1169 Tasting Notes
I decided to close the Starbucks circle tonight by imbibing Tazo Rest as my bedtime brew. I’m still a bit disturbed by the imminent demise of this company (Tazo). I recall how happy I was to discover them some years back, as I recognized that they produced much more vibrant and tasty brews than Stash (which was my go-to company for filter bags for a while) and Celestial Seasonings (which was a standby superseded by my discovery of Stash).
Rest deserves to live on in some incarnation or another, though it will doubtless be renamed and marketed under the Teavana name. Roses and lemon balm in a sweet blend reminiscent of perfume? I say: Yes!
My second serving of iced Tazo Refresh for 2014 this afternoon. I almost drank it hot because it was raining out, but then, in defiance of the weather gods, I stubbornly stuck to the iced tea plan.
It occurred to me while imbibing this refreshing brew that Starbucks really is achieving its goal of total global beverage hegemony. I began the day with filter dripped Starbucks coffee. Then I drank Teavana (now owned by Starbucks) Jade Dragon Mao Feng. Then I had a tall Americano with long shots at one of the stores. Then I had a refill of Tazo (also now owned by Starbucks) Refresh!
This Starbucks odyssey was in no way intended by me, but it illustrates how I’ve been sucked into the vortex!
First POD (pot of the day) was Teavana Jade Dragon Mao Feng. A quite decent China green. The liquor is very pale greenish yellow with tiny white filaments floating about. The flavor is somewhat vegetal. I still need to do a steep off between this Mao Feng and Tazo Green Tips, which is apparently also Mao Feng…
I saw Sarahbeth’s Tea at a grocery store and decided to try the Earl Grey because the other flavors did not sound very palatable to me, but I was curious about the brand.
This Ceylon Earl Grey brews up amber and tastes pretty smooth—no scratchiness or bad aftertaste as in many grocery store Earl Greys… The base tea is just as important here as the bergamot. In fact, the scent is rather light. This is not bad for a quick batch on a cooler day—provided that one enjoys Ceylon tea.
The tin contains 40 bags, but each bag contains only 1.5 not 2 grams, so some people would do better with 2 bags for one glass. I’ll try that next time. I drank mine with light cream, and the brew looked more cloudy than creamy. With half and half this would be too dilute for me.
This BA10 South African Rooibos from Upton Tea Imports is their entry-level rooibos. I’m no connoisseur of this herb, and truth be told, I rarely drink it. However, I found the remnants of a large envelope dating from years ago and thought that I’d brew it up to determine whether or not rooibos goes stale.
Guess not! This tastes as fresh as new rooibos to me! Bright red liquor—just as I remembered it—with a very light flavor of vanilla (not added, but a tasting note).
Today’s lunchtime pot was Nourishtea’s Mao Jian: The Emerald Path. Once again I was pleased with this organic single-source China green—a happy discovery at the grocery store a few weeks back.
Once again I noticed that I enjoyed the second glass more than the first, though I had of course removed the infuser basket, which strongly suggests that the flavor is affected by the temperature at which the brew is imbibed. I used slightly hotter water today, but I think that in the future I’ll go back to a lower temperature, since this tea seems best brewed à la japonaise…
I was planning to do a steep-off between Harney & Sons Mint Verbena and Mighty Leaf Mint Mélange tonight, but they ended up being so different from one another that I abandoned the trial—although I did drink both glasses!
Mint Verbena smells a bit smoky somehow. Bear in mind that I was sniffing it next to the Mighty Leaf, which is a bright and vibrant fresh-cut spearmint scent. This Harney & Sons mint tisane features peppermint, but it does not really smell or taste like peppermint, I presume because of the lemon verbena. There is no citrus flavor here, but the lemon verbena does seem to transform the qualities of the mint. At the website, only peppermint, not spearmint, is indicated for this blend. Perhaps the recipe varies a bit from batch to batch, or perhaps spearmint is added to the sachets but not the loose blend. Not sure…
The brew reminded me a bit of Numi Moroccan Mint, so perhaps I should try a steep off between those two instead!
My glass of Mighty Leaf Organic Mint Mélange tasted better tonight, perhaps because I had already come to the conclusion that it is straight-up spearmint, not a mélange of anything but spearmint leaves, and certainly not peppermint!
Tonight I appreciated the freshness of the spearmint in and of itself. It really tasted like freshly cut spearmint, so that’s a plus, if one happens to be looking for a spearmint tisane. Adding hot water to the dried leaves brought them back to life again!
I also noticed that the sachet is very generously stoked. Mighty Leaf seems to put 3 grams in most of its sachets, not the standard 2 grams.
I polished off my 25 gram envelope of Tealux Cloud’s Green today, which turned out to be a perfect post-lunch brew to follow a frittata of baby kale, swiss chard, and spinach made with parmesan and romano, some sautéed red onion and mushrooms, and served with the final hunk of a loaf of rye-whole wheat white bread slathered with butter. Yeah, that’s right: slathered.
I wanted a more robust tea, given the dark vegetables in the egg dish, and this was entirely compatible! The dried leaves look a lot like the Mao Jian from Nourishtea: wiry and crisp. I wonder whether these teas are related? Well, I’ll probably be restocking, so I should be able to do a steep off at some point in the future…