382 Tasting Notes
So, the nice thing about the state of my belleh this past week is that it appears to have wiped out my aversion to foxtrot developed during my previous long bout of feeling ickyness. So, I was able to enjoy this delicious, stomach soothing, caffeine free tea for the first time in a looooooong while. I’ve been drinking it a LOT and it is still great. I’ve been waffling about whether to get more of it when my current tin runs out, but I think I’m back on the side of getting moar, moar, MOAR.
I am not gonna lie, half of my reluctance to write these reviews this past week has been due to the fact that most of the time I have to add the tea before I write about it. This means finding a picture, and then translating whatever hilarious description the bottle has on it, which is kind of a pain. The only time it’s not a pain is in the case of the crazy blends that the Japanese seem to delight in creating, because it gives me some insight into what the hell I’ve been drinking.
This particular crazy blend, bought on a day when I was feeling a little better caught my attention because it was a morning blend. This means, apparently, that you add a bunch (8) of different kinds of grain to green tea. Also collagen. Well, collagen pretty much goes without saying really. I mean, collagen! The grains, what I can read of them are as follows: corn, roasted rice, roasted rice malt, two different kinds of barley, green tea, and “extraction from namacha” which is not really a grain but oh well. In other words, good times!
The color on this sucker is really dark, I would totally think it was an oolong or even a black tea before I thought it was a green tea. Similarly, the grains have pretty much overcome any of the original taste of the tea – especially the barley and roasted rice/rice malt/whatever. It kind of tastes like Kawa Inka, which is a caffeine-free instant coffee-like drink which tastes marginally sweeter than this stuff. Through the clever method of looking it up on Polish wikipedia and then switching to English, I have determined that this type of beverage is called “roasted grain beverage” which is why you should never let Leonardo da Quirm name anything.
Anyway, it tastes like a “roasted grain beverage” which, since the tea is supposed to be for mornings, and that type of beverage is a coffee substitute, isn’t particularly weird. It was interesting, but a bit too heavy for me that morning, would have have been better off with more oolong. And, well, the loss of the base tea flavor is kind of sad.
I actually tried this before the premium blend, it’s Suntory’s base oolong tea, so I wasn’t really expecting much except for the whole “helping with my nausea” thing. I have to say I was quite pleasantly surprised by it.
Despite being straight oolong tea, it was also quite light in strength, I thought and similarly did not have much of that aggressively oolongy taste that you get with other brands. In fact, it was a little sweet, and quite nice. Probably my current favorite bottled oolong.
So I had a midterm for my intensive program this past week and I basically got really tired from reviewing for it and just did not feel like doing much of anything else. Part of my review assignments was the construction of sample grammar point sentences and I am probably weird but I just find it really difficult to pull sentences out of the aether with “use this grammar point” being the only guideline. It taxes my imagination, which is simply not that fertile, and makes me want to not do much of anything else. I DID jot down notes about the teas that I drank, so time for some backlogging!
Despite the fact that most of the time I try not to acknowledge it, I actually have kind of a delicate stomach, made worse by my ignoring it and putting whatever the hell I want in it. This week I think the change of environment finally caught up with me, so from wednesday-ish on, I basically constantly felt mildly nauseous – which probably also contributed to the whole “not feeling like doing anything” thing. Anyway, to try and combat this, I invoked the power of OOLONG. Oolong is (apparently) often used in teas to aid with indigestion! Indeed, most other drinks were contributing to my discomfort while oolong actually helped, so that was good!
This particular oolong, is blended with what one of my classmates assures me says sweet olive tea. Apparently to make it look pretty. The result, while not quite “gold” in color as the wrapper claims, is a very interesting smooth and kind of light oolong. By this I mean that the almost smoky kind of taste that is present in some oolongs is completely nonexistent. There is also no aftertaste to be had, which is why I have mentally labeled it “oolong light.” or possibly “lite.”
This tea is in the database twice, interestingly, once as “dark” and once as “koiaji” which is to say the actual japanese word for it. I’m going with this entry because it has more logs in it.
So, like iyemon koime, this is very strongly brewed green tea. I guess because that means more health benefits? That is what the description tells me. Anyway it definitely tastes overbrewed, a lot more so than the iyemon. Someone in another tealog mentioned that Ito En is basically the equivalent of Lipton in America so I guess the quality of the tea is lower (that also explains why I got it for 100 yen instead of 150) (it also makes the whole reverse-importing thing with the Teas’ Tea New York brand even funnier!)
But back to the tea! It’s bitterness is kind of unpleasant really, and it’s got a weird sugary finish at odds with the rest of the teas – honestly I think I don’t like these sugary finishes on green tea, I much prefer consistency of taste. At least it’s not super sweet all the way through though.
Thought that I’d go ahead and try the standard Iyemon Cha today since most of my experiences with the rest of them have been so good. In fact, from what I can tell from the website, after this is done, I just have the Hoji cha left to try before I am completely done with the Iyemon lineup. Progress people! There IS an end in sight.
I found this tea pretty smooth, if a little thin. It’s slightly bitter but only slightly and, while at least it is not all over the place with it’s green tea flavor like whatever yesterday’s tea was, it could still stand to be a bit more assertive about itself. It seems very much to fade into the background even as you drink it, which, of course, may be the point. Before you know it, it’s gone and you have to go out and buy some more! I’m wondering if I find that the mehness I have about it’s taste has anything to do with comparing it to the extremely assertive taste of the koime. It’s possible! But either way, the Matchairi Reicha still wins over both of them. Oh Matchairi Reicha…will I ever be able to drink you again?
So this is really a fascinating example of Japan being Japan. Basically, Ito En liked the labels it created for Teas’ Tea in the States so much that it is reverse importing them into Japan under the disguise of “Teas’ Tea New York” in three flavors as “Green and Red Apple” and “Bergamot and Orange” and “Manhattan Milk Tea” and are pretending that they are an American company. Because Japan. Although I can’t help but agree that the labels ARE pretty sexy.
For some reason they have decided to halve the normal amount of caffeine in the tea (somehow) and they are also advertising it as being “calorie off.” This is weird to me because it basically tastes like they dumped about a billion pounds of sugar in there. Too sweet, as usual, Japan! While we are on this subject, Japan, it is hilarious to me that the it is the Teas’ Tea in the States that is unsweetened while the ones in Japan are sweetened. Up is down and left is right! Cats and dogs are lying down together!
Beyond being too sweet, this tea is EXTREMELY orange flavored. I’m not getting anything that would stand out as being uniquely “bergamot” at all and, quite honestly, I am barely getting any tea! This is ok juice, but it is not very good tea. And dammit, I LIKE my black tea to have caffeine >.
My pants were looser than normal on me today. I think we can all agree that this is clearly the work of the Karada Meguricha Elixir of Life. Just because it has amazing weight loss powers doesn’t mean that I can slack off on my tea reviewing mission. Nay! I must press on.
Straight green tea today, although this one styles itself as the #1 tea. Pretty big words, tea. Let’s hope you can back them up.
Yeah, no. This tea is kinda meh all around. It tastes a little roasted, a little sweet (in a kinda ick sugary way) a little bitter and a lot of nothing. Also, it’s got that weird resiny aftertaste that I was getting from the Hojicha. It seems to be a green tea that tries to be everything but ends up being nothing and the impression only increases as it gets warmer.
Really, one of my main discoveries with this whole endeavor has been the importance of drinking all of these teas while they are still cold, as letting them warm up reveals more of their, quite often not very good, flavor.
Regardless of how I feel about this tea, I will treasure the experience of drinking it forever because while entering it into the database I learned the Japanese word for bracket fungus. Truly, my life has been an empty shell until now.
So…who thinks that a blend of green, oolong, pu-erh and yellow tea is excessive? Everyone? Good, good. They appear to be operating along the idea of “stuff as much healthy tea into one bottle as possible, thereby creating the ELIXIR OF LIFE.” I wonder if they brew the teas separately and then mix them or just dump the leaves all in together and brew it like that. Hopefully it is the former.
Surprisingly, the result isn’t too bad, although, as would be expected there are absolutely no traces of the green or yellow tea (not that I know how yellow tea tastes, but I’ve heard it’s delicate so…). The oolong and pu erh are both quite present and create a not unpleasant combination. I also feel like I’m getting the orange peel – definitely some citrusy type taste going on. I’m getting other stuff as well but considering I don’t even know what a “chameleon plant” IS there is absolutely no way that I can tell what it is. Although, the label sez there is carrot and it COULD be carrot.
All in all, despite the slightly offputting amount of stuff in this tea, the overall taste is actually not overwhelming and the combination of oolong, pu erh, and orange peel seems to be working well. Regarding the health benefits – it appears to have hit almost every single “health craze” button (whooo goji berries!) so therefore it must be healthy! It doesn’t have acai though. Perhaps I should demand my money back? I’m generally contemptuous of this sort of blatant gimmickry but as I said the taste isn’t bad and it was actually cheaper than some of the other teas (125 yen instead of 150) so…reluctant thumbs up!
Milk teas are kind of an indulgence for me. It’s a little embarrassing to admit to drinking them at all, since they basically go against my entire tea philosophy, being pretty much the tea world equivalent of starbucks coffee-like drinks. In other words, with the amount of sweetener and milk dumped in, the percentage of actual tea in these is pretty low. Still, just like every so often I find myself really wanting some diet coke despite knowing that I am basically pickling my insides, sometimes I just want a nice sweet dessert type drink. This is especially true during the winter when you can get these nice and hot (oh, vending machines with hot drinks, you are so awesome) but sometimes it happens in the summer too. Or, as happened today, I might be in a bakery and the only tea that they have that I have yet to do a write up on is a milk tea. So I guess this time it was fate!
I can’t say that I’ve ever been really able to distinguish between different milk teas, they mostly just taste like very lightly tea flavored sweet milk and this one is no different. The whole zero calorie thing is pretty nice, since I think your standard royal milk tea has at an estimate a billion calories. I don’t think it really detracts from the taste, but I’m not exactly a source to be trusted for that sort of thing, since I’m not really able to distinguish the taste of coke and diet coke either. (I can do it with pepsi and diet pepsi though. because diet pepsi is gross) I mean, I’d probably be able to if I drank them side by side (although why would I do that?), but for me the difference isn’t so severe that I can tell when drinking them in isolation.
The biggest problem that I have with milk tea is that after finishing it I could generally do with a drink. That is, it’s thirst-quenching power is so low that it has circled around and actually causes thirst. Also, it’s got kind of a weird aftertaste – I vaguely recall that aftertaste being present in all milk teas, but a this is my first one during this particular visit, I can’t really be sure, perhaps it’s an effect of the artificial sweetener?
All in all, a nice enough tea latte, and definitely a good substitute if you want a cookie or something.