I feel pretty let down by this tea, and that concerns me, because I got a delivery today of this and four other bags of this brand’s tea. I had been looking forward to it and there’s a whole lot of tea here. This tea probaby would have been a decent quality plain sencha, but instead of setting it apart, the orange flavouring seems to have ruined it. It imparts an orange sherbet candy kind of flavour that has a strong soapy element and it just really doesn’t work. I added sweetener and soy milk because when I first tasted it I was like, “???” and it needed something to change the taste, which was basically gross. This made it drinkable (not enjoyable, but drinkable), though it’s a big disappointment for me overall. Like with other teas that disappoint me, this one could probably be at least in part redeemed by adding some fresh flavourings like orange juice or zest, but the flavouring added to it is quite prominent and it may well keep the tea being a letdown.
I wouldn’t have guessed that being too strongly flavoured would be a problem with organic, fair trade tea. I associate those things with a higher level of quality (perhaps more justifiable with organic than with fair trade, but anyway) and I thought that if anything, the flavour would be a natural, possibly too subdued, zest-tasting orange. It’s not at all. It’s harsh, soapy, chalky. In short, the orange tastes pretty fake. It says the flavour is from natural orange oil, so the problem might be that it’s gone rancid over time or something like that. It was pretty cheap tea (about 5 euros for 100g, though maybe I’m not the best judge of good value, since I think this is the first time I’ve bought loose leaf tea), but as usual, money isn’t the issue—it’s that feeling of being letdown by tea that isn’t what you wanted.
This tea could perhaps be good in cooking, if making something in which a Pez kind of flavour is no problem or is desired. Generally though, if someone asked me “Hey, do you wanna try this tea? It tastes like orange candy!” the answer would probably be “No. No, I don’t.” I don’t know, maybe it’s just the fact that this orange flavour is not only candylike but is also soapy (which probably isn’t a necessary characteristic of a candy-flavoured tea [as you may have realised by now, I’m no expert on the subject.]) Ultimately, this tea is neither what I expected it to be, nor something different that has left me pleasantly surprised.
After the somewhat yucky latte, I tried the leaves re-steeped in a cup of boiling water with the zest of a whole orange. I microwaved it until it was bubbling to really get all the flavours together. I strained it and added sweetener and a bit of cinnamon. It was okay, but by that point it really just tasted like one of those drinks from orange concentrate. Yes, this drink’s healthier than those are, but that’s hardly the point! With a bit less zest and from the second steeping onward (when some of the dreaded flavour may have gone out of the leaves), this could be a passable drink. I don’t think any modifications could make it any more than that. Overall, this is essentially a tea for someone who wants to put in a log of work to get an average drink—i.e. no one.
I don’t have that much experience with sencha, so the bad taste could actually be partly to do with the fact that this sencha is perhaps not as good quality as others have been, though that would explain the soapy taste at most and could do nothing to explain the sherbet-like orange flavour. Then again, the particular type of orange flavour would possibly not have tasted bad or as bad had the soapy element not been there.
I really don’t like throwing tea out, and I’m not going to throw this out immediately (probably because with this very flavourful, strongly zested version of it I’m sipping now, the soapiness is out of my mind), but I think the possibility of ever really liking it is slim. In principle, I’m not opposed to soap. I just don’t want to drink it.