Mariage FrèresEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
When I first opened the tin, I wasn’t sure whether I’d like this. The scent is a creamy vanilla, and that somehow doesn’t seem to fit with the grassy character of sencha.
After steeping, I’m not far from my initial impression. It’s more the flavor combo than how Mariage Freres has done it, but I’m not bowled over.
The tea is a really beautiful color after steeping, though. Medium-dark gold. The aroma is vanilla ice cream-like.
I think my reaction comes from the same place that can’t imagine putting milk in green tea. There’s a milky/vanilla ice cream quality to the flavor that doesn’t feel right to me. Which is funny, because I actually like green tea ice cream.
That said, it isn’t horrible. Just not a favorite.
I recall liking this more in the past. Right now I’m feeling okay about it, but it doesn’t currently seem worth the hefty price. Not sure if it is that my tastes have changed or the tea has changed. The first steep is a nice mellow breakfast tea, slightly heart and good with cream. The second steep is a bit lacking. I feel like too much of the flavors have faded. Bummer when you recall a tea being better than what you are experiencing. Oh well!
The dry leaves of this smell a bit like candy, sweet and fruity.
The sweet and the fruity are both smoothed out and far less candy-like in the aroma of the steeped tea. But there’s something very cherry about the aroma that is still very appealing.
The liquor is a strong, clear, golden yellow.
The floral aspects come in to the sip. Lavender and rose are what are promised, and they are there, lavender more than rose, but neither to the point of being hit over the head. So many florals tend toward the soapy or lotiony, but this is where the French blends excel. They are able to get that hint into the flavor without the fear of suds in the mouth. And there’s still that cherry-ishness underneath it all, which fills out and morphs into something less cherry one note and more berry blend.
I quite like this one.
Flavors: Berry, Cherry, Lavender, Rose
In the tin, this smells more fruity than floral to me, which is surprising. The tea’s aroma after steeping is quite something. There’s a deep chocolatey smell to the tea with some citrusy/florally notes. MMMMMmmmmm.
The tea is clear and medium orange-brown.
Flavor-wise, there’s a chocolatey/mocha note that is pleasing. The floral/fruit is subtle and lovely. I have turned a corner on hibiscus and I now enjoy it, but I don’t think I’d recognize this as hibiscus. The combination of hibiscus and mallow is more like dragonfruit to me, though I get hibiscus in the aftertaste. But I have to look for it.
Definitely different, and quite tasty.
Flavors: Chocolate, Fruity, Mocha
In the tin, this smells very bergamot-y, like an Earl Grey. But once steeped it becomes pretty interesting.
Mostly, there’s a really unique coffee note in among the citrus, which mellows out quite a bit with the steep. The tea is brown, maple colored.
It tastes pretty much like it smells, except that the citrus is lighter and less intense. Mostly it creates a freshness in the mouth. The interesting coffee note remains. The tea has just a slight touch of sweetness. This is going to be fun to try again as there is something about it that makes me think it will be a bit of a chameleon depending on food pairings.
Flavors: Citrus, Coffee, Floral
Sipdown no. 84 of 2018 (no. 440 total).
This became my most recent take it to work tea, and it was great for that. Flavorful without calling attention to itself. The melony flavor that I noted in the original note didn’t stand out enough for me to really ponder it while working, which is actually a good thing.
I don’t get “ripe fruit on a tray” here, but there is something fruity about this. I’m just not sure what kind of fruit.
The smell in the tin is more floral than fruity, but not a floral I can identify, and somewhat spicy. It’s not jasmine, rose , or lily of the valley. Do cornflowers smell, I asked myself? And the first answer that came up on google was “green, earthy, with a subtle peppery note.” Yes, that’s the floral, then, because I was going to say pepper and then went, “nah, that doesn’t make sense for a green tea.” Who knew?
Now for the fruit. After steeping there’s something melony about this. I don’t really get the citrus others did, but I do understand the reference to baby powder. It’s not unpleasant, just weird. I can see lychee, as others have said, but I’m wondering if the fruit I’m smelling is dragonfruit as there’s something kiwi-esque about it. I’m going out on a limb here because I have never smelled, nor tasted, nor even seen the fruit known as Hand of the Buddha, but I’m wondering if that is the citrus others have smelled. It would go with the name.
The tea is golden and fairly clear with particles afloat in it — and it tastes like a melony green tea.
Not my favorite, but interesting.
Flavors: Floral, Melon
Happy 4th of July to my U.S. peeps! Today I intend to spend planning our vacation to Italy!!!! I haven’t been to Italy in years. I can’t now remember whether it was the late 80s or early 90s, but now I’m looking forward to going back. No. 2 is quite a sports car aficionado so we’ll be visiting the Ferrari and Lamborghini museums, but otherwise I expect the trip to be similar to the one I took years ago. Though this time I’d like to try to get to Lake Como.
Anyway, it being a holiday, I cracked open a couple of teas. The first, the Art of Tea green pear, was in a tall, tubular tin, so I thought I’d go with that same theme. This is in exactly the same tin design, with the little interior “plug” with a knob on it. Cute.
I had to read up on what this tea is supposed to be because Mariage Freres is nothing if not coy in their descriptions. Spices can mean anything — here it means caramel/creme brulee apparently.
Which is amusing because when I opened the tin I smelled chocolate and rose. After a while, I realized it wasn’t chocolate so much as caramel.
Now, I’m not a custard fan. I don’t do creme brulee, though the BF is a huge proponent of it. It’s a texture thing for me. Still, this is a tea worth having.
The aroma is pastry-like, cream-caramel with rose at the end, and that’s how it tastes, too. The tea is very dark amber and clear.
This is a blend that shows off Mariage Frere’s blending prowess. It’s very well done; the blend is one with all of its elements and with the tea base, which is smooth. It’s sweet without being cloying, and there’s a bit of a coolness in the mouth after the sip, which is pleasant.
I like it better than the last tea I had with something close to this flavor profile, the Leland Bogart. This is not as “dark” a flavor. Rather like the difference between dark roast and medium roast coffee, and I prefer the more medium for this flavor.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Pastries, Rose
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
I’d heard such good things about Mariage Freres as a brand and about this blend in particular and while I was literally just in Paris less than a week ago, I failed to pick any up before I left. I had to order it when back in the UK and pay the exorbitant shipping prices… but it was all worth it! My order arrived this morning and a cup of French Breakfast was at the top of my agenda.
This is a gorgeous black blend, nice and strong but with some lovely chocolate subtleties without the bitterness that can sometimes come with black tea blends (particularly when oversteeped, which I tend to be guilty of on occasion). This is a great way to get the day started and will definitely be part of my regular tea repertoire.
Sipdown no. 71 (no. 427 total).
Delicious and different as a cold tea. I don’t think I’ve had a cold tea before that was in part rose flavored. I was rather expecting it to taste like a mouth full of perfume but was pleasantly surprised. While the other flavors aren’t individuated enough that I can pick them out in the cold version, but they tamp down the rose and keep it from being soapy.
In the packet, this smells very rosy with a hint of citrus and pepper.
After steeping there’s a more orangey smell. Less rose, but still some pepper. The tea is a clear, medium brown orange.
The flavor is a nice mix of all the scents, heaviest on the rose. It’s not one of my favorites from Mariage Freres, but it’s pleasant. Though I might not put it on a shopping list, I’d drink it again if offered.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Pepper, Rose
So Steepster already has an entry for this tea but it is broken — it doesn’t display properly in my browser and it also won’t let me post a note. I sent in a support issue note, but it hasn’t been changed in a week, so I gave up and decided to create a new entry — even though coming across multiple entries for the same tea in Steepster makes me all cringy. I know there’s very limited support for Steepster, and that makes me wish there was a way for us contributors to merge double entries and remove broken pages. I’d be happy to take care of this myself.
Interestingly, when I went to create a new entry, I discovered there is a new feature (which is long overdue) that lets you know that there is already an entry for the tea you are trying to add. Fortunately, that was easy to do here as I could simply use the English translation.
This is a wonderful tea. The dry leaves, aroma of the steeped tea, and flavor all have a really wonderful fruit blend flavor that’s primarily cherry and strawberry. It has less depth than some other Mariage Freres blends, or it would get an even higher rating from me. But the fruits are lovely and I could drink this all day.
Flavors: Cherry, Strawberry
I got this from the Cultured Cup (branded Mariage Freres but using the Cultured Cup label) and the first thing I noticed is the ingredients as listed on the packet don’t line up with what is listed for the entry here.
My packet lists the ingredients as apricot, mango, cornflower, marigold and black tea. Whereas this one doesn’t list apricot or mango, or marigold for that matter.
But oddly, whatever it contains, the aroma and flavor is of apricot, peach and mango. In the packet, the peach and apricot are the stronger of the two scents. That’s true for the aroma of the steeped tea as well, but I also detect some mango around the edges (and not because I’m about to eat some mango yogurt! I haven’t opened it yet). The tea is dark amber in color and clear.
Though it hasn’t bowled Steepster over, I like this one a lot. I’m always on the lookout for a good peach black tea, or a good apricot black tea, and this has both — plus that magical French blended thing going on that makes it easy to drink without thinking too much about any single aspect of the flavor. There are no thudding, wrong notes here.
Flavors: Apricot, Mango, Peach
Sipdown no. 82 of 2018 (no. 438 total).
I seem to be nearing the end of project Lapsang sipdown. I think I only have two left. It’s always possible there are more hidden somewhere, or that something with a name other than lapsang is really lapsang. With almost 400 teas it’s hard to know. I’m actually looking forward to the continued culling of the collection. It’ll make it easier to find stuff.
I am thinking I ought now to switch to a different project. Like project chai sipdown.
Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Breaking open a new entry into project lapsang sipdown. This will give me a nice variety of three to choose from in the coming months. I expect this project to last through the end of the year, given that I don’t drink black tea except on weekends and holidays and I mostly have a single large cup threshold per day when it comes to lapsang.
I’ve been looking forward to seeing how Mariage Freres does lapsang. And indeed, it’s an interesting contrast to some of the others I’ve tasted recently.
The tea in the tin smells more spicy than smoky. Peppery, really. Which is fascinating.
After steeping, the smell is still not smoky. It’s got a sweetness to it, like a sugary spice bread. I want to say gingerbread, but it isn’t really that. Maybe a spicy banana bread? Weird, I know. The tea is a coppery amber color, a little darker than medium for a black tea. There’s a bit of a haze to the liquor, but it’s translucent.
The flavor is where the smoke is the most noticeable, but as I would have expected from a French tea, it’s not overpowering. It’s a sort of a light smokiness that integrates into the tea in a way that isn’t pasted on. This one doesn’t have the sweetness of some others, not even in the finish or aftertaste. Nor does it scream woodiness, though there is a bit of wood flavor.
My recent lapsangs have all been pleasing to me for their lack of ash, meat, or resin flavors, and this fits that description as well.
I keep harking back to the Kusmi lapsang which has a sweetness I liked in the flavor, and I decided to bump that one up a bit in ratings.
This one is different from the Kusmi in its flavor, but I can taste the quality if you know what I mean. So I’m rating it the same.
Flavors: Baked Bread, banana, Pepper, Smoke, Spicy, Wood
fantastic aromatic tea. drinking at as i write this review. i get some berry aroma but for me the first aroma that hits your nostrils is the smell of chocolate as you open the tin. the berry flavours and aroma develops in the cup. drink with warm water only. no milk or sugar please.
Flavors: Chocolate, Raspberry, Strawberry
Another from the EU TTB. I was super excited about this one when I first picked it out, because I’d heard so many good things about it. I remember being really disappointed when I tried it and couldn’t taste any vanilla or rum, so I held onto the last cup of my sample as it never really grabbed me, expecting it to be as lacklustre as the first time. This made it a good candidate to drink while my tastebuds were on strike, though, so I brewed it up and was surprised when I took my first sip and BOOM flavour. I drank the whole cup plain, no additives, and got it all – rum, vanilla, and some dark rich frutiness which was hard to place. I owe you an apology, Mariage Freres; I never should have underestimated you.
When I wrote about the green version of this a while back, I was surprised to find I hadn’t written a note on the black version. I know I’ve had this before, but somehow never wrote about it.
I intend to try this at different temperatures and steeping times given the variety others have used. Starting with boiling for 3:30.
In the tin, I smell cocoa and berries. In the steeped tea, I smell berries and vanilla bean.
The berries I smell are red, rather than black or blue, but as between strawberry and raspberry, I get a bit of a mash up. There’s a sweetness that is very strawberry like, but it’s almost like it’s at a distance, which is very raspberry like.
The tea is a clear, medium-dark amber. I wouldn’t describe it as smooth in the sip, but it doesn’t have a bite, either. The aftertaste is quite smooth, though, with a somewhat silky mouthfeel. It’s got a magical French thing going on with the flavors, which are very like the aroma with the added bonus that they integrate and balance seamlessly with the tea base, which has a depth that gives the tea a lot of character.
It’s got to be one of the best I’ve had from Mariage Freres, so it’s no surprise it’s their signature tea. It’s not the best tea I’ve ever had, but it’s awesome and something I’ll want to keep around.
Flavors: Cocoa, Raspberry, Strawberry, Vanilla