53 Tasting Notes
This will be less of a review and more of an “I, too, drank this” note, mostly because chais are not really my favorites, and this is very chai-esque. However, for a chai type, it’s rather okay. I won’t have a problem finishing the sample pack. I agree with Cameron B. that there’s a pepper note here — a kind of surprising spike right in the middle, disconcerting at first, and then okay as I decided to just go with it as pepper (I don’t know if it’s really pepper). The main thing for me is that the clove is not overbearing, so I can drink it … but I’m very disappointed there’s no fig flavor. Zero. Is there no fig in figgy pudding? For me this would be waaaaay better with some fig. Odd.
Edit: er, suggestion. Don’t steep this in your plastic gravity infuser. Currently trying to deodorize mine with some strong plain black tea. :(
Well, this was disappointing. I actually joined tea club specifically for this since it wasn’t available any other way at the time, and was very excited about trying an eggnog flavor.
This is no eggnog flavor. Sniffing it in the package, it smells very strongly like a floor cleaner, just vague chemical citrus scented thing. In the cup, it tastes like cinnamon rooibos with that kitchen cleaner citrus lightly lingering underneath. Actually, I think Cameron B. is right — it has bergamot in it. Buh. Okay, well, since I AM fond of eggnog (in moderation, because it’s kind of So Much) and this is nothing like eggnog, and I’m not so fond of straight rooibos, and almost never like bergamot, this is definitely not my cup of tea. If I concentrate only on the cinnamon, it’s okay, but Cinnamon Bergamot Rooibos is just never something I would knowingly order. I’ll try again with milk to see if that works better … but maybe not for a while. I need to get over the initial bag-sniff queasiness, which is really messing with my head.
Well, here we go again. Another DF tea I need to keep keeping. I’m sensing a pattern. Okay, actually the fact is, that I’ve now had several Dammann Frères that I’m not fond of, but when they do hit, they really hit for me. And the formula for those is this: I yearn for a particular fruit flavor, but I also worry, because I don’t want BRAAAAQ [INSERT FRUIT HERE] AOOGA AOOGA flavor. I don’t want a tea that tastes like a tisane, and I don’t want to be flooded with sensory aspects of the flavor … like, oh, this is definitely strawberry because it’s SO SWEET AND SO TART, and this lemon because it’s ZOMG ZOW SOUR AND ZINGY, etc. I also don’t want candy versions of the flavor. I don’t even want them to be “true to life” versions, necessarily. If I want to eat figs or apricots, I can eat figs or apricots. But if I want to cook something with figs or apricots, I will be thinking of carefully layering flavors that go with that taste to create something more symphonic, and that’s what DF does so well.
With Paul & Virginie, I was hoping for a blend where the cherry stood out (for my palate, anyway), but wasn’t cherry cough syrup flavor, or cherry LifeSavers flavor, or cherry juice, or cherry liqueur or chocolate cherry. Cherry is a very easy flavor to over-cherry! (okay, I have to stop, the very word “cherry” is beginning to look crazy to me, like that can’t be right? Is cherry even spelled that way? I’ve overcherried my brain. See how fast that was?)
Anyway, long story not quite short, I love the blend here: cherry, raspberry, red currant, strawberry, vanilla and toffee. I love that it doesn’t have chocolate. I love that there’s a little bit of juicy tartness, but it’s not pucker face fruity, and it’s still tea, not at all fruit drink, and how the vanilla and toffee (I think it’s caramel, actually) smooth it out and marry it all together without steering it into a caramel tea.
I think some others have said that the strawberry stands out to them, but not for so much for me, which is a good thing. It’s not that I don’t like strawberry (am I a monster?), it’s just that it’s not my fave, and not what I was hoping for here.
Finally, I’ll just note that, as with some other DF teas, I cannot really parse the logic of the name. “Paul et Virginie” is the name of an 18th century novel set in Mauritius — an island known for very many lovely tropical fruits, but none of the more northerly suited ones featured in this tea. C’est un mystère.
I would love to see some more current reviews on this, because it’s a little odd for me. I mean, I like it, but unlike what Sil mentioned several years ago, I find that the caramel taste definitely buries the tea flavor, so I wonder if the formulation has changed a bit. For me, it’s a tasty, desserty, caramel beverage which will be very excellent whenever I want that, but I probably won’t want it a lot. Or I might blend it with some other tea that seems to me would be good with a bit more caramel or maybe blend with a fruit tisane. Like I probably want to have this around, but I’m not going to run out anytime soon, because it’s a horse for a course.
I didn’t detect the papaya here, and also don’t think I get much toffee from this, but I’ll need to try it a few more times. At the moment I’m neither recommending nor not recommending, because if you are expecting something more subtle, like many of the DF teas that do a really good job of delivering a certain flavor profile while remaining unambiguously “tea” it may disappoint. But if you love a rich dessert-y caramel, you will most likely love this.
Actually a little annoyed I like this and Noël à Vienne SO much, since it means I stand in fear of running out (for good reason, apparently, as I’ve managed to mostly plow my way through the original order of both), so I’ve had to re-up each of these on the back of my current “Hey, I’m just going to treat myself a little for Christmas; I’ll definitely definitely wait Several Months before ordering again” new DF order — but I find I can only order up to six 100g bags before my posting cost jumps up a level (and smaller quantities are not offered) … which means I can only try four new ones. What if I love two of the new ones as much? Then I’ll be ordering four Absolutely Must Replace! teas and only be able to try two new ones. etc. Until I have six AMR delicious teas, yet a relentless desire to try new ones. Now we see the violence inherent in the system.
I’m lowering the score here a bit, for one reason only: the floppy lid was actually very, very annoying. One cannot spoon out of a lightweight tin or bag and hold open the lid at the same time, so I was having to spoon the dry leaves into a little shot glass, then hold open the lid and pour the leaves from the shot glass into the infuser. Not great.
My husband fixed mine by shaving down the rounded end of the tab (where you put your thumb to lever open) with a Dremel until it would sit on the handle below without flopping closed. (But I’m afraid I’m making it sound simpler than it was; he also had to somehow hand grind/adjust the little pieces … um, “legs”? I don’t know. The bits that go through the holes in the lid to keep it attached to the body. For some reason I didn’t quite catch.)
Aside from this, I’m quite happy with it, and yes — it definitely cleared my counter of all the bits of paraphernalia, as I use this 95% of the time, and also find it super easy to clean. So, Mission Accomplished. With a bit of a hiccup.
So: Size/shape = A+; Materials = A+; Filter = A+; Performance = A+; Lid design = D
I’d give the lid an “F,” but I think it’s actually very cleverly shaped to keep the condensation from dripping onto your hand or the outside the container when raised.
So, really this is actually a very, very good item … mostly . If only it weren’t so tediously aggravating with the lid. My husband took it off to work on it, so that is one possible solution — just take it off, and lift it on and off as needed. Also it’s maaaaybe possible that mine was a bit defective, and most don’t have the same problem. I didn’t see any malformation though.
What? What? PG Tips, I have you! At long last!
My husband found it for me at a supermarket an hour away from where we live. The last box on the shelf! Hopefully we will manage to discover it closer by when this 40-count runs out, or convince our little neighborhood grocery to carry it. I really wanted to try this because I’ve been a tiny bit obsessed with the idea of a true, proper British cuppa, just like in the thousands of novels and stories I’ve read over the years. At last I can hang out with Bryant and May pondering the latest puzzling perils and political pitfalls faced by the Peculiar Crimes Unit over a steadying, steaming mug of builders.
“When May did so, he found every cup and saucer, plate, vase, and bowl standing arranged across the floor like pieces in a scaled-up chess game.
“The Whitstable family tree,” Bryant explained, entering and setting down his tea tray. “It’s the only way I could get it sorted out in my head. I had to see them properly laid out, who was descended from whom.” He pointed to a milk jug. “Daisy Whitstable is bottom left-hand corner, by the fireguard. Next to her is the egg cup, brother Tarquin… Now, pass me Marion and Alfred Whitstable over there.”
“What’s their significance?”
“We need them to drink out of.”
When not keeping calm and sleuthing on, I wanted this as a dependable antidote for my regular afternoon crash when I just feel like curling up into a ball and going to sleep, and yes, gloriously strong, with sugar and milk and maybe a chocolate biscuit on the side. Zing! This is the authentic article. I was concerned about the limitations of a tea bag format (even the vaunted PG Tips “pyramid” bag), but no worries there; it definitely delivers a good, dark, brisk, strong but tasty potion.
By the way, if you’ve wondered what the “PG” stands for, Wikipedia tells me that in the 1930s it was sold as “Pre-Gestee” – a variant of the original name ‘Digestive Tea.’ The name implied that it could be drunk prior to eating food, as a digestive aid. Grocers and salesmen abbreviated it to PG." Also, “The tea used in PG Tips is imported in bulk as single estate teas from around the world and blended in precise proportions set by the tea tasters to make blend 777, which can contain between 12 and 35 single estate teas at any one time (depending on season, etc.)” Blend 777! It has a code name! Okay!
I had a sample bag of this sometime in the last 48 hours … not quite sure when (I tend to get up in the middle of the night and have a cup of tea before going back to bed, and I think this one was one of those midnight trysts). I wasn’t amped because I’ve not liked the rooibos I’ve tried so far, and I tend not to like spicy chais, and because I really don’t like clove (unless quite restrained), and gingerbread and chai flavors are usually long on clove. But I actually do LOVE real gingerbread (and I make mine very gingery!).
Additionally, it’s sort of difficult to form an opinion on one tea bag, since getting the right amount of water and steeping time is difficult in a single shot. However, this turned out to be quite a lot nicer than I expected — smoother, yet quite gingery, but not too clovey (if there was even clove), with something of a gingerbread flavor … and I didn’t notice the rooibos, which coming from me, so far, is complimentary. In fact, I may even include it the next time I make a B&B order.
This may all sound like faint praise, but I was pleasantly surprised, and I have both wanted to have a “gingerbread” tea, yet been too gun-shy to order one, so yay, random midnight encounter!
It was crazy windy last night, waking us up in the wee hours with potted plants being flung about outside, and then rainy all morning, so the mail arrived rather late today … with guess what nice surprise, just in time for my afternoon tea pick me up? Yes, this dandy Dian Hong. How perfect. It’s a nice, strong, dark cup, smooth and richly flavored. Just the thing! I over steeped my first go a bit, between 3-4 minutes while I was tending to something else, but 2-2.5 minutes is probably best for the first (western style) infusion. It was still delicious (on my third infusion now), and would have been pretty perfect with a bit of milk. I was tempted, but wanted to try it black first, and it does not disappoint.
I would put this in “breakfast tea” category, which, for me, is actually late afternoon tea, when I want a fine, confident, strapping black tea, no added flavorings or gloss. Give me Kings and Queens and all their fancy moods in the morning, shapeshifting magical Wizards, Sorceresses, and Fools in the night, but a doughty, dependable Knight for the win in the afternoon!
Heavenly. I was lucky enough to get a sample mini cake of this and wow, what a beautiful way to start the morning. I’m having mine western style, and it’s mild, yet full flavored and deliciously complex and wonderfully friendly. I get a lovely warm hug feeling drinking this. Sadly, I think it’s not available to buy now, but if it ever is, I’m right there. Thank you, What-Cha, for a beautiful thing.