drank Birthday Tea by Mariage Frères
1996 tasting notes

I got this through the Cultured Cup. The packet says it’s India black tea with vanilla and bergamot, which is interesting given the “rare citrus fruits and spices” description here.

In the packet, the smell is strongly bergamot, but in a citrusy way, not a perfumy way. I can also smell vanilla, though it is less.

After steeping, the beramot aroma is very dispersed, and the vanilla more pronounced. The tea is an interesting color: a medium-light amber/copper, which is proof (if any was necessary) that the base is darjeeling.

The sharp, piquant muscatel note that I associate with darjeelings is present, but the vanilla tamps it down nicely. Though if that’s your favorite part of a darjeeling, that’s probably not a good thing.

For me it is, as I like darjeeling flavor but don’t love the sharpness.

I don’t know whether it’s my mood, or the fact that I’ve been using zinc to stave off a cold (maybe it’s true that it does a number on your ability to smell), but my experience of this tea is good but not spectacular. It does have the expert blending of the French thing going on, which would ordinarily send me into a happy place. And it does, just not the happiest of happy places. I might have liked this better with a China black tea base.

Flavors: Bergamot, Muscatel, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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