Mariage FrèresEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Not rating because, well, I really dislike clove unless it’s delegated to a very minor supporting role, and unfortunately that is not the case here. But it seems churlish to low-rate a Christmas tea for having too much clove. I mean this flavor is exactly what one would expect from something named “Esprit de Noël,” but I had hoped MF might handle it a bit differently and give me a nice surprise. All the other ingredients with no clove, or just the tiniest bit, would be right in my wheelhouse, but the amount of clove in this just undoes me.
I did have it steeped in hot milk this afternoon, and that’s probably the only way I can enjoy it … once in a blue moon. I need to give this to someone who will appreciate it.
Okay, I guess I better go ahead and give this a number, finally. The reason I’ve avoided this is that Marco Polo and Wedding Imperial were in my very first “posh” tea buy, the purchase that put me on the road (not very long ago!) to trying more and more teas, and the reason I hardly drink coffee any more. But! I really overdid it with these two, to the point of making myself sort of sick of the taste of them … thus my delayed write-up.
To be honest, I would have waited longer, but I just got one of those fancy new gravity infusers, and had to give a thought about what tea to christen it with. Well, why not the first fancy tea I ever sampled? Marco Polo, then, yes. Unfortunately, I was also a bit hungry, and had eaten some salted almonds just before. Unwise. As a general rule, I’d guess that “don’t salt your mouth before tea tasting” might be a good one. At least it’s a good one for Marco Polo. My first few sips, black with a tiny bit of sweetener, were awful! “Bejabber!” I moaned, “And zooterkins! Truly I have bespoiled this once fair elixir by my own depraved intemperance!”
Luckily, though, those first sips did a good job of rinsing my mouth, and when I added more sweetener and some milk, my old love was back to the lovely, luxurious, creamy strawberry shortcake flavor I remembered. Maybe too much so, since now I’m tempted to have more … and more! But no, I’ve sworn I’ll not ruin any more delights with gross overindulgence. No, really.
/me hums innocently
Sipdown no. 127 of 2018 (no. 483 total).
This one found itself at the bottom of the ratings and so became my take it to work tea until it was no more.
I feel like I just wrote the initial note on this the other day so I don’t really have anything to add, except that because its problem (at least for me) was that it was neither fish nor fowl — it wasn’t really fruit and it wasn’t really floral, but was trying to do both — I noticed that when I was taking it to work and not focusing on the warring fruit v. floral or indeed anything else really, I enjoyed it a lot more.
I thought for some reason that this was a green version of Montagne D’Or, which is why I slated it to try today. But it’s not a lychee tea.
It’s a fruit and floral combo. The fruit is mostly what I smell in the packet. I don’t really smell any rose.
After steeping the tea is a deep gold color and clear. The aroma is mostly apple, a little papaya, and a little rose at the end of the sniff.
The flavor is a weird in between of something trying to be tropical fruit and something trying to be floral. This is a rare situation in which I think a French tea’s mystical ingredient combo isn’t working as all for one and one for all. I think this tea is trying to do too much at one time.
I’d prefer it choose to be one thing, and I think I’d prefer that one thing to be tropical fruit.
As it is, this is not a favorite. It isn’t bad, it just isn’t doing the mystical French thing. It’s more of what I’d expect of a lesser blender than Mariage.
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Fruity, Rose
I have made it to the last black tea in my cupboard! And as far as I know, I don’t have any black tea samples left to taste either.
This is a pretty tea, and yes, it is lychee — very strong lychee, a very singular lychee note — that I smell coming out of the tin.
The tea is a dark chestnut color, leaning toward mahogany. It smells like lychee, but also like something else. Something minerally. Rock like. Maybe a little like potato. For those synesthetes out there, if a malty yunnan smells gold, this smells silver.
There’s also a warmer note in there somewhere. Something coffee-like.
Flavor-wise this is better than I expected. I am not a huge lychee fan. I don’t dislike it, but it isn’t something I’d put in a favorite category. Still, done well it can be quite enjoyable for me.
This one is done really well. It’s probably the best lychee black tea I’ve had, though I haven’t had that many (oh Steepster, when will you let my search my notes based on flavor profile? Or based on rating? Or based on anything? I would so love a search function as the ordering functions are limited in their utility.)
If I was going to stock a lychee black tea in my permanent collection, this would be it. Say no more.
Flavors: Coffee, Lychee, Mineral, Potato, Wet Rocks
A woodsy, not overly sharp smell comes from the dry leaf. I steeped at a lower temp than usual, 195F for 3:30. I think I might have to up the temp some. The tea’s color is a sort of apricot-to-amber and a bit on the pale side, which makes me think hotter might get more out of the leaf.
I smell the Sakura from yesterday in the steep — it must have worked its way into the Breville or I failed to rinse it fully. The flavor is mild, vaguely like champagne.
I am going to do this again at 200 instead, and hope that the Sakura has been ousted.
Second try at 200F. The combination of the hotter temp, and the Sakura having washed away (or at least not being noticeable) is an improvement. The tea is a little darker amber, too.
This is a very mild darjeeling. Smooth, no sharp notes at all. No water logged effect on the stomach that I sometimes get with first flush darjeelings.
This is actually a blend of teas from various estates. I don’t think there is a Princeton estate — I did google it and nothing came up, but I suppose it could be the one thing that managed to escape google.
The tea has a fruity aspect, grape, maybe some plum. And a woody aspect, though it is subtle. Not much earthiness.
It’s really everything I like about first flush darjeelings and nothing I don’t, which is why it is getting high marks from me.
Flavors: Champagne, Fruity, Grapes, Green Wood, Plums
I mentioned a few days ago that I’m a fan of cherry green teas. And fortunately for me, here’s another one.
In the packet there’s a strong smell of cherry, like Luden’s cough drops. After steeping, this becomes mellower, and takes on a vanilla note as well. The tea is a medium, golden yellow color and has some particles suspended in it.
The flavor skips that vanilla note I mentioned, but keeps the cherry and adds a floral effect as well, which I suppose isn’t surprising given that this is flavored with cherry blossoms rather than cherry fruits. It’s not perfumy, though — it’s a gentle cherry essence mixed with a mild, grassy green tea.
A very nice example of its kind.
Flavors: Cherry, Floral, Vanilla
Ever the rebel, I’m defying convention by having this morning tea in the evening! I actually bought this because I was on a nostalgia kick and looking for something to stand in for a taste like Constant Comment, unavailable here.
This isn’t that, but it does have a strong citrusy taste, and a slight dessert flavor playing hide and seek under the zing. For me it’s a bit too acidic, and I might like it better with a little more assertive caramel or creamy note to offset the citrus a bit. It’s quite nice with milk, though, and I will enjoy the rest of the tin, but probably won’t repurchase.
Had this lovely stuff this morning, sweet and strong with milk. Though I love to snack on almonds, it’s not really my favorite flavor for desserts or beverages — nevertheless this is really gorgeous and yummy when I’m in the mood. The weather hasn’t been cooperating with the whole chilly “festive season” thing, so some of the more wintery holiday tea options didn’t strike my fancy and this was a nice alternative, just a wee bit spicy and smoothly cheering, without a jarring jingle bell vibe.
I bought this from Mariage Frerès, but since they are always so weirdly coy with their descriptions, I’ll quote The Cultured Cup: “Cocada de Colombia, our newest tea from Mariage Frères, is an organic Colombian black tea flavored with toasted coconut. This tea is named after Cocada, the traditional coconut candy found in many parts of Latin America” … “A dark-colored, medium bodied tea generously sprinkled with toasted coconut” … “A creamy flavored tea with a suggestion of coconut sweetness” … “Instead of adding milk to this tea, consider adding coconut milk. It will greater enhance the tea’s delightful tropical flavor, as well as its natural creaminess.”
So. Yes. I do love coconut, though I sort of feel like it’s the embarrassing boyfriend of flavorings. Blame Thai food! Before I had Thai food, I never liked coconut, and now I’m all heart-eyes emoji. However! I’m still not down for sickly candy sweet coconut flavors! I think this one is handled quite well, a nice, light, “bright” lightly coconut-perfumed tea that feels very warming, cozy and refined to me — definitely not WOO PIÑA COLADA TEA PARTY TIME Y’ALL at all. :P
I’m experimenting with amounts and steeping time. For this, I used almost 4 grams to 300 ml water at about 95C, steeped for maybe 2.5 minutes.
Flavors: Caramel, Coconut
Sipdown no. 125 of 2018 (no. 481 total).
This poor tea ended up at the bottom of the ratings in the cupboard, even though it is a really good tea and I could have continued drinking it happily for a while.
I feel a little sorry for it. Because it was at the bottom of the ratings, it ended up getting put at the front of the iced tea queue. There wasn’t enough to make an entire pitcher, so I filled up the other half with Upton Scottish (Breakfast) Blend.
I am sure I have other teas that I’ve rated higher that I like less, so the reason I feel sorry for this tea is probably because I feel guilty for being unfair to it. But hey, when you’ve been writing notes over eight years and your tastes change, what can you do?
After doing a rough count of my as yet untasted and unwritten about black teas, which I must now revise, I did a similar count of greens.
I have 24 untasted green teas according to my cupboard. Of those, 11 are matcha.
I’ve been taking matcha to work lately. I was scared of doing that at first, but then my BFF the internet showed me the way: I’m using the shake in the thermos method and it works just fine for a quick method in the morning.
The first time I tried it, it didn’t work so well. I used water that was too hot, and I didn’t shake long enough. The tea tasted ok, but the were a lot of undissolved matcha grains at the bottom and I got a mouth full of them in my last sip.
Here’s what I’ve found works:
1 matcha spoon (the bamboo ones) per 4 oz water. My timolino holds 12 oz, so that’s 3 spoons.
12 oz water heated to 175.
Spoon matcha into timolino, then add water, close lid and shake. I shake 100 times. Et voila.
But I digress. Actually, this was a digression to a digression. Let’s get back to the most recent point of divergence: the green teas in my cupboard.
I will say there are a couple of those that I don’t think I’ve seen in a while, so I could have failed to remove some teas in which case I’d have even fewer. But for now, I’m leaving the cupboard as is.
Now, stepping laterally into another digression: revised count of untasted, un-written about black teas (NOT including this tea): 13
And finally, back to the topic at hand. This tea.
This is a “tea of the holidays” so I’m having it over Veterans Day weekend. It has a citrus-floral smell in the packet.
After steeping it’s less citrusy and floral in aroma. It smells a little malty, with a caramel note. I know I used the word chestnut to describe a tea’s color already today, but I can’t think of a better one for this. It’s that color they use to describe brown horses that has a tinge of orange to it.
I think the caramel note is vanilla, somewhere on the continuum between chocolate and vanilla. I’m now thinking that caramel is on that continuum somewhere between the two.
The flavor is much milder than I expected. I expected a dominant citrus, but that’s not the case. The citrus is very gently represented in the blend, almost totally in the background.
Which makes it rather difficult to find something about this tea that makes it special. It’s obviously high quality and tastes just fine. It’s just a bit plain for what I’m wanting when I decide to drink a flavored black tea.
Flavors: Caramel, Citrus, Floral, Malt, Vanilla
Jasmine green, a perpetual favorite of mine if done right.
Done right to me means:
1. The jasmine smells and tastes like the essence of flowers rather than a flavoring agent.
2. The jasmine is integrated into the tea, rather than smelling and tasting pasted on.
3. The tea base is both a great delivery vehicle for the jasmine and not completely overpowered by it to the point where it disappears.
4. Extra points for juicy, flowery goodness.
This tea, which is a vibrant, clear golden color after steeping gets high marks on the first three. The underlying tea contributes a soft, buttery aspect to the tea.
It could be juicier. But 3 out of 4 ain’t bad.
Catching up on my TV watching this morning. Kids’ piano recitals this afternoon.
And I voted yesterday so I don’t have to think about how to work it in on Tuesday.
The tea smells very lemony in the tin. Tart, with some other spices in the mix though I can’t tease out individual smells.
After steeping, the tea is a medium gold color, with suspended particles in it and smells like a less tart version of the dry leaf smell.
Lemon is definitely the main flavor here, and it’s a nice one. It’s not sweet, but it is neither bitter nor too tart. Whatever other spice (clove?) might be in the mix gives it a sort of sultry flavor, which keeps it from being too perky.
It’s a very nice lemon flavored green tea. I’m trying to remember whether I’ve tasted others of this type and I’m not remembering, though it seems very likely. It’s times like these I would love a meaningful way to search my own notes.
Flavors: Lemon, Spices
Home – 9:00 PM
To be honest, I’m not sure why I bought this tea. This is one of three Mariage Frères teas that I purchased in France, and this one is a strange choice for me since I’m not big on florals. I do like sakura in green teas, however. The dry scent is super strong and sweet cherry, and smells very candylike.
Luckily, the steeped tea is much milder. I am enjoying it, thankfully. I can taste the white tea base, and it’s soft and a bit creamy with hay and oat notes. There is definitely some cherry candy flavor, but it’s not overly sweet or strong. I can also taste sakura, which is a nice complement since, to me, it’s almost a savory floral rather than sweet.
Overall, this is actually somewhat subtle and quite tasty. Plus the tin is completely gorgeous, so that always helps! ;)
Flavors: Candy, Cherry, Creamy, Floral, Hay, Oats, Sakura, Smooth, Sweet
Continuing with the project to get through all the teas in my cupboard and write a note about them, I am almost to the end of 15 out of 21 cupboard pages. w00t! And even more yay because until this morning, I had 22 cupboard pages. But with a spidown I cleared out that pesky page with only one tea on it. So there.
And I’m not fully neglecting my samples either, those little packets that don’t get a place in the cupboard but still take up space in tea world.
Even with all that, I don’t feel like I’m making a terrific dent in my supply here. Sigh. All I know is I haven’t bought any tea since I replenished my (gone) herbal/fruit blend stash months ago. So where they come from I have no idea.
This one is quite smoky in the tin. A woody smoke, like the remains of a wood fire in the fireplace. Charred wood, but not ash, which is fortunate. Not much resin, and no meaty-bacony smell either. Also fortunate.
After steeping, the smoky aroma spreads out and mellows some. It’s still there, but it’s more subtle. Not so much at the center of things as the edges. The color is very pretty, dark reddish-amber.
The tea has sweetness to it, and the flavor isn’t overly smoky though there’s a hint. It’s surprisingly smooth and gentle on the stomach. I would call it a medium-bodied to light bodied-tea. The mouthfeel is smooth and soft.
It’s enjoyable, for when you want a hint of smoke but lapsang is too much. It’s at least as good as I remember the Mariage Freres Lapsang being, though different. Rating accordingly.
Flavors: Campfire, Smoke, Wood
Very wonderful caramel smell in the tin, with some cocoa and even vanilla notes. The steeped tea is dark brown-burgandy color and smells like caramel candy with a malty Assam note.
The flavor isn’t as sweet as I would have anticipated from the aroma, but it’s not bitter or sour either. It’s a little on the stout side, full bodied, hearty (some might say heavy) as Assams can be.
I ate breakfast before having this but I suspect if I hadn’t, it might have sat less than calmly on the stomach. Still, it’s got great flavor and is well-blended, a great example of “that French thing” I find so hard to explain.
No. 2 loved it, too.
Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Malt, Vanilla
A rather gloomy, chilly day today, whose grey countenance was not uplifted when I looked out and noticed my summer basil dying (not unexpectedly), and then found I was at the bottom of my tin of MF French Breakfast Tea. Not a crisis, since I have some beautiful teas in my “pantry” (I WISH I had a real pantry), but I won’t be able to order from Mariage Frères for some while, so I will be missing my lovely, soothing, uplifting companion for all those times when I want something of substance, but not too loud, something suave, but not too subtle, something tastefully deluxe yet cozy, warm and comfortable … My old friend for all seasons, French Breakfast.
Some teas you want for their ability to perform, entertain, or teach … they take you on a journey, unlock secrets, shake you out of your rut, surprise you, challenge you, carry you to a time and place, or create new worlds. This isn’t that tea. This is slipping into your softest, best-loved t-shirt or jammies and cracking open a long-awaited new book by a favorite author, or being on the receiving end of a warm, bracing hug before going out to face the world. Whatever you’re doing? It’s there for you. And will be waiting for you when you return.
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Vanilla
Not rating because it’s my introduction to rooibos, so I don’t really even have a baseline for comparison. I must say, though, that having now had a few cups of this, I think rooibos is just not my thing. I’m not fond of the woody (not even woody — twiggy? bark-y? hamster shavings-like?) flavor. I’ve loved drinks like barrel-aged oaky wines and peaty whiskies, but to me that’s an elegant complex flavor intermingling with another interesting, assertive, contrasting flavor, whereas the rooibos just seems flat, one-note, like something you’d grudgingly drink to sort of remind yourself of tea if you couldn’t have tea … like WWII rationing or something. Apologies to rooibos lovers!!
Flavors: Vanilla, Wood