869 Tasting Notes
Paradoxically, although Choice Premium Japan Green tea tastes marginally better than Touch Organic Green, I have concluded that in an all-things-considered analysis, Touch wins the steep-off.
In truth, I do not recommend either of these teas, since there are much better options for filter bag sencha. Both Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha and Stash Premium Green are better and cost less than the Choice. The Touch costs one-third what the Choice costs, but the Choice is not three times better, hence the in some ways bizarre result of this afternoon’s steep-off!
In this afternoon’s steep-off chez sherapop, two organic filter bag green teas wrapped in open-air paper envelopes are going sniff to sniff and sip to sip against one another. The first up is Touch Organic Green Tea. Vying to rule the category “organic filter bag green tea wrapped in open-air paper envelope” is Choice Premium Japanese Green (also organic). The Touch hails from China, but is a similar style of tea.
My first observation is that the Touch Organic Green is more golden and less cloudy than the Choice. This led me immediately to predict that the Choice would be more flavorful, being both more cloudy and more green. This is true. The Choice also tastes and smells more like sencha than does the Touch Organic Green.
Neither of these teas claims on the packaging to be sencha, so I don’t want to go overboard here. I hasten to add, however, that calling a tea “Premium Japanese Green” naturally suggests as much, since most of the tea produced and consumed in japan is indeed sencha.
I now suspect that the Touch may be a Chinese bancha or a blend of Chinese bancha and Chinese sencha. It’s also possible that the Choice is a blend of Japanese sencha and bancha. Why else would they not take credit for being pure sencha, if that is what it is?
In any case, I find the flavor of the Choice to be richer than the Touch. The Touch is still highly potable and the price is ridiculously low for a decent organic green tea. Is it worth it to pay the same price for only one-third the number of bags in order to taste the marginally better Choice, which however costs more per bag than Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha and yet is not nearly so good?
In this sort of cost-benefit analysis—which I generally eschew, but seeing as today’s steep-off is between grocery store teas, it seems not inappropriate—I end up coming to the conclusion that, despite its slightly inferior taste, Touch is a much better deal, all things considered, than the Choice! If I’m going to pay the price for Choice filter bags, why not just go Harney instead?
This Bancha Shizuoka was another recent discovery for me thanks to Thé Santé. It definitely has that characteristic (and indescribable!) scent and flavor of bancha. I wish that I could explain what it smells like. It has the appeal of sniffing glue somehow…
Anyway, the strongly scented dark green sheaths produce a pale yellow liquor bursting with bancha flavor. Yum. I consumed many pounds of bancha in the past, and at one point it became my ichiban Japanese green! Now I’ve been exploring gyokuro and haute sencha, but this Bancha Shizuoka has a welcome place in my cupboard. A very flavorful green tea.
second infusion: delicious!
third infusion: equally delicious!
I’ve been craving bancha, so I brewed up a glass of Harney & Sons Pan Asia as my first tea of the day (TOD). This simple blend features Chinese bancha decorated and scented with chrysanthemum flowers. The flower buds are so beautiful in the sachets, and the dark green bancha leaves are long and flat and wide—just as bancha should be!
I really like this floral green, even though I usually drink my green teas unadulterated. Pan Asia offers nice change of pace with the slightest hint of florality atop the quite decent bancha shining through below.
second infusion: I ended up drinking a second cup of Pan Asia today, so I reserved both spent sachets for some post-dinner, decaffeinated Pan Asia. The sachets are very generously stoked with leaves, so I’m glad that I reinfused them because the resultant liquor was very good!
third infusion: this was weaker but still potable
I’ve been obsessed with Harney & Sons Chamomile of late, so I have not brewed up any Celestial Seasonings Chamomile in quite some time. Once again, it seems better than expected. They appear to use both Egyptian and Mexican chamomile flowers in this simple filter bag. The result is yellow and soothing. Clearly this is a competent chamomile!
This marks the end of tonight’s Celestial Seasonings binge. Bonne nuit!
Tonight’s glass of Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile tasted and smelled a bit off. I cannot figure out what the problem was. Perhaps the chicory was too strong in this particular filter bag? I don’t know, but I am definitely sure now that I prefer Sleepytime Vanilla. Yesterday, I thought that the chamomile was dominant, but this brew smells and tastes rather woody, strangely enough. I cannot really figure out what else may be the culprit. Lemongrass? No. Licorice? No. I’m guessing that it’s the chicory.
Feeling nostalgic about Boulder, I decided to binge on Celestial Seasonings tonight. First up was Sleepytime Vanilla. Judging by the number of bags left in my various CS boxes, this must be my favorite! The vanilla is really smooth and somehow the infusion has body and substance even while containing no camellia sinensis.
Flavors: Flowers, Vanilla
I owe Teavana Cococaramel Sea Salt an apology, it seems. This time I brewed the blend super strong and added light cream. This time, I recognize its appeal. I really did not like it at all au naturel, but tonight it is a pleasant experience. I still dislike the oil slick on top of the surface of the infusion, but with cream at least the liquor is caramel colored and so moves in the right direction. I was considering adding sugar as well, but I think that with the high sea salt content, it might just become a mess.
I won’t buy this blend again now that my 1 ounce envelope is depleted, but it was a worthwhile experience, in the end.
I do believe that Harney & Sons Vanilla Comoro may be the perfect post-dinner dessert tea! No worries about caffeine but the creamy wonderfulness of a flavored black tea. I brewed this sachet in an 8 ounce cup rather than a 10 ounce glass. It’s just the right strength. This is a rare case of a decaffeination success story, where it is impossible to taste that the black tea base has been tamed!
This seems to be the place where most people have entered tasting notes for The Tea Centre of Stockholm’s Söderblandning. There are at least two other places at Steepster, one of which includes the umlaut in the name (would it be obnoxious for me to add one to this entry? would it make the tea impossible for others to find using the Steepster search function?), but which is devoid of any reviews, and another which qualifies Söderblandning as Söderblandning Black. Well, my can, discovered in the process of excavating my humble residence of ten years, as I attempt to prepare for The Historic Move, definitely contains a blend of black teas—both China and Ceylon—scented with dried flower petals and fruits.
I cannot actually figure out what the fruits here are. They are supposed to be “tropical”, but I’m not sure whether mango and papaya are implicated or not. It’s possible that they change the recipe from year to year, as The Centre of Stockholm seems a bit evasive as to the ingredients. The fruit flavor is definitely detectable, but it’s that same somewhat vague “fruitiness” which often characterizes fruity black blends—at least to my palate. During my www fact-finding mission, I was happy to learn that this emporium uses only natural flavors, so that’s good news. No scary lab experiments here!
On a further positive note, the black tea base (both China and Ceylon) is quite good as the amber-colored liquor does taste nice with nothing added to it. I’ll definitely be trying this fruity blend many more times in the future, as I have now cracked upon a brand new, formerly sealed can brim with 125 grams—less about 3 from this pot! I suspect that Söderblandning will make an excellent iced tea. We shall see, since summer is just around the bend…