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Recent Tasting Notes
I have been in the mood for a latte since I managed to restock on vanilla almond milk, and was thinking about my options when I ultimately settled on this, since a) my Lupicia sakura teas are very old at this point and b) the salt preserve on the leaves is gross to me but sometimes preparing as a latte with a sweet milk can curb that saliney/briny taste. As I sipped down the houjicha, I only had oat milk in the house, and that did not work well at all; the flavor was too similar to the houjicha and the vanilla of the oat milk wasn’t strong enough to hide the saltiness. I used vanilla almond milk on the Sakura Rooibos with fairly good results, though.
I got a beautiful foamy top on this! I smell a malty and slightly citrusy black tea with a top note of that distinct floral/cherry aroma of sakura which is so hard to describe. Mmm, excellent latte! Yes, I think vanilla almond milk is just my latte preference, or at least it goes well with these sakura teas. There is a mild tannic quality left on my tongue after the sip which I imagine is being curbed by the milk in the sip, so it is overall quite sweet and pleasant and loses the bitey quality some of Lupicia’s black bases have. For whatever reason, I’m picking up a strong citrus note from the base. The sakura is pleasant and left lingering on my tongue; I’m getting a little salinity but it is mostly all hidden by the sweet vanilla almond milk so I don’t have to wince with each sip.
I’m foreseeing many a sakura latte in my immediate future. (Does anyone know of any sakura-flavored teas that are a) real sakura, not just “cherry flavoring and florals” and b) don’t use salt preserves on the sakura? I’m looking for a replacement because my beloved Chasandai sakura green that used sugar to preserve instead is no longer available…)
Flavors: Cherry Blossom, Citrus, Drying, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Sakura, Salty, Sweet, Tannic
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Flavors: Brown Sugar, Ginger, Milk, Sweet, Toast
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Flavors: Metallic, Spring Water, Sweet
It was grey and drizzly all day, so I was craving a nice, comforting hojicha this afternoon. I figured I would try this one for the first time! I actually bought this at a Lupicia store in Osaka a couple of years ago, and had never gotten around to opening it until a recent swap. It’s a beautiful tea – big chunky pieces of roasted twig in a variety of browns.
It has a lovely mellow roasty flavor, with a soft sweetness and notes of firewood and autumn leaves. Warm and cozy but not smoky or overwhelmingly roasty. Plus the name means “dream pillow” (I think), how cute is that? :D
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Char, Grain, Roasted, Smooth, Spring Water, Sweet, Wood
An Ode to Tea challenge – O
From Cameron B a while ago! Thank you! (Sipdown next time!) It fits for ‘O’ since I haven’t written a note for this yet. Honestly, not too many ‘O’ teas in my cupboard unless I count “organic” (which I won’t). I love these Orzo teas and wish other shops would sell them. Also Lupicia’s barley! I wish orzo and barley were more common. Without Cameron sending some over, I don’t think I would have ever been able to try either one. Hints of Lupicia’s great strawberry flavor in this dark brisk flavor, a bit like rye and coffee. I like it – it hits a craving when you want something brisk and dark without caffeine!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 4 minute steep
“An Ode to Tea” Alphabet Challenge – R
I was inspired by AJRimmer to try this one, since I got some in the group order and still hadn’t tried it yet, even though it was one of the teas I was most excited for. So here we are!
I do get pear, but it hovers somewhere near the realm of green apple candy. It does has a nice crisp and tart flavor to it, though. For some reason I’m getting a roasty flavor though, and it’s almost reminding me of coffee. Strange for green rooibos! There’s something slightly boozy to it as well.
Anyway, it’s tasty enough! Reminds me a bit of an alcoholic apple cider?
Flavors: Alcohol, Apple, Candy, Coffee, Pear, Roasted, Sweet, Tart
I’m still trying to work through the very old Lupicia sakura teas in my stash. Most of them just aren’t for me, because despite how much I like sakura, I’m really turned off by the “salty” taste in the cup from the salt preserves they use. (I’m also really upset to learn that the Ume Vert I ordered on my birthday order has… salt-preserved ingredients. If Lupicia would just freaking disclose the ingredient lists as printed on their bags on their actual website, I never would have ordered it…)
The Ume Vert will, undoubtedly, have to be rice-flavoring tea for me to use up the pouch. The sakura ones are at least sweet enough that I have found I can usually hide the salinity of the salt by making sweet lattes using a vanilla plant milk (vanilla almond or vanilla oat, depending on what I have on hand). Which is how I’ve prepared this cup. 3 parts tea to 1 part warm, frothed vanilla oat milk. I used two heaping teaspoons of leaf and steeped in 205F water for 5 minutes.
The aroma is warm wood and sakura. The sakura is getting overpowered a bit in the flavor by the houjicha, though. I’m getting a strong woodiness, some roasted nuts, and only a subtle hint of sakura sweetness left on my tongue after the sip when some of the deeper, roastier houjicha notes start to fade.
It’s a nice enough latte, but I honestly could’ve made a plain houjicha latte and probably wouldn’t have noticed much difference. Not my favorite execution of the flavor. Maybe it’s stronger in a plain cup, but then I’d just be turned off by the salt, so I guess I’ll have to make do with plain houjicha with a sprinkle of sakura flavor. Not a favorite, despite how much I love both houjicha and sakura.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Nutty, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sakura, Wood
This tea is so interesting. The pear flavor walks the line of being almost too fake, but it somehow works. The nutty base goes really well with the flavor. The second steep tastes exactly the same. The nutty pear combo isn’t a flavor I would have imagined loving, but I do. Definitely my favorite blend from the group order! I’ve finished the tin and crave it again already.
“An Ode to Tea” Alphabet Challenge – P
Oops, forgot to do my alphabet tea yesterday!
I figured I would continue with my pattern of trying all of my untasted Lupicia Hawaii teas. This one is a passion fruit and ginger black tea, and I like passion fruit enough that I ordered a whole 50g packet for myself during the group order.
I admit, the dry and steeped scents both worried me as the ginger was coming on strong. Luckily, the taste is much more balanced. I do get a strong sense of ginger, but it doesn’t feel too spicy or overwhelming. I will say, the fruit here doesn’t really taste like passion fruit to me? It’s closer to mango IMO, and also a bit generically tropical, like the other Hawaii black teas have been for me. I do like the ginger with it! The base is a bit too tannic though, which is probably a bit augmented by the ginger.
Anyway, it’s tasty enough! But not passion fruit for me, unfortunately…
Oops, forgot to add a haiku!
Not passion fruit but
It’s a mango paradise
Spicy ginger nips
Flavors: Astringent, Candy, Fruity, Ginger, Mango, Sweet, Tannic, Tropical
“An Ode to Tea” Alphabet Challenge – O
Well, this is odd.
This is meant to be an orange and clove tea, but I’m not getting either of those at all.
It’s a perfectly pleasant second flush Darjeeling, but I’m shocked to not detect any added flavor, ha ha! (shrug)
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Hay, Malt, Metallic, Smooth, Thick
Each year Lupicia Tea, a Japanese tea company, comes out with a Sakura collection to celebrate cherry blossom season. The collection changes each year and for 2021 the theme is traditional Japanese culture that has been handed down through the generations, such as crafts and traditional Japanese patterns. The collection is well balanced and features a green tea, a decaf tea, black tea, rooibos, even a sakura matcha! The tins this year are beautiful and feature a lovely floral motive. I have wanted to try teas from Lupicia’s Sakura collection for some time so I decided this year that I would order a few.
The first one I am reviewing is Sakura & Berry. This has a black tea base with salted cherry leaf, rose petal and flavoring. The description says that this has a “sweet strawberry flavor.” The dry leaf smells amazing and actually made me think of when my mom would make me strawberries and cream oatmeal as a kid. I steeped the tea up at 212 degrees for 3 minutes.
I really love this one. The first taste is a nice fruity strawberry flavor, nothing too strong. It actually has the same strawberry flavor as strawberries and cream oatmeal but without the cream aspect. On the second taste I get a hit of the black tea base, it is smooth and mellow. I had hoped that I would get taste of the salted cherry leaf however that didn’t come through in the flavor.
Overall this is a tasty strawberry tea in a beautiful tin and certainly worth trying if you love strawberry-flavored teas. I really enjoy Lupicia tea, in fact their rooibos-based honeydew melon tea is in my top 5 favorite teas of all time! If you are interested in the Sakura collection I would not wait as fulfillment for the US comes from the online Hawaii Lupicia store and they get very limited amounts of inventory on these special edition collections.
Sipdown! (29 | 233)
Finishing what’s left of this as a giant iced milk tea in one of my pretty DAVIDsTEA tumblers!
I definitely added just a touch too much sweetener, but it’s delicious, hah. I can taste more of the peach than the mango with this preparation, and it reminds me of peach ice cream. The mango comes in a bit more near the end and adds a nice tropical hit that keeps it from being too much of peaches & cream and takes it more into smoothie territory. Also I think I taste coconut, which I don’t remember being there before.
Very yummy! And hooray sipdown!
Flavors: Coconut, Mango, Peach, Sweet, Tropical
“An Ode to Tea” Alphabet Challenge – L
Yay, caught up! This is another one from the last Lupicia group order that I haven’t tried yet.
Apparently this is supposed to be peach, mango, and orange. Mostly I get a generic tropical flavor, which could be mango-esque. There is also something that reminds me of Peachy-O’s, so I suppose that would be the peach.
Overall, it’s a muddled sweet tropical fruit sort of tea. The base is partially CTC, so it’s a bit too brisk for me. I’ll have to try it as a milk tea though!
Flavors: Astringent, Candy, Fruity, Peach, Sweet, Tannic, Tropical
I don’t think I’ve gotten to try this one before! Thank you, Amandastory!
I was thinking this tasted like apricot, but there was more to it that I couldn’t quite pin down. Not Lupicia peach. Looks like there are several other flavors in the mix. There is a bit of a honey scent to it and something ashy, but not in an unpleasant way, in the sip. There is a light tartness too. The flavors seem a little muddled when hot. I bet this is one of those blends that would do well cold steeped. I’m going to have to try it with the rest of this sample!
Thanks to Cameron B for sending this teabag with the group order! The grape flavor smells and tastes really pleasant! This is a fun blend – I haven’t had something similar before! I’m not really sure how the name fits with the tea, but the grape flavor is authentic, and the black tea matches and mixes with it well. I wouldn’t buy it myself, but it was very nice to try.
An Ode to Tea, H entry!
I’ve only made one tea order in 2021 so far, to Lupicia, and was very happy that one of the single-serve sampler sachets was this one, because I’ve been curious to try some of their Hawaiian blends.
Brewed the teabag for 3 minutes in 350ml 205F water. The tea has a lovely tropical aroma, a bit like pineapple, passionfruit, and most notably, mango. The black base, with this preparation, is brisk and malty but smooth and not astringent (I imagine steeping it any longer would have trended it that way), with a bit of a baked bread and a subtle raisin/muscatel note. The fruit flavor is pleasant but not overpowering; it seems to settle in midsip and linger on the tongue long after the sip. I taste papaya first (that sort of topical melon note), followed by mango, and perhaps a very subtle touch of pineapple. The papaya seems to be the strongest flavor for me on the tongue, and the mango the strongest on the nose.
It’s a pleasant afternoon cuppa. I don’t think it’s my favorite mango tea in Lupicia’s lineup, but I certainly wouldn’t ever turn any of this down if it came my way.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Fruity, Malt, Mango, Melon, Muscatel, Passion Fruit, Pineapple, Raisins, Tropical
The grapefruit flavor/scent is pretty authentic! Sharp, sweet, and sour in just the right way. Really, it might be too authentic since I enjoy grapefruit flavored things, but not grapefruit itself. Fresh, it was a little much for me, but it’s mellowed since I opened it two months ago. I never really reach for this one since I don’t love it, but when I make myself a cold mug of it, it’s all right. I think the cardamom in this blend is a weird choice. Fans of grapefruit would probably like it.
Drinking this today for National Virtual Vacation Day, as I would like to go back to Hawaii, which is where I picked this up a few years ago.
In typical Lupicia oolong fashion, this tea is filled with delicious flavour and a fantastic base tea, and therefore is quite enjoyable. Someone below commented “fruit salad” and I would not disagree. I don’t think I could identify the flavours in a blind tasting – there’s what seems like a coconut aftertaste, tropical fruits, and a good dose of florals. Ah – pineapple and guava. That explains all but the coconut, which could be a figment of my imagination. The best part about Lupicia’s oolongs, though, is that the tea base is actually very present and typically, good quality. My perfect flavoured tea is one that balances the flavour of the tea itself with flavourings, and although the flavourings are potent here, the tea is not outmatched, which just makes for a great experience.
Can you tell I’m enjoying myself on “vacation”? Haha.