20 Tasting Notes

I have the day off work, so upon awakening I made my way to the kitchen, fed the cat, threw the kettle on and looked through my sample collection. I was feeling like rooibos and so I grabbed this one, the only rooibos left in my little Dammann sample bag. And it’s been a while since I reviewed anything.
Upon opening the tea bag smelled strongly of olives in brine – very green, very fruity, and very reminiscent of oregano and thyme as well (please forgive me if I got my herbs mixed up, it is still so early in the morning as I’m writing this…) Given my still very limited experience with unflavoured rooibos, I was quite surprised. Once steeped, the brew has a very reddish robe (unsurprisingly) and a very nice and round smell, the herbaceous side not overpowering its sweetness.
The taste is sweet as well, but not too much, even for someone who likes their drinks unsweetened. This is the moment where the whole bouquet really gets to unfold and shine. At no point does it taste medicinal to me though, it’s really more on the food side of herbs, without tasting like any kind of herb mix I know in particular. And while I can tell that the smell from earlier for sure comes from what I’m drinking, there’s a huge difference between the smell and the taste, both in concentration and in balance. It is enjoyable until the very last sip, which I always appreciate.
The website advertises it as a drink for both adults and kids, to be drunk hot or iced. I definitely think that this could be really nice for either an afternoon tea with kids (although, have something else ready just in case, it’s still rooibos) or for a regular breakfast drink if you want to avoid cafeine. I’d have to see what I think of it when it’s cold – I might go to the shop and get another sample, in which case I’ll add an edit to this review.
All in all I recommend this rooibos to anyone who, like me, is new to rooibos and wants to see if they’d be interested to look into it more. For me that’s definitely the case: I already have a few flavoured rooibos in my all-time favourites, I’m interested in the unflavoured base – and I wonder if what I like in the flavoured ones isn’t actually the rooibos underneath… Exciting!

Flavors: Creamy, Herbs, Sweet

Preparation
1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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65

My grandmother gave me a few bags of this one last time I visited her and told me she loves it so I tried it. I couldn’t really taste the green tea, I suppose it serves more as a base for the flavours, but I didn’t mind because the orange-ginger combination works well together. It’s a really warm flavour and as an after-dinner treat it’s pretty nice. I don’t think I’ll be buying it again since the same brand also sells unflavoured green tea, but it’s a nice tea to end the day after a heavy dinner.

Flavors: Ginger, Orange

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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73
drank Earl grey by Lord Nelson
20 tasting notes

This Earl Grey is my current morning drink and I’m very happy with it. It does the job really well: it’s a nice, well-rounded tea and it’s both refreshing and comforting. I expect it to make me ready for the day and that’s what it does. It’s also pretty cheap (and thus affordable in big quantities when you want to make sure you’re not going to run out of tea) and they sell it at my local supermarket.
Bonus: if you steep it for long enough it turns into an acceptable alternative to English Breakfast. And since it’s cheap you won’t feel bad about wasting a bag of Earl Grey.

Flavors: Astringent, Citrus, Salty

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 7 OZ / 200 ML

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91
drank Autumn Tea by Fortnum & Mason
20 tasting notes

Finally, I own this tea! Having missed the tiny timeframe in which you could order this blend last year, I JUMPED on the occasion when I saw that they were selling it again this year. Shipping costs didn’t matter – I had to have it.
And what a joy. Oh I can’t tell you enough how much I love this one.

They advertise it as a Quince, Chestnut and Honey-flavoured Lapsang. Well, it definitely is exactly that – but it is so, so much more. When I opened the tin it felt like I was smelling an entire Christmas market: small wooden huts where they sell bredala and candles, bonfires for people to hold their gloved hands at and warm them a bit, the little locomotive where a man with steampunk goggles and a long coat sells freshly roasted chestnuts. All of this was in this tin that I was holding.

I brewed it as indicated on the tin, 5 minutes and 100°C. I recommend following these instructions as I think that that’s when the tea is best, now that I’ve had it a few times.

I am so in love with this tea that I don’t think I can be as objective as I should be here. I first got a fruitiness mixed with the sweetness of the honey, which brought to mind candied fruit as they’re sold on holidays. It’s a deep fruitiness that mixes well with the chestnut, too. A beautiful flavouring for an autumn-themed blend.

And then there’s the Lapsang and its smokiness – what a genius idea to use it with those flavours? The smokiness makes the autumn flavours so much richer while adding something of its own. It’s lovely! It feels like drinking a cold red-leaved forest lit by candles in small lanternes. It tastes like a tiny snowy village at night and a cracking log in the fireplace. It’s such a comforting tea.

I love this one. I’m obsessed. I’m literally giggling as I’m typing this review. I cannot recommend this enough – if you can, try this!

Flavors: Fireplace, Fruity, Smoke, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML
ashmanra

Oh my goodness! This sounds like something I should go out of my way to get!

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80

I’ve been having some issues with caffeine recently, so I’ve been cutting back on my daily intake – which means that my routine of having 5 espresso shots in the morning has had to change into a nice cup of chamomile tea or any other available herbal tea. Don’t get me wrong, I always love a cosy cup of chamomile, but I’ve been wanting to spice things up a bit with a fancier kind of tisane so I bought this at my local tea shop.

Long story short, I really like it. I have to admit, I’ve always seen herbal tea as the “punishment version” of tea, the disappointing ersatz you have to go for if tea is unavailable, but I realise this was based on nothing but ignorance. This blend is as good as any solid tea blend I’ve tasted and it’s a genuine pleasure to have this for brunch on a nice Sunday morning. It’s not going to replace my caramel rooibos as an afternoon stimulant-free treat but it’s a great blend and very pleasant to sip.

It tastes very refreshing and it has no hibiscus. Finding a hibiscus-free tisane at the shop was very hard and I’m grateful they sold this one.

I recommend this one as a flowery, fancy tisane for when you’ve got friends over and you’re all detoxing from caffeine.

Flavors: Flowers, Rhubarb

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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80

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76
drank Vive le Thé! by Palais des Thes
20 tasting notes

This tin was gifted to me and my wife by a friend. Even though we have a Palais des Thés shop 10 minutes away from our home, I must admit that I don’t recall ever tasting any of their teas. And so, yesterday afternoon, my wife and I sat down for an afternoon tea tasting and opened this green tea.

What a nice surprise when we opened the tin! The leaves are beautifully long and unbroken. They’re mixed with bits of fruit and curled up in the nicest way – not saying that other teas are ugly but these leaves look so regular? Their smell made us think of candy and cake, it’s very sweet which is probably due to the citrus and ginger bits. The marine side of the tea is quite nicely combined with the citrus and ginger, there’s no one aroma overshadowing the others, it’s a pretty elegant mix. Both the citrus and ginger seem authentic; nothing to do with other teas I’ve tasted in the past (cough Terre d’oc cough).

Brewed this for 3 minutes. It has a cloudy aspect, in a good way – the cup in which I drank it was grey, it looked like water I had fished out of a lost pond deep inside a thousand-year-old forest. Like a moss infusion. But in a good way! It scratches a very specific itch.
The brew itself smells like a citrus cake with a ginger spin. My wife thought it was the opposite – a ginger cake with a hint of citrus. We agreed on the cake element though, this tea is incredibly creamy, almost butter-y, both in smell and taste. The marine element of the green tea is still very present though. Overall a blend that works well.

The first sip was incredibly sweet, in a nice way, because of the blend quality. It’s not too sweet and it didn’t bother either of us. My wife noted how the orange in the citrus brings that sweetness to the tea. It definitely brings some balance to it, as well.

In my opinion, this blend is a great one for both people who aren’t huge fans of the marine side of green tea and need some aroma with it, and for people who, on the contrary, love green tea for what it is and are looking for a well-blended, good quality and interesting citrus-and-ginger spin on it. A previous review of this tea mentions the Kusmi green tea one, which I will try to taste before I run out of the Palais des Thés one, as a comparison.

I would suggest drinking this tea on its own, without any biscuits or sweets, because of the blend’s own sweetness. If you usually like your tea sweetened I would advise trying it without any sugar first.

Rating it at 76 according to my own scale – rating may be edited as I keep tasting more green teas.

Flavors: Cake, Candy, Creamy, Ginger, Marine, Orange Zest, Sweet

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML
Kittenna

Sounds very appealing!

Olive

It’s really nice! I’m not very familiar with green teas and this one definitely made me want to taste more.

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78

I bought this tea at the organic shop in my neighbourhood. We were having an intense day and I decided that I’d get a new blend to try out while I was there to buy bell peppers. I grabbed the first black tea that caught my eye. I needed black tea. Nothing else would make me happy. I knew it. I felt like buying a flavoured one though, I was feeling adventurous. And so I grabbed this one – a chocolate-orange flavoured black tea with a nice-enough-looking packaging. Took it, bought it, brewed it.

The first impression this tea gave me was that it was going to taste very, VERY chocolate-y. The sachet contains approximately 50% tea leaves and 50% cocoa bean fragments – very impressive when I first opened it. I don’t think I’ve ever had any tea blend before that contained so little… tea.
The leaves smell 100% like orange-flavoured Pim’s biscuits. Both the orange and the chocolate are very strong – the tea itself is very discreet in that combo, which is not something I’ve had a lot before. Enough to make me nervous.

The colour of the brew is a light brown with red undertones. It smells way more tea-y than it smells of chocolate or orange, it’s the complete opposite of the dry leaves’ smell.

First sip: I immediately tasted the tea. It’s good quality tea, not at all the kind of tea you’d need to hide under layers of flavourings because of how bad it is. And then, 0.2 seconds later – an explosion of chocolate and orange. The flavourings themselves are amazing as well. All the ingredients are great quality and highlight each other’s strong points.

The base tea is very well chosen because it highlights the excellent aromas. It’s a great blend, obviously meticulously thought-out and well-executed. What a pleasure! I’ve never loved any chocolate-flavoured tea that I’ve tasted before, but I absolutely recommend this one. I’m quite surprised myself because I’m not usually a fan of chocolate in tea, but this one I’ve been drinking every once in a while since I’ve bought it because it’s quite a remarkable blend.

EDIT: tried this with a tiny teaspoon of Lapsang (Smokey Lapsang by Dammann Frères), steeped for 3 minutes – this deepened the chocolate flavour and brought out the tea even more. I recommend trying this!

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Orange, Tea

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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83

I got a beautiful tea pot from my wonderful fiancée for our anniversary, and with the teapot came several samples carefully picked by that same fiancée. This is the first of these samples that I’m reviewing!

I brewed it following the instructions on the bag – I’m not taking any risks when all I have to taste a blend is a few grams. The general look of it was quite surprising to me – long, good-looking leaves with powdered sugar mixed into them. That’s a rare thing, right? I believe it’s supposed to evoque the marron glacé aspect of the tea. Looks really fancy if you ask me.
The smell of the dry leaves is very close to the smell of the Dammann Frères Caramel Rooibos I reviewed a while ago – very sweet, very caramel-y with a hint of vanilla. I’m gonna be drawing a few parallels between this black tea and the Dammann rooibos, I hope that’s okay. My sister smelled some cinnamon in there as well, which I find interesting.
In short, I was excited to see how they’d pull off the marron glacé and to observe the differences and parallels there would be between this black tea and the rooibos I mentioned earlier.

After the steeping was done, the leaves smelled of red berries, sort of. I can’t explain it but they did. The brew itself smelled a lot more like black tea than the dry leaves had before, and it has a very dark orange robe – it’s almost brown.
The taste is very pleasing. Since this is a flavoured tea, I’m gonna go ahead and say that the aromas are a pretty big part of what you’re gonna judge it on. The caramel is less huge than I was expecting, it behaves rather well and doesn’t overshadow to the black tea. Astringency is good to my taste and highlights the caramel pretty well. It also has a hint of vanilla, which is not unlike the Dammann rooibos. Basically it’s got that same “I just came home from the cold outside and I need a warm comforting drink to sip in this dark winter melancholy”-vibe going on.

I’m still quite disappointed with this blend. It is clearly advertised as a marron glacé-themed tea, but unless I just completely missed it – there is no trace of it. The caramel-vanilla association doesn’t even allude to marron glacé. It’s a shame, because I love marron glacé! I once had some marron glacé-flavoured mustard, which sounds odd but. Best thing I’ve ever had. It’s from Maille, if you want to take a look.
Maybe I just don’t get this tea because I take it too literally? Am I looking for literal marron glacé when you’re only supposed to sense a faint concept of it? But if that’s the case, why the powdered sugar? I am confused. (The sugar doesn’t even add any flavour, it just saves you the sugar you might have put in your cup.)

Tl;dr: a very nice and quality blend, with an pleasant caramel aroma that’s handled very well. I can’t help feeling disappointed though, because it’s sold as a marron glacé tea, and I just don’t see the marron glacé in there. Had it been advertised as a caramel black tea, I would have been happier.

Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Sweet, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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Profile

Bio

I got into tea-tasting in the summer of 2018 – before that I enjoyed tea without really thinking about it.
I like: Lapsang Souchong, that cheap Earl Grey in the morning, and teas that don’t pretend to be better than they are.
I don’t like: aromas used to hide poor quality, clearly overpriced tea, colonialist aesthetics.

I’m quite fond of a few Dammann Frères blends and I’m obsessed with Fortnum and Mason’s Lapsang.

Hit me up for tea shop recs in Alsace (France)!

My ratings:
100-90: I’m in love and drinking this forever
89-70: very good tea, will gladly drink again
69-50: pretty okay, might drink again
49-30: not convincing, probably won’t drink again
below 30: won’t drink again and do not recommend

Current obsessions: Autumn Tea, Fortnum & Mason

Location

France

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