16 Tasting Notes

drank Autumn Tea by Fortnum & Mason
16 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

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

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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

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

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drank Vive le Thé! by Palais des Thes
16 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

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

Sounds very appealing!


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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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

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

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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

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

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(Note: I used the proportions recommended on the tin for this tasting, aka 3 teaspoons for the teapot. I made it for two.)

This was my first time trying a Lapsang Souchong. I didn’t get a sample of this one, I bought a whole tin right away – it was somehow calling me in a way that I can’t really describe. I had to have it shipped to a distant acquaintance in England who then brought it to France. The shipping costs are awfully high when you have F&M’s tea shipped to the continent.
It would have been an absolute personal tragedy had I not liked this tea. But I tried to dive into it without having too high expectations.

The leaves of this one are very nice to look at. They’re long-ish and unbroken for the most part. I’d never smelled Lapsang Souchong before. So I opened the tin, preparing for the best moment of my life and… salmon. And rubber tyres. What?
I must admit, I was disappointed. I had been hoping for that deep, wonderful revelation you only see in movies. But like all challenging teas, your love for Lapsang Souchong must be earned. You gotta work for it. So that’s what I did.
I smelled the tea every now and then during the whole steeping process. The initial salmon and rubber progressively turned into a more herbaceous smell that was very evocative of a romanticized hearth and everything it implies. You know – the small home you’d imagine the people from the Middle Ages might have lived in (I’m sorry, darling), where everyone would gather and have tea together near the fireplace. As I said, romanticized.

Once steeped for 5 minutes, the brew was very clear and bright orange.
Now, the taste. It was very difficult, for me, to go beyond the salmon and rubber. I had to force my way through it until I emerged on the other side. Lapsang Souchong is a quest – not everyone makes it (which is okay, to each their own!), but if you do the finest rewards await you. What a delight to sit at the table and know that your cup contains such joy and happiness, and that if you truly want to get through to them, all you have to do is listen to the leaves!
At first I didn’t sense any astringency at all, which made me wonder if I had brewed it wrong somehow. I later realised that it is, in fact, astringent, but in a very stealthy way.
When I finished my first cup, I wasn’t quite sure I had made it yet. Therefore, I very bravely put the leaves back in for 2 more minutes.

And then – oh wow. The earthy notes just exploded. It tasted like the ground in a forest, just after it has rained a little. The twigs crack under your feet while you walk further into the woods. Pine needles are everywhere on the floor, and a cold wind is blowing your scarf away. This tea tasted like comforting silence. I loved it.
And that’s when I realised – I have overcome the barrier of salmon and rubber that might have prevented me from enjoying Lapsang Souchong. I did it.
The tin suggests mixing some of it into other black teas to add aroma; I think I’ll try this in the future, out of curiosity.

Tl;dr: I’m OBSESSED.

Flavors: Herbaceous, Pine, Smoke, Wet Earth

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

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I have never had pu-erh before today. I went to the supermarket the other day and saw this “made in Germany” pu-erh, cheap and easy, no outrageously high shipping costs, and no risk – because I wouldn’t be disappointed if it was bad, and it’d only make me curious for more. And I’d only be blown away by the first good quality pu-erh I’d have after this one.

I tried it earlier today.The loose leaves are quite small, but mostly unbroken. They strongly smell of algae, somehow – please excuse my ignorance, I know absolutely nothing about pu-erh. I want to change that though. Anyway, back to the leaves – they’re greenish in colour, and snail-ish in shape. The drink itself is very clear.
Since I was very curious about pu-erh, I let my guard down. I straight-up stuck my nose into the cup and was immediately hit with the strongest hazelnut smell I have ever smelled in my life. Even a room filled to the brim with fresh hazelnuts would not smell this strong. We had hazelnut bushes in our garden when I was a kid and my sisters and I would spend every summer trying to make Nutella by mixing all the hazelnuts we could find with some dirty water (I honestly don’t know how we’re all still alive) and it reminded me of that.

The first sip was extremely underwhelming, I must admit. “Is this hazelnut water?” I thought to myself. Is it normal that this has no astringency whatsoever? Again, please don’t hate, I am new to this. I followed the brewing directions, in any case. It was too flat for me.
So I decided to steep new leaves for 30 seconds (guess which dumbass had thrown the first leaves away in a hurry, haha). The smell got way more earthy after that. Still no astringency, but the flavours got deeper and thus, more interesting. The hazelnut becomes more earthy, and the childhood hazelnut becomes an adult pine forest. The tea grows up as you let it steep, I feel.
Just to be sure, I put the new leaves back in for 2 minutes. The colour became significantly darker. The pine forest deepened; before, I was standing on the top of the mountain, looking down on the forest – now I was right in the middle of it, the big trees were everywhere around me, very big and very silent, and it was growing cold and dark. The hazelnut was back now, but it had moved into the background and therefore it was way more interesting than in the first 2-minute steep.
I definitely liked it better after steeping it for 4 minutes+ in total instead of the 2 minutes the tea bag was recommending.

I suppose that better quality pu-erhs are going to be way more interesting than this one – but I don’t think tasting this one as my first pu-erhs was a mistake, on the contrary. It definitely made me curious to try more, and I will be sure to do so. Another positive: I haven’t set myself up for disappointment. Well done me!
If you’ve got any recommendations or general advice, I’d be glad!

(Not rating this one, because I’m not qualified to!)

Flavors: Hazelnut, Wet Earth

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

Welcome to the world of pu-erh! I don’t usually find that any ripe pu-erh can ever be astringent. Also, give Teavivre a try, if you haven’t already. They have awesome pu-erh and you can ask about samples!


Thank you for the recommendation! I’ll be sure to check them out, and get some samples – I really want to get to know pu-erh more. Earthy teas are a passion of mine hehe!


Gong Fu preparation with puerh will increase your enjoyment.


mrmopar: I’ll look into that, especially since I got a sample of another pu-erh not long ago. Thanks for the suggestion!

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I got this one a few weeks ago, at the start of the post-Halloween season, because I think that caramel rooibos is a great tea to drink during the cold months of the year.

This one is very interesting in terms of smell. Just after steeping, it starts with a very vanilla-like smell that becomes richer and deeper as the tea cools down; it gradually becomes more caramelly, and more interesting. That didn’t surprise me – it is my humble opinion that tea is usually most interesting to the palate when it’s just a bit warmer than lukewarm.
I have had a soft spot for rooibos since I moved out from my parents’ home. I used to drink a vanilla-flavoured rooibos from Meßmer for a while a few winters ago, it would comfort me after hard days. This Dammann Frères is way less brutal to the taste than the Meßmer one; the aroma isn’t thrown into your face as if the drink were trying to punch you in the nose. It’s way more subtle and feels nicer to drink.
Your mouth still gets that nice rooibos feeling when you drink it, but it doesn’t feel burnt out after drinking just one cup like I’ve had it happen with other rooibos(es?).
The aroma is clear and good caramel, but it has a pleasant gingerbread vibe as well, and just like the smell it becomes richer the more it cools down. It’s sweet, but not too sweet – I didn’t sweeten it because I never sweeten any of my drinks, but I don’t think you’d need to sweeten it even if you did. The balance between rooibos, caramel and sweetness is pretty harmonious.
If I had to describe the taste of this rooibos in an image, I’d say there’s that hint of spices you’d smell in the streets of Strasbourg on a cold December evening, when the Christmas market is just closing and people are making dinner in their warm homes.
It’s a fine rooibos to drink around 5 or 6pm, after a long and cold walk in the forest, or after a cosy day spent practicing some meaningful, hearth-centered witchcraft. It reminds me of an alternate childhood I might have had if I’d lived in a fantasized version of another century.

This rooibos takes you on a journey – whatever mindset you were in before you took that first sip.

Flavors: Caramel, Rooibos, Spices, Vanilla

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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drank Earl Grey by Whittard of Chelsea
16 tasting notes

(Note: the tea I tasted for this review is the classic Earl Grey by Whittard of Chelsea. However, it seems they’ve changed the packaging of their teas, and the one I own doesn’t look like the one in the picture on here. I found conflicting info on the web so I’m not sure of anything. Should I find out that this tasting note is in the wrong place, I will remove it.)

My sister brought this tea back from her school trip to England and I hadn’t tasted it before yesterday. My mother brewed it for Sunday brunch, which is why I had no control over the water temperature and steeping time, but I decided I’d write a tasting note anyway.
The tea has a dark brown colour which is very nice to the eye, and a very interesting marine smell when hot. As it cools down, the smell of the black tea becomes more prominent and the mix of the two is pretty nice.
I started sipping it as soon as it got cool enough for me not to burn my tongue and lose my taste for three days. It’s nicely astringent, which is exactly what I wanted from it on this lazy Sunday morning.
It has some kind of herbaceousness to it, as well as the marine feeling I got when I first smelled it – it’s also kinda cold, like stone perhaps. It’s a tea you might drink after a walk along the shores on a windy October day. It’s a tad salty in smell and taste, and the balance between briskness and smoothness is near perfect for my taste.
It doesn’t become bitter and bad once it starts to really cool down, aka the last few sips are still drinkable even when you’ve forgotten your tea on the living room table for a while. Which is something that happens to me quite often, hehe.
I recommend this one!

(The box recommends 100°C and steeping 3-5 minutes. I only steeped it for 2, so I’m gonna steep it for at least 3 next time I sip it, just to see how it unfolds when steeped longer.)

EDIT: I steeped it for 3-ish minutes just now and was amazed by how bergamot-y it smells? I didn’t get that at all the first time I had this tea, so I’m guessing that flavour only ever comes out when you’ve passed the 3 minute mark. Even just the dry leaves smell like one single huge bergamot (I’ve never actually seen one though). Someone on here says it has almost a creamy flavour, which I totally agree with. Interestingly, that whole saltiness is gone now that I’ve steeped it for longer than 2 minutes.
So, if you want a marine tea, steep 2 minutes, if you want the whole Earl Grey deal, steep for 3 minimum!

(I initially gave this Earl Grey an 83, but now that I’ve sipped it again I’m going up to an 87.)

Flavors: Astringent, Bergamot, Creamy, Earth, Herbaceous, Salt, Wet Moss


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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



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