To tea or not to tea, that is the question.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (2019) has a recurring minigame where the player may invite one of the game’s characters to a tea party. You can choose several subjects to discuss and playing well increases your affinity with that character, which translates back into the main game in the form of combat boosts if you fight alongside one another.
In 2022, Fire Emblem franchise developer Intelligent Systems partnered with tea company Lupicia to produce two real-world tea box sets, the Fódlan Tea Break and the Fódlan Tea Collection. They are (or were) described, with purchase links, here.
This is a review of all of the teas. This is not a review of how cool the box is, or how fun it is that the Tea Break comes with a little teacup and saucer, or an unboxing blog, or anything like that. Collectors already know whether they want this item or not. This is a review for people who want to actually know if the tea itself is good.
The Fódlan Tea Break contains only one kind of tea (five teabags in a themed tin) alongside the aforementioned teacup set, while the Fódlan Tea Collection is a set of thirty teabags in twenty blends. The blend included with the Tea Break is not part of the Tea Collection so if you really want to try it all you will need both boxes.
Anyway. What’s good and what’s not? Let’s get to the teas. Of note is that the teabags are sorted by what house the characters are in at the Officer’s Academy, and as such each of the teabags have a little illustration to show which character prefers this tea. The teas also have themed names, so where applicable I have noted what the tea actually is.
A mixture of bergamot, rose red(?) and safflower/fragrance. Brewing time: 5 minutes.
Brew time: 2.5-3 minutes
Characters: Edelgard, Hubert
Official Website Description:
A special blend of high-quality tea leaves used by the Hresvelg family has been recreated for this product. A blend of flavorful nilgiri and assam combine to create a body that is light, yet full-bodied and rich.
Earl Grey (bergamot), the royalty of flavored tea, combines with the beautiful red juice of pomegranate and the scent of gorgeous orchids to represent the Adrestian Empire, which has a long history of conquest and supremacy.
The topping is decorated with red safflowers that resemble flames.
The bergamot gives it a similarity to Earl Grey, but the flavor is materially different. The rose red seem to be rose hips, which add a slight tartness to the flavor. Overall it has a slightly sweeter taste than a straight black tea, with good subtle undertone flavors. I am not a fan of fruit but the pomegranate clearly is working here. It lingers for quite a while on the tongue, and even an hour after drinking I still had the slightly acerbic aftertaste in my mouth. This is one of Edelgard’s favorite teas and she clearly has very good taste. I would drink this regularly.
Characters: Edelgard, Sylvain
Brew time: 2.5-3 minutes
Earl Grey is my workhorse tea – if I’m not in the mood for a different type, I will default to choosing it. This Earl Grey is nothing special. I would say that it’s on the relatively higher end for a bagged tea, but it did nothing to knock my socks off. Conversely it wasn’t bad – it was exactly what I would expect from a somewhat upscale Earl Grey teabag. If you know Earl Grey then you know this. Nothing else to say about it.
Dagda Fruit Blend
Assam & Mocha
Characters: Hubert, Hapi
Brew time: 2-2.5 minutes
This tea is called “fruit blend” and I honestly am not a fruit person so the upcoming fruit infusion teas are going to suffer in my ratings for that. In this tea though, the fruit is not a fruit at all, it’s mocha. I don’t know why they chose this for a “fruit blend” but here we are. This is a pungent tea. It smells like a cup of coffee. It tastes like a watery cup of coffee. I don’t drink coffee and don’t like the flavor, but I do like coffee ice cream. Unfortunately this is basically a coffee and tea mix, which surely will appeal to somebody but feels like it must be the worst of both worlds. You should know from this description if this sounds awesome or terrible and drink accordingly. It’s not outright bad, but I can’t imagine why it exists except for novelty reasons. Hubert and Hapi… what are you doing with your lives?
Almyran Pine Needles
Characters: Ferdinand, Claude
Brew Time: 2-3 minutes
Lapsang Suchong is already a divisive tea, but it’s one that I love. The smokey flavor is going to be an immediate turn-off for many drinkers. This is an especially aromatic variety; even taking it out of the bag I was struck by the scent of this tea. Unfortunately, the strong smell does not translate into a strong flavor. I actually brewed it for a minute or two past the recommended brewing time because it tasted so weak, but to no avail. If I’m going to drink Lapsang Suchong, I want it to taste like a campfire – this was quite thin. Lapsang Suchong is a great tea. This is a mediocre Lapsang Suchong. Disappointing. Ferdinand would never settle for such an ignoble incarnation as this.
Characters: Linhardt, Leonie
Brew Time: 3-5 minutes
Lupicia describes their Lumière tea ingredients as “vervine, rosemary, eyebright, chamomile, jasmine tea, lavender, blueberry leaf, Nikko maple.” I honestly cannot taste every single one of those flavors, but the chamomile is clearly evident and leading this tea. I think I can get some undernotes of the jasmine, and the rosemary is clearly there, but the rest of it I honestly cannot tell. That said, the tea is good! It’s an herby tea with a very slight tartness to it. I’m less partial to herbal teas than black teas, but this one is quite nice. It’s a tea that if I were hosting a party, I would want to have on offer as part of the dessert tea and coffee selection, and also one of the few thusfar where I’ve thought “I should keep this teabag for another mug later in the day.” The jasmine tea’s caffeine content does undercut this being a pure herbal for those who look to avoid that, but otherwise this is a winner.
Characters: Caspar, Balthus
Albinean Berry Blend
Rhubarb & Strawberry
Characters: Bernadetta, Dorethea
Characters: Petra, Felix
Characters: Ashe, Ingrid
Characters: Annette, Constance
Rose Petal Blend
Uva Highlands, BOP
Characters: Ignatz, Yuri
Southern Fruit Blend
Grenada (Guava and Papaya, apparently)
Darjeeling the Second Flush
Character: Byleth (this is new lore because Byleth, as the player character, can’t be invited to a tea party)
Tea of the Saints
Character: Rhea (this is not her favorite tea in-game, in fact nobody likes this tea in-game)