55 Tasting Notes
I kind of feel bad that I brewed up my small sample without checking Steepster first to see what the best brewing method would be. Instead I just used my small teapot/strainer and punted: 185 degrees, four minutes. What I got is still delightful: a sort of mineral cleanness, light sweetness, like I imagine sucking on a cloud would be. At the end of a mouthful I get a small amount of bitterness—nothing I can’t deal with, and probably only because of the long steep time. (I’m sorry…I’m SORRY…) This is earthier than the whites and greens I’m used to—yes, even discounting that the cup smells like clay. The earthiness sort of grabs onto my taste buds and won’t let go. Very tasty!
I can’t see the color of the tea because I’m using one of the small egg-shaped inside-glazed clay teacups I got in Turkey (the pottery shop served us apple tea in them, and I fell in love on the spot), but reddish-brown is the general impression I get.
When I am done drinking the hot (now warm) tea I’ll put the rest of the teapot’s contents in the fridge and see how it tastes cold in the morning. Probably it’ll be only okay, but I hate to waste the rest of the pot due to my own carelessness.
You know what this means, right? Right? I’m going to have to order some of this stuff and do it RIGHT next time. (I believe this is exactly what samples are supposed to do. Good marketing strategy, David!)
Stolen from my hotel room in Istanbul two days ago. I felt like I wanted some “turkish tea” to wake myself up the first day back, so I found this bag in my luggage and brewed it in a half-full teapot. The result: rather tasteless actually. Deep brown color, but that’s all it’s got going for it. Sugar didn’t help either. I’m realizing that what a person really needs to do to have real turkish tea (besides bringing home some tulip-shaped glasses to serve it in, which I did, but they’re in the dishwasher) is to use loose tea and the double-decker teapot method. (Haven’t found the tin of loose tea in the luggage yet…and I’m working on getting a double-decker teapot, but it’ll be awhile!)
I have had this a couple of times, once while camping and once for choir. The convenience of the pour-a-packet-in-a-water-bottle beverages cannot be overemphasized here, because lord knows I didn’t drink this for the taste. Basically, when dissolved in a bottle of water, the water’s texture thickens slightly and you get a little tiny vegetal green tea taste that you almost feel you might be imagining. The water turns sickening green and murky, but the taste is quiet enough to be almost unnoticeable. Quite frankly, the price ($9.99 for ten packets; the Matcha packets are twice as much) combined with the lack of flavor puts this out of the realm of re-buying possibility. I love Rishi and I think they have some of the most forward-thinking teas and tea products out there today (AND they’re a Wisconsin company). But this particular idea? Fail. I’m giving it the points I am because it doesn’t actually taste BAD per se.
(And I’m bringing a few packets with me to Turkey just because they’re interesting, and maybe I can bond with some fellow tour members by giving them a packet for their water bottles!)
I bought a box of this in Jerusalem several years ago, and it’s been at my workplace ever since (I’m trying to get my work tea collection into Steepster as I use them). As I was adding this tea to the database, I discovered not only that it isn’t made anymore, but that before it was discontinued, lemon verbena was added for awhile, or even replaced all the other ingredients (searches yield contradictory info). The ingredients on my box/teabag covers are:
Rosemary, spearmint leaves, sage leaves, peppermint leaves.
Which is what this tastes like to me. The brewing time given below yields a dark brownish-green brew that tastes of peppermint + cooking herbs, which is pretty much what it is. If you like peppermint and peppermint blends, this is something you’d like, but since it isn’t made anymore, good luck with that.
I do want to point out that although Wissotzky teas (watch out for the misspelling Wissotsky—there is one tea listed on Steepster under that brand) are from Israel, the package I got in Jerusalem—and all the other packages I saw at the grocery store where I got this—does have ingredients/nutritional/volume information in English. You just have to kind of look around the box until you find the English characters. The rest of the package has Hebrew writing, which (unless you were really, really good in Hebrew school as a kid) is not possible for an English/Romance speaker to read and interpret on-the-fly. I count on figuring out foreign food packages if there is French/Italian/Spanish/Portuguese somewhere on the label, since I was a French major, and I am enough of a foodie to know many Romance language cognate words for food types and ingredients. I even know (by ear) some Hebrew food words I’ve picked up over the years, being Jewish. But I didn’t go to Hebrew school, and my trip to Israel taught me that on-the-fly interpretation is not so easy if you can’t read the script the words are written in!
On a related topic, I’m going to Turkey on vacation in two weeks, and I thank G-d and Ataturk that Turkey started using Western script during the 20th century. Turkish may not have a lot of cognates with Romance languages or English, but at least I can memorize a word so when I see it on signs or boxes, it rings a bell. There’s no way I could have done this if they still used Arabic script!
My Irish Breakfast ritual is the same as I used to do when I was a kid drinking black tea at a restaurant (with my parents looking askance at me, as if wondering, “Where did this kid come from? WE don’t drink tea…”): Lots of cream. I had a partly-used container of heavy cream at home, so this box of bulk tea bags kind of called out to me at TJ’s this afternoon.
My previous decaf Irish Breakfast was Stash, and I’m thinking after one cup of this that the Stash is tastier than this is. Maybe I understeeped (I’m too used to whites and greens, three minutes seems like an eternity to steep something!), but it just doesn’t have a lot of flavor. Tons of color—the spoon disappeared into the brew—but a less assertive, rich flavor than I’d like. The deep malty Irish Breakfast taste is supposed to blend into the cream and get deeper and richer, but this just sort of sits there in the cream, as though it’s been through a lot and wants to rest. For $3.49/box I guess I shouldn’t have expected much. It’s not that it’s bad—just that it isn’t standing up to my cream tea ritual. Sigh…
This is…wow. I concur with everything the other commenters have said. But I feel like there’s more complexity, more going on, than I expected. And I’m still on the first steeping. So I’m going to wait on giving a full account of this.
I will say that although I definitely smell corn throughout (and can kind of taste it too), when I first tasted this I immediately thought of mushrooms. Not musty or moldy mushrooms, but sort of the clean umami flavor you get from really high-quality, well-cleaned mushrooms that you might put in a clear soup or saute for a subtle sauce. (And if you hate mushrooms, I think this flavor can be interpreted multiple ways, so please don’t let my description of the flavor put you off this delightful tea!)
I guess Fava doesn’t carry this one anymore—it’s not on their website. Too bad, because it’s tasty. It reminds me of the “house tea” at Russian Teatime, a restaurant I used to visit near the Art Institute in Chicago. (I so love the classic Russian tea glass in its elegant silver holder…) In general, though, I don’t have much liking for Russian teas—just the black currant flavored ones. So I was excited to find this at Fava awhile back.
And yet I didn’t drink it much because I have only recently become less timid with caffeine. So this is my first logging of this tea.
Smell in the bag is fruity, maybe mango or peach, with the black tea hanging back and not adding much to the scent. In the brew you definitely get the black currant flavor, but not overwhelmingly and not an artificial smell. Neither does it taste artificial. The medium brown brew is clean-tasting, a “basic black” with a friendly layer of currant laid on top. I added rock sugar because it is always sweetened at Russian Teatime, but that’s not to say it has to be sweetened, just that it takes well to sweetener.
Strangely, after a night of sitting on my nightstand, the remainder of this tea was slightly concentrated (=bitter) but still drinkable. I am not one of those people obsessed with temperature in my tea. I stirred up the sugar and finished the mug!
I have brewed this hot, but am reserving judgement on that as I don’t recall exactly what I thought about it. I can tell you that when I bought it and opened the bag on the way home to sniff it, I was immediately overcome with an urge to eat some, and so I did. That vegetal oolong flavor is yummy!
Brewing it cold as I’m drinking it right now (overnight in the fridge, loose in the jar) for about 22 hours yields a golden liquid with a tinge of green. It smells wonderful, flowery, but then that’s jasmine—this is a tea that has plenty of jasmine flavor for my taste, which is saying something. I’m also getting that vegetal flavor I like so much. Unfortunately I’m also getting some bitterness. I wonder whether adding some ice would help, but something tells me not. The tannic bitterness keeps this from being a truly drinkable iced tea. I’ll finish the brew (it was a small jar, just two servings) but I don’t know if I’ll try this again iced, unless I can’t think of anything else I want.
After I strained out the tea leaves, which had expanded by many times overnight, I ate a couple. Same nice spinach-y taste. I have this wild yen to add them to a dish of sauteed greens…! It is nice to find a Teavana scented tea where the base is high-quality, I just wish the bitterness weren’t there. Maybe I’ll try with less tea next time.
Brewed for 2 min., this taupe-y green brew is bitter with a vegetal backdrop, with the same smell in the mug. Maybe I’ll try some different brewing conditions and see if I can reverse the two characteristics and make “bitter” retreat into the background. The way it is in this first brewing, it is barely drinkable, almost chemical-tasting. I’m disappointed but hopeful some changes can redeem it. Stay tuned…
I like this less in August than I did in June. Funny how the psychological profile of a tea will affect the drinker: if they sell it as a summery tea, I somehow don’t like it as much after summer jumps the shark and I am sick of hot weather.
That having been said, I still like this tea. The flowery and fruity aspects of it come out better with sugar (I used a handful of rock sugar—I LOOOOVE my rock sugar), but are still not as prominent in the tea as they were in the fragrance of the unbrewed leaves. The green base is good but not great. Very drinkable—but then my cupboard is full of drinkable teas. I am still trying to find the line defining what I find merely drinkable and what qualifies to be bought again. I think this tea is right on that line.
Next time I’m going to try it iced; I suspect it will either be great or awful, not in-between. That may help me decide if I want to buy it again!