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Recent Tasting Notes
French Friday! Pulled this from the sampler bag from Dustin this morning, thank you!
…I had very little time to prepare tea this morning, so instead of coming to Steepster to look up the tea first, I just ran straight over to the kettle to start preparations. And for whatever reason, in my uncaffeinated state, the leaf looked like black leaf to me, so that’s how I prepared it… only to come back to Steepster, look up the tea for logging, and see this is a green tea. So basically, I’ve just scorched the hell out of these leaves (at least the second cup for the thermos will be the right temperature…)
Dry leaf had a strong grape aroma to me… a bit like grape, black current, and cranberry? It was pleasant. The steeped cup smells pretty much the same, with an emphasis on the grape note. It doesn’t taste too bad for dunking green tea leaves in 205F water, though there is a sharpness/brassiness coming out. It’s pretty subtle under the flavoring, which is strongly berry; purple grape candy, black current, blueberry… without any of those flavors being particularly distinct, but a fusion of each other. A bit of astringency on the end of the sip, it is more of a sharpness at the back of the tongue than bitter persay, with some mild drying. Hard to tell if that is a result of my brewing, or the tea itself. I’m attempting to carefully sip from the work thermos which was brewed at the proper 175F, and I’m uncertain if I can tell much difference. At least not enough that I see no reason to combine my cuppas in the thermos before leaving for work. Despite the harsh brew, I’m not in sink territory yet.
This one feels slightly more waxy on my tongue… I remember having that issue with Marco Polo too, and wonder if I’m more sensitive to the kind of scentings Mariage Freres uses compared to THEODOR. The flavor is very pleasant, I’m just not as much a fan of the mouthfeel compared to some of the other French teas I’ve tried thus far.
Flavors: Astringent, Berries, Black Currant, Blueberry, Candy, Drying, Grapes, Grass, Thick
First – my little envelope icon always says I have messages even when I don’t. It has been this way for over a year. I have literally gone through every single page of old messages at least twice to see if a reply posted way back and I missed it, but there is nothing new. Does anyone else have this issue?
Now, the tea! This was a surprise envelope from White Antlers! Thank you, thank you!
I made a cup one night and a big pot for breakfast yesterday to share with Ashman. (By the way, only his friends call him that. I usually call him sweetie. And that’s what he usually calls me. I would wonder what I had done if he called me by my name, probably! Ha ha!)
I am not a big chai drinker and would have made this as a latte except I saw a review that said it didn’t make a good latte. Drinking it, I could see why. This is actually pretty mild and smooth when drinking it by the cup. The spices are interesting and it doesn’t give me the stomach burn. I think milk and sugar would have detracted on this one.
When Ashman and I drank I had made a HUGE pot. Drinking cup after cup, the spices build until you start getting a little heat on the roof of your mouth. I thought it was clove at first, but now I think it was black pepper. I didn’t think he would like it, but he said that while it is not in his top ten, he didn’t mind it and would drink it again, but would not seek it out.
We googled Alexandra David-Néel and he read it as we drank the last of the tea. What a fascinating woman and a fascinating life! I had never heard of her until I received this tea, and we both really enjoy learning something new, so that was awesome!
I have to agree with Ashman. I liked it, especially when I had just a single cup and the spices stay tame. I normally dislike pepper in tea but this one wasn’t bad! It just isn’t one I woukd drink such copious amounts if at a time.
Thank you, White Antlers! For the tea and the history lesson!
New tea from the MF website. When it arrived, I opened the bag and recoiled—what perfumed the air was not pleasant to me. A round, pronounced mechanical smell was front and center. I had to wade through these strange notes to even discern the vanilla.
Curious minds want to know, so I decided to brew this tea first, before the others in my shipment. I followed the brewing guidelines to a tee, hoping the off-putting aroma would transform into something actually appealing. Nope. There was a bit of false hope on the nose—the overwhelming chemical notes of the tea leaves seemed to soften as the vanilla become more multidimensional. But when I tasted it, with a teaspoon of sugar, I was not a fan. It tasted like how the leaves smelled.
I’m trying to understand if I’m missing something delicate with this tea. It just doesn’t resonate with me. I wish I would have chosen another MF scented black tea that was in my cart.
Happy National Freedom Day/Black History Month!
Well, January is gone and I am pleased with how my sipdowns turned out. My main goal was to clear out my 2017 tea stash, and other than still working my way through the 25g package of Yunnan Lily Black, I managed to finish off all the rest! With 2017 out of the way (won’t take me much longer now to finish off the Yunnan Lily Black!), my 2018 stash is rather large and daunting, as the bulk of my bad buying habits were during those two years. Onward ho?
Didn’t buy any tea in January either, aside from picking up a box of bagged tea I had a coupon for at the groceries (I definitely need to clear some space from the “bagged tea boxes” cupboard, and only managed to finish two of those last month, so I should probably try to focus some efforts there this month!) and some THE O DOR samplers from Dustin (thank you, Dustin!) I have never had French tea before, and have been curious reading all the tasting notes about it, but all the French companies sell in huge bags that I am just unwilling to buy anymore.
Looking for a black tea to drink for today (I do have a tea from Aesthete, a black-owned business, but it’s an herbal so that won’t be posted until this evening after I’ve switched to herbal brews for the night), I noticed I had this sampler in my stash, from AJRimmer! Oh, a French tea! Hey, I should try that! Thanks, AJ!
The dry leaf has a soft, gentle perfumy sort of fruity note, but it isn’t overbearing in any way. My head is killing me today and I just CBA to weigh leaf so I dumped a perfect teaspoon, steeped for 3 minutes, and hoped for the best. I’m picking out a brassy/malty quality from the aroma of the brewed cup, but mostly a soft, candy-like strawberry note.
This is a little more bitey than I personally prefer my black teas, which is an indicator that I did have more leaf than I need for my personal preferences in that scoop, so I’m finding the base a bit astringent/drying after the sip. And it does have a sort of brassy/mineral quality to the malty base. It’s coming off as the sort of black that I’d need to add milk to in order to smooth it out some. The perfumy strawberry note comes in later in sip and feels a bit waxy and coating on my tongue, perhaps from how strong the astringency of this tea is. It’s not a bad flavor, just a bad sensation. Other than the caffeine providing some mild relief to my pounding migraine, this cup just wasn’t working for me. Time to be un-lazy and try again.
So, measured 2.5g for 350ml, my preference for blacks, though based on the astrigency I got before and how small/broken the leaf appeared, I dropped my normal 3 minute steep time to 2 minutes (which I reserve for CTC blacks). This did result in a much more pleasant cup for me, with less coating/drying/overall bitterness. There was still some astringency/drying present, but gentle enough to enjoy without milking the cup. Still not sure how I feel about the flavoring; I like the floral-strawberry flavor (almost a lavender/lilac mixed with a sweet candied strawberry note) but still don’t really like the mouthfeel of it, which is still coming off as sort of waxy/oily. Do I still not have the prep narrowed in precisely enough? Is it the age of the sample, perhaps? Or maybe I just am not jiving with this one…
Very much looking forward to continuing to explore French teas!
Flavors: Astringent, Candy, Drying, Floral, Lavender, Malt, Perfume, Strawberry, Thick
This is another awesome share from Cameron!
This smells exactly like a red Live Saver (are these even a thing anymore?)! And it tastes like one too! My brother and I ate far too many of these are kids! Since I don’t know what cherry blossom is meant to taste like, I am not offended by this haha. Honestly, I think I will enjoy this whole cuppa! I don’t really eat candy anymore, since it’s rarely vegan, but I don’t know that I would need a candy-like tea in my cupboard, but once in a while it might be nice to mix it up and have a cup of this.
P.S. This probably dates me, but here is the roll I’m thinking of, because apparently there’s been some new iterations in years gone by: https://www.oldtimecandy.com/collections/walk-the-candy-aisle-life-savers/products/life-savers-5-flavors-roll
Adventaggedon Bonus Day
Merry Christmas to those on Steepster who celebrate!!
Drinking the extra day from the MF advent this morning – I was definitely wrong because this isn’t anything like yesterday’s tea. For one, it’s an oolong – and yet another oolong with butterfly pea flower in it. However, this is the first one that’s actually steeped blue! The flavour is hazelnut? It’s kind of weird drinking a blue hazelnut tea but it is pretty tasty. I do think yesterday’s cinnamon tea felt more festive in flavour though.
And with that… advents are done done until next year!
Adventaggedon Day 24 – Tea 6/6
Last advent of the day – technically the second to last of all the advents because I do have one more day of the MF advent left – they included a tea for Christmas Day. This was probably the most festive tea of the day – I’m curious to see if MF can “up” the festive feeling tomorrow, but my money is on it being the same profile on a different tea type. Maybe green tea or herbal!?
The smell of this is intoxicating – it smells like super cinnamon heavy Christmas baking. I haven’t done any Christmas baking since moving to Montreal, and I used to bake pretty much every Christmas so I kind of miss it. It made me nostalgic for Christmases at home in Saskatchewan – which, with the pandemic, isn’t something I got to do this year. I’m all alone in Montreal for the year; no family and even if I had friends who wanted to do something for the holidays it wouldn’t be an option with the lockdown…
I steeped this one up with some whipped cream and a bit of candied cranberries on top and it felt luxe and fancy! It’s one of the most flavourful blends in the MF advent so far; definitely a bolder and sweet cinnamon note but complimented by a brisk, slightly tannic and malty/grainy black tea. Tasted sort of like cinnamon buns and with the whipped cream on top that only emphasized those flavour qualities/comparisons.
Super yummy – and I great penultimate tea from MF.
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJM0NCOgiTR/
Adventaggedon Day 23 – Tea 6/6
This was really nice – sort of more in line with what I expect from Mariage Freres but just at its peak execution. Also, is this the first white tea in the advent so far? I can’t remember…
The main flavour here is definitely the mint, but it’s a very soft and soothing herbaceous mint complimented by equally soothing florals like lavender and rose. The overall tea is very peaceful, calming and relaxing. I felt like it was well balanced, smooth and flavourful while still keeping that feeling of being delicate/elegant. It can sometimes be a real challenge tasting flavourful and being a delicate type of profile.
Not sure if I would buy this – the pricing would likely play a large factor since I know that MF can be quite pricey, but I’d certainly drink it again or swap for it/get it on discount!
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJJ74z9gBd4/
Adventaggedon Day 22 – Tea 5/6
I was a bit surprised to see the iconic Marco Polo again as this is the third iteration of it in the advent – I do love the profile though, so I wasn’t upset seeing it again. I’m trying to understand what separates this version from the OG – at least with the rooibos one that change was very obvious.
Without doing a side by side tasting of the OG against this version, it honestly just tastes like regular old Marco Polo to me. Delicious, don’t get me wrong, but the same standard rhubarb sweet and tart notes that are usually present. Oh well, another excuse to drink some Marco Polo is more than welcome!
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJHkg9EA3im/
Adventaggedon Day 21 – Tea 4/6
This was a nice tea, but I don’t think being on a Darjeeling tea base really added anything special to it at all. In fact, I think I prefer the Earl Grey from earlier in the advent better. It was more full bodied, brisk and flavourful – this one was smooth but a little bit thin in body.
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJFCQREg2g5/
Adventaggedon Day 20 – Tea 4/6
This was a very unexpected tea from MF today, but I thought it was okay. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a Chai from MF before – and for it to not just be a boring old traditional Chai profile but a Coffee Chai was really interesting to me! I feel like I’ve seen a real emergence of spiced coffee inspired tea blends this year, and I’m not sure where that came from but it’s been fascinating to watch get a bit more traction.
I know some tea drinkers also drink coffee, but I am not one of those people – in general I just don’t tend to enjoy the flavour very much. That’s pretty much true here, but I do think it’s a really well done/balanced version of this profile even if it wasn’t my cuppa. It’s more of a coffee flavour than a spiced one, and it’s a pretty dark/roasted coffee note without really any sweetness to it: bold, thick and sophisticated with a slight bitter edge. My impression was that it would be pleasant with a spot of milk, but I also really appreciated the heavy roast notes without reliance on sweetness. The spice creeps up after the initial hit of coffee – mild, and warming. Sort of a “Dirty Chai” vibe, but again with way more weight put towards the coffee notes.
It was refreshingly different from anything else that MF has included in the advent, and if you were a fan of a roastier coffee I think you would REALLY enjoy this one!
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJCZpVTAt6i/
Adventaggedon Day 19 – Tea 6/6!
Made a mini teapot of this while reading some manga this late morning and it was pretty good! Not the best rooibos in the world, but after a few days of more “meh” Mariage Freres tea blend it was nice to have something that felt different, distinct and pretty tasty.
It’s a tiny bit medicinal from the rooibos, but the deeped red fruit notes of the rooibos and slight honeyed graham qualities seemed to really compliment the sweet strawberry notes of the tea and perfumed floral undertones. I like the strawberry here because it’s a sort of “raw” strawberry without a lot of polish to it. By that I mean it’s not really juicy/jammy or candied, but also not really a tart or puckery strawberry either. It’s sort of just like the essence of a strawberry stripped down and at its most raw.
Hard to explain – but a nice taste, and a pleasant change up from other strawberry flavours…
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CI_pDY_AA7m/
Adventaggedon Day 18 – Tea 4/6
The flavour of this tea doesn’t seem to match the name, in my opinion. Just reading it, I would have expected something floral or, at the very least, maybe fruity!? Instead this is a fairly generic nutty profile with some minor sweetness over the same black tea that’s used for many different MF blends – I can kind of see hazelnut if I think about it really hard while sipping, but I’ve had better hazelnuts blends quite recently so this is falling short for me today.
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CI9HTxrAALU/
Adventaggedon Day 17 – Tea 6/6
There was another tea earlier in the advent that was quite similar to this – down to the vanilla and the butterfly pea flower – but I can’t remember what the name was. I think I liked the flavour of that one just a bit better, but this was nice too. Smooth and silky, and a perfect compliment to the Earl Grey scone with marmalade that I paired it with.
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CI6lipOAskU/
Adventaggedon Day 16 – Tea 2/6
Apparently this is a mix of peach, apricot, and fig – but when I opened up the advent this morning all I could smell was mango and the steeped tea also tasted remarkably like mango to me as well. It was a little unexpected to see something so fruity and tropical tasting, but it’s probably been my favourite black tea from the MF advent so far & I would definitely order this one again.
Aromatic, full bodied and delicious!
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CI4C7sbgyfh/
Adventaggedon Day 15 – Tea 3/6
I’m not totally sure if this is the correct tea from the advent – but I guess I can see how “Darjeeling Rose d’Himalaya SFTGTOP1” might be a bit of a bitch to fit on the tag of the tea bag. It’s a bit of a wordy name, after all…
I’m not actually totally sure that I buy that this tea isn’t either rose flavoured or rose scented because it is mighty fucking rose flavoured. Like, in a way that seems SUPER unnatural. With that said, if it is natural then holy hell that might be one of the most floral and delicious darjeelings that I’ve ever had. And, I guess, even if it isn’t natural it’s still a damn good tea. I had it during the afternoon and was immediately pulled in my the bouquet of sweet rosewater notes mixed with a complex black tea profile. Malt, tannic, muscatel grapes, and lilac. Super dreamy, delicious tea.
I’m adding this to the list with Sakura Sakura for teas that I definitely want to order!
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CI1bJQzAPNj/
Adventaggedon Day 14 – Tea 2/6
I think this is my least favourite MF blend that’s been in the advent yet. I’m not entirely sure what the flavour was supposed to be aside from the fact there was definitely some sort of citrus in it. It was very musty/stale tasting though – like an aged citrus note. It also reminded me of something else that’s been in the advent this year but without rereading tasting notes I can’t put my finger on exactly what tea. Worse than whatever it was, though…
This is another butterfly pea flower blend as well – but like the Blue Opera is steeped more of a muddy/swampy green colour.
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CIy5e4PAbit/
The aroma smells like Christmas to me with cinnamon, clove, vanilla, ginger, orange, red cherry and caramelized brown sugar. The tea seems like a good orange pekoe from somewhere. A classic ‘tea orange’ color and taste. I can also taste the incense the tea was shipped with ;P It sips brisk and mineral-woody astringent but turns thick before the swallow. The aftertaste is of warm spices and caramel; vanilla-cola syrup lingers lightly in the back.
I sense a faded opulence. Everything’s more faint than I expected or maybe that’s the style of Mariage Frères? Still, the bags from White Antlers went quickly and I’m glad I got to try another French tea :)
Flavors: Astringent, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Mineral, Orange, Tea, Vanilla, Wood
Adventaggedon Day 13 – Tea 4/6
Shockingly, I’ve found a green tea from Mariage Freres that I would actually buy more of! I’ve been super strongly craving DT’s Cherry Blossom matcha and waiting for that one to come up in the advent, so when I saw this I kind of had a “Well, that’ll do” feeling about it. It was actually very delicious and more than satisfying for that craving!
The flavour is very direct and straight forward cherry blossom, with a round floral quality that overtakes the mass of the green tea. The slight hint of oceanic, grassy green tea actually compliments well and breaks up a bit of what might otherwise be a pretty perfumed profile. What really sells the tea, though, is the pleasant and lingering sweetness on the palate after each sip. Heavenly!
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CIwUJTwAreh/
I’ve been watching a lot of Danganronpa lets plays lately, so I thought I was pretty clever with this photo. If you’re not familiar with the game series, the character on screen in the background of the photo is named Sakura.
Adventaggedon Day 12 – Tea 1/6
Definitely a pretty basic tea and not really anything going on here aside from your typical Earl Grey flavours. From my understanding the “twist” to this is in the visual of the dry leaf, but given that the advent teas are tea bags that’s completely lost…
Is it a bad Earl Grey? No, and it was actually a nice way to start my day. However, Mariage Freres blends are pretty pricey – even their “cupboard staples” like Earl Greys. Since I’m not a big drinker of them anyway, I’d never shell out the dollars or go out of my way to get this one.
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CIt0BTTAlN9/
Adventaggedon Day 10 – Tea 2/6
This was pretty nice, and a good break up from sweet or otherwise intense flavour profiles from the day – mostly chamomile and mint, but with an undertone of citrusy/lemony verbena I thought this silky herbal profile was an unexpectedly pleasant cuppa!
Nothing I’d go out of my way to have again, but I probably would have ignored it if I was just browsing the MF website so I appreciate having it introduced to me!
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CIov0XiAU8T/
Adventaggedon Day 9 – Tea 5/6
At some point where I’m not cripplingly tired/exhausted, I want to look at the ingredients list for this tea. It was my first tea of the morning, and I thought it was pretty tasty but also very weird. The little tag described it as a sunny citrus flavour, but I thought it seemed pretty dense and indulgent/sweet (by French tea standards). The first flavour that came to mind was actually chocolate and the second was bergamot.
I liked it, but it didn’t seem to match with the description at all.
Advent Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CIl-_dtAlPw/