1015 Tasting Notes
(Backlog!) I generally try to write tasting notes in real time, but my computer was invaded by goblins last night, and for some reason they would not let me post. Here’s what I wrote in a state of semi-consciousness:
My one-pound bag of chamomile from Harney & Sons arrived a couple of days ago. The Harney & Sons advocates in the forum were right: they sell by the pound, not by volume (as does Adagio at least some of the time…). The bag is enormous—essentially equivalent to the amount of chamomile in sixteen of the Palace Gardens tins. Looks as though I’ll need another dozen or so to be able to store the loose flowers in appropriately beautiful housing.
For now, I continue to sip my way through the first two. I may just be addicted to chamomile. Since my recent discovery that the sachets make great eye compresses, I realized that I won’t be able to move exclusively to the loose flower format! Fourteen more tins will be 210 pairs of eye compresses. That should keep my eyes soothingly covered for a while…
Today was a big day for me today: I lost my Teavana store virginity. Yes, I was at the mall and so decided to go pick up an ounce of gyokuro as a reward on my Starbucks card. The Teavana atmosphere was bizarre, to put it mildly. For one thing, it’s not even a place where one can sit down for a cup of tea! Very odd. Instead, it’s a bunch of aggressive sales people trying to sell people tetsubins at $180. Seriously, there must have been eight different people working and swirling about maybe three customers. Really very strange. I probably won’t return any time soon. They tried to sell me some of the Christmas discount tins, but I mentioned that I did my holiday shopping online. What is the point of these stores? Why go to a tea emporium where there is nowhere to sit? Can someone help me out here? We can place orders on the internet, so what is the draw of the instore experience supposed to be—aside from aggressive salespersons attempting to sell overpriced tetsubins?
As you can readily see, I found the experience rather stressful and unpleasant, so I returned to Starbucks for a second refill. Relief is always only a grande Refresh away.
Today’s trip to Starbucks began with a grande triple shot soy milk cafe mocha extra hot with foam on top. My refill? A Zen iced tea. I needed something cool and refreshing and I was inside a mall, and starting to feel a bit toasty in my thick sweater and bulky winter coat.
Iced Zen is a nice blend. Lemongrass and a touch of mint are used to embellish the green tea. There’s also some lemon verbena in here. I’m not sure which green tea is the star of this show—it appears to be a blend of China greens, but I’m not entirely sure. Anyway, it’s a balanced and pleasant brew, and the lemongrass is used judiciously and so does not overwhelm, as I sometimes find in blends.
I find that the iced Zen tends to vary from store to store and from barista to barista, depending upon their personal view on the proper level of dilution. Today’s cup was on the light side.
I found a handful of these individually wrapped green tea bags from Kirkland in a purse! I drank a lot of this tea a while back, and it was my very first experience with the sachet format. I wonder whether Kirkland was the first to create the sachet? Well, anyway the biggest surprise was always that this purveyor of high quality Japanese green tea was somehow affiliated with … Costco!!!!
I loved this tea. The bag I drank this afternoon sadly tasted a bit stale, but now this tea is old, and I am thinking that maybe it was a sencha/genmaicha blend, because I’ve noticed that genmaicha sometimes becomes stale as a result of the popped rice. I believe that there is some matcha implicated as well, because some of the dark green powder sifts through the sachet pores.
Since this tea is no longer in its prime, I’ll refrain from rating it today. If I come across a fresh box at some point, then I’ll try it again. I do recall that I loved it before…
Another sachet experience new to me from Harney & Sons, Mint Verbena is quite refreshing and has apparently (according to the box) both spearmint and peppermint along with the verbena. There is more body to this brew than to the straight-up peppermint from H&S.
In some ways, I am reminded of Tazo Refresh—partly because of the spearmint but also because there’s some real oomph to it. Of course, there’s no tarragon here, and I cannot say that the verbena really smells or tastes very much like citrus, but it does seem to be adding to the flavor weight, so to speak.
Since I have a box of twenty—now nineteen—sachets, this mint blend will be in regular rotation with the Harney & Sons peppermint!
I have been wanting to try this decaffeinated vanilla tea from Harney & Sons, and my twenty sachet box arrived today, so tonight’s the night!
The black tea base is Ceylon, and it appears to be very similar if not identical to the H &S decaffeinated Ceylon. A bit lighter than I am accustomed to for flavored teas—usually China black or Assam—but still good. The vanilla is fairly light as well, but together the Ceylon and the vanilla make a fine blend, which is enhanced by some cream. I used half and half.
It’s nice to have some camellia sinensis suitable for imbibing right before bed!
Today’s trip to Starbucks began with a tall Americano, long shots, extra hot. Well, that was my intention, anyway. My barista wrote “ristretto” on the cup, because she seemed to think that it means “long”. When I received my order, I discovered that the brew was weak, so I asked the woman who made it what happened and she said that she did what it said: “ristretto”. I said that I had ordered long shots and that in Italian, ristretto means “short”. Eventually I realized that I had to disabuse my original barista of her error, so I confronted her as politely as I could. She was embarrassed, but at least she will never make the same mistake again. Now she knows that long shots in Italian is “lungo” and short shots in is “ristretto”.
In the end, I drank both cups with half and half, but the lungo was about a million times better than the ristretto.
My refill? Refresh, naturally. It was freezing outside, albeit sunny, and there was tons of snow on the ground, so it shone in the sun and lifted my spirits along with the tiny wafts of spearmint and tarragon through the hole in the top of my cup. Refresh remains my number one choice for a refill after a coffee drink at Starbucks. It’s simply good.