1170 Tasting Notes
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…
It has been five months since I last drank a glass of Tazo Calm prepared from the filter bags with white envelopes. I gave this blend a pretty low rating the last couple of times, so this time I tried to improve the experience by reducing the water so that the liquor would be stronger.
I remain underwhelmed. The chamomile and rose are too light and the sarsaparilla too strong. I must reiterate that this is a very different blend from the full-leaf sachet!
As I make my way through a few more filter bags, I’m still mulling over whether to acquire some looseleaf Numi Chamomile Lemon. That might sound like a ridiculous debate topic but in truth it’s not a completely trivial matter, as Numi offers loose leaf only in 1 lb bags so one must be pretty willing to commit to lots of pots ahead.
I like the chamomile-lemon myrtle combination. Would I like it better than looseleaf chamomile alone? That is the question…
I tried the Mighty Leaf Chamomile Citrus sachet again tonight. Still a bit heavy on the lemongrass for my tastes. I only counted about two partial chamomile buds among the orchard of lemongrass. I still want to compare this side by side with Tea Forté’s Chamomile Citron.
This batch did not really remind me of the Tazo Calm sachet, despite the overlap of many of the ingredients. The Tazo definitely has a lot more chamomile, among other differences.
I was feeling a bit groggy but did not want to brew any more java for the day, so the natural choice for a mid-afternoon tea became … drum roll … the tea blend expressly created for coffee drinkers: JavaVana Maté.
I must concur that there is truly something java-esque about this dark amber brew. I have compared it to Tazo Pogo, and now I’m going to have to do a side-by-side steep off with Numi Chocolate Pu-erh to see which I prefer. Pu-erh is not roasted maté, of course, but it does have a similar intensity. We shall see…
I’ve been debating which of the many wonderful choices to order from Teavivre, and it occurred to me that I still have not developed a full concept of Liu An Gua Pian. Time to rectify that situation posthaste!
I brewed up a big tetsubin, using the full sample (I believe 7 grams), and the first excitement is just the sight of the gorgeous dark shale green leaves. They are long and log-like—except that they are twisted beautifully. Then, upon infusion, they unfold like papyrus scrolls to reveal the wisdom hidden within. The infused whole leaves—and they are big!—are a bright, vibrant green—a sure sign that this tea is fresh and something of a wonder, given how dark and hard the dried leaves are!
The flavor is more robust but in a unique way. It does not really taste like cooked vegetables and nothing at all like sencha. To me the taste is indescribable, as it does not seem particularly spicy. The liquor brews up yellow tinged very palely green, and the glass becomes more golden after a couple of minutes.
Given how unique and delicious this tea is (now that I’ve given it a full brew and tasting), I’ll be adding Liu An Gua Pian to my upcoming order chez Teavivre. Thanks so much for the generous samples, Angel! I very much appreciate your help as I continue my journey through the vast and fascinating world of China green teas. ;-)
second infusion: this was really delicious
third infusion: I recently discovered that third infusions of high-quality loose leaf green teas make excellent iced tea—and I can even drink it late at night! I’ll no doubt be quaffing large volumes in the months to come as I lie sweating before a fan…
It’s funny how names can color receptions of a tea. I was expecting this herbal blend from Mighty Tea, Ginger Twist, to be quite piquant. Instead, it seemed very fresh and clean tasting, but not especially spicy. My mouth felt almost as though I had used some sort of pleasant-flavored antiseptic mouthwash!
The mint was very obvious, as was the lemongrass, which makes sense since there is lots of both clearly visible in the sachet. The chunks of stuff appear to be both ginger and fruit pieces, but the overall effect is pretty close to the description on the box:
Lemongrass, tropical fruits and mint fueled with a touch of ginger
How true! Well, except that I would mention the mint second, since it is more dominant to my palate than are the tropical fruits…
Overall, I am pleased with this tisane. I consumed a second glass and found it to be more spicy, though I believe that I steeped it for about the same amount of time. The licorice is very subtle, imparting only a smidgeon of sweetness, so this blend is very different from Harney & Sons Licorice Ginger, Tazo Settle, and other infusions with big hits of both ginger and licorice.
Fortunately, despite its dominance, the lemongrass does not seem too rough hewn or ragged in Ginger Twist. Sometimes I find that lemongrass can overwhelm, but in Ginger Twist it seems pretty smooth. Given how harsh lemongrass can be, I imagine that the fact that it figures as the very first (predominant) ingredient may dissuade some consumers from even trying this blend.
A medium-sized (two glass) tetsubin of Teavivre Bi Luo Chun was my first tea of the day, to accompany my first meal of the day (MOD): toasted banana bread slathered with butter. I don’t eat breakfast, chronologically speaking, because I nearly never consume any food before noon, but this sounded good, so I ate it at 1pm.
The Bi Luo Chun was a perfect choice: smooth, subtle, light. Just right. This green tea is so tender that it could almost be white!
The fennel is low-key enough in Pukka Relax not to ruin the blend, as it often does, in my experience. Here the flavor of the fennel is undeniable (both sweet and wild fennel seed are listed among the ingredients), but the licorice root makes the elixir a bit viscous and sweet, and the chamomile is also in high enough proportion (18%) to mitigate the “fennel effect”, for lack of a better phrase!
It’s not that I dislike fennel, but it is so strong that it tends to hog the stage! I recently tried the Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Italian Chamomile, for example, where the fennel acts a bit like a rowdy drunk at an otherwise peaceful and civilized party. Fortunately the chamomile in Relax is of high enough quality and also in high enough proportion to be able to serve as a sort of chaperone to the rambunctious fennel.
An induction based on two cases: Pukka appears to be better at herbal blends than at black teas—at least in the filter bag format (which they misleading term on the box “sachets”). I still find this characterization somewhat problematic and misleading. These are filter bags, not pyramidal (or otherwise) sachets. It would be one thing if the company were based in France, where ‘sachet’ often means ‘filter bag’. But Pukka is in the UK, so they ought to have someone on the staff who is fluent in English and is aware that the term ‘sachet’ now means—at least in the English-speaking world—a different format, usually containing larger leaves and offering close to a loose-leaf brewing experience.
These are filter bags. The ingredients are good, so the tea brews up pretty tastily, but let’s call a filter bag what it is: a filter bag! Fortunately, there is no claim anywhere on these boxes or envelopes of herbal infusions (as on the black teas which I reviewed a while back) that the contents of the “sachet” are whole leaves. Just the facts, ma’am: Pukka puts fannings in filter bags and houses them in beautiful packaging, oversized but nicely designed and colorful boxes which could really accommodate 30 rather than 20 bags. The larger box suggests that the contents will indeed be whole-leaf sachets, not filter bags. Earth to Pukka: Fannings are not whole leaves, and filter bags are not sachets.
Okay, I think that I’ve made my point. This tisane is pretty good, if you are looking for a licorice-laced fennel and chamomile blend in a filter bag. The infusion tastes fairly fresh to me. One reviewer seems to think that marshmallow root smacks of Stevia, but to me, the sweetness of Relax appears to derive primarily from the licorice root.
I was not at all impressed with the Pukka black teas I tried a while back, but this chamomile blend, Love, is rather tasty. I actually picked up a box at the grocery store because it seemed to be a rose petal tea. The company’s description on the front of the box is:
organic rose, chamomile & lavender flower tea
That ingredients “summary” suggested to me that rose would be the dominant flavor, which is not true at all. In fact, rose is one of the last ingredients listed in the full line-up, which also boasts limeflower, elderflower, marigold petal, and licorice root, all in higher concentration than the rose (5%).
Nonetheless, the chamomile (25%) is very nice, so I’d recommend this blend as a chamomile, not a rose infusion. It really tastes nothing like Tazo Rest or Numi White Rose, both of which showcase the rose above all.
The liquor brews up initially the beautiful bright yellow of fresh chamomile buds, and then it becomes more golden. The licorice makes the blend slightly sweet, and the lavender also is detectable, though this is very far from Yellow & Blue or any other chamomile-lavender blend I’ve tried.