46 Tasting Notes
I inadvertently chose Carol today with a similar profile to yesterday’s (Yume) but this one was much better, lacking the odd bitter aftertaste.
Carol is a stawberry and vanilla flavoured tea with coconut flakes, though these added minimal impact. It’s a standard red fruity gourmand, though I felt the flavouring was a bit weak. The strawberry smell was that of a soda or artificial dessert, though the taste was so faint it didn’t register as either artificial or natural.
Nothing offensive, but just not a hearty, robust cuppa where you can really appreciate the impression and feeling the maker was trying to convey. This one felt like more of an afterthought, somehow. Like, “Quick- we need a holiday blend to round out our offerings- let’s recycle a strawberry vanilla!” If you are looking for a distinct strawberry/vanilla combo, this is not it.
Flavors: Candy, Strawberry, Vanilla
Thoroughly enjoying my Book of Tea from Lupicia, today’s tea was Yume. It’s advertised as a “black tea with rose petals, sweet aromas of vanilla and fruit.”
The fruit flavour I get is mostly strawberry-like, with a heavy dose of a gourmand vanilla-type finish. It’s mid-level between natural and artificial tasting but has a strange, bitter aftertaste that I am not enjoying.
The tea itself seems like the standard black Lupicia uses in their fruity black blends, a middle of the road, slightly astringent Darjeeling blend (if I had to guess.)
Lupicia suggests adding milk to this. I’m a straight black tea drinker, but I can see this would probably be improved with milk and sugar.
Not sure if it was just a bad batch with the odd aftertaste, but even without, there are better strawberry/gourmand blends, so this one is a pass for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Cookie, Fruity, Strawberry, Vanilla
This black tea is all about chestnuts. I’d say it’s a single note black tea, but the chestnut changes from nutty and mellow to a sharp (but not unpleasant) astringent aftertaste. If you do not like rich nutty flavours in your cuppa, this would be a hard pass. However, if you’re a chestnut fan, you have hit the jackpot. I cannot recall another tea with such a strong and distinct chestnut note. Make of that what you will.
Though it’s perfectly satisfactory and certainly as advertised, I’d have preferred another note to counterbalance the tea- perhaps a cacao or rum. This one is rather one-dimensional but the quality of the tea and flavouring make it a pleasant sip.
Interesting note: most Americans are not familiar with the taste of chestnut, as a deadly fungus from foreign timber started killing US chestnut trees in 1904 and eliminated virtually every native chestnut tree by 1950. As a result, is not at all common to see chestnuts in the US, though you can buy roasted ones in NYC as a sort of nostalgic treat.
Flavors: Chestnut, Nutty
A festive offering of black tea with a creamy, nutty overlay. Lupicia calls it “black tea inspired by baked holiday sweets made with white chocolate and nuts.” I think the white chocolate note is more vanilla-ish. Both the creamy and nutty notes are natural tasting and not at all cloying like some artificial flavourings can be.
If you do not like the cinnamon/cloves prevalent in many winter holiday blends, this might be worth seeking out.
It’s a perfectly pleasant blend, but neither the flavours or base tea are particularly outstanding. I just don’t see myself reaching for it again, though it’s festive and would probably be lovely with a baked treat or two. That being said, don’t oversteep it (check at 2 min).
Flavors: Creamy, Nutty, Vanilla
Going through my Lupicia bounty, here’s Golden Osmanthus. It’s a lightly roasted oolong with a prominent floral note. Given the name, I’d have assumed this was actual osmanthus, but Lupicia has an interesting disclaimer, saying the tea has a “natural elegant aroma similar to osmanthus flowers.” Is it really inherent to the leaves, or is there some undercover floral enhancement going on here? Why imply osmanthus? Most Western tea drinkers will not be familiar with it anyway. A mystery. Perhaps it’s the tea version of those painted pink “crab sticks” which are made of some sort of white fish and have nothing to do with crustaceans.
Back to the tea…it’s less green/astringent than some other oolongs, probably due to the lighter roasting. It did lend itself well to two steepings. It’s refreshing and pleasant, but I won’t be repurchasing. I prefer Lupicia’s Passionfruit, Amanatsu and Mango Oolongs to this. However, if you’re looking for a light-bodied oolong with less astringency and mysterious floral notes, this would be a fine choice.
WIth a name like La Belle Epoque, expectations were rather heightened. It’s a nice, standard Darjeeling blend. It is smooth and brisk with a slight hint of the promised muscatel. It’s sort of the black turtleneck of tea: a solid, reliable performer but nothing to get excited over. It’s a good quality tea with no bitterness or astringent notes, but nothing to distinguish it from any other of the hundreds of blends just like it. I am an inveterate straight tea drinker, so I am judging all my Darjeelings and other black blends without milk/sugar.
I did just get the Lupicia Book Of Tea, so I have 100 bags to work through. Quite a fun project for the upcoming bleak winter.
This one was surprisingly good. I was looking for a non-caffeine blend for my recently endless nights of staring at a screen. It’s a classic “fall” blend- cinnamon, hibiscus, apple, orange peel and chamomile (though it’s barely there) over a chicory base. I get just a hint of the alleged ginger, though more would be nice.
It is heavy on the cinnamon (real) and apple (slighly unnatural) and very fragrant, almost potpurri-like. I enjoy that, while some tea purists may not. I do recommend to drink it hot. The wet-doggy note (chicory? lurking marigold?) becomes more prominent as it cools down. Probably the cozy autumnal feelings this evokes are more pleasant than the actual drink, but the overall effect is quite nice and I find myself reaching for this more than I expected. At for around $3 per box, it’s economical if you’re looking for a decaf cinnamon/apple blend.
Flavors: Apple, Chicory, Cinnamon, Orange Zest
First thing I noticed the the very prominent fruit scent. It smells more “tropical” than just passionfruit, but is very pleasant- not a chemical type smell.
The leaves are tightly furled with some flower petals added, very nice quality. This one took a long time to unfurl, about 9 minutes. I kept tasting every minute or so after 5:00, but it was too weak. It seems too long, but 8-10 minutes was my sweet spot.
The taste is of an astringent tropical fruit over a mellow, slightly grassy oolong base. The astringent fruit flavour and oolong work well here to make a lovely, refreshing cup. I get in moods where I crave oolong, and this and their Peach version are both great. Not fussy to brew but very high-quality. They didn’t cut corners on this one- all the elements are top notch.
Lupicia recommends this as iced tea, but I feel the oolong quality would not shine through cold brewed. Personally, I find chilling a hot cup too much trouble, so I’ll keep drinking it hot.
Flavors: Grassy, Passion Fruit, Tropical Fruit
A bog-standard (but very pricey for those of us outside the UK/EU) black tea. I have tried this at different temperatures/steeping times three times (the 3-5 minutes suggested seems far too long), but I keep coming up with: Pretentious Lipton for Wanna-Be Anglophiles in Brooklyn. There are a couple snooty tea joints in NYC that serve this to rave reviews, but you could totally swop it with Lipton and they’d be none the wiser.
It’s a perfectly serviceable cuppa and that smooth F&M DNA comes through but there is nothing noteworthy about it to me. More style than substance, though I am judging a bit more harshly than normal due to the very high price of F&M overseas.
Not much to say on this one except ‘skip it.’
To be fair, AKBAR is a very cheap brand of tea so I was not expecting much from this. It still managed to taste like…absolutely nothing. I mean that it literally has no flavour. Which is one step up from being offensive, I suppose. Save yourself the trouble and drink a cup of hot water instead.
It’s about half the price of Bigelow/Twinings and half as good.