drank Surabaya by Mariage Frères
111 tasting notes

I like rooibos, flavoring that mix flowers with fruits and had purchased this tea on the pure basis of the description without smelling it in the shop.
When opening the bag, I was startled by how nice this blend was looking with the blua mallow petals being softly curled and not crushed into small pieces. I believe this is probably the nicest looking rooibos blend I’ve seen yet (very shallow comment but nonetheless true – I always look at it with pleasure).
I brewed already a few teapots of this and was totally puzzled by the taste, which was very different from what I expected, did not really correspond to the description, as I could not find any hints of vanilla, blackberry and could not reconcile the fruit taste with exotic fruit (I was thinking at the flavors of exotic fruit juices).
Then two nights ago, I got hit by an awakening: lychee, the sweet and sour taste that puzzled me was that of lychee. It’s supposed to taste like guava, but guava gives me a completely different gustatory experience, in the sense that the fruit has a grainy texture which almost dries the tongue. I do not reconcile that experience at all when drinking this blend.
Now that I have identified the main flavor, I’ll try to look out for the secondary ones…
My rating takes into account the fact that I really prefer sweet and tart fruits and flavors to anything a bit sour, like lychee, which I only eat in very small quantities at one time. Had I realized that this would be the dominant flavor of this rooibos, I probably would not have buy it.

205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

Lychee indeed! sipping this right now, going to write a taste note.

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Lychee indeed! sipping this right now, going to write a taste note.

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I’ve started drinking much more tea quite recently, almost completely quitting espresso for it!
I’ve been introduced to high quality tea by one of my best friend, MF Marco Polo addict since more than 20 years. I’ve only rarely bought tea-bags since then, preferring the quality-price ratio of loose leaves.
I drink my tea natural, without any milk, sugar or sweetener. I only add honey when a sore-throat is coming along.
I usually either brew a large pot at home or resteep my leaves at the office. I cannot seem to learn to master the use of a gaiwan in an elegant and not clumsy way…
My tea preferences :
- I really like flavored black teas, with a preference for fruity flavors, from a tangy Earl Grey to a real fruit smoothie-like tea. I’m trying some single origin unflavored blacks from time to time but always end up having trouble to finish them. I usually do not really enjoy the strong breakfast teas.
- I do not like chai or teas with strong spice flavors. Strange considering I really like spicy food, but not what I drink.
- I am quite afraid of pu-erh and lapsang souchong, though I probably have never drunk any real good ones and I’m quite sure it can make a huge difference… A few years ago, I had been introduced to scotch whisky and can definitely attest that you cannot say you don’t like whisky, if you’ve only drunk blended stuff and not tasted yet single malts. I hope to get the same happy discovery for those teas.
- I discovered very good oolong, without going through the step of drinking bad-one first, and really enjoy it, especially with a meal. I’ll definitely try some flavored oolongs in a near future.
- I’ve just started discovering white teas, which feels very delicate. The only problem is that those can be awfully expensive…
- I also really like rooibos which I discovered a few years ago while searching for low-theine/caffeine teas that I could drink at night without suffering from insomnia.
- As with green tea, we’ve had a long-standing difficult relationship. I’ve occasionally had some that were real smooth, refreshing and so very many that turned bitter very quickly. And I cannot stand a bitter tea.
- As for jasmine tea, I used to like it but have indeed drunk too much of some bad quality bitter brew, and now I even have problem finishing the high-quality pearls I bought in Beijing.
- Yerba Mate: I’ve had some in one blend and am quite convinced that I would never like that as bitterness is one of its main characteristics. I’ll try to avoid it like the plague.
- Herbal tea: I used to drink more or those before discovering rooibos; finding good ones is unfortunately really difficult – even in organic shops, the herbs sold are far from great.
I loathe artificial flavoring of any kind in any beverage or food.

I’m quite opiniated and try to leave room for further improvement and better discoveries, which explain why I haven’t rated any tea in the 95 and above range.
Teas above 80 are among my favorites
Between 60-80, I could or could not give them a second chance or recognize that they are made with high-quality ingredients though their taste does not please my buds.
Around 50, it starts to be rather bad and a not so pleasant experience to drink.
25 to 40+ cover low quality products that I manage to drink when nothing else is available.
Below that, it’s really vile and basically almost undrinkable IMHO.



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