Doug F said

Verdant Tea and flavored/blended teas

What does everyone think about Verdant’s decision to branch out into flavored and blended teas? Does it suggest that tea companies can’t survive without offering these products? Do you agree with David’s view (explained on the Verdant web site) that all teas are inherently “flavored” by landscape, processing, etc.?

18 Replies
Azzrian said

I will need to go check the site and see what David has to say on this but I do agree that all teas are inherently “flavored” but addition of flavors is a whole different animal. I am not sure how I feel about their branching out. One of the special things about Verdant is how they have the most amazing teas with such complex and rich flavors that are all COMPLETELY natural without being added.

Azzrian said

Although I guess in retrospect I am perfectly okay with it since I have a couple of their blends lol

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Pithy said

A lot of scented & blended teas can be very traditional. And I think you can be a tea shop that sticks to the message of high grade, pure teas, sourced from origin, while still having a chai or jasmine in your line up. If there was a “Passion Mango Green & White” on Verdant’s site I’d be more inclined to think they’re selling out.

My problem with a lot of flavored teas on the market is that they will use synthetic flavors or scents in their teas. That stuff is gross.

An example!
Verdant Tea’s Chai Ingredient list: Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Fennel, Cardamom Seeds, Elderberry, Cardamom Pods, Peppercorn, Burdock, Saffron

Teavana’s Chai Ingredient list: Green Mate, cinnamon, white tea, lemongrass, candied pineapple pieces (pineapple, sugar), green rooibos, candied papaya pieces (papaya, sugar), coconut chips (coconut, coconut fat, sugar), orange peels, ginger pieces, cinnamon flavoring, cardamom, cloves, pink pepper, anise seed, bruised black pepper, coriander, almond flakes, cornflower blossoms

Note how Verdant Tea has pure spices blended together (with their own spin on ingredients), this to me is a very traditional way to make Chai. Then compare to Teavana which includes tons of sugar (candied fruits) and flavoring.

Azzrian said

Exactly! Agree 100%

Pithy said

Actually looking through their site a little closer, they probably use a bergamot flavoring or oil in their Earl Grey.

But I’ll let it pass.

Azzrian said

I don’t have issue with oils as long as they are 100% Essential oils and not FLAVORING oils.

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Zeks said

Actually, I am moderately enthusiastic about trying their blends :) Not for the next 2 weeks though(more like a month actually), Russian post is like a company of turtles run by snails :)

Missy said

haha company of turtles run by snails.

Zeks said

Sad truth… whenever a package arrives in Russia it usually takes them at least a week to “process” it at the customs. Best case that. I once had a parcel that took a month to check out.

Missy said

wow! That seems a terribly long time to check out a package. I haven’t had to deal with any thing of the sort though. I’ll have to check how long it takes to get through customs here for comparison value.

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I agree with Pithy, though I have not ordered any of the blends, I did get a sample of white jasmine with the Budset Tasting Kit and it was heavenly. I would love to try Gardens of Anxi as a way to help find the already existing notes in Autumn Tieguanyin and you bet I will try some of the spice blends come late fall, chai and elderberry pu,erh imparticular. I will probably also order some Imperial Breakfast for the husband. Yes I go to Verdant for the “straight” tea from small farms, but who doesn’t want to play alchemist sometimes? It’s something I’m considering when dreaming up my own tea bar/house, I plan on having herbs, spices and fruits available for guests to do their own blending, rather than having popular blends in stock, but it’s different for a store front than an online company.

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I have all of Verdant’s Blends and love them. The only teas now that I drink now that are “flavored” are honeybush teas. I consider Verdant’s “blends” since you can still get the tea out of them. They are not over powered by the spices or flowers but complemented..:)

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I personally get angry with people who say that “flavored” teas are not “real” teas – whatever that means. They may not be entirely traditional, but it’s true that the same plant grown in two different regions can taste very different. I think that tea is totally a matter of personal preference, and if I want to drink a herbal mix tonight, a traditional pu’erh tomorrow and a flavored white the next day, then I will. It’s all tea to me. There’s a difference between being a tea snob and a tea enthusiast. Same goes for those who say that bagged tea like Lipton is not “real” tea, or that adding things such as milk or sugar is “bad.” It may not be traditional, or the highest quality, but who’s to say that their opinion of what tastes good is wrong?

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Hello,
I hope nobody minds if I share a few thoughts on the Alchemy line, and the reasoning and motivation behind it. I won’t get too involved here, because I would love to see a good discussion play out on the idea of flavored tea and “pure” tea, and hear Steepster friends weigh in on the issue. This is the article referenced in the thread question: http://verdanttea.com/what-is-unflavored-tea-anyway/

The basic idea is that through soil, water, plants growing nearby, wether, etc, all teas pick up inherent complexities that are not “native” to the tea leaf itself. In this way, I am calling “pure” tea another sort of flavored tea. I understand the sensitivity to this subject, but mostly want to encourage another perspective here.

I am not trying to justify flavored tea by excusing it, but actually trying to make the point that we shoudl celebrate this complexity that tea offers, and one way of celebrating it is to be freed from our normal perspective and think of the natural flavors of tea like blending ingredients. If I think of a straight tea as a blend, it is easier to taste the subtlety sometimes. I don’t always want to taste from that perspective, but do find it to be a useful tool.

An extension of this idea is to look at the unflavored tea and consider how you might make it easier to see and understand the natural flavor profiles of the tea by accenting them with various herbs and spices. If, for example, we have a picture that we love, picking out a suitable frame and hanging it on the wall can enhance our enjoyment of the picture itself.

I consider Alchemy blends to be thought experiments encouraging a slightly different way of looking at the base flavor. If the base is lost, the experiment is a failure, and I begin again. The blend must maintain an honesty and integrity in its relation to the base. For example, I have recently received several new batches of tea whose profiles are different from their predecessor. This actually means that the entire Alchemy blend will have to be re-imagined to honor the new base.

Not sure if I am being too clear here, but you can read the article and comment on it there too if you want to.

About Alchemy blends potentially being a sign that tea companies cannot survive on straight tea alone: Straight unflavored tea accounts for the vast majority of our business. We could cut the whole line today and see very little financial impact. The line is truly offered as a perspective, guide, and counter-compliment to the rest of our collection.

Doug F said

Hi David, thank’s for chiming in and let me first say that I have a lot of respect for you and your company—some of the best teas I’ve tasted have been a result of your committment to finding singular teas. That being said, your comparison of flavoring teas to finding a nice frame for a picture made me think that flavoring tea is more like digitally adjusting the picture itself: bringing out the color of the eyes, masking a few blemishes, etc. What you have created may be visually pleasing, but it is not an accurate representation of the subject.

When I think of your precise and evocative descriptions of your pu erh teas, I can’t help but think that adding flavors to those teas would make it very difficult to tease out those essences from the tea.

Another analogy: Robert Frost said that writing free verse was like playing tennis with the net down. The wonder of tea is that farmers are able to confront the challenges of weather, pests, etc. to create a tea where all these amazing flavors are inherent. If we can simply add flavors after the fact, aren’t we, in a sense, taking the net down?

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chadao said

David, your post was very eye-opening about your tea blends. I am very curious about them and will have to try them out soon. Triumph, you bring up some really good points and analogies. I especially like the one from Robert Frost. I might see this in a positive note. No net means no more boundaries, no more competition, no more restraints, room to experiment and play, and I think that this is more or less what Verdant is doing with their teas. Except that they do have boundaries. The flavor profile of the tea is the net, frame or picture, whatever you call it, even after the fact. It is what is always referred back to. From this starting point, the possibilities are endless.

I praise Verdant Tea for taking an entirely new perspective on flavoring teas. Most companies, such as Teavana, use flavors not to enhance the tea, but to cover the tea’s flavor. Analogies aside, it seems to me that Verdant’s new twist is to celebrate the flavor and origin of the tea with flavors and origins of other similar things.

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Bonnie said

If you were talking about steak instead of tea…well…a little salt and pepper is all you need for a great steak. If the beef is grass fed or organic beef you may be able to tell that this is some special taste treat. You can enhance it with some garlic, or wine or mushrooms (you get where I’m going). If you put 1 cup of catsup on a great steak or too much white truffle oil you ruin it. The steak is overcome by the topping.
Restraint, Restraint, Restraint!
I taste many types of tea…and some are good FOR the flavors…like a nice mint in the Winter because I want that, but I know what is the real deal tea. That is what flavor blends like Verdant are about. I love the tea shining through as the star of the show.

I hope I didn’t offend anyone by being preachy but I approach much of tea from a cook in the kitchen point of view because I know no better.

DaisyChubb said

Wonderful analogy Bonnie! You said it best, in my opinion.
And now I’m hungry.

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