1163 Tasting Notes
I brewed up a glass of Harney & Sons Valentine’s Blend just to prove to myself that chocolate flavoring does not really have to taste like Sharpie markers! I do like this flavored tea, though the black tea base could be a bit heftier.
I should probably use a single sachet for a small cup rather than an 11 ounce glass, as I did today. Of course, sometimes it’s nice to have a lighter brew. This seems like a good late afternoon tea.
Here’s another example of why I steer clear of artificial flavors. DavidsTea Chocolate Rocket smells swell dried in the sachet. It reminds me quite a bit of Tazo Pogo, which also boasts chicory and cocoa but features pu-ehr and black tea in place of the mate. Once brewed, however, the amber-colored Chocolate Rocket liquor tastes like a Sharpie marker! Okay, it’s true: I’ve never tasted a Sharpie marker, so I should modify my claim. Chocolate Rocket tastes the way a Sharpie marker smells!
I must be in the minority here, given the high accolades bestowed upon this mate-chocolate-chicory blend. With cream, the marker fumes are muted to some extent, but I’ll not be purchasing this tea, a few sachets of which came in some sample sets purchased at the post-holiday sale.
Tealux Gyokuro Kokyo is a solid Japanese green, no doubt, but I found it to be a bit flat when compared directly side-by-side with Gyokuro Premier. The dark, roasted-spinach-like dried leaves were very similar in appearance, as was the brewed liquor—both were very pale green with tiny white particles floating about.
The texture of the Gyokuro Kokyu was not as smooth as that of Gyokuro Premier, and I felt that the blend was closer to sencha than to Gyokuro. It is a blend of two teas, basically Gyokoru has been cut with a less-expensive tea to produce a cost-effective Gyokuro. I am not convinced that the savings (only a $2 difference between 1 ounce of pure Gyokuro and 1 ounce of this blend) are worth this change…
Interestingly, I have encountered of late a couple of Gyokuro-esque senchas, so I’ll have to compare this blend side-by-side to see which I prefer!
In this afternoon’s steep-off chez sherapop, Tealux Gyokuro Premier is going sniff to sniff, sip to sip against Tealux Gyokuro Kokyu. So it looks as though Tealux will win either way!
The first infusion results were not definitive, because I appear to have underleafed both pots, so they were very pale greenish yellow, with a very similar appearance. The Kokyu did seem to be ever-so-slightly more green, which led me to predict that I would like it better.
In reality, I found Gyokuro Premier to be the superior brew. The flavor was slightly salty and the texture silken. I did this test in a state of complete ignorance, having resisted the temptation to read anything about the two teas before imbibing. Naturally, I was relieved to find that the winner of my taste test was the more expensive single-origin Gyokuro (Premier), not the blend!
second infusion: for this round, I used less water to get a better idea of what these teas are really supposed to taste like. I confirmed that Premier is better to my palate. Now I’ll have to compare it side-by-side to Tealux Gyokuro Ureshinocha…
Moving stress is setting in, so I decided to break into my envelope of Tealux Japanese Spirit, which boasts St. John’s Wort, gingko, and chamomile in a kukicha base. This blend is supposed to calm frazzled nerves, so let’s hope that it does. What about the scent and the taste?
The dried tea smells very sweet and strongly redolent of substances other than kukicha—I presume the St. John’s Wort and gingko. It does not really smell like chamomile, despite the presence of some full buds. I believe that the sweetness is primarily from the gingko, but I’m not sure what St. John’s Wort smells like. I have had gingko-laced tea before, so that does smell familiar. The scent of kukicha (which I love) is completely shrouded by the additives.
I am ambivalent about adulterated Japanese green teas, since I tend to agree with the Japanese that they should generally be imbibed au naturel. In this case, the blend is clearly intended to be a functional tea, so I suppose that the only remaining question is why to use kukicha as the base rather than something else. Perhaps this was chosen because of the low-caffeine content.
The flavor of the tea base, like the scent, is somewhat drowned out. Hopefully the gingko and St. John’s wort will “help to relieve the stress and tension of daily life,” as promised on the package!
second infusion: this round was better than the first. It tasted more like tea and less like medicine.
A venti iced Zen was my first tea of the day. It’s rather warm out, so I decided to seize the moment and drink something cold rather than hot. The barista must have misunderstood the order because I was first given a sweetened cup, so I returned it for unsweetened. As a result, I now know what the sweetened version tastes like: too sweet for me!
This entry in the Yogi Ginger infusion series, Raspberry Ginger, is rather heavy on the hibiscus. In fact, the raspberry flavor is pretty much overwhelmed by the tart hibiscus. Ascorbic acid is also listed among the ingredients, which no doubt enhances the lip-puckering effect.
As a ginger brew, is this is a bit less appealing to me than Yogi Lemon Ginger. The ginger is there, augmented again by the black pepper (a favorite ingredient chez Yogi!), but I would say that the overall effect is at least as close to Raspberry Zinger as it is to Raspberry Ginger!
I almost forgot to log this afternoon’s Tazo Green Tips.
Today’s discovery was that I really do prefer drinking this brew from the big ceramic cups, not in the take-away cardboard. In the future I’ll enjoy my Green Tips in the store. I did remember to ask for a few ice cubes in the bottom of the cup so that the water would not be too hot, but somehow it did not taste as good as it does when I carefully monitor the brewing process in an open ceramic cup and gaze at the perfect pale green liquor while sniffing the lovely fumes.