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Recent Tasting Notes
A Berry Frui-tea July! Last March I bought every sakura seasonal tea that Lupicia had… and I have no regrets about that. I have been procrastinating trying them, but mostly because it is hard to find sakura-flavored teas, especially outside of Hanami season, so I figure I may as well make them last! Decided I’d try this one, which has added berry flavoring, during this fruit-themed month.
The leaf smells amazing! I have tried a few sakura-flavored teas from Yunomi in the past before (a green tea and a black tea) so I can smell the salted sakura leaf, which has a lovely sweet cherry scent. There is a berry aroma from the leaf, I’d say it smells mostly of raspberry, just sweeter.
Brewed up, the tea is a nice amber color, and smells pretty much spot on like the dry leaf. Such a lovely aroma that really does smell of sakura leaf and fruity berries! The flavor is really nice! It isn’t an overpowering sort of fruit tea; the base is medium bodied (though I’d say bordering on the stronger side) that has some malt, baked bread, and subtle cocoa notes, that is slightly tannic and has just a touch of astringency after the sip, so the tea shines through well without being dominated by the flavor. There is a sweet sakura taste on the finish, slightly berry with that subtle floral touch, and a hint of sweet fruitiness that tastes like strawberry mochi.
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Cocoa, Floral, Malt, Sakura, Strawberry, Sweet, Tannin
Understated, grapefruity, and a gentle bitterness when brewed quite light. Steeped three times. Smells better than it tastes, but the flavor is pleasant and refreshing when paired with spicy food. I don’t think I’d drink it on its own but I would reach for it again next time I make prawn masala.
Flavors: Citrus Zest, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Hops
A Berry Frui-tea July! I was able to pick up several flavored mugicha from Lupicia during their last mottainai sale, and since the hot summer months is mugicha season in Japan, this seemed a great opportunity to try some of them. I already know I enjoy plain mugicha, but of the fruity flavors I grabbed during the sale (apricot, apple, plum, and lychee), I decided to start with apricot.
The teabags are slightly smaller than the Hida Mugicha style teabags I have, only making a half-quart, so I used two to cold steep a quart of mugicha overnight. I have to say, it does have a rather sweet apricot scent, but still has that roasted coffee aroma, as well.
The flavor is… interesting. I can still taste those deep roasted coffee notes, but there is a lighter fruity note to the tea. It’s interesting because they are flavors I wouldn’t really peg as going together, and I actually think in the case of mugicha, I prefer it plain. I don’t mind the sweetness the apricot notes bring to the cup, and it certainly isn’t bad… it just doesn’t really add anything, I suppose? The roasted barley is just such a strong flavor, and sort of has that coffee-like slightly bitter bite to it, that I guess the apricot feels out of place. I used to enjoy sugary, sweet flavored mocha coffees, and even so, this just seems an odd juxtaposition somehow. The result is something a bit bittersweet. I’ll still have no problems finishing this up this summer, and am still looking forward to trying the other flavors (maybe one of the others will work better?) but am fairly certain in the future I’ll just be sticking with plain mugicha.
Flavors: Apricot, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Roasted, Stonefruits
Hoku is a Hawaii exclusive and I have to say it does reminds me of Hawaii. It is a light flavor tea, you have to steep it in hot water for more than 5 minutes to let the flavor out. I think it’s best for cold-infused tea, rather than hot tea. The smell of tea is remarkable, it’s floral, sweet, like sitting in a flower shop. I personally like to drink it after dinner since it’s Oolong (less caffeine) and make me relax, a lovely bedtime tea :)
June Wedding! Time for something new, so here is another sampler I picked up during Lupicia’s mottainai sale just last April. There were five teabags of this tea (whole leaf in sachet) in a tiny collector’s tin. When I opened the tin, the dry leaf smelled just like a sharper and slightly more nutty version of Nutella, and oh, does my love affair with Nutella run strong! So I was really excited for this one!
I was visiting my grandmother this weekend (she has no Internet, so I’m now typing up all my handwritten tea reviews from a notebook for Steepster, hahaha!), and I took this teabag to the restaurant with me where we had breakfast and just ordered hot water. The tea had a very strong nutty aroma and flavor; I’ve never had chestnuts before, so to me this flavor note read as sort of a very sharp hazelnut taste to my tongue. The tea was very naturally sweet (I did notice a very small sugar cube in the dry leaf), and it had a nice milk chocolate/cocoa flavor, but the chocolate didn’t overpower the nutty notes. The base tea was very smooth as well, with a nice lack of bitterness and astringency, and I kept thinking to myself that the base must be a Vietnam black because it had such a natural sort of honeyed-cocoa flavor to it beneath the chocolate flavorings, which I’ve tasted in that particular kind of tea before. As it turns out, the base is a blend of Indian, Vietnamese, and Kenyan teas, so I do wonder if the Vietnamese tea is a little heavier in the blend (if not, it certainly makes its presense known on my palate!)
This was a really nice tea that reminded me so much in flavor of Nutella or chocolate-covered macademia nuts, which are two of my favorite guilty-pleasure foods. I’m definitely going to have to restock this one!
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Hazelnut, Nutty, Smooth, Sweet
This was almost a depressing sipdown, but then I found a whole other bag! Yay! Lupicia sells these pyramid bags in comically small quantities so I’ve been rationing.
I love the way the dry leaf smells like fresh, sweet pineapple. You do have to be careful not to oversteep it – 3 minutes is the absolute max – but if you get the timing right you will be rewarded with a delightful cuppa. It smells like roasted chicory and sweet pineapple. The roasted notes are there in the brew, but the dominant flavor is delicately sweet pineapple (although the flavors completely flip if you oversteep and you end up with a heavily roasted brew with a touch of pineapple). It reminds me of Taiwanese pineapple, which might be projection but makes me happy.
With a name like MASCULIN I’m sure no one knew quite what to expect with this one. To be honest I really thought it was going to be a Lapsang Souchong. Either way I don’t like this one or the later mentioned tea. But I’m going to drink it all because we could all use a bit more vitality in our lives. If tea were a man this would be him. Mix him with Lapsang Souchong and you’d get a real outdoors gentleman. For once the rooibos isn’t the star of the show. Generally, rooibos takes over whatever is put in the tea bag with it. Even the ginseng is somewhat undertoned by this woody flavor. I’m assuming it must be the maca.
I rarely review a tea a second time, but the first time I reviewed this one the flavor really didn’t click with me; the alcohol flavoring in it was this strong, dry, tasteless bitter flavor, just never the kind of alcohols I ever liked back in the days before my migraines shut me off from all alcoholic drinks. I did enjoy the mint and lemon-lime citrus touches, so I was curious if there was any saving grace to make the tea more palatable for me since I still have a lot of leaf left. So this time I prepared it Arnold Palmer style: I used four teaspoons of leaf, steeped in two cups of boiling water for four minutes, added two teaspoons of lemon-infused honey, and then added two cups lemonade, stirred it all together and set it in the fridge to chill. This made the tea really nice! It has a much more subdued alcohol-flavored touch, rather than that overpowering strong edge that flavor had before, and the lime and mint flavors add a nice touch to the lemonade. The touch of sweet honey comes out on the finish so it doesn’t really come off as bitter anymore. I’m not going to change my initial rating, but I am glad that this tea is actually quite nice with a few additions.
Flavors: Alcohol, Citrus, Lime, Mint
June Wedding! This new tea I grabbed just a few months ago during a Lupicia mottainai (too good to let go to waste) sale. It’s apparently based on a British cocktail, but since I haven’t been able to have alcohol in more than a decade due to chronic migraine (it’s a trigger) I’m not familiar with the drink used as inspiration. It’s described as being scented with lemon, lime, and mint.
I made this iced, since a cocktail tea warm didn’t sound very pleasant to me. Since the base tea was Darjeeling black, I went with a warm steeped infusion, which I then chilled in the fridge (I find cold steeping blacks just doesn’t have enough oomph for me). The tea does have a citrus smell to the nose, and is slightly minty and even a little sweet-smelling.
The flavor, however, actually comes off with a really bitter alcohol taste! Like, a strong, hard alcohol… not any of those fruity sweet types I ever used to drink. The closest equivalent I can even think of is the time when I was a child and was at a friend’s house and thought a glass of Sprite was on the counter and took a big swig and cried for hours to discover it was instead her father’s gin, and my throat wouldn’t stop burning. It has that sort of strong, tasteless strong alcohol taste to me, just minus the burning (and I am thankful for that!) There is definitely a strong minty note, and a more subtle touch of citrus at the end of the sip. I do like that is has a very natural lime flavor, since most lime teas I’ve tried thus far have been overloaded with lime flavoring and as a result came off really off-putting, but this really tastes just like a wedge of lime was squeezed into the cup; it’s subtle but tasty. If there was just more sweetness I’d probably like this better. I don’t normally sweeten my teas, but this is one where I’m going to have to in order to make it more agreeable to my palate. Liquid sugar helps a bit since this is already iced, but next time I make it I’ll try adding some lemon-infused honey while it is still hot and see if that improves it at all. Or perhaps go Arnold Palmer style to get some lemonade sweetness.
Flavors: Alcohol, Bitter, Citrus, Mint
June Wedding! This something blue is a sampler I snagged in April in a Lupicia mottainai sale (a Japanese term meaning “too good” or “wasteful”… basically, “buy this tea cheap because it is too good to go to waste!” because it is close to the best by date, out of season, over stock, etc.) This was in an old Christmas sampler, actually, but I was all too happy for the opportunity to try out more Lupicia flavors! This tea is a blend of Indian and Vietnamese black tea with dried blueberries and black currant flavoring.
My sampler came as a single-serve sachet (yay for sachet, I never have taste issues with those like I do with paper bags!). The leaf certainly has a very fruity aroma, with a very blueberry scent, and unlike other blueberry teas I’ve tried that smelled very sweet and more like blueberry pancake syrup, this is definitely reminding me more of fruit from the initial sniff.
I steeped the tea in boiling water for three minutes, and the tea was a nice copper color with a very pleasing dark berry aroma. This is really nice. It’s naturally sweet, but doesn’t feel overbearingly so. There is a very nice, distinct blueberry flavor, but I’m still able to taste the base tea as well, and it’s very smooth. The currant is coming out a bit closer to the grape side, but it is present, and I get a slightly honeyed quality to the tea as well. I think this edges out TeaSource’s Blueberry Fields for me as my favorite blueberry tea I’ve tried so far, though it is quite close.
Flavors: Berry, Blueberry, Fruity, Grapes, Honey, Smooth, Sweet
Brew briskly, taste briskly, love briskly. Actually, I don’t really love it. Don’t hate it but I find it to be somewhat bland. Briskly bland. It is a CTC blend so it’s not wonder that there is a loss of flavor. For those who don’t know CTC means cut-tear-curl (or crush-tear-curl) as apart of processing the majority of many commercial tea leaves . Anyway, I can see this is a good tea for those who like to add milk. In fact, I’ll add some right now to see what happens. Ok Milk has been added. Still has that weird citrusy after taste and mouth feel. However, it does help cut down on the briskness and adds a touch of honey flavor to it.
This went from fruity to slightly bitter in thirty seconds so watch your steeping time and sip often. I could see being tasty in a real sangria or an iced tea. Good muscetal notes along with some hints of citrus which extends into the after taste. Not the most silky mouth feel because of the citrus but all the flavors work together fairly well despite that.
Ah Tikuanyin, you most mysterious temptress. Sometimes you toast lightly with the most interesting slightly woodsy notes and other times you are more like your green brethren with grassy flavors abundant. But this time darling you seem to be somewhere in the middle. A bit of wood, a bit of earth, a tad of hay,
If you generally aren’t a fan of rooibos because of how overpowering it can be then you may want to try this. It’s very well balanced. The rooibos created a creamy atmosphere for the apricot and berries. The honey helps keep the generally over powering flavor of the rooibos in check. Also need to add that the aroma of this one is very nice. Would make a great was melt scent.
Now this is green tea! Wonderful grassy flavor. Slightly bitter tang. A nutty, just lightly aftertaste follows with the grass. These days I tend to avoid tea bags because of the CTC method of processing but The Book of Tea is comprised of all tea bags save for one loose leaf tin. However, not all tea bags are made equal. Take the tea I have in my cup at the moment; Sencha Uji by Lupicia. While it still is a bit sad to see how torn the leaves are (sorry I have a thing for whole leaves) I am still impressed by the green color and fact that they aren’t all completely torn. The flavor is quite enjoyable. When I think of what a high end green tea tastes like it’s something like this.
Oolong! Its been too long since I had an oolong, and I’ve always liked Lupicias fruity oolongs when it gets hot out.
So. This is nice, but I’m pretty sure I like their melon oolong better.
This has a nice juicy fruit flavor to it, but the fruitness is heavier than the others I’ve tried, and reads a little less refreshing.