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Recent Tasting Notes
Somehow I went two days without drinking either green tea or jasmine! I decided that I needed to rectify the deficiency on both counts and so brewed up a pot of Tazo Jasmine Yin-Hao right after lunch. I don’t usually drink jasmine with a meal, but since I ate only a bagel it seemed compatible.
The liquor of this good-quality jasmine green tea is light gold veering green. I brewed this floral-scented tea a bit stronger than usual, with 5.2 grams for a two-glass tetsubin. The pot is said to hold 20 ounces, but in my experience, it really produces about 17 ounces of tea.
The flavor is smooth and rather floral—naturally! I think that I may prefer jasmine dragon pearls to Yin Hao, but I’ll have to try out some other versions before I can know for sure. I also may have slightly overleafed this pot.
I always look forward to the second infusion of jasmine teas, since they tend to offer a completely different—far more green—experience…
(Blazing New Rating #72)
I cold-steeped one of the large pitcher-sized filterbags to prepare half a gallon of Tazo Citrus Bliss. The dried tea in the bag smelled soooooo delicious when I put the pitcher in the refrigerator last night before retiring that I was totally looking forward to the result in the morning.
The color of the liquor is cloudy orange—a little darker than Tang, in case anyone out there knows any astronauts—and the flavor is basically citrus-tinged rooibos. A lot of rooibos going on here. It’s possible that I am sensitive to rooibos, or perhaps rooibos is just plain strong.
Either way, I’ll drink the remaining five filterbags in the box—the summer months ahead promise to be hot!—but will not purchase again. Nothing wrong with it, really, I’m just not that fond of rooibos.
(Blazing New Rating #71)
Flavors: Citrusy, Rooibos
Still trying to get to the bottom of the Bi Luo Chun mystery. This one, from Tazo, is closer to the light and airy versions, such as the Tealux which I imbibed earlier today. I really cannot figure this out. The tightly sculptured little snail shells from Yunnan Sourcing bear virtually no resemblance to these other versions! No mention is made of the island cited in The Harney & Sons Guide on either the Tazo or the Tealux packaging, so perhaps only the snail shell sculptures are produced there?
The liquor of this Pi Lo Chun was pale golden green but by the second glass had turned peachy colored. The liquid was fairly cloudy, with lots of tiny filaments floating about. Usually I enjoy the second glass more than the first, but in this batch I preferred the first, as the second started to seem a bit bitter. Perhaps because of all the particles in the glass?
I must have got the last bag of Tazo Pi Lo Chun, as it is no longer even listed at the Starbucks website! The demise of Tazo is imminent…
This is my third experience with Bi Luo Chun, the first and second having been from Teavivre and Tealux. These Tazo leaves are not as airy and voluminous as the others, and they are darker in color and more robust in scent. Today’s batch I drank right after a big bowl of oatmeal, which I prepared to celebrate the unseasonably cool and rainy weather we’re having.
The liquor is peach veering gray more than green, and now that I’ve read the story of this tea, it makes sense, given that the leaves are charcoal fired. I like this pleasant, slightly sweet and not very vegetal green tea, and will surely finish this bag!
(Blazing New Rating #62)
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)
Tea of the morning here. Thanks to Carol Who for this sample that I’ve been meaning to try.
I steeped this entire sample for 3 minutes in a 20 oz. teapot. What I had was around the equivalent of 6 or 7 pearls. Eh, this stuff is okay. It certainly got some dismal reviews from others but I don’t mind it that much. It seems to be a bit on the side of brisk and winey for me, which is strange for a tea you’d think is Chinese. To me this tastes a bit more like an Indian tea. I thought it was better with some soymilk added. Now I feel like I’m getting a bit of chocolate notes. I’ve definitely has better dragon pearls but this wasn’t terrible in my opinion.
I’m NOT looking forward to my morning. I have to visit the dentist and I’m getting 4 fillings worked on. They told me to eat a good breakfast because my entire mouth will be numb for hours afterwards. I guess I will be having a smoothie for lunch… lol
Examining the envelope of my Tazo Long Jing, I discovered that this tea was produced way back in December 2012 and is set to expire in December 2014. This suggests that different standards for what constitutes “old” are used by specialty tea emporia than by mass-market brands.
The good news is that this tastes good. Perhaps the true aging process does not begin until a hermetically sealed package has been opened and exposed to air? Of course the cheap brands at the supermarket are not hermetically sealed, but these “Tazo Collection” whole leaf teas are. Or were, I should say, since Starbucks appears to have abolished the line.
Once again I noticed that the second glass was smooth and more tasty than the first. There must be some physiological explanation for this phenomenon. It’s the same tea! The only difference is that the second serving has been sitting (not steeping) in a tetsubin—not a yixing, so no extra flavor is being added!
I just learned from my envelope of Tazo Long Jing that a light tea oil is used in the wok for producing this type of pan-fired tea. So it’s fried, not just fired! Learn something new every day. Well, I picked up a bottle of green tea oil with the rest of my Tazo Collection order, so it will be interesting to discover what other applications it might have in cooking. I have not opened the bottle yet.
This tea from the soon-to-be-defunct Collection series chez the soon-to-be-defunct Tazo company—or rather soon-to-be-evolved-into-Teavana company, tastes good. It’s a solid Long JIng—no question there. The leaves are on the large side, rather broad and long and extremely thin. They are lighter green color (not sure that I’d call it “jade”) and very fragrant, with a cereal-like aroma.
The liquor is pale peachy-green and tastes like an above average Long Jing to me. I’ll be drinking this supply and will probably try at some point to compare it to the current Teavana Long Jing just to see whether it is the very same tea.
No point in recommending this tea, since it will be unavailable in the not-too-distant future, but I am enjoying mine now! (Howard, Howard, Howard… )
(Blazing New Rating #49)
I’m slowly working my way through all the earl grey bags my grocery store has to offer, because I like to take a few with me whenever I travel and I want to figure out what I like best. I think it’s safe to say that this is not it. The bergamot is way too floral for me and the tea itself gets bitter fast. It’s really hard not to oversteep this one, which is a shame because it’s not too bad when it’s done right. I can only seem to get a good cup out of it about 1/3 of the time, though, usually because I’m distracted. Since it’s so sensitive I might try brewing it at a lower temperature next time.
I decided to compare the Tazo Collection Gyokuro to the Superior Sencha this afternoon because I was struck by the similarity in price between the two. Usually gyokuro is much more expensive than sencha, even ichiban sencha, so it seemed like a good opportunity to test out my hypothesis that haute sencha eventually converges with gyokuro.
What I found, to my surprise, was that I actually preferred the ichiban sencha to this gyokuro. This is good, no doubt, but for some reason the sencha tasted more delectable to me today. It was slightly salty, but it is also possible that I was craving more of a sencha taste, and this gyokuro has a subtler, less vegetal flavor as well. It also seemed slightly thinner and less full than the sencha.
The liquor was very pale greenish yellow, and there was less particulate matter and cloudiness in this brew than in my side-by-side preparation of Superior Sencha. I was fairly painstaking about keeping the parameters the same, but it is possible that I steeped the gyokuro for slightly less time than the sencha. Anyway, I’m still happy to have a large bag of this gyokuro from the Tazo Collection sale still in progress chez Starbucks.
From a business standpoint, it was probably a mistake for Starbucks to make tea-lovers go to the Starbucks website to buy their loose-leaf tea. They should have kept the tea-selling business of Tazo at the Tazo website. Let’s face it: the people who frequent the Starbucks website are much more likely to be hardcore coffee drinkers, and people who are focusing on tea will go first to a tea-only site such as Teavana before attempting a lengthy and often fruitless search through the difficult-to-navigate Starbucks.com website in search of good tea. Some of it is still there to be found, but it will not be there for much longer, it seems.
(Blazing New Rating #46)
Starbucks appears to be phasing out Tazo, to my disappointment, in favor of its Teavana acquisition. That explains why the remaining Tazo looseleaf, whole leaf teas from the Collection series have been slashed to a fraction of their original price. I decided to pick up a few to see how they measure up. I have been very happy with other members of the Collection series, above all, Golden Monkey, so I was curious to know how they were at “curating” Japanese and some of the more sophisticated China greens. First up: Tazo Sencha Superior.
I am fairly sure that I have imbibed this delightful tea before. It meets the strict qualifications for “ichiban” and “superior” sencha, and I have consumed a few of examples of that grade in the not-too-distant past. The characteristic shimmering viridescence of the liquor, a slight cloudiness and some small particulate matter in the bottom of the glass, along with the strong roasted spinach scent in the very dark green dried leaves all led me to predict that i would enjoy this brew. And I do! It’s very good.
it is entirely possible that Tazo and some of the other tea emporia buy their Japanese first-flush sencha from the same producers. That would explain why this seems so familiar to me. Brands are not tea producers, so happily I’ll be able to enjoy this tea in the future by looking out for other ichiban senchas…
(Blazing New Rating #45)
I picked up a box of the white enveloped filter bags of Tazo Apricot Vanilla Creme a while back. Today is the day to find out how they taste!
The dried filter bag smelled scarily like blue cheese, so I got off to a bad start, fairly pessimistic about what the brew would be like. Fortunately, it tasted fine. The liquor was a bit cloudy, and yellower than the loose leaf organic version of this tea from Tazo, but the taste was similar, if a bit less clear and distinct.
it tastes okay for a quick fruity filter bag tea. Nothing to cry about when this one is discontinued.
(Blazing New Rating #44)
When you really think about it, white tea could be just about anything, produced just about anywhere. The only processing is letting the leaves dry—which is common to all other forms of tea. This raises the interesting question why white tea is sometimes depicted as more noble and sophisticated than other varieties of tea. You have to do less not more work to produce white tea, so how can it be more expensive to produce? That’s a puzzle. I look forward to your insights on this matter, my fellow Steepsters!
This flavored organic white tea, Organic Vanilla Apricot Crème from Tazo, has a slightly sweet and fruity scent and flavor. I’m okay with “apricot”, if that’s what they want to call it. The base tea is the uglier variety of white tea, not the beautiful furry silver tips. This sort of white tea always looks very random to me and makes me skeptical about descriptions such as “new white tea buds”. I mean let’s be serious: this looks like old, frazzled dead leaves, along with broken twigs, such as the ones we step on during the fall season.
The flavor is smooth and likable. When it comes to this particular genre of white tea, I say: bring the flavors on!
(Blazing New Rating #43)