1294 Tasting Notes
This is a funny case—the opposite of Pukka—where sachets are being identified on the box as “tea bags”. In fact, I almost passed on this box, until I saw the image of the pyramid sachet on the side, along with a little blurb, “Introducing our Novel Knit Tea Bag”. Now I’m wondering whether this whole series of sachets is new to Rishi.
The material used for this jasmine green (which, to be honest, reminds me a lot of Sunflower Jasmine Tea!) has much coarser openings than the one they use for the Matcha Super Green. No doubt that is because of the size of matcha particles. Or is it? Now I’m wondering: why not use the smaller-pored material for all of their sachets?
This tea is heavily scented with jasmine. On the box, it is suggested that the tea has been infused nine, count ‘em nine, times with jasmine petals collected at night. I say “suggested”, because here’s how the text reads:
The sweet fragrance of jasmine tea can only be created in the traditional way, involving nine stages of scenting to deeply infuse the tea leaves with the aroma of fresh jasmine.
Is the claim here that any company which does not put its tea leaves through nine jasmine mating sessions is not producing true jasmine tea? Not sure, but I believe that a number of them talk about five or six jasmine-scenting sessions.
All of that aside, I ended up enjoying the second infusion more than the first. The liquor was pale gold and the flavor very jasminy in both cases. There is a touch of nice green tea texture here, but no more than I found in the Sunflower Asian market budget brand, so I probably won’t buy these sachets again. Of course, it’s worth noting that this tea is organic and fair trade certified, unlike the mass-produced and budget-priced Sunflower Jasmine Tea.
On the other hand, I do prefer the attractive Sunflower tin to the clunky Rishi box! The individual envelopes are expansive enough to hold four sachets each! I’ve been noticing that a lot of upper-middle-class (sold at Whole Foods) brands use disproportionately large packaging—usually boxes—which frankly is a big fat waste of dead trees. It’s supposed to convey a feeling of spaciousness and luxury, like going to a museum, I guess. In reality, it calls to my mind forests razed to the ground. But that’s another story…
It will be interesting to see how these sachets compare with the loose leaf jasmine green from Rishi, which looks to be the same tea, but one never knows!!!!!
I saw these matcha-dusted sencha sachets at a gourmet specialty store and decided to give them a try. I consumed quite a lot of matcha-dusted sencha over the course of a couple years of my life, but I have not had any lately. I used to buy two different kinds: Stash Premium Green with matcha, or Kirkland Signature Green with matcha. Both were quite decent, though the Stash was in a filter bag. Kirkland’s was the very first sachet I ever encountered, and I always felt that there was something luxurious about it. Apparently many other people felt that way as well, as now sachets are in virtual ubiquity.
Rishi has changed the name of this tea. I clicked on the link in the company description and was directed to Rishi’s home page. There is no tea now known as Super Green, only this Matcha Super Green, and this batch is said to hail from Kyushu, not specifically Kagoshima. On the box the cultivars are identified (somewhat surprisingly, since even most specialty tea emporia do not provide such detailed information on their teas). Here’s what it says: Asatsuyu, Yabukita, Okumidori, Okuyutaka. Make of that what you will!
The tea brews up bright emerald, as all matcha-infused sencha does, and the texture is super sumptuous. I found the brew itself to be a bit bitter, though I kept the time short (2 minutes) and the temperature low (73F).
Upon examining the sachet, I discovered that there were lots of stems along with the tea leaves. I was very surprised by this, as the Rishi loose-leaf teas have been very good. Slipping stalks into sencha sachets? They must be trying to cut corners.
Note that this new version is not identified as the same tea which won the award in 2010. There is no way that a stem-riddled sencha would win an award. The competition is incredibly stiff among sencha producers. Lest we forget: they live in an honor-shame culture!
July 15th came and went, and unfortunately sherapop was not the winner of the Harney Fest sweepstakes! That’s okay, because my consolation is having purchased a tin of this fine black blend in a gorgeous black and gold embossed tin, complete with a raised escutcheon!
The dried tea in the sachet is beautiful with all of the different kinds of leaves. One might say that this is something of an ecumenical blend, since it combines Ceylon, Assam, Yunnan Gold Tips and China Silver Tips. Well, they left out Africa, but as a British legacy version of an ecumenical blend, this is a pretty good effort.
The scent of the brew is malty like Assam, but this is not just another English breakfast blend. For one thing, I am drinking it au naturel, while I generally drink Assam-rich blends with cream. The liquor is not reddish but golden amber, a clear indication that there is Ceylon and Yunnan in the mix.
I like this blend and am grateful to John Harney and Family for all that they have done for the world of fine tea! May Mr. Harney rest in peace.
Lu Shan Yun Wu is another China green tea which I would be hard pressed to identify in a blind line-up. I have a couple more servings in this 1 ounce envelope from Tealux, so I decide to brew up a two-glass tetsubin as my mid-day green.
The liquor is very pale greenish gold veering peach with tiny white filaments floating about in an almost plankton-like fashion. Not that this tastes like fish—no, not at all! The flavor is very subtle. Slightly sweet, but not exactly fruity and also not really sugary. Let’s just say that it’s not vegetal in the least.
I imagine that this is considered an imperial tea because of its extreme subtlety, along the lines of Silver Needle. In fact, this is probably the green tea for people who don’t really like green tea!
Mighty Leaf appears to have changed the recipe of its Bleu Peacock oolong blend, as my cylindrical can clearly states that the base tea is Fancy Formosa Oolong from Taiwan (redundant, I know, but they are obviously underscoring its origin), not China. That would make this the bug-bitten Bai Hao, according to Michael Harney in The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea. As someone with a severe aversion to insects, I could have continued on happily in ignorance of that fact, and I imagine that the folks at Mighty Leaf don’t go out of their way to mention it for that reason as well, knowing that many gringos would recoil at the news.
The scent of the dried tea—which appears to be more black than green on the oxidation continuum—is fantastically enticing. It’s another case (like the Republic of Tea Milk Oolong), where I can pop the top off and take a deep sniff and be immediately elevated. Seriously, it’s that appealing!
The problem with such richly scented teas is that they seldom deliver the same level of experience when it comes time to imbibe. This is a good tea though, better than I was expecting. As usual with flavoring-added teas, the second infusion was more about the base tea than the extras. But the base tea is pretty good, so I’ll be doing a third infusion in a bit.
I have been gravitating toward pure teas, but I have to admit that this is pretty nice for a flavored tea! This blend contains vanilla, caramel, and lavender, in addition to jasmine and green tea. So a lot going on. To me it smells rather like chocolate! The flavor seems quite familiar, but I would not identify as vanilla, caramel, lavender, jasmine, or green tea! I’m not really sure what it tastes like.
Aha! I just read on the can that Bleu Peacock is supposed to be reminiscent of chocolate. Mission accomplished!
I could not resist brewing up a small tetsubin of Mao Feng just to confirm my impression that Green Terrace Teas Bi Luo Chun is very similar to Mao Feng.
And it is! What is somewhat amusing is that the dried leaf form of this particular Mao Feng from Tealux looks closer to the fluffy, ashen versions of Bi Luo Chun! The leaves exhibit a range of coloring, from dark to light, and also seem fluffier than some of the other Mao Fengs.
Continuing to expand my concept of Bi Luo Chun, I decided to take up a completely different version this one from Taiwan, courtesy of Green Terrace Teas.
What a surprise. First off, the dried leaves look exactly like a number of Mao Fengs: dark matte green, crispy, spindly, and relatively long. This is Bi Luo Chun? Who knew?
The brew, too, reminds me of Mao Feng! Maybe I should not be that surprised, since all tea is, at bottom, camellia sinensis. I have already experienced two completely opposite forms of Bi Luo Chun: one is a compact, tightly rolled up little snail shell which unfurls upon infusion; the second is fluffy, almost weightless, very voluminous and has light colored, almost ashen tips.
This is a third version altogether. I noticed that the infused leaves are quite a bit darker than typical infused Mao Feng leaves, so this is definitely identical with that tea, but the similarities are patent. The flavor is definitely more robust and vegetal than the other Bi Luo Chuns I’ve tried, but I happen to like Mao Feng, so I am happy with this tea!
It’s funny because it seems that so much effort is put into complicated chamomile blends, when straight-up fresh loose leaf is really the best! I don’t think that I’ll ever tire of this golden infusion. And now it is time to retire…
I bought a couple of the cute sherapop-sized yixing clay pots from Enjoying Tea. I have not quite graduated to the “brew a gulp” or “brew a sip” culture, so 11 ounces is definitely okay with me!
Along with the pots, the company included an array of samples, including this Anxi Benshan Oolong, in adorable little tins which look to hold about an ounce. Very generous provision of tea to those who purchase the already wildly inexpensive pots.
So the tea. It’s toasty, definitely more oxidized than the green spectrum oolongs I’ve been trying of late. This variety is also less creamy and sweet than milk oolong and its close neighbors. The flavor is much closer to that of my old concept of oolong, derived from middling filter bags years ago. However, I feel that the quality is better. It seems like that same mid-range level of oxidation, but perhaps because it involves leaves rather than dust it tastes much better and does not seem to be making me feel queasy. I wonder whether my body just dislikes half measures. I say this because I also dislike light-roasted coffee, which sometimes induces a gag reflex in me.
Back to tea. My preference appears to be with the greener oolongs, although I did enjoy a near-black oolong the other day, and I recently learned that darjeeling, which I like a lot, is really oolong disguised as black tea! (Thanks to boychik for confirming what I suspected all along: that darjeeling was only posing as a black tea…)
I have already consumed the second infusion of this Anxi Benshan Oolong, which was about the same as the first. I think that this tea is perfectly fine, not compelling enough for me to seek out a larger supply, but I’ll certainly empty this tin.
third infusion: this ended up being the best of them all. The liquor was fairly bright gold but still with a tiny tinge of green.
It makes me somewhat sad that in Starbucks stores they now refer to Passion as a Teavana tea: Passion Tango. NOT!!!!! When probed, the barista will insist that the recipe has been modified somewhat, but I don’t believe it. In protest, I have ceased logging my in-store iced Passion experiences.
This batch I prepared at home, using six filter bags, as a part of my campaign to use up all filter bags before the end of the summer. They make a good iced tea, no doubt! I’ve prepared mainly cold brew pitchers of late, but since I had boiled too much water for one of my pots of tea, I decided to use the extra hot water to infuse these bags double strength. Once it had cooled, I refrigerated the strong liquor to pour over ice. It’s a good way to make iced tea, I find, since the best concentration is achieved as the ice melts—which it always does in this heat.