1532 Tasting Notes
No one ever seems to talk about Chun Mei—Long Jing, Sencha, Mao Feng, Gunpowder, the list of famous green teas goes on and on, but poor little Chun Mei seems to get little respect. The only time I’ve ever seen it named as a China green tea is on the box of the Tazo filterbag Chun Mee. Lots of other filterbags appear to contain Chun Mei—or a blend one of the components of which is Chun Mei—but when it comes time to rave about loose leaf greens, the topic never seems to come up.
That’s why I decided to order a sample of this tea from Teavivre. I wanted to know what this tea looks and tastes like in loose leaf form. I agree with the description of the dried leaves as eyebrow-like. They are very cute. The dried form also looks a bit like something on the road to becoming Gunpowder.
The liquor is light golden brown and tastes rather robust and earthy. It’s actually quite good, with a stronger cooked flavor. This tea is hearty but not at all bitter. I’ll definitely be ordering a full supply, as I find Chun Mei to be tasty and think that it would pair well with spicy food. In fact, I enjoyed this tea right after a heavily spiced Thai meal.
I wonder whether the low price of Chun Mei is an indication that many green tea drinkers prefer less assertive flavors? No matter: I like it, I do.
(Blazing New Rating #60)
With the memory of another sakura-style green tea fresh in my mind, I decided to go ahead and try Palais des Thés Fleur de Geisha. This is also a Japanese style green-tea base (theirs appears to be from Japan), but the flavoring is somewhat more floral and less intensely fruity.
The liquor is pale greenish gold and the taste is rather more harmonious than I’ve come to expect from cherry-scented teas. According to the description, cherry blossoms, not cherry essence are used to flavor this tea, so that must make the difference.
I’m looking forward to trying a second infusion of the spent sachet (which plumped up quite a lot) later on tonight.
(Blazing New Rating #59)
Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers
The labeling of my package of this tea from Thé Santé is a bit confusing. The first line reads “Sencha Kyoto Cherry Rose” and right underneath, in doubled-sized font, reads: “China”—rather like the tetsubins advertised as “Japanese” when they are in fact produced in China. I see that the website has now removed “Kyoto” from the name, so perhaps someone complained?
Anyway, this is a good flavored-green tea. The base seems to be of quite decent quality. It’s identified as “luxury green tea” in the ingredients list, and my suspicion is that there may be a smidgeon of bancha thrown into the mix along with the sencha. I happen to love bancha, so that’s no complaint, mind you!
The rose petals are beautiful in the dried tea, but I’m not sure that I really taste them with all of this cherry. As I often find to be the case with cherry flavoring, it can easily become overwhelming. Here it works pretty well, but I feel on some level that the underlying tea (which is of high quality) is being done some sort of injustice. Rather like a pretty young woman who piles on thick make-up. Or an older woman whose attempts to look younger are undermined precisely by a foundation which magnifies the lines on her face.
Anyway, this is perfectly fine, but I think that I prefer to imbibe green tea of this quality au naturel. This may be a better choice for people who dislike Japanese green tea and wish to shroud it in strong flavors.
(Blazing New Rating #58)
Teavana’s sole straight sencha offering, Sencha Jade Reserve, is an excellent one! Very smooth and slightly sweet, with a pale green clear (not cloudy) liquor. I drank my two glasses quickly, right after lunch, in part because I had steeped at a sub 70C temperature, so the tea was starting to descend below my optimum drinking preference. (That happened because I changed my mind and switched the cooling water from a 17 ounce to a 22 ounce tetsubin, as I realized that I wanted two full glasses. As a consequence, the temperature dipped lower than usual. A propos: tetsubins are great for immediate temperature reduction, among their many other functional and aesthetic virtues…)
I’ll have to compare this sencha side-by-side with the Tazo Collection. Both are very good and haute senchas, veering toward gyokuro!
(Blazing New Rating #57)
I was curious what a peach-scented jasmine-scented tea might smell and taste like, though I admit that I was not entirely optimistic. Sometimes I find that doubling up on flavors leads to a less appealing result. In the case of the Teavivre Peach Jasmine Dragon Pearls, my worries were for naught, as the end result was perfect potable and even rather pleasant.
The dried pearls are quite strongly scented, which also had me worried a bit. The scent is peach, peach, peach, with not much jasmine breaking through the fruity aura. I was surprised that the pearls were of various sizes, as the straight-up jasmine pearls from Teavivre were of uniform size. I weighed out about 3 grams, since I could not really estimate the weight by sight alone. I infused them in about 10 ounces of water at 76C for about 3 minutes.
The liquor was pale peachy, and the flavor was more peach than jasmine, but I could taste some of the jasmine in the brew. The peach still dominated but not nearly as much as it did in the dried form.
All in all, I like this tea, but I do believe that I prefer the straight jasmine pearls and will be restocking with those not these. That’s probably just a reflection of the fact that I happen to prefer jasmine to peach. I am sure that peach amateurs will love this tea, and it’s definitely good for a change of pace.
The second infusion was nearly as flavorful as the first, so this is a good example where it’s definitely worth reinfusing the leaves. They were so tightly rolled that they did not finish fully unfurling until the second round. The resultant liquor was more green than orange, and I could taste the green tea more than I did before.
(Blazing New Rating #56)
This Tamaryokucha Imperial is definitely my favorite from Le Palais des Thés so far from among the green tea offerings. (I do like Thé des Moines probably as much!) The texture is very smooth and the flavor midway between a darker Chinese and a lighter Japanese variety. I have only tried one other tamaryokucha before, and this one seems better than my memory of that one.
The liquor, which I prepared using one of the cotton muslin sachets, is pale greenish yellow. The flavor is not really like sencha or gyokuro. In some ways it reminds me more of genmaicha, though there is no popped rice here—only green tea. There is something of a cereal note, however.
(Blazing New Rating #55)
My second yellow tea, Tazo Jun Shan Yin Zhen has a much more uniform leaf form—very similar to silver tips, except more yellow—than the Teavana Yellow Tea I tried yesterday. The shimmering leaves are covered with tiny hairs.
The flavor of the similarly pale peach-colored liquor is very similar. The aroma, too, reminds me of the Coors Beer Company boiling barley emanations. Maybe I don’t understand what tea masters mean by “floral”, but to me this tea does not really offer any identifiably “floral” notes. I find it closer to cooked vegetables, but with a smooth finish.
Anyway, I like it, and am happy to have tried Chairman Mao’s favorite tea!
(Blazing New Rating #54)
Golden Dragon is the most expensive tea at Teavana, so naturally I decided to try an ounce for one of my Starbucks rewards! At $30 for 2 ounces, my reward was valued at $15! I’d thought that I was making the most of my reward when I requested an ounce of gyokuro a while back, but little did I know that there was a tea from China even more expensive than Japan’s claim to tea fame!
Yellow dragon is good, no doubt. The leaves are multicolored, long, spindly and basically beautiful. They also have a scent about halfway between vegetables and baked bread. Once infused, the leaves have a very strong cooked vegetable scent and even reminded me of the scent of the Coors Beer Company, in Golden, Colorado. I used to go on long bike rides past the factory and was always struck by the scent of overcooked green beans (it was really the barley somehow, it seems…)
The liquor is peach veering brown, and the taste is very good indeed. I’m not convinced that this is twice or three times as good as some of the heartier green teas I’ve tried, which also boast a succulent quality. However, I’m a yellow tea gringo. I’ll try the Tazo Collection offering soon and see whether I can figure out what it is about yellow tea specifically that is supposed to make it so much more special than the robust China green teas I’ve enjoyed of late.
I realize that this tea is more difficult to prepare, as the leaves are allowed to wither slowly and turn yellow before they dry. But if that does not translate into a huge improvement in flavor, then what’s the point? Again, I’m a yellow tea gringo… I also don’t understand the people who eat cheese with maggots crawling out of it—but hey, that’s okay.
A chacun son goût!
(Blazing New Rating #53)
Ever since my reawakening to the possibility of imbibing jasmine, I’ve been looking forward to trying the Teavivre jasmine-scented teas. This is one of those odd cases where a few negative experiences long ago (or was it only one?) led me erroneously to conclude that jasmine teas don’t work for me. How wrong I was! Since taking a chance on a higher-grade variety than whatever it was that turned me off in a very big way to the idea of drinking jasmine, I have had a number of positive experiences and am even approaching the point of jasmine obsession!
It’s not that strange, really, given that I love natural jasmine in perfume. I wear jasmine soliflores with great pleasure, and the discovery that jasmine works inside my body as well as on my skin was a happy one!
The Teavivre Premium Jasmine Dragon Pearls are on the small side (relative to what I’ve seen), but they are beautifully striated with shimmering light and shadows. Silken strands run throughout the uniform-sized balls.
I used 3 grams in about 9 ounces for 3 minutes at 79C. That was quite a few pearls (maybe 20?), because they are fairly small. The liquor was pale peachy green and the taste that of natural jasmine flowers. The green tea used must be of high quality (no surprise) because it has a subtle taste and smooth texture. The pearls unfurled pretty well over the course of the first three-minute infusion, and I intend to reinfuse the leaves, as they are still redolent of fine jasmine.
I am happy with these pearls and look forward to trying the other Teavivre jasmine varieties, both the downy and the peach-scented pearls, in addition to the other scented green teas.
(Blazing New Rating #52)
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)