1513 Tasting Notes
Another green tea in a muslin sack from Palais des Thés, this one contains Long Jing. The contents are quite broken up, which is a bit surprising. I’d have expected the opposite, given the porosity of these little cotton knapsacks.
The liquor looks like Long Jing: faint peachy green, and the taste is okay. It’s definitely not as smooth, and there is a touch of bitterness, though I followed my usual guidelines for this type of tea. Once again I find myself in the position of saying that this is better than average for a bagged green, but not such a good example of the named tea in question.
(Blazing New Rating #51)
I tried the Adagio Long Jing a while back in the sachet format, but never brewed loose, so this is a new experience for me (and not a disqualification from the Brave New Rating challenge!).
The leaves are smaller with quite a few broken pieces. They are both shorter and narrower in width. The aroma of the dried tea is relatively strong and darker than for some of the other Long Jings I’ve tested of late.
The liquor is very pale, and because the flavor is also a bit flat, I am wondering whether I may have underleafed? I used 4 grams in 17 ounces of water at 76C for about two minutes. Perhaps I should have used 5 or 6 grams instead, but 4 grams is what I have been using with this size tetsubin with good results for other Long Jings. It will be interesting to see how the second infusion turns out. Perhaps I’ll use less water for that one.
(Blazing New Rating #50)
I just learned from my envelope of Tazo Long Jing that a light tea oil is used in the wok for producing this type of pan-fired tea. So it’s fried, not just fired! Learn something new every day. Well, I picked up a bottle of green tea oil with the rest of my Tazo Collection order, so it will be interesting to discover what other applications it might have in cooking. I have not opened the bottle yet.
This tea from the soon-to-be-defunct Collection series chez the soon-to-be-defunct Tazo company—or rather soon-to-be-evolved-into-Teavana company, tastes good. It’s a solid Long JIng—no question there. The leaves are on the large side, rather broad and long and extremely thin. They are lighter green color (not sure that I’d call it “jade”) and very fragrant, with a cereal-like aroma.
The liquor is pale peachy-green and tastes like an above average Long Jing to me. I’ll be drinking this supply and will probably try at some point to compare it to the current Teavana Long Jing just to see whether it is the very same tea.
No point in recommending this tea, since it will be unavailable in the not-too-distant future, but I am enjoying mine now! (Howard, Howard, Howard… )
(Blazing New Rating #49)
I usually approach straight-up herbal blends with fairly low expectations. In the case of Cranberry Acai from Zen Tea, I was very pleasantly surprised. Before brewing up this fragrant mix, I saw that two of the usual suspects in herbal infusions were conspicuously absent: hibiscus and rose hips! So often one or both of those two ingredients end up wiping out the flavor of everything else.
I cannot say that Cranberry Acai tastes very much like either cranberry or acai to me, but the overall combination is quite likeable, albeit somewhat indescribable. I appear to like the taste of nettle leaves! Honestly, this was one of the few complicated herbal infusions which I truly enjoyed imbibing and did not feel was some sort of health ritual to which I was subjecting myself. This combination is also very original. Along with the absence of hibiscus and rose hips is the glaring omission of mint. Yet the flavor is robust thanks to the nettle and verbena.
I like Cranberry Acai a lot and would consider buying it again once my small envelope has been depleted. I should make clear that this is not a sweet infusion at all, and to me it is not really very fruity either. But I like it anyway!
(Blazing New Rating #48)
It’s probably not fair to imbibe Palais des Thés Sencha Ariake so soon after having enjoyed ichiban sencha and gyokuro, but it was the luck of the brew.
Sencha Ariake brews up quite a bit more yellow than I was expecting. The temperature was lower than their prescribed 75C, and I kept the brewing time short. Still, the liquor ended up looking more like the color (bright yellow veering gold, not green) I expect to see in a second infusion of many green teas…
The taste is good but less smooth and closer to a bagged green than a true sencha. I am using the muslin cotton sachets, which have the same sort of cotton stitching as the Mighty Leaf Sachets and have the same droopy look. The size is similar to that of the Kusmi muslin sachets.
I don’t know, but the dried tea seemed heartier than I am accustomed to seeing for sencha. It might be that they need to use something a bit more rough-hewn so that the particles will not all rush through the large pores of these cotton sacks.
This tea is pretty good for a bagged green tea, not so great for a sencha. Will not restock once this small supply (from two large sample set boxes) has been depleted.
(Blazing New Rating #47)
I decided to compare the Tazo Collection Gyokuro to the Superior Sencha this afternoon because I was struck by the similarity in price between the two. Usually gyokuro is much more expensive than sencha, even ichiban sencha, so it seemed like a good opportunity to test out my hypothesis that haute sencha eventually converges with gyokuro.
What I found, to my surprise, was that I actually preferred the ichiban sencha to this gyokuro. This is good, no doubt, but for some reason the sencha tasted more delectable to me today. It was slightly salty, but it is also possible that I was craving more of a sencha taste, and this gyokuro has a subtler, less vegetal flavor as well. It also seemed slightly thinner and less full than the sencha.
The liquor was very pale greenish yellow, and there was less particulate matter and cloudiness in this brew than in my side-by-side preparation of Superior Sencha. I was fairly painstaking about keeping the parameters the same, but it is possible that I steeped the gyokuro for slightly less time than the sencha. Anyway, I’m still happy to have a large bag of this gyokuro from the Tazo Collection sale still in progress chez Starbucks.
From a business standpoint, it was probably a mistake for Starbucks to make tea-lovers go to the Starbucks website to buy their loose-leaf tea. They should have kept the tea-selling business of Tazo at the Tazo website. Let’s face it: the people who frequent the Starbucks website are much more likely to be hardcore coffee drinkers, and people who are focusing on tea will go first to a tea-only site such as Teavana before attempting a lengthy and often fruitless search through the difficult-to-navigate Starbucks.com website in search of good tea. Some of it is still there to be found, but it will not be there for much longer, it seems.
(Blazing New Rating #46)
Starbucks appears to be phasing out Tazo, to my disappointment, in favor of its Teavana acquisition. That explains why the remaining Tazo looseleaf, whole leaf teas from the Collection series have been slashed to a fraction of their original price. I decided to pick up a few to see how they measure up. I have been very happy with other members of the Collection series, above all, Golden Monkey, so I was curious to know how they were at “curating” Japanese and some of the more sophisticated China greens. First up: Tazo Sencha Superior.
I am fairly sure that I have imbibed this delightful tea before. It meets the strict qualifications for “ichiban” and “superior” sencha, and I have consumed a few of examples of that grade in the not-too-distant past. The characteristic shimmering viridescence of the liquor, a slight cloudiness and some small particulate matter in the bottom of the glass, along with the strong roasted spinach scent in the very dark green dried leaves all led me to predict that i would enjoy this brew. And I do! It’s very good.
it is entirely possible that Tazo and some of the other tea emporia buy their Japanese first-flush sencha from the same producers. That would explain why this seems so familiar to me. Brands are not tea producers, so happily I’ll be able to enjoy this tea in the future by looking out for other ichiban senchas…
(Blazing New Rating #45)
I picked up a box of the white enveloped filter bags of Tazo Apricot Vanilla Creme a while back. Today is the day to find out how they taste!
The dried filter bag smelled scarily like blue cheese, so I got off to a bad start, fairly pessimistic about what the brew would be like. Fortunately, it tasted fine. The liquor was a bit cloudy, and yellower than the loose leaf organic version of this tea from Tazo, but the taste was similar, if a bit less clear and distinct.
it tastes okay for a quick fruity filter bag tea. Nothing to cry about when this one is discontinued.
(Blazing New Rating #44)
When you really think about it, white tea could be just about anything, produced just about anywhere. The only processing is letting the leaves dry—which is common to all other forms of tea. This raises the interesting question why white tea is sometimes depicted as more noble and sophisticated than other varieties of tea. You have to do less not more work to produce white tea, so how can it be more expensive to produce? That’s a puzzle. I look forward to your insights on this matter, my fellow Steepsters!
This flavored organic white tea, Organic Vanilla Apricot Crème from Tazo, has a slightly sweet and fruity scent and flavor. I’m okay with “apricot”, if that’s what they want to call it. The base tea is the uglier variety of white tea, not the beautiful furry silver tips. This sort of white tea always looks very random to me and makes me skeptical about descriptions such as “new white tea buds”. I mean let’s be serious: this looks like old, frazzled dead leaves, along with broken twigs, such as the ones we step on during the fall season.
The flavor is smooth and likable. When it comes to this particular genre of white tea, I say: bring the flavors on!
(Blazing New Rating #43)
White teas seem to vary a lot in quality. Some of them are n’importe quoi harvested from n’importe où. That’s clearly the case for my dr. tea’s Snow Buds, which look nothing like the beautiful fuzzy and delicate tips in the illustration!
Instead, the leaves are of all shapes and sizes, mainly brown and brittle, and there are a fair amount of twigs thrown in as well. This tea looks like the same one used in a variety of “white tea” flavored blends, so I am assuming that it is quite inexpensive. It tastes okay. The liquor is predictably brownish (given the color of the dried leaves), and it tastes like the base of an average white tea blend.
I found this tea at Amazon for a pittance, and though it has not expired quite yet, my factfinding mission about dr. tea’s led to a dead end. Apparently the company is now defunct.
(Blazing New Rating #42)