89 Tasting Notes
A friend who had taken a short holiday in Miami returned home with this present (I love presents, and I love tea, so it really made my day the day I received it some time last week). Metropolitan Tea Company seems to be a Canadian company known – at least by me – for its “souvenir wooden tea boxes”, and I read online these are only available in North America. The print is really nice, but unfortunately the box itself sort of “colapsed” after I first opened it. Inside was a pack with 12 tea bags, individually tagged. A nice citrusy aroma could be observed, nothing too overwhelming, nor too artificial, which really left a good impression. I brewed the tea according to the indications on the box, and the brew was very fragrant as well, although it had lost a bit in comparison to the tea bags. But when drinking the tea, there´s – surprisingly – little left from the lime fragrances, and the taste is even a bit wood-like. Now, I´m not the biggest citrusy tea fan, so it´s certainly no disaster for me that the lime aroma has only a subtle presence in the final tea. Before writing this review, I made myself another cup this morning, with the same observations. Enjoyable, but probably a huge disappointment for the fans of lemon and lime.
Flavors: Lime, Wood
When I visited the The Palais des Thés shop in Angers, I could try this tea in its hot version, and I immediately thought of buying the tea and having it iced. The pink grapefruit makes this a very fresh and refreshing drink, ideal for the hot Summer months. It can be taken hot, but also cold it´s really nice. Morever, the aroma´s are present when opening the tea pouch, but are still wonderful when brewing the tea, and even when the tea is iced… and drunk the day after brewing it! For me, this is definitely a positive point. As my “jardin à la française” blend ran out, this blend is now my “summer iced tea” blend!
I´m not too knowledgeable about white tea, and this tea looks wonderful (big leaves), but I´m not so sure about the way to brew it. The tin says to use 2g and steep in water of 60ºC, for 3- 5 minutes… but I think the result is quite thin after 5 minutes, so I left it a bit longer. To get a bit of colour and hopefully also some more taste…but there, I think I´ll need some more experience with other white teas, in order to compare. Very subtle taste, and nothing too defined. To be continued…
Flavors: Green Wood
Recently, I went to León (north of Spain) and I had some time to spare, so I wandered a bit off the busy streets of the city centre, and so, I discovered a wonderful tea shop. The person in charge is very knowledgeable about tea, and when looking through her loose tea inventory, I saw quite a lot of pu erh fruit blends (which I see more and more often in Spanish tea shops…it must be the hottest thing in tea around here!). BTW, in Spain pu erh is called “red tea (té rojo)” while I associate the – falsely named – red tea label to rooibos teas. I recently bought a mango pu erh, which I like but nothing in comparison to some pu erh tea cake I tried out some time ago, so was more intrigued by a pu erh blend with Belgian caramel, especially because I´m Belgian and more so because Belgium is more associated with chocolate than it is with caramel, I thought.
As soon as the loose leaf tin was opened, I knew I needed to get this tea : the caramel is coming through strongly, but in a “salty butter” way (more than an overly sweet way, if you know what I mean). As soon as I got home (after some holidays), I tried out the tea and was even more impressed : it´s intense, both in aroma´s as in taste, and it reminds me of one of my favourite teas, one they call “marco polo” in France, a black tea with caramel…but even better. Steeping time is short, and it could be steeped a second time, I was told, but it was great the way it was now. So glad I tried it, and certain to get a new bag next time I´m in León.
This is my review of the other sample (tea bag) I was given when buying tea at Palais des Thés shop in Angers last week. I´m rather overwhelmed by this tea, as I didn´t expect me to like it as much as I did : it´s a minty green tea which really does justice to its name of “glacial”, as it´s like having a polo mint in your mouth for quite some time after having drunk the tea!
When I go to have a “couscous”, I always finish the meal by having a mint tea, and the sugar dose of these mint teas are high enough to not have me going for another one for the rest of the year…so, what I really love here is the freshness of the mint w/o the sugar levels associated with mint teas. I have drunk the tea hot, as indicated on the tea bag, but I really believe this could be a wonderful iced tea, so I definitely want to buy more when visiting a Palais des Thés shop next time.
“Deliciously combines the fresh, peppery flavor of mint leaves with the herbal notes of a green tea from China.” …indeed, a lovely combination. Moreover, I believe this tea can interest both herbal tea lovers as green tea aficionados.
Flavors: Green, Mint
As the Jardin à la française tea from Palais des Thés was quite successful as a tea to have iced over the Summer, and my stock was running out, I organised to get some more at the shop in Angers. Bought another tea I am going to try out as iced tea, as long as the warm weather continues, but first I wanted to try the samples (tea bag) I was given.
This Thé du Hammam was one of them. Palais des Thés really takes care of the way it packs the tea : although I prefer loose tea (and buy it in practical pouches which can be closed again after use), their tea bags are very “chic”. It says “Inspired by a traditional Turkish recipe, this green tea smells of orange blossoms, roses, berries, and the flesh of green dates.” I think there also might be some vanilla present, which combines quite nicely with the berries. I am not a big berry flavoured tea fan, but here they don´t dominate the blend. I maybe had the tea steeping for a bit longer than indicated on the tea bag (5´instead of 3´), but the colour was still very pale strawlike. Not too aromatical, and also in taste the berries are very well detectable…but fortunately don´t dominate the taste either. Couldn´t really tell the other aroma´s (orange very subtle, rose ?, green dates maybe more indirectly through the tea´s sweetness), but on the whole it is balanced and easy drinking, not too grassy (what I hate about a lot of green teas). Nice to try, nothing to drink regularly though…for me at least.
Flavors: Berries, Dates, Green, Orange Blossom, Vanilla
I don´t know a lot about Darjeeling teas, but I do like the (Assam) teas I bought at All About Tea in Southsea last year (a discovery when out during a Bank Holiday WE), and I appreciate a lot the information given (on the website, through the videos on facebook) about tea-related subjects. Check it out : https://allabouttea.co.uk
So, I decided to take advantage of the special offer buying a 250g pouch …and I´m not disappointed! Friends tealovers may expect a sample ;-) This 1st flush is of high quality (looking at the leaves after steeping the tea), it tastes light and sofisticated, and doesn´t turn bitter when overdoing the brewing time a bit (which happens to me more often than I would like). I truly understand why they call this the “Champagne of teas”. One of the better teas I have ever drunk… and it can be drunk at anytime of the day really. So glad I decided to buy this much in one go, before having tasted it.
About a month ago, I tried this tea in the convential way and I really liked it. Summer has arrived and from the beginning, temperatures are high, very high even (up to 40ºC), and then I want my water to be a little bit less tasteless. I had already picked this tea to make home made ice tea, and I have started to make batches of it daily this week : what a lovely iced tea this Jardin à la française makes! Basically the same aroma´s as the hot brewed tea, and the sweetness of the pear works very well in this iced tea. I already know I´ll have to plan a visit to the shop when returning to Belgium (or France) in August, as I´m sure this pack will have gone.
When I visited the Palais des thés shop in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium), I got a sample of this Thé des Lords (tea bag). It is basically an Earl Grey black tea, so I was looking forward to tasting this one. Very fragrant in a typical citrusy way, but with a floral touch to it (due to the safflower petals added to this tea?). But the aroma´s after steeping are too floral and too little bergamot-like, as far as I am concerned… resulting in a “light” tea I am not too fond of. A bit of a disappointment therefore.
Flavors: Bergamot, Floral
Last week I was in my home country (Belgium), and I travelled around quite a bit. It´s amazing how often a tea shop now makes part of those nice little shops one can find in a city´s centre, and Louvain-la-Neuve is not an exception. Near the Grand Place is a wonderful tea shop from the French Palais des Thés chain. As soon as I stepped in, I was offered a taster (I could choose between a black tea and a herbal tea, I opted for the first) and I got an explanation about the way they present the teas here (you can experience the fragrances of the tea by picking up a bell glass), before I started my discovery tour of the shop and the teas they offered. The packaging is really well taken care of, also the design I think is really nice, and the choice offered of tea is alright (not too many “off the beaten track” teas though). As I find it particularly difficult to find a nice fruit based tea (on the real stuff, not on aroma´s!) I can easily cold brew, I finally bought this Jardin à la française tea, which is a herbal tea dominated by a very natural pear fragrance. Back at home, I tried the tea today…preparing it the “normal” way, i.e. hot : the very elegant pear fragrance is present in the loose tea, in the steeping tea, in the final brew, until the last sip, which is definitely a big plus! After 4-5 minutes of steeping, the colour is still very light, but the taste is well developed (and the pear taste always comes over naturally), so I can only imagine this giving a wonderful result cold as well. I only hope I´ll still be having tea when the hot days arrive and I really need a cold brew ;-)