75 Tasting Notes
I love this tea so much that I had to try to buy it 4 times, in two different countries (neither of which I live in), just to finally get to the darn thing again after I used up my first 100g. The first three attempts were in their only (huh? why?) Paris shop, which happens to be about 5 minutes away from my Paris-dwelling friend’s house but first time – turned out they are closed on Sundays. Ok, fair enough. Second time – closed on Mondays too! Darn. Third time – closed for the summer holidays. Man… So in the end I went to The Hague for it and it’s so worth it. Tasty tasty tasty.
Alright, I’m frustrated. I have become bad at making this tea! It tasted really good the first bunch of times I made it, then I made it taste crappy (can we say crappy on Steepster?) a few times, and then I managed to make it pretty decent but it did not reach the heights of amazingness that I got used to. And now I’m afraid of it. Sigh. I’ll just have to keep experimenting… I’m hoping that maybe it had something to do with the tannin buildup in my teapot or something.
I know! That’s why I’m not touching the rating – I’m aware of the fact that this is entirely my own doing and not this lovely tea’s fault….
I’ve worked it out! I think… This tea usually has vanilla bits in it, right? I think I was overly greedy with them and used them all up, so now I’m left with about 1/5 of the tea with no vanilla bits. And that also explains why the tea tastes much better now that I’ve cleaned my teapot but not as amazing as it used to. Ok, so, basically, I need to buy a new round of this tea and be more moderate in my vanilla-chasing. Phew.
Hm. This is a perfectly nice tea, with absolutely nothing ‘wrong’ with it. It’s not bitter at all (except for that ‘not actually bitter’ spice and grapefruit bitterness), it has a perfectly nice and pretty complex taste (some sweetness, some ‘bitterness’, some slight citrus-iness), but I just have other teas that fall into the same tea category (for me, at least) and that I like better.
Specifically, The des deux chinois (Dammann again), which I’m becoming increasingly fond of. Also Everglad (again Dammann), which is a lovely grapefruit tea without much else in the way. Then there’s Mousson sur Hanoi (and again Dammann – sensing a theme here), which has no ingredients in common, but does have a similar kind of green tea + non-bitter bitterness thing going for it, and is utterly lovely and unique. So, sorry Riads, I think I’ve found teas I just like better than you. But I’ll happily sip you down.
By the way, I’m sure that there must be a better word for the non-bitter bitterness that I keep mentioning. I have no clue what it is, though.
Hm, I’m getting more of a sweet note this time. Although that may be because I forgot my tea in the cup for a while and now it’s cooler. This one’s growing on me, so I’m bumping it up to 79 (from 77). I still taste the non-existent grapefruit… and the “green” coconut is still nice here. The lime is very subtle, not nearly as acidic as I’d imagine lime tea being. Just gives it that added bit of complexity.
Also, this tea is very pretty. Different yellow and pink petals and a nice green base… very nice :) Makes me happy to look at it.
One thing I noticed about this tea – I only like it with a dash of milk. If I put too much milk, suddenly I don’t like it anymore… I find a similar thing with Yorkshire tea, but that one I still like with more milk, it’s just no as good. This one I just don’t like if I add too much milk. Funny stuff.
This is the tea that made me start drinking (non-chai) black teas. A friend of mine was living in London at the time and she brought me a box of this tea as a present. I thought that it would be a chai-like tea, what with being a Christmas tea, so I tried it and it had the most gorgeous reddish colour… but it tastes like ‘normal’ black tea.
And then, of course, I refused to believe that I didn’t like this tea, because it’s really pretty tea from London, plus it’s from M&S and I kind of love them. So I just kept ‘trying’ the tea, and after a while I got accustomed to the taste and once all the tea was gone I really missed it. And then I bought one of those boxes of a few different Twinings teas and became very fond of their English breakfast and Irish breakfast teas, which then led to more Twinings teas and Barry’s teas and Yorkshire tea…. And that’s how I started drinking a bunch of black tea with milk and sugar, and then branched off into just pure black teas, then flavoured black teas…. good times :)
In any case, I’m living in London now and I was at M&S a few days ago and you can buy Christmas Tea again! It’s been years since I’ve had it, so I was very excited. And it still tastes great. Very assam-y and lovely as a breakfast tea. I’d say this is one of my favourite morning teas, along with Taylors’ Irish breakfast and Yorkshire tea. I remember also being very fond of Twinings breakfast teas, but they don’t have Irish breakfast for the UK market, fascinatingly enough, and the English one doesn’t taste the same. I’m planning to buy a box of each of the international market breakfasts at the Twinings shop/museum one of these days, but I’m trying to not go nuts with tea buying for a while…
Also, one of the things I like best about living in a country for more than a year are all those seasonal things that you notice coming back. Very homey. And yup, I’ve moved around a bit.
And yup, that’s about that.
This is my third try with this tea, and I’m giving it a not great score (76) because I really do seem to find it underwhelming considering how interesting the ingredients are. And yet, I have a feeling I’ll be increasing the rating later on… let’s see if I’m correct.
I still get the perfectly nice oolong base here, though I also have that bit of extra ‘heaviness’ that I seem to get from flavoured greenish oolongs when compared to just flavoured greens. (Not sure how else to describe it…) I also still get the slight sourness of I think rhubarb. But then I noticed a rather distinct lilac flavour all of a sudden in the middle of drinking this cup – or, at least, what I’d imagine lilac would taste like based on its smell. And I love the smell of lilac, so that was lovely, but then it kind of went away again. A bit of a shy note? Still smells like lilac, though, and something else… maybe a bit of that raspberry? I’m really not sure. But I think something vaguely sweetish. Will have to keep playing with this tea and see what happens.
One interesting this about this one – I have a lot of trouble getting it into a spoon in order to measure it. It has these rather firm, very long and thinly twisted leaves, which just doesn’t like my Perfect Tea Spoon… or any spoon, really. I wonder what kind of oolong it is.
I really like this tea. I’m having a bit of trouble describing it, though, because it’s quite unlike any other tea I have (and I have plenty). The taste is really lovely, and I kind of keep sniffing at it. It really does smell very similar to a rose tea, but somehow not quite as floral, not quite as sweet. I think it’s the combination of Vietnamese tea and lychee.
Now, I have no idea what Vietnamese tea is supposed to taste like, because this is the only one I’ve tried, but I do get the feeling that it gives quite a bit of character to the blend. It really doesn’t taste like anything else I can think of and it’s not just the banana flower. On that note, I have no idea what banana flower is supposed to taste like, and I don’t really taste anything bananaish but I definitely taste more than just lychee.
There is a ‘dryness’ to the flavour that reminds me of one of those grapefruit & spices blends, like The des Deux Chinois or The des Riads, but it’s not quite that. Not surprisingly, since there is no citrus and no spice in this one. But it’s a very pleasant dryness in my opinion, and one I definitely feel in the mood for at times and then I go straight for this tea. Other times I go straight for this tea just because it’s so cool and unusual.
Try it, it’s an experience.