40 Tasting Notes
This one was surprisingly good. I was looking for a non-caffeine blend for my recently endless nights of staring at a screen. It’s a classic “fall” blend- cinnamon, hibiscus, apple, orange peel and chamomile (though it’s barely there) over a chicory base. I get just a hint of the alleged ginger, though more would be nice.
It is heavy on the cinnamon (real) and apple (slighly unnatural) and very fragrant, almost potpurri-like. I enjoy that, while some tea purists may not. I do recommend to drink it hot. The wet-doggy note (chicory? lurking marigold?) becomes more prominent as it cools down. Probably the cozy autumnal feelings this evokes are more pleasant than the actual drink, but the overall effect is quite nice and I find myself reaching for this more than I expected. At for around $3 per box, it’s economical if you’re looking for a decaf cinnamon/apple blend.
Flavors: Apple, Chicory, Cinnamon, Orange Zest
First thing I noticed the the very prominent fruit scent. It smells more “tropical” than just passionfruit, but is very pleasant- not a chemical type smell.
The leaves are tightly furled with some flower petals added, very nice quality. This one took a long time to unfurl, about 9 minutes. I kept tasting every minute or so after 5:00, but it was too weak. It seems too long, but 8-10 minutes was my sweet spot.
The taste is of an astringent tropical fruit over a mellow, slightly grassy oolong base. The astringent fruit flavour and oolong work well here to make a lovely, refreshing cup. I get in moods where I crave oolong, and this and their Peach version are both great. Not fussy to brew but very high-quality. They didn’t cut corners on this one- all the elements are top notch.
Lupicia recommends this as iced tea, but I feel the oolong quality would not shine through cold brewed. Personally, I find chilling a hot cup too much trouble, so I’ll keep drinking it hot.
Flavors: Grassy, Passion Fruit, Tropical Fruit
A bog-standard (but very pricey for those of us outside the UK/EU) black tea. I have tried this at different temperatures/steeping times three times (the 3-5 minutes suggested seems far too long), but I keep coming up with: Pretentious Lipton for Wanna-Be Anglophiles in Brooklyn. There are a couple snooty tea joints in NYC that serve this to rave reviews, but you could totally swop it with Lipton and they’d be none the wiser.
It’s a perfectly serviceable cuppa and that smooth F&M DNA comes through but there is nothing noteworthy about it to me. More style than substance, though I am judging a bit more harshly than normal due to the very high price of F&M overseas.
Not much to say on this one except ‘skip it.’
To be fair, AKBAR is a very cheap brand of tea so I was not expecting much from this. It still managed to taste like…absolutely nothing. I mean that it literally has no flavour. Which is one step up from being offensive, I suppose. Save yourself the trouble and drink a cup of hot water instead.
It’s about half the price of Bigelow/Twinings and half as good.
Tess is a new brand for me- haven’t seen many grapefruit flavoured teas, so I thought it was worth less that $5USD to check it out. Note: Tess is apparently a Russian tea brand (thanks Martin for the heads up), so that may affect your decision to purchase.
It didn’t disappoint. The base is generic chopped black tea dust, but the grapefruit shows up distinctly. The mint is the next most prominent, but I don’t get a lot of the promised lemongrass. The combination of grapefruit and mint actually sounds horrible on paper (anyone ever made the mistake of drinking grapefruit juice after brushing teeth knows this) but is actually quite refreshing as a tea.
It is unique, and makes a nice tea for a summer morning. I drink a lot of tea and I can’t think of a duplicate for this. A surprising win for less than $5 for 20 teabags! I may try it iced as well, though I feel the black tea in it may not translate well to cold brew.
Flavors: Citrusy, Grapefruit, Mint
Pros: Affordable, convenient, not bad when piping hot.
Bigelow says this is black tea, but the chicory is prominent. It does have a decent but quite sharp caramel flavour when hot, but after this cools down, it’s a tosser. The caramel becomes quite chemical-tasting the cooler it gets. Served iced, this could probably be used as a torture device. Is it more humane than waterboarding? Not sure.
As always, I drank it black but I suspect some milk/sugar would improve this a good deal.
This was nice for a grab and go in the office. You know- when there’s a sad, lonely teabag at the bottom of the communal tea basket, and you just want something to drink before a meeting? Yup. This is it.
For the price, it’s not the worst tea I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t seek it out but it’s a decent sip whilst hot.
Flavors: Caramel, Chemical, Chicory
If you’re in the market for a decaf dessert tea, this is a nice choice. Though decafs never tastes quite the same as their jangly, nerve stimulating cousins, this one doesn’t have that chemical whiff that some decafs do.
A perfectly serviceable decaf black with a thin overlay of toffee/caramel flavour that’s not exactly bold, but not cloying either. Brews to a pleasant color, no bitter aftertaste. A nice accompaniment for after-dinner dessert for those sensitive to caffeine. For everyone else, I’d go with the regular version for a better taste and cheaper blend. This is $12USD for 50g, making it rather pricey- but better than risking insomnia!
Flavors: Caramel, Toffee
Disclaimer: I’m not a huge fan of banana, but my partner wanted to try this.
It lives up to its name. I opened it up and the whole house smelt of bananas. When drinking it, the banana flavour is so in your face I imagine it is wearing American flag shorts and waving a gun. That’s the level of banana aggression we have here.
That being said, it’s not…bad. The astringent black tea underneath provides a lovely counterbalance to the BANANA! attack. There is also a moderate coconut note which rounds it out. I don’t taste the vanilla that the tea company claims.
Although I always drink my tea black, Clipper Ship recommends drinking with milk and sugar, which I imagine would blunt the BANANA! assault. It is a fairly natural banana flavour/scent though it is much stronger than a real banana.
Putting my personal preferences aside and rating just on quality, this is an all-round good tea that lives up to its name and perfect if you seek maximum banana turned up to 11. I could see it pairing well with creamy desserts or as an afternoon tea.
Flavors: Banana, Coconut
First thing I noticed with this was the tiny “konpeito,” or Japanese rock candy. It’s just pure sugar arranged in a cute bubbly shape. However, I’m not a big fan of sugar, so I just picked them out. They are easy to remove. The second thing was that the tea leaves were chopped much more finely than the other Lupicia Hawaii blends.
It does have a generic fruity flavour (supposed to be peach, orange, and mango) but no one note particularly stands out. It blends into a sort of “tropical citrus.” It’s perfectly..fine. I drink it when I want to remember my sunny Hawaiian days, and it does the job. But I probably wouldn’t repurchase.
Just like the name says. Even Mariage Freres has only this to say:
“Traditional violet flavoured tea.”
What?! No “tender notes of violet beckon the first precious days of spring. A tea to be savoured while frolicking in a green meadow?” Come on, Mariage Freres. You’re slipping.
That said, the violet is strong over the typically good quality MF black tea base. I also get a note of what seems to be lavender. I suspect natural violet on its own is quite subtle, so it seems a bit of lavender might be used to enhance the floral profile.
MF recommends steeping for 5 minutes (!) but 3-4 seemed plenty to me. It’s good for 2-3 steeps while retaining the nice floral notes.
Flavors: Lavender, Violet