896 Tasting Notes
Caveat: this tasting note refers to the filterbag.
I usually don’t add adulterants to green tea. In fact, I never do! But I’m always willing to try a new blend, so here I am drinking Tea Forte Green Mango Peach, a box of which I threw into my shopping cart amidst other items during my first and only visit to this company’s website.
I am pleasantly surprised. The liquor is colored pure gold with a hazy shimmer. The taste is quite complex, and looking at the ingredients list, that makes sense:
green tea, peppermint leaves, honeybush, peach flavor, ginger root, and mango flavor
Apparently these are all natural and mostly organic ingredients, so that’s already reassuring. I was nearly sure that I was tasting and smelling coconut in this blend, but it is nowhere listed, so it must be an illusion caused by the mingling of the mango and the honeybush? Not sure.
What matters, in the end, is that this smells and tastes pretty good. Smooth with no bitterness, somewhat fruity, not very minty, quite likeable, and probably perfect for people who are not hard-core au naturel green tea drinkers.
I found a couple of errant bags of Stash Premium Green, permitting the propitious possibility of a steep-off with Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha (see below for the openers to this steep-off).
Now for the true test: the scent and the taste!
I find that the brewed Stash Premium Green has a stronger, richer aroma, with a slightly cerealesque facet to it, while the Harney & Sons smells lighter and more vegetal.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the taste, too, differs in that same regard. In fact, now that I sniff and sip these two green teas side by side, I am realizing that the Stash Premium Green lies just over the sencha line, veering toward the genmaicha side. I have always loved this tea, and I do affirm today that I could easily imbibe another 1000 bags!
Perhaps, though, I am comparing apples and oranges. It now seems pretty clear that Stash Premium Green is not a blend only of senchas, which the Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha certainly is.
I like them both. I really do, but the golden Stash brew strikes me as more substantial, with a more pronounced flavor and a richer texture than the brighter green Harney & Sons brew. This despite the fact that the spent Stash bag weighs about half as much as the spent Harney & Sons bag!
I guess that all of this goes to show:
on ne sait jamais!
In today’s steep-off chez sherapop, Harney & Sons Japanese sencha, in the filterbag format, is going head to head, sip to sip, sniff to sniff, with Stash Premium Green filterbag.
First observation: the brewed Harney & Sons is more green; the Stash is more golden. Both liquors are slightly cloudy. The spent Harney & Sons bag weighs considerably more than the spent Stash bag.
The color of the Harney & Sons packaging is a great black-infused muted green. I love it, and may as well add here that the folks at H&S have excellent taste—not only in tea!
Oolong? Really? Okay, it might be in here somewhere. The chunks of food in this tea blend are the largest yet—even from Teavana. Seriously, the elderberries are HUGE.
To prepare this brew, I followed my usual strategy with the “cornucopia of edibles” beverages from Teavana, pouring the entire one ounce envelope into my spice grinder and pulverizing it all to powder before infusion in a large glass Bodum French press cylinder.
Elderberries were the largest presence, both visually and in taste. Now I am wondering about the wisdom of using whole elderberries. Does anyone else grind their chunks of Teavana food before infusing? Otherwise it seems to me that most of the flavor would be trapped inside, with only the surface area making contact with the water.
The result of my preparation was not very good without sugar. In fact, without sugar I found it somewhat distasteful. So I added a huge dose of sugar, and then it seemed more like a strong elderberry juice, or perhaps closest of all to Sambucol elderberry syrup. Hopefully this brew will also be good for my immune system…
To me, this beverage bears no resemblance whatsoever to tea—whether oolong or any other sort. It’s potable, but I will not purchase it again.
I have finally figured out how to brew this tea! Correct temperature = 75F; steep time = 2 minutes. But the most important part of all is to use the correct filter, which I have determined through trial and error is a metal mesh cone coffee filter basket. I don’t like the result when I use that sort of filter to prepare coffee—it leaves too much silt behind, creating more of a Turkish style brew. However, the mesh size turns out to be perfect for removing the broken particles from brewed sencha, of which there are many in this two leaves and a bud sencha.
Using a more effective filter device to catch all of the smaller pieces of tea produces a much better first infusion! I always liked the subsequent infusions, but before I was finding the first one too bitter. Not anymore!
I really enjoyed this brew tonight. I have been neglecting these nice soliflore sachets, but I now have the beautiful Palace Gardens tin, which makes the experience all the better. There is something very appealing about the flavor of this simple infusion, but it’s one of those cases where talking about it in terms of other flavors of other things doesn’t make much sense to me.
Chamomile is chamomile!
This tea from Tealux, Tenkaichi Sencha Supreme, has very dark broken leaves. After my recent experience with broken sencha, I decided to switch to a finer-gauged sieve from now on, whenever it is obvious that green particles will make it through my regular, larger-pore strainers. So that’s what I did, and the result was excellent!
The liquor was still cloudy but the particles were very small, white and filament like. The flavor of this tea, which is apparently organic, although my package does not make that claim (I am wondering whether “supreme” is supposed to be synonymous with “organic”?), is very fine indeed, with a lot of body. The richness of the brew is due in part to the roasting process, it seems. I always love the roasted spinach note in darker senchas, and here it is in full evidence. Yum!
second infusion: just as good as the first. Same intense yellow-green hue; same small white filaments clouding the view.
third infusion: still bright and beautiful but less cloudy and more of an average sencha taste.
fourth infusion: no cloudiness left, just bright yellow; taste is faint but pleasant
“Shimmering viridescent jade”—indeed. This Kakegawa sencha from Tealux was quite broken up, so the brew ended up very cloudy with tons of particulate material in the bottom of the glass. As a result, the first infusion really had an astringent edge to it. A bit bitter, too. I had a similar experience with two leaves and a bud, so I’m expecting the second infusion to be smoother.
I have to say that the appearance—with little green dots floating about the “shimmering viridescence” cloud—is truly beautiful!
second infusion: lots of shimmering viridescence and flavor; still some green particles floating in the glass
third infusion: the dark green particles are gone; only light filaments remain; the taste is now smoother