1169 Tasting Notes
This vanilla-scented, cornflower-decorated Earl Grey from Tealux, Earl Grey Cream “Moonlight”, tastes very good. The black tea base is better than I’ve come to expect from Earl Grey blends, which often attempt to compensate for lower grade tea with a hefty dose of bergamot. I know that the black tea base is better than usual, because the liquor is a dark reddish brown, and most importantly of all: it tastes excellent without any cream!
I imbibed two glasses of this fine Earl Grey this afternoon—why two? Because the first one was so good, that I felt compelled to brew up another! I did end up drinking most of it with light cream, and I noticed that the first batch was a bit better—I had steeped it a couple of minutes longer. Good to know that this tea tastes even better when officially oversteeped!
One of these days I’m going to have to do a steep-off between this delicious blend and my all-time-favorite vanilla-scented Earl Grey, Tazo Earl Grey Blanc. I might wait a while, however, because I already polished of a 2 ounce envelope of the Tazo, and I feel that I should wait before diving into the second one, which is still hermetically sealed. At least I should give some more attention to the other open Earl Greys in my cupboard first!
I do recommend this blend to anyone who likes both Earl Grey and vanilla and is looking for a quality black tea base so that the tea experience is not only about the flavors.
In today’s brew of the Choice Premium Japanese Green Tea filter bag, I used less water—only about 8 ounces. The flavor was quite a bit more pronounced, so definitely this bag is not meant for a big glass. I do not think that the flavor was weaker than the Harney & Sons (in the sencha steep-off today), but I do find that the Choice smacks quite a bit of seaweed—so much so that I began thinking of sushi!
Choice would be a good Choice for those looking specifically for an almost fishy-seaweed sencha experience from a simple-preparation filter bag. I prefer the Harney & Sons, but I do own that this tea is better when brewed in a smaller volume of water, so I am increasing my rating a bit.
In this afternoon’s sencha steep-off chez sherapop, Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha is going sniff to sniff, sip to sip against Choice Organic Premium Japanese Green. Yesterday, I opined that the Harney & Sons was a superior brew. I was working from memory, and because so many factors affect tea reception, the least that I can do is to attempt to control most of the variables, so today I’ve brewed up the filter bags side-by-side. If mistakes were made in one, then they were made in the other as well: same water, same temperature, same volume, same steep time…
The filter bags each hold 2 grams of tea, and the dried tea in the Harney & Sons bag is more fragrant than the Choice—I believe because the latter is wrapped in an open-air paper envelope (à la Lipton, Tetley, Red Rose, et al.), while the former is housed in hermetically sealed foil-lined packaging.
The liquor of Harney & Sons is more green than the Choice, which is a darker golden only leaning toward green. The Choice brew is quite a bit cloudier than the Harney & Sons, but this does not translate into better taste.
The winner is: Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha.
I am comparing Sleepytime Vanilla tonight with a fresh box of Honey Vanilla Chamomile. My verdict is that Sleepytime Vanilla is a more appealing chamomile blend. This is an interesting result because I recently tested a packet of Harvest Chamomile, which is apparently the former name of Honey Vanilla Chamomile. Now I need to check to see whether the ingredients are different in the two blends. Otherwise, my reactions are completely contradictory, since last time I claimed that Honey Vanilla Chamomile was better than Sleepytime Vanilla!
Why do I prefer Sleepytime Vanilla in tonight’s side-by-side steep-off? Probably because I was craving vanilla, which is demonstrably present in Sleepytime Vanilla, while rather muted in the Honey Vanilla Chamomile. I need to go check the ingredients of the Harvest Vanilla—ASAP!
update: I do believe that the formula for Honey Vanilla Chamomile, formerly known as Harvest Chamomile* has changed. My only evidence, however, is that vanilla is explicitly listed among the ingredients in the latter but not the former case. In the Honey Vanilla Chamomile, “natural flavors” is the only place where vanilla might be implicated, but vanilla is not mentioned, except in the name of the blend. One thing is clear, Honey Vanilla Chamomile is much more about chamomile than either honey or vanilla!
Flavors: Flowers, Vanilla
In this evening’s steep-off chez sherapop, Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile is going sniff to sniff, sip to sip against Sleepytime Vanilla.
First observation about Honey Vanilla Chamomile: the dried tea smacks very strongly of orange oil—and not without reason. Orange peel is the number two ingredient, right after chamomile! The brewed tea does not, however, taste very much like orange at all. In fact, it seems closer to a rich chamomile blend with a focus on chamomile, not the other showcased ingredients. Neither the honey nor the vanilla is very pronounced, despite the name of the blend.
I like the flavor of this infusion. It is a pleasant mint-free and somewhat hefty (probably because of the chicory and licorice) chamomile composition, which could be good news for those who find Sleepytime too spearmint heavy. Do I like Honey Vanilla Chamomile more than Sleepytime Vanilla? In a direct, side-by-side comparison, the answer is clear: No, I do not.
update: I just read my review of Harvest Chamomile, which seems to list the same ingredients as this new box of Honey Vanilla Chamomile. I am now wondering whether they changed the proportions of the ingredients, because the chamomile is much more pronounced and the honey and vanilla seem very light. Are they identical? Is my change in evaluation due to facts about me rather than the teas?
We’ll never know, because the Harvest Chamomile sample packet is depleted, so I cannot compare my new box of Honey Vanilla Chamomile with the old supply of Harvest Chamomile reviewed by me earlier, and which at the time I concluded was better than Sleepytime Vanilla!
I’m trying to use up all consumables in heavy packaging before The Big Move. Case in point: this bottle of Tazo Giant Peach. Since it weighs about a pound, I’m much better off imbibing it here and now rather than moving it first!
This is really a juice-type beverage—not so much a tea, at least not to me. Today I added a scoop of Madre Labs Madre-C, of which I have about a quarter of a cylindrical jar left—not sure whether I’ll be able to avoid moving this one! The colors match, so I figured that it was a good choice. A peachy-orange colored liquid with a Giant Peach flavor and a massive burst of wild harvested vitamin C (from camu camu, etc.) thrown in for good measure. It tasted fine.
Hopefully I’m healthier for having drained this bottle. One thing is clear: my moving load will be one pound lighter as a result!
Now perhaps I should go prepare some pumpkin soup with some of my stockpiled cans of organic pumpkin and coconut milk!
I decided to try the Choice organic Premium Japanese Green tea bags to see whether they are on a par with the Stash Premium Green and the Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha filter bags. I’m a big fan of sencha filter bags because they are the exception to the general rule that filter bags offer an inferior tea experience. The Japanese have perfected the sencha filter bag format, and from their centuries of toil on this front, all of us benefit!
The first surprise with this Japanese green from Choice was that the bags are wrapped in the cheap-o Lipton-type paper envelopes—so no attempt to maximize freshness, as with most teas with organic credentials and boasting “premium” quality. I’d have thought that any company charging 30 cents for a filter bag would take the trouble to wrap it in an airtight (foil) envelope. Not Choice.
I know nonetheless that this tea must be relatively fresh—or at least recently packaged!—since the expiration date is not until January 2017, which I presume means that it was only just produced. So the flavor was a bit disappointing, but not surprising, given the budget packaging. The box itself comes wrapped in cellophane, but it did not really seem airtight and hermetically sealed to me. Now that the cellophane has been removed, the tea is going to be exposed to air until the other 15 bags are gone.
I guess that I’ll try to drink these rapidly, because the flavor of the freshest bag, the one brewed today, was a bit wan. The pale greenish-yellow cloudy liquor was promising, and reminded me of Harney & Sons, but the flavor was less pronounced. I’ll try brewing my next Choice filter bag in less water, but my favorite double-walled Bodum glasses—the ones which I use specifically for sencha—seemed to be too voluminous for this 2 gram serving of Choice Premium Japanese Green Tea. Note, however, that the bags contain exactly the same weight of tea as do the Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha filter bags, which I find to produce a much more satisfying cup. I’ll do an official steep-off of these two filter bags soon, but I’ve imbibed enough Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha to be able to speak ex cathedra on these matters—it seems to me!
I had a Tazo Chai at Starbucks today. I brewed it strong—two generously filled sachets in a venti cup—then added four packets of honey and some soymilk.
Based on several experiences with different brews, I think that I don’t really like to use soymilk in place of cream in tea—it’s too watery for me. But the blend of teas and spices in this chai was pretty good. I’ll use half and half next time…
Now I am getting really serious about chamomile. I brewed up a pot of about triple strength Harney & Sons Chamomile, since I now have a huge bag of the loose leaf, so I just kept popping buds (similar to bubble paper) and adding them to the pot while waiting for the water to get hot. The brew is rather dark, so I obviously went overboard, but it tastes like unadulterated chamomile in all its glory.
I may be in danger of chamomile toxicity—if there is such a thing, which I presume that there is, since you can kill yourself even by drinking too much water. I’ll try to avoid doing this every day…
While examining the Japanese Spirit dried tea, I noticed that the chamomile buds were few and far between. I decided to rectify that deficiency in this pot by throwing in some of my loose chamomile from Harney & Sons, which I have in enormous supply and so am able to toss about like so much yellow confetti.
Extra chamomile definitely increased the quality of the resultant brew. The flavor was less gingko-dominant. Of course adding more chamomile did not address the other issue with this tea: that the kukicha is very difficult to discern. Well, that’s okay since I’m drinking this as a therapeutic beverage. Here’s the latest in my ongoing and nightmarish moving story:
My new landlady just called me and withdrew her offer of an extra closet and two trunks of space—which I had already filled with clothes! What’s worse, I accepted the lease only because she offered the extra storage space! When I told her that, she replied, “My lease has no provision for tenant storage.” Oh my God. So much for a long-term living arrangement. Looks as though I’ll be moving again next spring.
Why? Why? Why would someone do such a thing?
End of rant.