Liquid Proust Teas came out with a couple of new blends, and since I want to try them, I need to sip through what I have of LPT’s blends to decide what I want to reorder. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to kick off the tea reviews on this new blog, especially since today (the drinking day, not the posting day, is Andrew’s birthday). So here it is:
Liquid Proust Teas Sipthrough
Disclaimer: I happen to know the owner and blender behind Liquid Proust Teas. Personally, I think this gives me a better insight into the blends, as I know the hyperactive, inappropriate, generous, and passionate soul behind the tea. Some might think that my reviews would be biased as a result, but I will be drinking these and will review them honestly; you’ll know what I liked and what I didn’t.
So, the thing about Andrew is that he chooses the best ingredients for what he wants to make. I don’t know where he gets the ideas for his creations, but if he wants to do a black tea blend, he finds the best, highest quality black tea possible to meet his vision. If he wants to use an ingredient, he experiments with the best way to integrate the ingredient.
This makes it nice, because I don’t have to wonder whether or not I am drinking some old stuff sourced from any old wholesaler. I can concentrate on whether or not the blend succeeded and if I liked it. Since Andrew and I have very different palates, he doesn’t always succeed with me personally, but it IS always an experience.
I got this as a sample, which is the only way I would have encountered this tea. I hate Earl Grey; the bergamot usually tastes “dirty” to me, and as a former Florida girl, I can’t stand citrus scents and flavors. The tea base is usually nothing special to me, so with all those downsides, why bother?
I should have bothered.
The tea itself is beautiful, with cocoa-colored curls of leaves and bright pink petals. It’s an interesting choice, as the bougainvillea-colored petals combined with the creamsicle aroma of the blend suggests a tropical experience is to come. It clashes a bit with my mental picture of what an Earl Grey should be, which features me dressed in a lace hat holding a porcelain teacup and saucer with my pinky in the air.
Once brewed, the liquid has a honey smell that comes out strongly in the flavor. The base tea is sweet and vibrant with honey and floral overtones. I’m not sure if the floral flavor comes from the flower petals or the base, but it’s light and not soapy at all (which is how I typically tend to perceive florals). The bergamot is fresh tasting and bright. It may be a little on the light side for some people, since I didn’t consider it too much. And believe me, I was looking out for it.
The bergamot does get too powerful as the tea cools, however. It’s like I squeezed a full lemon into the cup.
I enjoyed this tea a lot, and I’ll definitely be getting more. It was the perfect blend of fresh and bright, floral and fruity tasting. I discovered that I do like bergamot oil, if only whatever fancy and difficult-to-find or whatever bergamot that Andrew managed to get for this tea.
I don’t have any special insight into this tea, but based on the blend’s name and the longer description on the website, I get the impression that this blend is the “flagship” of Liquid Proust Teas.
The blend looks dark and delicious: crinkly black wads of sun moon lake, furry golden curls of bi luo chun, and giant pecan pieces candied in impossibly dark sugar. The sugar comes through in the aroma of the dry leaves, but I’m not sure where the scent of raisins comes from.
Once brewed, the tea has that smell of chocolatey, cinnamon bread that comes with most Yunnan black teas. Since this tea is supposed to be a reflection on love, I expected a lot of chocolate and fruity notes.
My first thought on the first sip was “WHOA, complicated.” There are a lot of layers to this tea, so this will probably be a long review. This is an introspective tea, something to spend a quiet afternoon on, thinking.
I like to call teas like this traveling teas—the teas whose different flavors light up the regions of the tongue as you swallow. The dark flavors are the ones that hit first, which are sweet potatoes and cocoa. Then the tea hits the middle of the tongue with brighter flavors, like sugary red fruits. I’m going to tell you now that I suck at identifying fruits in teas, so red is as close as you’re going to get. As the brew fades in the back of the mouth, there’s malt, a little bit of astringency, and a honey-like sweetness. I also got some vanilla caramel flavor.
Though I couldn’t find the nuts in the first brew, subsequent steeps yielded a sweet, creamy pecan flavor, while most of the chocolate and fruits fell away. I ended up steeping this three times at 208º, starting with 3 minutes and increasing by 30 seconds each time.
Is there such a thing as too complicated? With a list of everything I tasted in this tea, I would have expected to love this brew. But it’s a bit much. I’m not one of those people that can taste the runoff in the rain that fell on the crops that year, so the fact that I can taste so much in one tea is a bit overwhelming. I feel as though the separate flavors never really coalesced into a single entity, but rather continued to express themselves as separate entities.
Perhaps this tea is a story of lovers who never really found their center, never learned to mesh their lifestyles together? I’ve never read Proust.
This tea looks like a leaf party—piney needles, crinkly balls, chocolatey shavings—leaves of all sorts. Let’s not even mention the pecans and chocolatey looking pieces. A Dark Kitchen Sink indeed!
I love smelling the leaves first; it’s like a preview of things to come, and it’s an integral part of the whole tea experience for me. But the smell of this blend has me a little concerned. Chocolate and marshmallow is what comes out first, and that’s kind of exciting. I’ve never had a marshmallowy tea before. The smell is sugary sweet. But there’s an earthy, vitaminy undertone that reminds me of Ovaltine…yuck. I’m pretty sure that smell is coming from the puerh needles, as I remember it from the Rummy Pu I had a few weeks back.
Once brewed, the earthy vitamin smell settled, and all I can smell is a spongy, earthy bread pudding. Good. We’re back on track for a really nice dessert tea.
I feel like this tea presented itself as a series of dessert flavors. What I got first was a strong brown bread flavor—the bitter earthy kind. There’s a figgy, rainsiny kind of flavor that lends sweetness to the entire mix. I also got dark chocolate, but the creaminess of the brew made it taste almost like a chocolate fudge topping. Sometimes I got marshmallows, which switched my mindset from bread pudding to s’mores. . .fun!
As it cools, the vanilla makes itself more well-known, and many of the other flavors drop away. Now I’m drinking a creamy vanilla pudding, but that fig-raisin flavor is still hanging around.
I really loved the experience of this tea, so much so that I think this is my favorite tea by Liquid Proust. It was like being swept away by sweet chocolatey, marshmallow, vanilla, fig dessert. The flavors buzzed over my tongue and left a cool wave in its wake.
I found this blend to be more cohesive than the last, which is ironic because the name implies that this blend was created by throwing all the leftovers in one jar and giving it a name. But the pairing of those chocolatey, toasty teas with the earthy puerh is absolutely heavenly.
I was wrong about this tea being a party; it’s a high school reunion, with all the teas and flavors of past blends I have tried making appearances like 90s movies clichés: the loudmouthed jock that is the puerh, the hyper feminine vanilla that was the head cheerleader stereotype, and the school nerd fig that grew up to be hot and successful.
I definitely will be getting more of this!!
Last of the LP teas! It’s been such a chocolatey, desserty kind of day for me. Opening up my little glass jar, I didn’t think it was possible to have a tea smell more like 70% dark chocolate. Yes, specifically 70%. I have a bar from Iceland sitting in my cupboard, and these two smell exactly the same. The leaves even looks like chocolate shavings, compounding the imagery. The rice clusters look pretty tasty…so much so that I kind of wish I had some fresh to taste.
Now that I’ve brewed it, the liquid smells like burnt chocolate pudding and yams, which sounds disgusting, but I am a fan of. I love overcooking chocolate pudding and eating the skin off it.
The brew actually tastes pretty simple. It’s sweet, with a strong flavor of sweet potatoes. These sweet potatoes have the skin on, as that earthy flavor is pretty strong. The cocoa comes up next with a sharp buzz on the finish. A sweet, very strong raisin flavor comes back up the palate after swallowing. I was surprised not to get any of the nuts or rice in the flavor.
I’m not sure how I felt about this one. I almost feel as though the modifications to the base tea didn’t make much of a difference. I haven’t had this specific base, but I have had several Yunnan blacks, and even some Laoshan. Each has had the same kind of yammy, sugary, chocolatey flavor all on its own.
I still enjoyed this though. It was comforting and so very raisiny. I might have to sit down with the plain base to really determine how I felt about this blend.