974 Tasting Notes
My very first Guayusa experience, this one from Runa, Ginger Citrus, tastes very gingery, with the solid bite I favor in ginger infusions. What’s new to me is the slippery texture (or is that slimy?) of the guayusa itself, which reminds me of the texture of licorice root infusions. The difference is that this was not very sweet at all—despite the text claiming a “naturally sweet taste”. Of course, it’s all relative. Next to licorice root, this is definitely not sweet. Next to bitter maté, well, okay, yes, I guess that it could be considered sweet.
The orange flavor here is far more subtle than the ginger, and overall this was a pleasant caffeinated non-tea experience, though I still have no idea what guayusa itself tastes like. The blend is definitely better than most of the maté blends I’ve tried, so I’ll be checking out the other flavors from this line…
I’m always on the look out for loose tea at Whole Foods and other grocery stores, but I’m finding that the pickings are generally pretty slim. The sachet format seems now to be regarded by “normal” consumers as the best thing since sliced bread. We tea-aholics know, of course, that a can of loose leaf is worth about 100 sachets—and usually tastes better, too!!!!
My latest discovery has been these inexpensive loose leaf organic and fair trade teas from a Canadian company previously unknown to me: Nourishtea. I picked up a couple of the cans at one of the local grocers and was somewhat shocked at the low price (~$6.00 for ~ 100 grams? What???) When I read the text on the cans, I was even more surprised to find that the teas used are single origin. The Emerald Path features China Mao Jian from Zhejiang, and the crispy, wiry leaves reminded me of some Mao Fengs I’ve tried.
The brewed tea is pretty good. However, the water I used was a bit hot (my thermometer is still MIA from the move, and I did not realize until I put the glass to my lips that the water was hotter than I usually use for green tea), so I’m going to try again with a cooler temperature. So far I’m optimistic!
second infusion: the high quality of this tea was confirmed in the second infusion, during which the leaves nearly doubled in volume. They look fresh and green and the leaves are quite large once unfurled from the compact wiry dried form. I do recommend this tea. The liquor is darker golden, but the taste is smooth and delectable. No bitterness, no roughness. A very good single origin China tea: Green Mao Jian from Zhejiang—amazingly available at my local grocery store!
This decaffeinated Earl Grey by Numi is surprisingly good. It’s organic and fair trade, but also decaffeinated and yet quite flavorful and substantial. The base black tea tastes better than most, and the bergamot scent and flavor are fairly strong but still allow the tea to shine through.
My previous experience with Numi has been with mainly herbal varieties, some of which I liked but others not so much. This excellent black tea makes me want to explore more of the nonherbal varieties, so I’ve now ordered some boxes of their sample pack, which contains 18 different teas… Including more Decaf Earl Grey—-hurray!
I was chuckling on reading the text on the box, where the people at Numi are bragging about not using plastic “silky” sachets! It’s so funny how one company’s virtue is another’s vice…
Harney & Sons Valentine’s Blend really is a light tea. Is it a Ceylon base, I wonder? I might try to brew this double strength, but it seems that this light effect was intended by the blenders. I should try this sometime at night and see whether I stay up or not. It seems quite a bit less strong than Vanilla Comoro, though that is a decaffeinated black blend. Hmmm….
The rose petals are yellow, and I do not taste any rose flavor in the brewed tea. The dried leaves smell splendid but, again, it’s the scent of chocolate, not flowers.
I was looking forward to my first pot of Shan Valley Green after my positive experience with their First Flush Green. The leaves of Green are similarly dark and petrified, but they are somewhat larger and thicker than the First Flush. I also noticed that the dried leaves smell much less smoky. The color of the thick, crisp, compact, gnarled knots is the same slate grey/blue veering teal as in the First Flush. Very nice.
Interestingly enough, however, the brewed liquor is very similar in taste to my memory (from yesterday!) of the First Flush tea. The color is basically the same—perhaps a tad bit darker but still gold veering brown with small amounts of white particulate matter floating about. The same vegetal quality is dominant and, again, the leaves do not fully unfurl during the first infusion.
I don’t really know what to say about the drastically low ratings which this tea has received from a couple of reviewers. True, this is not a Japanese green, but on the other hand nor is it a grocery store lint-filled filterbag green. This is a single origin, high-quality full-leaf “terroir” tea, if you will, with a distinct personality and appeal. I like it!
Looking forward to the second infusion… especially since with the First Flush, the flavor becomes richer and smoother in subsequent infusions.
I drank a cup of Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro last night and was pleased yet again to find that a decaffeinated black could be so satisfying and flavorful. This was better than the Mighty Leaf Vanilla Bean, which I tried for the first time yesterday (and which is not decaffeinated).
I’m still working my way through the Mighty Leaf cotton-stitched sachets which I acquired on sale recently at the grocery store. It took me a while to get to Vanilla Bean, because I did not have any half and half on hand, and I usually drink flavored black teas with cream.
I have to say that I was not impressed with this tea. The black base was not very good—apparently it’s a blend of China and Ceylon. The liquor was dark amber, but the tea is only lightly flavored, so the base tea is more important than the vanilla bean.
I picked up a couple of jars of Paromi tea at Whole Foods. The matte-surfaced steel-gray-colored jars sure are sleek, but is that the explanation for the elevated price of these teas? I don’t usually complain about price, but $10 for 15 sachets seems a bit steep to me—especially if what I’m really paying for is the shipping cost of a heavy glass jar.
Fortunately, Coconut Almond also tastes very good. Of course, I love both coconut and almond, so I was off to a good start already, but the dark amber liquor (Assam is apparently the base tea) tastes better than just the usual hum-drum mediocre black dressed up in fancy flavors. This is a high-quality flavored tea featuring both natural essences and a worthy black tea base. Unfortunately, it does not seem possible to buy envelopes to refill this attractive jar….
Note to Paromi people: how about letting us but large envelopes so that we can refill these jars? That would definitely increase the probably of my purchasing this tea again.
I brewed up a big tetsubin of Shan Valley First Flush Green today, and once again I am pleased with the quality. The liquor is light gold veering peach, and there is no denying the dark vegetal flavor. In fact, this tea bears some similarities to Tealux Cloud’s Green, which I drank only yesterday. One of these days I’ll have to draw up a flavor map of green teas—there are so many different varieties with so many entirely distinct personalities!
I would have to say that this is a more serious green tea. Not for those who prefer adulterants along with their greens. This is a tea for green tea drinkers, definitely not for the Teavana crowd. For purists only.
Tomorrow I’m going to have to try some more of the offerings from Shan Valley. I meant to do that the last time I brewed this tea, but I got distracted and then pretty much lost track of where everything was. I now know where my big Shan Valley envelope is, happily…
One final point on the appearance of this unique tea: the leaves are a dark bluish-green. It’s midway between teal and the blue analogue to teal (not sure what that name is). Very attractive. I’m looking forward to the second infusion, as this tea does not fully unfurl in the first infusion. A lot more flavor lies ahead!
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