303 Tasting Notes

80

I so rarely come into contact with verbena/vervain in any form that now, when I have this golden opportunity, it’s going to be very, very hard to not make at least one Vampire Diaries joke per sentence. But I will try.

This is, according to my highly scientific calculations (I checked the tray of untried teas in the kitchen) the final Comptoir tea I have yet to try. Overall, they have been far more impressive than the Dammann Frères teas from the same order, but not quite as complex and flavourful as the greens from Mariage Frères I’ve come to love so much. I’ve ranked them 75 throughout, I think, but I think I’ll probably nudge those ratings up to 80 after being bored to death by some more DF teas.

This was a completely random selection – I’m not a huge citrus tea fan, but I was curious about the mandarin. It turned out to be a really good choice.

In the bag, this smells very much like something L’Occitane would sell – a little over the top, heavy and balmy. Still, it’s hard to stop smelling it, because it’s so complex, and the nice roundness of the citrus is really comforting.

Steeped, it’s just great. It reminds me a lot of a blood orange tea I had at The Gage in Chicago (I’ll write a note for that soon, as I asked for some leaf to go) which was just beautiful. This definitely inspires me to look for more blood orange/mandarin teas, as this is turning into a new favourite taste range – maybe citrus teas are for me, after all.

All in all, this is my favourite Comptoir tea so far, which is no small feat – I could drink this every day. (Not to mention the obvious perk of keeping those pesky vamps at bay.)

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
JustJames

i have a thing for the citrus scents from l’occitane….. note to self. button click. =0) happy new year dear xoxo.

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75

Since I’ve been so deep into my Comptoir cups lately, I might as well keep it up into the new year. Reading about this one, I was excited about the almond-cherry combination. Artificial cherry can be so vile, but sometimes it veers very nicely into bitter almond, so I figured this tea could be a double-almond experience, at best.

The dry tea smells absolutely gorgeous. It’s hits a few perfect galette des rois notes, but then turns a little boozier, like a liquored-up crème d’amandes/frangipane. The best part, though, is that it tastes exactly as it smells. I rarely (never, really) feel the least inclination to add alcohol to my tea, but I really do want to try this with a few drops of amaretto.

The cherry is present, but it’s more a cherry ghost than anything. (The ghost of cherries past.) It adds a bit of sweetness and rounds off the flavour very nicely.

All in all, this is a very lovely tea. I definitely want to compare it to a black version – I’ll check if Comptoir do one, otherwise I’ll try to find that one by Mariage Frères (ETA: Actually, Theodor – see the comments.) everyone compares to a galette des rois.

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

Tribute by Theodor is cleary THE galette des rois tea :)

Anna

Oh, right, it’s by Theodor! Thank you. <3

Ysaurella

PM me your address and I’ll send you a sample of it, no need to buy a full bag if you’re not sure to like it

Anna

You’re the Fairy Godmother of samples, Y, you really are.

cteresa

Tribute is awesome!

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100
drank Cookie by Lupicia
303 tasting notes

I need to get started on my truffle-infused New Year’s preparations, so to finish off this (tea-) year in review, what better candidate than my favourite tea find of all from 2013?

Oh, Cookie – no matter how you steep or how you brew, when I’m alone, I’d rather be with you; **** these other leafs, I’ll be right by your side, ’til 3005, hold up. (With my sincerest apologies to Childish Gambino. And everyone reading this.)

This is a tea someone I love would love. I miss this person every day and no cup of tea can ever make that right, because most every cup is a cup I’d prefer to share with them. Quite literally is there a tea package on a shelf in this room with their name on it, waiting patiently to never be sent. But hey, crassly speaking – karma points; cutting them out of my life this year was one of the most massively unselfish things I’ve done in a long time. It’s not right slowing someone down; getting in someone’s way, and not being able to even remotely make up for the things they miss out on because you’ve ended up mistakenly monopolizing their love too much.

But that doesn’t make it any less sucktastic to have someone you deeply adore think you’re insane and evil, since acting insane and evil ended up being the only way to help them move forward and get on with their lives without feeling abandoned and rejected in the process.

Not being selfish about the people I surround myself with should be natural and obvious, I guess, but I’m an only child, and all the affection has always been all mine. It takes time to unlearn that screwy only-child sense of entitlement. It can be both a blessing and a curse, of course, but when it comes to relationships, people who are afflicted by it tend to turn out like that bastard Jasper Bloom (played convincingly by smarmy Rufus Sewell) in The Holiday, and who wants to be that guy?

I just wish it were easier to instinctively know when it’s unselfish, rather than patronizing, to shoulder that responsibility and make decisions like the above on behalf of someone else.

And I just wish it were easier to instinctively know when what I have to offer will be enough, and when I will end up inadvertently starving someone I love to death.

But those of you who are made full and fulfilled by what I do have to give – thank you. Thank you for finding me and being found by me. Thank you for loving me so bravely. You are relentless and quite mad.

But mostly just awesome.

Tl; dr – Cookie is the best tea ever. Relationships are hard. Being good is hard. (But good.) Love. Love. Love.

(Bye, 2013.)

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec
JustJames

sigh. agreed on all fronts. and there are no easy answers…. not sure there were ever meant to be.

xoxo may 2014 bring everything to you in the correct time with the correct timING.

Sil

as another only child, i wholeheartedly agree on all fronts! hugs I wish you all the best in 2014!

ifjuly

I am now super excited as I bought this without knowing if it was good a while back.

I’m not an only but I often worry I don’t do or say the right things around people I care about—I didn’t get much practice growing up for various reasons—so I feel ya about wishing for instincts you could trust. But getting older sometimes at least for me does feel like getting wiser (sloooowly, granted), and experience is in fact a good if painful teacher…and things that are hard are often worth it.

Wishing you a happy new year!

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75

Oh.

Oh.

PEACHY.

Really good, natural peach flavour is so hard to come by. But here it is! Right here!

This tea is playing tricks on my brain in the best way. Smelling the dry leaf made my tongue tingle with the anticipation of soft-rough peach skin – this, in spite of the fact that the peach itself isn’t that obvious in the nose. There’s mainly a full, fruity ripeness there, very sweet – but I guess there was something quite undeniably peachy there that my senses immediately recognized. I’m Pavlov’s peach eater.

It smells lovely brewed, too. Like a good, green Lupicia tea at its best, but with more sophistication. (I definitely must compare this with Lupicia’s Momo at some point.) In the cup, it’s all juicy peach – the aftertaste in particular is highly peachful.

Iced. This will be iced. I’m going to ice this. Yes.

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
JustJames

now THIS vendor i have thing for. someday….. maybe next semester, lol.

Sil

i’ve never tried this vendor… hmmm

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75

I’ve been catching up on books and movies lately – the World War Z mantra is as suitable as any other for that process, or moving into the new year, or getting through the tea stash, for that matter: movimiento es vida.

This has been a year of chapters closing, much like the year before it. Last words have been exchanged, final breaths have been drawn, dotted lines have been signed. At one glorious, memorable point, I’d even sampled all the teas then present in my cupboard. The cupboard situation right now, though? World War T.

But the old clichés are true (because, you know, clichés are just oft-cited truths and people get so cranky about them mostly because they’re completely unavoidable) as something new begins the very moment something old ends.

And since I really, really want some THEODOR tea in the new year, I better start moving so I can get through my current stash of French greens.

As I have previously reported on several occasions, I am thoroughly underwhelmed by Dammann Frères. The teas from Comptoir have fared somewhat better (I mistakenly assumed they were part of the Fauchon-DF family, but they really seem to have more character and personality overall, so I guess not) under my scrutiny, and this is one of them.

This is my first violet tea. I love violet – I grew up eating these little candies: http://husmorsbloggen.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/viol.jpg and it tastes of childhood to me. Super nostalgic, with some quirkiness and a dash of whimsical adventurousness. This is a horrible description, but the way I experience the flavour is just so deeply interconnected with my memories of being a child it’s impossible to be more neutral (or, for that matter, even vaguely comprehensible).

I think this would be a really perfect beginner’s violet tea. It smells lovely in the bag – first, there’s a sweet, ripe berry presence, and then a hint of violet right at the end. In the cup, however, the violet is ever-present, from the first sip to the aftertaste.

It’s a mellow, balanced violet, but definitely without being bland or watery (which is a nice change after all these dull Dammann dates I’ve been going on) and it remains equally pleasant cooling off.

This one is hard to rate, because in spite of being a violet fan, I don’t really feel I need a violet tea in my life. Then again, it might just be one of those cases of, ‘You just haven’t met the right violet tea yet.’ I will definitely try at least one more to make absolutely sure.

[From my epic Instant-Thé order to Rome, October 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Lala

World War T – I love it!

Anna

It’s funny ‘cause it’s TRUE.

K S

Anna, I often find myself lost in your writing. I mean that in the best possible way. Your writing is precise and elegant. I see Rome Italy on your profile. If you don’t mind my asking, what is your native language?

Anna

That’s such a beautiful compliment; thank you. I feel my voice is just the opposite of precise when I write personal notes, so your kind words are very much appreciated.

My native language is Swedish, but my linguistic background is a little messy.

K S

I am even more impressed. There are a few people that I don’t simply read their words, I hear them. I’ll have to adjust the voice I hear with your writing to include a slightly different accent. :)

Anna

Hehe. But nooo. I don’t have an accent – it’s very generic US with a slight Californian tendency. Unless I’m in the UK, then it’s all Essex, all the way! (No, no, no, just kidding.)

JustJames

argh! you’re killing me!!!!

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90
drank White Mulberry by A C Perch's
303 tasting notes

Again, I cheated a little. I surreptitiously emptied the tiny tiny sample left of this that I’d been clinging to into the extra super pretty Lupicia tin I got in October. Poof, gone! Because thanks to T. and her unsurpassed Christmas gift giving skills I now have a full tin’s worth of this. I could not be happier about that, as I absolutely love it.

So good. There’s so much melon in the nose, but then when I taste it, there’s a whole new set of unexpected flavours.

[Sample polished off in Rome, December 2013.]
[Gifted by my sweet friend T. in Rome, December 2013.]

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 7 min, 0 sec

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80
drank Vanille des Îles by Mariage Frères
303 tasting notes

This is a cheat note – I’ve had this numerous times already. It’s been this year’s holiday tea, as I got if for Christmas. Well, sticking with the theme, it was technically a cheat Christmas gift. Something I was supposed to get did not arrive on time and so I was tasked with finding a temporary replacement thing for myself (I’m sorry, but I really do love when this happens). No peeking! (I would like to emphasize I avoided the ‘no pekoe-ing’ pun here. Again – kindly award points accordingly.)

So T, who was visiting, kindly agreed to being dragged to Dagnino – that’s where you go if you need to get your Mariage Frères fix in Rome. There’s a nice full wall of MF tea on the upper landing – both tins and bags. I got a tin, but I think you could get as little as 50 grams. And yes, I know I should add this to the tea store review part of the site, but not today.

They made me a very pretty package and I expressed unparallelled surprise as I unwrapped it.

In the tin, this carries a nicely mellow note of caramel vanilla. I thought this would be a knockout, heavy vanilla – the Vanilla of Vanillas, because that’s what island vanilla is to me. In the kitchen, I use Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon, and I was hoping for something along those lines.

Alas, no – not in the cup either. But that doesn’t make it bad at all; in fact, it’s quite lovely – milky, almost; round, comforting and velvety. I’m surprised I like this as much as I do, considering how present the tea base is, but maybe I’m growing up, or something equally terrifying.

So the hunt for the perfect vanilla tea goes on, but I look forward to spending some serious quality time with this one while I look.

(And writing that made me realize these tea notes could be read as dating notes and now I will never be able to stop thinking exactly that as I scroll down my dash. Thick, sweet, lush, fruity, entertaining, playful, full-bodied. This is going to be so bad.)

[Purchased at Dagnino in Rome, December 2013.]

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

welcome back my dear!

Anna

Thanks, Sil! I’ve been meaning to tell you how I kind of love the fact that ‘sil’ means ‘strainer’ in Swedish. You’re such a te(a)-sil.

Sil

hahaha

cteresa

Have you tried MF´s Black Orchid? It´s not a heavy vanilla either, but it´s sultry and a really interesting vanilla either.

And sounds like an awesome christmas gift, how very clever from the giver ;)

Anna

No, but now I’m excited to try it out! And yes, of course, I will make it a new year’s resolution to make sure to be spoiled by that person. ;P

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70

It’s been a busy end of the year; travel, travel, some more travel and then boom! Christmas! So let me wrap it up with a bit of tea.

The word ‘serendipity’ always rubs me the wrong way – possibly because of the sheer, undiluted horrors of that Cusack/Beckinsale romcom (2001?! I can’t believe it’s been that long.) But this past year – or, to be fair, these past two years, even – have been all about one thing – and that is the right people making the appearance in my life at exactly the right time. Over and over and over again. And my gratitude knows no bounds.

I have two quiet days (again, boundless gratitude) ahead of me – there are few things I loathe more than a New Year’s party. If I dare leave the house, it all turns into Peter’s Friends – no exceptions. I think I’m probably spoiled, raised at the one address in my home city from where all the most lavish fireworks could be seen – now it gets really old after the first three explosions, plus it scares everyone’s poor pets; what’s the point, really? I used to watch all the tipsy-to-smashed people crowd in my street and then my special new year’s treat was to bundle up with my window open – it was right above this little piazza with benches, and there was always some couple drunkenly, tearfully breaking up.

For over a decade, I started my new year off listening to people breaking up in sub-zero temperatures, dressed to the teeth.

Back to the other people, though – my people. My favourite person bought this tea for me in Tel Aviv, and we tried it late at night, sitting together in the dark. It was a peaceful, needful, well-timed trip. I would be a much lesser Anna without this love and this patience and this kindness and this loyalty – without this person traveling the world with me, drinking tea with me, sitting in the dark with me.

This I know.

(Please note that I steered clear of the serendipi-tea pun throughout this tasting note. Award points accordingly. Thank you.)

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec
Fjellrev

Nice to see you around, god jul!

I totally understand the word association. Miss Congeniality totally ruined that word for me.

But otherwise, your tea/travel experience sounds wonderful.

Anna

Hey you – looking mighty foxy there, hurr hurr.

I feel a little bad, because there’s been so much teaness (not EPIC teaness, though) and I simply haven’t had the time to write about any of it. But I will catch up – it’s a good end-of-the-year activity. It’s been a very teaful 2013, after all.

I also look forward to catching up with all these posts I’ve missed. Prepare to be spammed.

Also the Miss Congeniality thing cracks me up, but I will admit to forgiving Sandra Bullock absolutely anything. It’s a sometimes-toxic relationship, but in the end I find it worth it.

keychange

I like you and I like the way you write. I’m glad you’re back.

Anna

Thank you! Hope to be fully back to regular tea note posting and tea swapping now. <3

sundaysipping

This note is beautiful. I hope you have a lovely, teaful New Year. :-)

TheTeaFairy

Aww, I so enjoyed reading this note…and you do get the extra points from me :-)

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100
drank Cookie by Lupicia
303 tasting notes

Okay, so this is one tasting note for two individual steeps, because I got SO GREEDY and just had to have another cup.

The second I even had… with popcorn!

Seriously, this tea is amazing; all malty, buttery caramel popcorn.

There is no end to how much I love this.

TeaBrat

I had this today too!

Anna

<— clicks like immediately.

JustJames

lol. yay for mutual fan clubbing.

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65

The base tea here is wonderful, and the dry tea gets extra bonus points for the big, lush pieces of pineapple. Scent wise, it’s not for me – I get a sweaty, chemical ginger note I’m guessing is the ‘flowery’ part of the equation, and which reminds me of Kusmi’s ginger-lemon on a bad leaf day. I say chemical, but it’s the same type of ‘natural chemical’ as tiger balm – a fairly pungent traditional remedy-like scent that lingers in the cup as well. I’m unsure whether it’s the calendula or this specific pineapple; if I come across another tea with calendula, I’ll try to remember to update this note.

Flavour wise, this is very soapy to me. I get no pineapple or general fruitiness at all, just a (non-bitter) citrus-gingery soap. Not undrinkable soap, if that makes any sense – I’m almost through my cup and I won’t avoid this tea in the future, but it’s just a very cosmetic floral note, for lack of a better word.

So far into my Butiki safari, I feel I’d probably have more luck with the unscented teas as staples; the flavourings haven’t quite been what I look for (I should add there are a few I’ve tried that I have yet to review).

On the other hand, I’m enjoying this a lot, because it’s really helped me characterize exactly what it is I want from a flavoured tea (especially as I’ve compared a number of teas directly with similarly flavoured ones from Lupicia) and also because it’s made me appreciate the base teas so much more.

Butiki use really phenomenal teas, and it’s the first company that has really ever made me the least bit excited about venturing from the world of flavoured teas, which is quite a feat in itself.

[From my Butiki order to Santa Clara, October 2013.]

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Sil

weirdness. I had this one and the one from lupicia and they’re both delicious!

Anna

I have the hardest water ever here; I’m going to try this with bottled water (apologies to the environment in advance) once, too, to see if it makes a difference!

Sil

Boooo on hard water!

TeaBrat

I admit I liked the Lupicia blend better than this one. More pineapple, less flowers

Anna

Amy oh: gasp! Sacrilege! But I agree – it’s aptly named, considering the floral/flowery presence.

I keep thinking I’d like to find a pineapple and cream one; like the one from Lupicia, but with dialed-down coconut and added creaminess. Like a kiwi vanilla tea from Kränku I reviewed a while back.

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Profile

Bio

I’m going to try all the teas.

Then I will choose a lucky few perfect specimens, and we will live happily together in my tea cupboard.

Forever.

* *

2015

This will be a year of in-betweenness and logistics. Where to put the teas. How to arrange the teas. Which teas to replenish – which ones to say goodbye to.

Still doing Project Green.
Still doing Project Jasmine.
Still doing Project Peach.

Dr. Tea is the name, I’m ahead of my game
still, steeping my leafs, still f*ck with the temps
still not loving Assam (uh-huh)
still rock my Bosch kettle with its high-pitched shriek
still got love for the greens, repping Lupicia
still the cup steams, still doing my thang
since I left, ain’t too much changed, still

(With apologies to Mr. Young.)

2014

This year, all bets are off. I am going to drink both peppermint and chamomile and possibly suffer a little. But it’s okay – it’s for science.

I’m doing Project Jasmine, Project Peach and Project Unflavoured Green.

In terms of flavoured teas, Lupicia and Mariage Frères have become my massive favourites, and I have learned that Dammann Frères/Fauchon/Hédiard and Butiki aren’t really for me.

The O Dor, Adagio and Comptoir des thés et des épices are all on this year’s I’d like to get to know you better list.

2013

Getting back into tea drinking last fall, I was all about rooibos. This past spring has been all green tea, all the time, with some white additions over the summer. Currently attempting a slow, autumnal graduation to black teas. Oolongs are always appropriate.

The constant for me, flavour wise, is the strong presence of fruity and floral notes. Vanilla is lush, as long as it’s not artificial. Peach, berries, mango. Cornflower, rose, lavender.

No peppermint.

No chamomile.

No cinnamon.

Ever.

* *

My ratings don’t reflect the ‘What does this tea do for me?’ standard, but rather my own ‘What would I do for this tea?’ scale.

100-90
My absolute favourites. Teas I would travel for – or, in any case, pay exuberant postage for, because they simply have to be in my cupboard. Generally multi-faceted teas with complex scents and flavours. Teas with personality. Tricky teas.

89-80
Teas I wouldn’t hesitate to buy again if and when I came across them. Tea purchases I would surreptitiously weave into a travel itinerary (Oh! A Lupicia store! Here?! My word!).

79-70
Teas I enjoyed, but don’t necessarily need to make any kind of effort to buy again.

69-0
Varying degrees of disinterest and contempt.

Location

Rome, Italy

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