4 Tasting Notes
A longtime perennial in my tea cabinet, and one of my favorite Lupicia teas, despite my general dislike for puer. There seem to be real dried strawberries and cocoa nibs blended in there, which is amazing! It’s worth brewing for a full three minutes to really bring out the smoky-bitter chocolate and puer flavors.
Taken straight, this tea is as dark as coffee, and the bitter cocoa flavor comes through strongly. It combines with the smokiness of the puer for an almost coffeelike experience, although milder and (to this non-coffee-drinker) much more palatable. The strawberry just floats around subtly as a warm, pleasant aftertaste in the mouth.
Add a dash of sugar and cream, however, and the whole character of the drink is transformed. The sweet strawberry flavor leaps to the fore, and the cocoa notes combine with milk to create a texture and flavor almost like fruity hot chocolate. The puer recedes to a background hint, just enough to give it a little personality.
I enjoy it either way, but drunk as a latte, it’s my go-to dessert tea for relaxing and playing video games on a chilly evening.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Strawberry
My favorite flavored black tea on earth, hands down. It’s a bright, buoyant black tea base (maybe a bit of darjeeling in there? I’m not sure), blended with real lavender flowers and the leaves of an indigenous Japanese berry plant, the haskap (also called honeyberry or blue honeysuckle). There’s some haskap-berry flavoring in there, too.
The haskap leaves give the tea just a touch of tartness, reminiscent of raspberry-leaf tisane, which combines with the lavender to help offset the berry sweetness. It smells very fruity and sweet when dry in the bag, but brews to a more subtle, fruit-and-herbal flavor. A dollop of cream and sugar really brings the haskap berry flavor to the fore, if you prefer that.
Unfortunately, it’s an exclusive “tourist” blend only sold in a few Lupicia shops in Hokkaido, Japan, my old stomping grounds in my JET days. (This is why it’s named after the Korpokkur, a sort of gnome or fairy creature from the local Ainu mythology.) I do appreciate that exclusivity is a big marketing trend in Japanese culture, but it’s a little frustrating when you’re back in the States with no access. I ended up buying about five bags on our last trip over to visit friends, and seriously amusing the cashier.
Flavors: Berries, Lavender
For all those who have been wondering – yes, this is Champagne Rose under a different name. Most of Lupicia’s teas are the same in Japan and overseas, but they’ve been providing slightly different versions of Champagne Rose for years (I think because of an import issue with the pearlescent pink and silver dragées in the Japanese version, which are banned in some US states).
A few months ago, they finally pulled Champagne Rose from their site altogether. After a bit of a wait, their “signature” tea is back at last…but under a new name, to differentiate the domestic and overseas versions. “Champagne Rose” for the Japanese version with dragées, and “Rose Royal” for the overseas version without.
Fortunately, it’s still the same light and lovely flavor of strawberries and champagne, with a hint of rose, that got me hooked on Lupicia’s flavored teas to begin with. This was my first Lupicia purchase, some eight years ago, and it’s still among my favorites. A bright, elegant flavored black tea, good with milk and a touch of sweetener or on its own merits. As the Bard said, a rose by any other name…
Flavors: Champagne, Strawberry