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Mariage Freres

Marco Polo Rouge by Mariage Freres

MarcoPoloTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Roiboos

Where to Buy:  Mariage Freres

Tea Description:

A wonderful secret tea will bring you to mysterious and distant lands. Flowers and fruits coming from China and Tibet give this rooibos a unique velvety taste.

Learn more about this tea here. 

Taster’s Review:

This was the first Mariage Freres tea I tried, and it’s still among my favourites today. It’s one of their most well-known and iconic blends, and it’s one I was initially most curious to try, having heard various opinions. I used 1 tsp of leaf for this cup, and gave it approximately 3 minutes in boiling water. No additions. The resulting liquor is a medium red, with little scent except a vauge sweetness. The dry leaf is similarly innocuous in this way, with its scent giving little away. I think that’s why I find it such an intriguing tea in many ways – its secrets are well hidden, and a true impression of this tea comes only through having tried it.

The initial sip is sweet, with the flavour of creamy strawberry. It reminds me initially of strawberry yougurt, only without the texture. The initial intensity soon fades, however, and leaves the woody, almost medicinal tang of rooibos behind. It’s a little jarring after the initial sweetness, but past experience tells me that a dash of milk can help to smooth this transition. I have none with me at the moment, though, so I’m proceeding without! Successive sips add to the creaminess, which seems to build and linger a little longer each time. The strawberry is prominent, if a little artificial, but the rooibos base pulls it back from being cloying. It’s not the gentlest of partnerships, but it does work in this respect.  The aftertaste is mildly floral, although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how. If pushed I’d say jasmine, but it doesn’t play a huge role in the overall flavour. Those who are wary of jasmine (myself included) needn’t fear! As the cup cools, the rooibos becomes a little scratchy and drying at the back of the throat.

Mariage Freres descriptions can be maddeningly vague, and this one is no exception. It’s a tea worth trying, though, for the strawberries-and-cream deliciousness if nothing else. It does seem a little heavy-handed in some respects, which is rare for Maraige Freres in my experience. A case in point here is the rooibos base, which can dominate the flavour after the initial sip, and which can become a little scratchy and drying on the palate. It tempers the sweet, syrupy strawberry, though, and for that reason I can’t really complain about it. For me, this is a tea that works best with a reasonably long brew time (4 minutes or more), and a dash of full-fat milk. It’s palatable without, but this is how it really shines in my estimation. It’s a good introduction to the world of Mariage Freres, and definitely worth discovering alongside its black counterpart – Marco Polo.

Yuzu Temple Green Tea by Mariage Freres

YuzuTempleTea Information:

Leaf Type: Green

Where to Buy:  Mariage Freres

Tea Description:

This surprising blend, with its evocative name, is based on a fine green tea.  It boasts the pleasantly round acidity of citrus fruit, the aromatic richness and peppery notes of mild spices, plus the rind of real Japanese Yuzu (halfway between lemon and mandarin orange).  Resolutely exotic.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the Mariage Freres teas that I always seem to overlook when I’m choosing a green tea to drink. There’s no reason for it; it just seems to happen. From time to time, I’ll make an effort to pull out those languishing teas and give them another try. I’m usually surprised by what I discover!

I used 1 tsp of leaf for this cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in water cooled to around 180 degrees. The dry leaf is very dark green and folded in appearance – it looks to me like a dragonwell, but there’s no specific indication on the packaging. Some leaves are quite small and fine (almost shredded in appearance), so I suspect it may be a blend of some kind. The scent is mildly grassy and a little bitter. Once brewed, the resulting liquor is a medium yellow, the scent mildly floral.

To taste, this one belies its appearance. I had it pegged as heavy-tasting and possibly bitter, but it’s not like that at all. It’s actually a light, refreshing, spring-like green tea, with initial notes of grass and hay, and a light orchid-like floral in the mid-sip. There’s also a slightly bitter fruitiness that reminds me of orange pith, or perhaps the physalis that sometimes accompany desserts. It’s a pleasant counterpoint to the sweet, mild green base.

The flavours are a little fleeting, and don’t really linger long in the aftertaste, so it’s an excellent palate cleanser. I can see this tea really coming into its own during the warm days of spring and summer ahead. It’s refreshing, sweet and flavourful without being cloying, and wonderfully light on the palate. Although today’s cup is hot, I’m sure I’ll be drinking a lot more of this iced or cold brewed in the coming weeks. Definitely not to be neglected.

Black Opera Black Tea from Mariage Freres

blackoperaTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Mariage Freres

Tea Description:

Our heart has long beaten for this lyrical elixir. Its enchanting beauty now glides across the stage as a round black tea in high spirits, harmonising with the aromas of red fruit and noble spices crowned by a dash of vanilla. In this magnificent polyphony, the register that rises above is that of sensuality and, of course, the pleasure of taste. Bravo Maestro !

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I tried this one blindly, by which I mean I didn’t look up any of the ingredients or the tea description prior to trying it. For me, doing this is like a challenge to see how on point my palate is – I like to compile my thoughts and then go back and see how many of the nuances I picked up, and how accurately I was able to identify the ingredients/flavourings in the blend. It’s also a way to taste a tea without letting the description influence how I perceive it.

Dry; I can tell this is a fruit blend of some sort – but based on dry smell alone I can’t really narrow down what ‘type’ of fruit; berry, tropical, stonefruit, etc. I am pretty confidant it’s not going to be a citrus blend, though. I didn’t get any of the usual citrus tip offs like sourness, pith or tart tones.

Taste wise, this was more flavourful than I was anticipating. All my other Mariage Freres experiences have been mildly disappointing because the flavours have been duller than what I enjoy or too subtly flavoured. As such, I expected this to have the same really subtle flavour. It was distinct though, and relatively robust. There was a really sweet jammy quality, but not something simple like strawberry or raspberry. This reminded me strongly of grenadine which to me has a distinctly rich pomegranate or cranberry like quality; but sugary sweet. This strong jammy/grenadine cross reminds me of a fancy Monk’s blend. For those who don’t know, I love Monk’s Blend a lot.

Yeah, there’s not really much about this blend that’s really complicated or fancy, but it’s really enjoyable and smooth with such a great, sweet flavour! And it’s so smooth; no astringency or bitterness at all! I’m impressed by this one more than probably any other Mariage Freres tea I’ve had and I greatly enjoyed my cup. Gonna go back now and see how accurate my interpretation was…

…Red Fruit. Spices. Vanilla.

Well, I can see how the combination of red fruit and vanilla definitely read as similar to Monk’s blend to me given a traditional Monk’s blend is grenadine and vanilla. I really didn’t taste any indication of spice though; whatever they’re adding into the blend must be very subtle. So for those who, like me, aren’t big into spices this is very likely a safe blend for you to try.

Well done Mariage Freres!

Pleine Lune from Mariage Freres

Pleine Lune from Mariage Freres

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Mariage Freres 

Tea Description:

The splendour of a ‘Full Moon’.

Inspired by that heavenly body and the realm of dreams, this poetic blend combines fragrances evoking the feast of the full moon: fruits, rare spices, and the sweet taste of honey.

A true moonbeam.

PREPARATION ADVICE FOR 1 CUP :
Amount of tea leaves: 2.5g
Best water temperature: 95 °C
Infusion time: 3-5 min

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I first heard of this tea I wanted it! I am in love with the moon and spend hours under the moon meditating, relaxing, and relishing in its beauty. The name of the tea alone had me sold. I could only hope that it lived up to its namesake, and it has beyond my wishes!

The smell is heavenly, the taste is dreamy.

I get a distinct cherry note on the top of the sip. Almond comes through perfectly, not too strong, not too weak. The flavors are all perfection, nothing tasting artificial. There are hints at cinnamon and vanilla, but again no one note stands up deamding for your full focus. A truly well mastered blend! No wonder it is one of Maraige Freres best sellers!

Now yes there are some flowers in this tea and there is a subtle floral note within it but I would not call this a floral tea personally. To me floral teas are far more floral in flavor this one just has these delicate pretty petals dancing around in the steeping basket that add only a slight hint of a note of flowery goodness. What I taste more so is a fruity cup with vanilla and spice and of course nuttiness. It is so delicious!

I have to thank my Steepster friend for sending me this from France. I felt so fancy getting a package from France! It may seem silly but I did. I squealed with delight and I can’t even tell you how wonderful the box smelled even before opening it! So thank you my friend for this wonderful tea. I know it is her all time favorite and I can absolutely see why!

Its sweet but many add sweetener and creamer to the cup. I have enough left to try it that way myself and I am sure it will be amazing. I love it straight however and see no need to mask any of these beautiful flavors!

While this is absolutely a tea for grown ups who can appreciate all the lovely notes within the cup, I could see this easily being loved by kids and non tea lovers alike. It would be a wonderful cup to serve to guests who do not normally have tea.

The mouthfeel is somewhat bright, not heavy, but yet it is robust enough to make you feel you are having something hearty and serves well as a morning wake up cup, to an afternoon tea, to a dessert tea yet perhaps if you want it to fill the dessert tea slot it would be better with some cream and sugar. To me it is not as sweet as some dessert teas and definitely not cloying. They do say there is honey in the tea but I personally am not picking up on that note too much at this time.

The black base is perfect for this blend. There is absolutely no astringency. I have no idea what base they are using, I would guess a Ceylon but I am can’t be sure. If anyone has opinions or knowledge on this feel free to comment!

This tea comes in sachets, loose, and in different sizes, etc. I have linked the loose leaf but if you do a search on the site you can find the other forms it comes in.

Rouge d’Automne from Mariage Freres

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Black, Rooibos (Red)

Where to Buy: Mariage Freres

Tea Description:

Autumn, which turns maple leaves fiery red, is a good time to indulge in a delicious treat that erases the bitterness of rainy days. That is why Mariage Frères has employed an almost forbidden fruit – marrons glacés, a famous French indulgence ever since the days of Louis XIV – to create its new “Autumnal Red” tea.

A red rooibos from South Africa, mild in taste with very little tannin, has been combined with the flavour of fine candied chestnuts and Bourbon vanilla, yielding a most striking yet smooth cup, warm and festive, with fruity and slightly spicy harmonies that precede a final note of honey and dried fruit.

PREPARATION ADVICE FOR 1 CUP :
Amount of tea leaves: 2.5g
Best water temperature: 95 °C
Infusion time: 3-5 min

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

The aroma of this tea in dry form is delicious! It has a roast-y, nutty, and vanilla scent that made me instantly think of amaretto yet there was this cinnamon essence in there as well. It didn’t take me long to decide to steep this up for a review.

Now most of you know I do not care for red rooibos, however there is little of it in here, and in addition, I feel the rooibos flavor truly does add to this blend.

This tea is quite sweet. Honey like sweetness. I could see how for some it may be a little too sweet.

The lingering after taste of vanilla, honey, and spiced, candied, nuts is quite nice and I notice absolutely no astringency.

There is also a lighter note within this tea which seems to peek out every now and then, although I do not detect it on each sip, and that is of a plum-like flavor. This note reminds me of the poem “Twas The Night Before Christmas” for some reason, the line about sugarplums dancing in people’s heads. Anyway when this note presents, its much brighter, which is a nice change from the heavier sweeter taste I was getting most of the time. The more the tea cooled the more I noticed the fruity lift.

I loved both the depth of this tea, the sweet heavier notes and the light fruity note that came out now and then. It seems to me to be perfect for this time of the year but certainly one I would enjoy year round!