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: banana, Bread, Pepper, Smoke, Spicy, Wood

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tastes developed they became less appealing — I still enjoy nicely done blends. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. I used to hate hibiscus, but I’ve turned that corner. Licorice, not so much.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 Excellent; first rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Very good; will likely buy more

70-79 Good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Okay; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it.

My current process for tea note generation is described in my note on this tea: https://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/6990-the-des-impressionnistes


Bay Area, California



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