango, and pineapple. Further investigations (i.e., sticking my nose in the pouch) yields jasmine notes underlying everything.
This is a green/black blend, which can be tricky to find the right steeping parameters, but I brewed it like a green this time. The color of the liquor is a dark shade of amber, and it smells like jasmine tea with a little something extra. I can definitely detect the sweet aroma of mango/passion, but it’s not as powerful as in the dry leaf.
This tea is in the same family as Oriental by Mariage Freres: that of jasmine with fruit flavored teas. It seems to be a very French family since I hadn’t really encountered it before, but it’s certainly one of my favorites now. This is one of those teas with a lot of flavors that just meld together. In this case, not all of them do: the jasmine and the fruit maintain their separate identities, and play well off each other. But the tropical fruits have joined and I can’t really pick out mango from passion from pineapple. Perhaps it’s a bit more mango/passion than pineapple, but it’s like a good tropical fruit juice blend: its just “tropical”. The flavors of this one don’t really hit one after another as some other Dammann Freres teas have done to me; I get fruit and jasmine at the same time, over the entire sip. I feel like these tropical fruits really play up the honeysuckle notes in the jasmine, too, unlike the orange Oriental where I didn’t get those.
Yet another amazing Parisian tea; I feel crazy that my 90-100 range is getting rather populous these days, but I can’t help it. I guess I’m finding that aromatic, complexly flavored French teas are the teas for me!
With a name like 7 Parfums, you know this one is going to be complicated. I chose it primarily because of the mix of floral with citrus fruits and fig. The dry leaf, unsurprisingly, has a lot going on, aroma-wise. I can pick out bright citrus notes, and I think I can find the deeper, richer fig notes with some rose and other florals, but they all mesh together very well. Not shocking, I know!
In the brewed tea the aroma has definitely changed, but it’s hard to figure out how it’s changed. I think the main thing is the citrus notes have faded substantially, and I’m mostly getting a mix of florals (it’s always hard for me to pick out any individual floral note that’s not rose or jasmine) bolstered by a rich, sweet fig underneath.
Now that I can drink it, its really quite tasty. Very floral, and the fruit notes act as a kind of base that has melded together. As others have said, it’s a very well blended tea, and very “French”. If I look really hard I can maybe pick out some individual notes, but why? They all work so well as a whole that it’s nice to just appreciate the tea almost as a separate, new, untasted flavor. It has both bright and dark notes, a kind of floral fruity sweetness and a thick herbaceous savour. Of the teas I’ve tried so far that I’ve brought back, this is probably the one that makes me think of Paris most.
I hadn’t planned on reviewing this bar here on Steepster, but it was just too good not to share. This is a chocolate bar that they describe as midway between a classic milk and a classic dark; perfect for me since dark chocolate is sometimes too bitter for me. This company is actually a cacao grower and chocolatier, and their estate is located in Saint Lucia. They have a cafe/store right next to Borough Market in London, so if you’re ever in the area and you like Earl Grey tea and chocolate, you might want to pick up a bar. The cafe also offered a chocolate “tea”, which was really just steeped raw cacao. The cashier told me it was an acquired taste, heh.
I’m not sure if the tea is steeped in the cream of the chocolate prior to making it, which is a common way of tea-flavoring chocolate, but perhaps not because the bar has quite a bit of coarsely ground tea leaves set into it. It makes for an interesting texture (slightly gritty, but not in a bad way… in more of a less-processed chocolate bar way), but the flavor is amazing. Strongly bergamotty, with the black tea adding a further depth to the flavor of the chocolate. I wish I had bought more of the bars!
If there’s one sweet I have to get when I’m in Paris, it’s macarons, usually from Laduree. The light almondy cookie sandwiched with flavored creams or jams—heaven. So when I was prepping for my trip by looking at all the teas on Dammann Freres’ website and saw that they had two teas flavored “macaron”, I knew at least one had to be mine. Mango and Jasmine was the obvious choice as I adore both flavors. This is the only tea I bought at Dammann Freres that I didn’t smell before I purchased (they didn’t have it in the bins for smelling), but it didn’t matter. Now I can smell it, and the dry leaf almost smells different every time I stick my nose in the bag. At first, tons of mango. Then, rich floral jasmine. Then again, a sweet almondy “macaron”.
The brewed tea added the slightly vegetal aroma of the green tea base to the mix, a floral jasmine-sweet almond scent has taken center stage. Occasionally I can detect a fruity mangoey hint to the mix, but it seems to be blending well.
Somewhat similar to Coquelicot Gourmand, the sip is divided into stages with a floral beginning, fruity middle and almondy end. The aftertaste is distinctly, strongly marzipan-style almond. I’m getting a hint of mango across the entire sip, but it plays differently with the jasmine and the almond. The beginning is very floral jasmine (influenced mostly by the aroma which is heavily jasmine at this point), which delivers a burst of sweet fruity mango that is initially more floral but then juicier as the almond comes in. The almond isn’t quite the biscuity almond of Coquelicot Gourmand, nor a straight marzipan; no, it’s pretty definitely macaron, though concentrated and a bit more almondy than the cookies usually are. The green tea provides a fairly solid background that seems to pull all the disparate flavors together.
Overall this is similar enough to evoke Coquelicot Gourmand in the tasting, but it’s also distinct and delicious. I’m sure the green vs. black tea has something to do with it, but it’s also the addition of a fruit flavor to the floral/almond mix. I don’t know if I can really choose one over the other, but I do know I wish I had gotten some of the Violet Cassis Macaron tea!
I’ve never been an iced tea person, and I’ve always preferred my teas hot to cold. As I’ve started exploring tea more, though, I’ve come to realize that this is probably because I’m not much on plain black or plain green tea, which is what most of the iced teas I have had are. I have always liked juice/tea blends that seem to pop up in the stores around summertime, so when grabbing a bottle of something to drink at a store I usually go for those. Also, a lot of bottled iced teas tend to be over-sweetened for my tastes. A restaurant on campus has started carrying the Teas’ Tea line, so I grabbed this bottle the other day to try.
I have to say, I’m impressed! I’m actually very much enjoying the mango flavor to the light oolong base. This isn’t a super complex tea, but you still know you’re drinking tea and not flavored sugar water. It’s only lightly sweetened, so while still pretty sweet (to my taste) it isn’t overwhelming. This is marketed as “Low Calorie”, but thankfully they still sweeten it with cane sugar (just not as much!), not weird artificial sweeteners which always taste bad to me.
One of the better bottled iced teas I’ve tried, and I’ll definitely be trying more of the line!
I think this was the only chocolate tea I bought in Europe, despite having several on my list. I love chocolate and orange together, and when you throw in some nuts too I had to choose this one. The dry leaf smells a bit like Florence (from Harney) with orange added. There’s some bits of orange peel, some cornflower petals, and a few nut bits mixed in with the black tea.
Brewed, the aroma is similar to the dry leaf, although I’d say that it smells even more like Florence, and the orange note isn’t as strong. But I’m definitely still getting it in the background, adding a fruity note. That chocolate hazelnut aroma is definitely the primary one, though.
It’s truly amazing the similarities to Florence in this one. Toasty chocolate (but not overly toasted, like I feel chocolate teas often are), nutty hazelnut, but this one has this extra oomph that comes from the orange. I feel like I want to steep this one a bit longer and see what flavors develop further; it’s certainly tasty as is, but it’s also not bitter at all and I bet more orange would come out with longer steeping. If so, I could see this tea being amazing; right now it’s really delicious, but not different enough from Florence to warrant reordering from Paris when I run out!
Another one of my sample teas from Tea Palace. I love passion fruit, and I love rose, so a combo of them both in a tea was something I had to try. The dry smell of this tea is intense! If you unwittingly stick your nose too close, it’ll almost sting your sinuses with the tart-sweet smell of passion fruit. There’s a number of whole rosebuds in my sample, and I put one in my brewing basket today. The brewed tea also smells very much like passion fruit, but definitely more subdued. The rose is something you pick up in the background, as it can hardly compete with the passion fruit.
So it’s really interesting when the taste is very rosey! And passion fruit, but the rose doesn’t get lost in the mix like it seems like it will from the smell. It’s actually a really great blend of the two flavors, both floral and fruity at the same time without being too much of one or the other. The slight sweetness suggested by the passion fruit flavor makes the rose seem like a rose candy flavor, which I’m definitely down with. Also, the last sips got fairly cold in my cup, and I think it would be great iced. I thought I would decently enjoy this tea, but I didn’t expect to love it this much!
Time for a London tea! The Tea Palace shop in Covent Garden offered a bunch of tasting samples, and this was one of them! I thought the sample was absolutely delicious, so I decided to bring some home. This is one of the only tea shops I went to that actually offered sample sizes of their teas; they had cute small tins that held about 30g of tea. They also were having a promotion in honor of their anniversary that if you spent £20, you would get a free sample tin. Which obviously meant that the number of samples I meant to get increased until I hit £20 to get a free one (since I was pretty close already).
The dry leaf on this one is full of yellow marigold petals, and big chunks of whole vanilla beans chopped into the mixture. It smells like vanilla, yes, but there’s also a deeper, caramelly-toffee aroma. Brewed the black tea aroma comes to the forefront, and the vanilla drops to the back a bit.
The taste initially is of a black tea with some vanilla on the side, and I was a bit disappointed thinking I’d need to tweak my steeping parameters because I remembered it being more flavored. But as it cools the vanilla really comes out; this is the tea I remember! It’s very vanilla-y, with a bit of creaminess but not a lot, and that caramelized note is also present in the taste. The vanilla seems thick and rich without being cloying, and the tea has a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel. The black tea is present but playing a supporting role; it has a twinge of bitterness, so I might drop the steeping temp on this one next time. Definitely a fantastic version of a vanilla black tea!
I was going to have another one of my almondy teas, but I decided that I wanted perhaps a floral or fruity tea, and perhaps a simpler one. Enter Oriental, which is a tea I almost didn’t mean buy. I mean, it was on my list of teas that I wanted, but when I went in to Mariage Freres and found out that I could get only do 100g minimum, and I already had so much tea that I had bought in London and at Dammann Freres, I had decided to get Thé au Tibet instead of this one, not both of them. But in the shop there were a lot of people, and a lot of teas, and I was slightly flustered and ended up asking for them both. C’est la vie, but it fortunately turned out to be a happy accident.
I’ve been intrigued by Jasmine black teas, but haven’t gotten around to trying one until now. Even so, this one isn’t really just a Jasmine black, because it’s got the mandarin orange as well. The dried leaf, which has pink flower petals of unknown affinity, smells very very orangey.
The minute the hot water hit the leaves, they released a wonderful jasmine aroma, and sniffing the tea closely yields notes of faint orange and a slightly malty black tea background. The taste is very much a harmony of jasmine and orange, with citrusy orange notes at the front of the sip blending into a floral (but not quite honeysuckle-sweet) jasmine in the body. The black tea seems to provide a solid, but subdued, background. The tea is just described as having “orange” flavor, seeming to mean the fruit itself, but it very much reminds me of an amazing orange-blossom macaron I had in Paris (which I thought almost had jasmine notes itself). This tea definitely errs on the floral side of things, which is all good to me. A happy accident indeed!