53 Tasting Notes
Oh, I wish I had included this in my recent order from Lupicia France! And I would have, if the description had been even minimally useful. grrr. On the French site this is called “Neige Blanche,” and they describe it only as “black tea inspired by baked sweets made with white chocolate and nuts for the festive season.” Nutty white chocolate did not sound terribly appealing to me.
I did get a teabag sample, though, which is how I can tell that it must be the same as the US version “White Christmas” described here, because I could taste the apricot (and because they use the same photo for the tea). How strange that neither site include that in the description! How strange and annoying.
Anyway, I love apricot, and this is yum, and I am contemplating if I should make another Lupicia order before they run out of the tin version, which is all they have left now, at the end of January. My last order was pretty spendy, though, and shipping is expensive, so maybe I should wait until next year. Or not. Or I should. Should I?
How do you say “bah humbug” in French?!
Just a quick note on this one, as I only have a sample teabag: Lupicia.fr describes it as “the mellow sweetness of vanilla is matched with the sweetly sour fragrance of fruit … Blended with rosebuds,” but doesn’t say what fruit(s). It definitely tastes like strawberry to me, and the entire blend reminds me very strongly of Mariage Frères’ Marco Polo. Very similar, though perhaps more mellow. This is extremely pleasant, very smooth, genteel, relaxing. The rose is not perfumey at all.
Does what it says on the tin! (And I literally mean “the tin,” since I couldn’t resist getting my recent lupicia.fr haul mostly all in those decorative tins where you choose the pretty label art). This is nice and dark chocolatey and distinctly raspberrish! Very straightforward. And quite tasty.
Yet. Yet. I have to finally admit something to myself. I’m not really a sincere chocolate fan. Like being “in love with love,” I’m always seduced by the idea of chocolate, but rarely borne away on wings of desire when the rubber hits the road. If I buy a fancy dark chocolate bar (I only like dark chocolate, and only if it’s fancy :P) it will last me … two or three months? Less, because my husband usually raids it at some point, but I just break off a small piece to have from time to time, and there’s no temptation to gobble. (And trust me, I can be quite the shameless gobbler.) It’s nice, but not compelling. If I have a choice between vanilla and chocolate ice cream? I always choose vanilla (especially if it’s fancy). I adore a piece of super moist chocolate cake … but, in fact, I must confess that if you offered me carrot cake as an option I would go with that instead.
Why do I say all this? Because I have to finally admit that as much as I am undeniably beguiled by all the chocolate-y tea descriptions, I rarely adore them. Because I’m just not that much of a chocolate lover. I love the descriptions, I love the idea, I love a tasty morsel of excellent chocolate every now and then, but I have to finally face up to the fact that it’s not that everyone else is not creating chocolate treats “just right” for me, it’s that I’m not a true lover of chocolate treats.
I think Lupicia has done a very good job with this, but it will last me a long time, like one of my fancy chocolate bars. I enjoyed it, but I’m not already awaiting / planning my next cup, like I do with my best favorites. I’m not going to rate this one (but just for me? I’d probably give it 70 — not a low score!) because I’m not the person it’s really meant for. if you love chocolate and raspberry, I think you will love this.
Of all the things I’ve lost, I think I miss my mind the most. My mind, and this cookie, er, tea. Which I’ve never had, but which I realized with my first sip that I’ve missed, very very much. I’ve been homesick all my life for this cookie flavor I never knew existed. Mysterious!
I know, because of the description here and on the US site, that it is supposed to have almonds, but it does not taste like a straight almond cookie to me. The French site did not list almonds, which is good, because I might not have bought it, since I have a nearly full bag of Pleine Lune from Mariage Frères that I should get through before going in search of any more almond teas. (And also, almond isn’t really my favorite flavor.)
It is absolutely a cookie flavor, though; the “cookiest” tea I’ve tasted so far, and since I do tend to like “patisserie” tastes, it works very well for me. My favorite cookies are not gooey or chocolatey or frosted or filled with nuts or fruit … they tend to be more like shortbread or snickerdoodles, so this is right in my cookie sweet spot. Now, if only I could figure out this enigmatic flavor… I’m reminded a bit of warm buttered toast I used to have as a child, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, though if there’s cinnamon here, it’s faint. This isn’t really the flavor, but it’s the feeling. I get a toasted brown sugar flavor, probably some vanilla, definitely “caramel,” but not chewy, gooey, sticky caramel … more like praline? Maybe? And the nut flavor. Like, maybe if you took almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, and pecans and ground them into a flour and added a bit of that to your cookie batter?
I just don’t know! We need a forensic pastry chef! At any rate, a delightful discovery for me and definite re-order.
This is my place-saver note until I am brave enough to try this tea! I ordered this from Lupicia France, which seems to be the only place it’s offered? I couldn’t find much online. My idea of this was something very lightly smoked, with a bit of whisky flavor, which (in my apparently deluded mind) seemed potentially nice as a late-night after-meal “relaxing in the study by the fireplace with a good book” kind of tea. I have neither study nor fireplace, but still.
However, upon opening it, my head nearly blew up. WHOAH. SO STRONG AARGH THE SMELL THE WORLD IS BURNING OMG CLOSE IT CLOSE IT GET IT AWAY. I immediately wrapped it up to within an inch of its life and put if far far far away from any of my other teas. I will screw up the courage to try this eventually, but wow. What a shocking introduction.
(I have tried lapsang souchong before, so not entirely unacquainted with smoked teas, but this was bam pow bang!)
Lupicia’s French Facebook page describes it thusly (translated from French): “Black tea from Japan smoked with chips of whiskey barrels by Mr. Hiroki Matsumoto. Available in store and on the Internet. http://www.lupicia.fr/s/29785_263606_the-noir-fume-japon-i-… This black tea without astringency is relatively soft in the mouth and contrasts with the smoky and deep side that emerges from it. It is never aggressive, whether on the nose or in the mouth, and the balance between black tea and smoked aromas is perfectly controlled. Mr. Matsumoto at his own gardens in Shizuoka Prefecture. Thanks to this smoking technique, we find from the first sip a deep fragrance evoking Single Malt Whiskey.”
Well. I can testify that “It is never aggressive, whether on the nose or in the mouth” is not quite accurate. It was waaay aggressive on this nose. Like “felony charges” aggressive. Will be back to report more once I’ve recovered and brave enough to actually brew a cup.
shiver. It may be a little while.
I just received this in my first-ever Lupicia (France) order today, and I love it! I’ve only had one cup so far, so I may revise this write-up as needed, but I tasted both rhubarb and strawberry, plus some mystery flavor that I also detected in Lupicia’s black tea Sakurambo (also delicious!) … something … a bit “melon-y”? I don’t know! And Lupicia does not exactly give a lot of details about their blends. For me, though, it’s a very good balance: neither too sour, nor too supercharged strawberry, and a nice lucid, clear flavor as opposed to some of my other favorite black fruity teas which are often more “melange” style. So, nicely different!
I actually found this a very cozy comfy cup here at the butt end of January, but can also imagine it being quite refreshing in spring and summer, and probably very good iced, as well. Maybe a tea for all seasons! I tried it with a bit of raw sugar, and am curious to see what happens with a splash of milk, too. At any rate, definitely a re-order for me — assuming Lupicia’s French online site doesn’t close, like the US site. Please don’t close, Lupicia France! I only recently realized that you even existed, and now I’m seeing what some of my favorite steepsters have been raving about.
Huh, well despite some initial ordering confusion, I think this might be my favorite B&B so far. I was not really hyped about it, because I really don’t like those supermarket peach flavored bottled ice teas (I mean I don’t like those anyway, but the peach ones fall more under “comprehensively loathe”) but I ordered this … I guess. For some reason. Why? I don’t even remember, to be perfectly honest. In fact, I was a little confused when I opened the package (expecting Christmas Cake, a different B&B order I’ve been waiting (and waiting and waiting) for. I thought it was a mistake, but no, here’s the “Bears Like Marmalade” that I also definitely did order, and yes, whaddya know, I ordered this, too. Hm. Well, okay then, let’s drink this thing!
And … YUM. This absolutely tastes like peach cobbler. I’m having mine sweetened with milk, and will also go all the way latte with this and maybe some maple syrup too very soon, but wowzer it’s is really warm baked peachy and pastry-like. I don’t know if B&B tweaked their recipe since earlier reviews, but my packet definitely does not go light on the flavor. Yet I still taste the tea, which is essential to me. Nice! My only issue is that I think I steeped it a bit too long as I washed up some stray dishes while waiting for it to brew — about 4 minutes, and I’m getting definite tannin bitterness.
Welp, there’s nothing for it but to immediately make another cup now that I’ve finished (read “gulped down my gullet like an animal”) this one. While we’re waiting for it to steep (only 3 minutes or less!) I’ll mention that the other thing I finally got in the mail today (after the package going astray for a month) are a couple of mugs to match my dishes: https://imgur.com/a/G09w7wQ. This is a jolly, cheery great cup: nice, ergonomically comfy handle, good stable bottom, stoneware for holding the heat, just the right size, a lovely round belly for warming cold hands if you want to go there, and thank the Gord, finally, white on the inside so I can see the color of my tea! Very pleased! (Denby Craftsman, if anyone’s curious.)
Okay, so second cup! Yes, 2.5-3 minutes steep sorted the bitterness issue, and this time I did add some maple syrup … and ohhhh yes. Beauty. I can’t help it. I do love my flavored dessert teas when in the mood (like this cold, rainy, grey afternoon), and surprise Peach Cobbler is hitting the spot so hard. I’m so glad I apparently sleep-ordered this one!
(Actually, now I see that 4 minutes is the suggested steep time, but I use a lot of leaf, so maybe that was the issue. I think I love it my style though: lotta leafy, less steepy.)
ETA: This might be a good place to mention that my measure for this is 2 of B&B’s “Perfect Tea Spoon” spoons, which upon receiving, I found turned out to be the exact same size as the spoon I had dug out of my own stuff that was working perfectly for me — a half-tablespoon size from my measuring spoons. So, basically, I’m using a tablespoon of most of my black teas for 300-350 ml of water, which usually ends up weighing about 5-6 grams, so usually about 2 grams tea per 100 ml of water, or a little under. This probably sounds like a lot of BRAINZ effort for a pretty simple thing, but I cannot adequately express my frustration with trying to figure out how much a “teaspoon” and a “cup” were actually supposed to be when I began this voyage. I’m still not clear on that, and when I veer out of my lane (with greens and oolongs, etc.), I still feel like I’m kind of grasping in the dark to figure out proper measures.
A sample bag from DF of a tea I would not have ever ordered, but now might think about picking up in the summer. Mint isn’t usually a taste that I seek out aside from having a nice peppermint tea in the pantry, or a lovely After Eight type chocolate and creamy mint treat, but I found this appealing. I liked the layering of different mint flavors on the green tea (ingredients listed: green tea; spearmint; peppermint leaves; natural mint flavor), and the feelings it inspired were lucidity, clarity, reset. Why reset? I don’t know! I just had that feeling (and actually, that exact word) pop into my mind, like returning to an earlier, clearer, more receptive state.
But now that I’m writing this up, I’m seeing “Reset” all over on the edit window and wondering if I’m Incepting myself. Maybe my inspirations here are are really Memento and The Usual Suspects. Maybe I’m only writing reviews based on words flitting across my consciousness from the surrounding world. Like, what really is reality, anyway? Perhaps just another sip from this lovely Kobayashi mug (where did this come from?) while I ponder the question.
Sad to reach the bottom of my taster packet of this, but it definitely goes on my must buy again list, because of the following: not a strong rooibos flavor, which is not my fave; a definite lovely cooked rhubarb flavor without strawberries (because I just didn’t want the distraction of strawberry with the rhubarb); a bit of a custardy flavor, that goes WAY up when I make this as a latte, as I just did a little while ago, and I now sit staring forlornly at the bottom of my cup as well as the bottom of my packet. sigh
This is a nice tea for me since I’m not super fond of herbals in general, yet can’t have the black tea I would actually prefer before going to bed, and the full body and lovely flavor of this is juuuust right for my pre-sleep tea yearning. mmmm.
This was a freebie tea bag with my last DF order, and the funny thing is that despite never having had it before, I already knew exactly how it was going to taste. And I was 100% right. I’m glad, too, because I thought it would be good (it is), and not too “fruit juice-y” or candylike or overdone, and it isn’t. The four fruits are cherry, strawberry, raspberry and red currant, and as others have noticed, no single one of the four seems to stand above the others in focus, so it truly is a “four fruits blend,” combining to make a very nice “red fruits” fusion flavor.
It’s a classic Dammann Frères harmonious fruit tea blend, but I don’t feel the need to get this right away because my Paul & Virginie blend has the same four fruits, but promotes the cherry a bit more, and adds vanilla and caramel to the party. I’m thinking, though, that this would make a particularly nice iced tea, so when summer rolls around, I might be rolling around to a chilly 4 Fruits Rouges glacé.