28 Tasting Notes
At first whiff, this has a strong floral fruity smell that I can’t quite identify, it’s a mix of lychee, strawberry candy and a floral component.
The lychee is front and center. It’s very pleasant and smooth, but I suspect it’s not just 100% natural fruit since it adds a noticeable amount of sweetness. Real lychee is is astringent but in this tea, it’s more like the canned version in syrup. Not bad, by any means, but not for the hardcore lychee purist. A note of red strawberry candy follows up to make a final blast of faux fruitiness. There’s a very slight floral hint underneath it all but it’s overwhelmed by the sweet fruity blasts.
Despite the somewhat unnatural impression, it’s a nice blend and fun to drink. But it’s a ruffly Barbie pink polyester minidress, not not an organic unbleached cotton maxidress. This tea is the opposite of what you’d get in a hip faux-Scandi organic artisanal tea shop. And it’s not at all embarrassed about it. So two thumbs up for that alone!
Flavors: Candy, Floral, Lychee, Strawberry
I don’t get much aroma from the leaves, though there are chunks of dried fruit and hibiscus flowers in it.
Overall, this blend is a little confusing. Lupicia says it’s guava flavored but has mango and papaya fruits in it (no dried guava?). I get no mango notes, just a hint of papaya and guava, which are not always super flavorful fruits even on their own. Between that and the hibiscus, there’s a somewhat sharp, astringent blast to the tea, which leads to an overall dry impression. The aftertaste is nice and refreshing, not cloying like some fruit blends can be. The fruit flavor is not distinct nor particularly tropical, and there’s a slight underlying ashiness that creeps out as the brew cools down (hibiscus/marigold is a prime culprit for this).
Lupicia suggests brewing it cold, I may try that instead. While it’s by no means bad hot, it’s not one of Lupicia’s best offerings. I’m just not getting any tropical vibes here, more of a “neglected fruity teabag that’s been sitting in the bottom of a tea basket for three years.” It tastes like something you’d drink in a random hotel when you ask for tea at breakfast, but they never serve any, so they have to scrounge around in the back for something. Serviceable but not something you’d seek out again.
Flavors: Astringent, Tropical Fruit
Dried papaya is super common as a tea additive, so that’s probably why it’s included in this blend even though it’s guava-flavored. I guess it must be cheaper?
Interesting, never thought of that! Guava isn’t a really powerful flavor in the first place but it really didn’t show up here. Maybe they’re counting on most people not knowing the flavor of guava and just rolling with the tropical fruit theme?
Smells lightly of chocolate, though I don’t see any of the promised cacao nibs/powder. Lupicia says this is inspired by dark chocolate, but to me this is definitely on the lighter side. I get more of a light caramel/vague chocolate note versus a rich, deep dark flavor.
It’s fun and playful, more of a child’s tea party tea than a sophisticated adult drink. Certainly not offensive- it’s easy to drink, but when something is advertised as a dessert tea, I want it to be indulgent and memorable. Not words I’d use to describe this. To me, this is “nice,” or “fine.” I’ll finish the bag but I wouldn’t repurchase since there are better dessert teas out there.
I drink all my tea straight but I suspect some some cream and sugar would provide some much needed richness and round it out.
Flavors: Caramelized Sugar, Milk Chocolate
First impression…this has a a strong fruity scent and large pieces of dried fruit scattered throughout. A very tropical vibe from the start.
I am also somewhat sentimental about this particular tea as I drank it many mornings while waking up and looking at the sunrise over O’ahu.
It brews up to a rich color, the black tea base is a little malty but mellow overall- just watch the steeping time since I suspect this one will turn undrinkable quickly. I find some Lupicia blacks are prone to being unforgiving if steeped even 30 seconds too long.
Flavor is strong in the brewed cup too- I get a lot of mango and general “tropical fruit” notes. It’s not artificial tasting. The balance is lovely- the tropical fruit notes are dominant over the tea, but that’s what I look for in a tea that’s supposed to evoke a sense of place like this one. If you like a subtle hint of flavor, this one is probably not for you. If you want a fruity black blend that immediately says “HAWAII,” you can’t go wrong with this one.
Flavors: Mango, Papaya, Pineapple, Tropical Fruit
Ah, Mariage Freres… I love you in spite of your overblown descriptions.
Full Moon Party is like Pleine Lune with some extra cinnamon and clove hints, for which you pay an extra 11 Euro. I tried the black tea version, which was almond + cinnamon + cloves. Yup. That’s it.
Certainly it’s a good quality, smooth tea (this rather safe combination is pretty much guaranteed to please most palates). I am noticing an inverse ratio between the uniqueness of the tea and the level of Mariage Freres poetic excess in the description.
“Once upon a time there was a tall, midnight-black canister with a Harlequin figure dancing below a full, silvery moon inhabited by a magical rabbit.
The Harlequin urges us to reinvent our calendar of revels – on every night that a full moon rises we can henceforth dance, sing and promise the stars to whomever we wish.
And the rabbit? He restores a childlike vision to us – the vision of Asian lands where a rabbit is companion to a goddess known for her elixir of long life, peace, and luck, as well as for her mooncakes.”
Translation: It’s Pleine Lune with a hint of cinnamon and cloves but comes in a fancy cani$ter. Apparently, it can prompt some strange affairs with harlequins and childlike magic rabbits. I’ll stick with the Pleine Lune, thanks. It’s half the price and does not involve any sleazy harlequins with questionable motives.
Flavors: Almond, Cinnamon, Clove
A festive limited edition, this is a black tea offered at Christmas that’s supposed to have a champagne/grape flavor. The aroma is quite powerful, both in the dry leaf and brewed cup.
I get straight-up grape- but it’s a nice quality and not overly sweet. It does not give me notes of mulled wine or anything else claimed in the maker’s description. I understand the feeling they were trying to evoke, but nothing about this seems particularly Christmas-inspired. If anything, it’s more autumnal. I’d’ve called this Concord Harvest or something, but that’s just me.
Their description: “Black tea with aromas of grapes and fruity sparkling wine. Toast with this festive tea and tasty. Christmas tea with intense fruitiness, inspired by mulled winter wines, Jingle Bells is a well-balanced black tea with a dense and bewitching scent, evoking well-ripe grapes, raisins, cranberries and some well-known sparkling wines.”
Translation: Grape-heavy black. But a little classy.
A mild black with apricot. Pretty straightforward, matches the description so there’s no surprises here. The black base is a bit smoky and not the best quality, but it’s perfectly serviceable. Apricot is authentic tasting but on the weak side. Pleasant aroma, nice color but nothing particularly outstanding. If you like apricot blacks, Mariage Freres Abricot D’Or has a better quality black tea in a similar flavor profile.
Flavors: Apricot, Smoked
A strong, vegetal fruity flavor is the first thing I noticed about this, slightly weaker than in the Sakurambo Vert version, but still prominent next to a leafy aroma. Something about it brings to mind freshly cut grass, but in a pleasant way, like a freshly mown grass on an organic fruit farm. There are cute red peppercorns and alleged rosemary mixed in the leaves, though my batch seems to have a minimal amount.
The flavor of this is not particularly “cherry,” it’s fruity but this more suggests a green, slightly under-ripe fruit. Refreshing and astringent but not a classic juicy red cherry taste. It’s very refreshing and a lovely tea overall but I would not have guessed cherry was the blender’s intention if I’d tasted it blind.
If you’re looking for a good black with astringent notes of mystery fruit, you couldn’t do much better than this. Very smooth and enjoyable. I’ve bought this again and again, but just beware that it’s not really as described if you’re thinking of a classic sweet cherry.
Flavors: Astringent, Dry Grass, Tart, Vegetal
A tried and true classic, almost gives me a classic “Chinese restaurant” tea taste. Very mellow, with a pleasantly malty aftertaste. Not complex, but a great choice for when you want a simple, unfussy brew. I used the teabags, haven’t tried the looseleaf. One of the verrry few teas I put sugar in (one cube.) A little sweetener really enhances this tea.
Fun Fact: Twinings claims this was created for King Edward VIII, who abdicated his throne for love in 1936 (after being King for ten months). If this were a Mariage Freres tea, the description would read, “A timeless ode to the sacrifice of romantic love, with fine, delicate leaves from verdant mountaintops of exotic Eastern lands. A rare, intimate blend truly fit for a king.” It would also be 14€ instead of 3.
MF does put out some memorable and fantastic teas, but their descriptions are a bit unrealistic sometimes.
Aptly named, a quality black with lots of orange peel, cinnamon and nutty flavor for a zesty but smooth brew. It’s highly flavorful but not dominated by the cinnamon or orange. Definitely a cousin of Mariage Freres Mandalay, but the cinnamon in this amps it up.
Oddly enough, the usually over the top description is waayy toned down:
“A festive tea blended specially for the occasion.
Flavoured with mild Christmas spices, it includes pieces of cinnamon and almonds.”
What’s going on here, Mariage Freres? No mention of “distant lands shrouded in mist evoking the splendor of forgotten ages?” This is one of your better teas and it gets this totally blah description! Thumbs down, needs more mystique.
Anyway… the tea is great if you like cinnamon and orange with a dash of nut. Also makes a great base for hot toddy and hot rum drinks.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Nutty, Orange Zest