Pique TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
From the Discovery Tea Box – Tea Two
So, I’ve been aware of Pique’s tea crystal/instant tea for years now, and a couple grocery stores in town actually carry their tea as well. However, it’s something I’ve always been HIGHLY skeptical of and just unwilling to spend my own money on because I just know that there’s no way I’m going to like them.
There was one of these little packets in the box though, and I figured now is my chance to scratch that curiosity itch and just give one of these a whirl so I can finally just sort of ‘move on’, if you will. Basically, these are like little premeasured out instant iced tea packets that dissolve the same way powdered juice mix does or, say, instant Nestea iced tea. I think these are meant to be a higher quality than the latter, though.
Anyway, my suspicions have been confirmed: these are GROSS. For starters, it brews up an ungodly fluorescent yellow colour and smells a little bit like an overly chlorinated pool with a tinge of mint. The taste isn’t much different, but in addition to the chlorine and vague mint thing it’s also just REALLY bitter, and had a strong seaweed kind of taste. I swear I tried to be super open minded here. I swear. Like I was telling someone on instagram though, I don’t think the pairing of mint and sencha is an inherently bad one. It’s just not done well in this case.
I guess I can see the appeal to these if you worked in an office without decent tea making conditions or for travel!? But apart from that, it’s pretty nasty. It’s basically bad Nestea instant iced tea mix. Plus, we all kind of just know that while Nestea is technically tea it also just… isn’t. That’s what I’m feeling about this one right now. It’s technically tea, but really it isn’t at all. Worse that most bagged teas, as well.
But hey – at least I finally got to try it so that I could know FOR SURE.
I got this tea in my very first Sips by box. For those of you not familiar, Sips by is a relatively new tea subscription service that matches you with 4 teas to try every month. So far, I love it! I was excited about all 4 picks they sent.
Now. I don’t drink a lot of instant teas. I’m definitely a loose leaf kind of girl. But this had attractive packaging and the price on the website suggested it was higher quality. As I poured it into my cup, I found that it looked just like ground cinnamon. It smelled fruity and realistic, kind of like how a peach smells before you bite into it.
It dissolved super easily. I used all 4 packs they gave me in a 24 ounce tumbler. After ice and some stirring, it came out to a kinda scary black coffee color. However, the flavor is surprisingly mild. Ginger is the main thing I taste, with a kind of disappointingly dull peach flavor. Hmm. It’s like a fruity, uncarbonated ginger ale. There is no ginger burn at all.
While I’m not really impressed, I should note that there is no grit left over on the bottom. Also, this packs quite the caffeine punch. I am having trouble sitting still, that’s for sure.
Flavors: Ginger, Peach
“Mint. Sencha. Green Tea. All of these things are green and so all of these things would indicate GREEN powder was hidden inside the little brown tea packet. There is even a green stripe on the package to drive the point home. So I was certainly surprised when I dumped the powder out of the package only to find a substance that resembled golden turmeric in my teacup.” Confusing and honestly, not that great. It’s buttery and vegetal and also fresh but at the same time the flavor is bitter and harsh. Fun to try though!
Check out the full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2017/09/24/mint-sencha-green-tea-from-pique-tea/
I was quite surprised with this product and will be mentioning it to MANY. I was able to sneak one of their other flavors and will be doing a review of that in the neat future, too, and let me tell you that was impressive as well! Pique Tea is a game changer! There…I said it!
Full review and it’s a lengthy one!
I did not like this one. It had the qualities of their sencha tea crystal (which was vegetal and buttery) but with an oversteeped swampy spearmint flavor. I think what was more disappointing in this mint flavor had potential to brighten the instant tea, adding freshness that it lacks, but the mint was just overstewed tasting to fix anything.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/pique-tea-crystals/
I wasn’t a fan of this one. It was mellow, marine, vegetal and buttery, but it lacked that fresh grassy taste that I associate with senchas. This product is instant (just add water) so you are getting something easy to make and you don’t have to worry about water temperature, however you lose fresh and complexity vs loose leaf.
This one is much better iced, likely the best use of this tea crystal.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/pique-tea-crystals/
One of the best (maybe 2nd best) of the Pique tea crystals I tried out of 4. The base is green tea, the jasmine is light, with a peachy floral vibe and a bit of dryness. It is way light for a jasmine tea though, it is certainly for someone who wants a green with a hint of jasmine.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/pique-tea-crystals/
Best of the 4 Pique tea crystals I’ve tried. The bergamot level is on the light side, but the black is a noncomplex classic ceylon tasting base. A little bitterness and brisk.
Cool, it is more sweet and bergamot. Also makes a nice latte, but be sure to dissolve the crystals in hot water first if you are doing an iced latte.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/pique-tea-crystals/
I’m planning to do a fuller review of Pique tea, conceptually, when I review the sencha. However, I only had two packets of the Earl Grey and have now used them up, so I wanted to write this tasting note while my memory is fresh.
I don’t drink black tea much. I actually used this to make iced tea for my partner. Same recipe both times: honey in the bottom of a glass, add hot water and mix, add the powdered tea, add cold water, mix. It was quick, easy, and tasty. The bergamot is very notable. It’s not overwhelming or too tart, but it is about half the flavor. The other half is a smooth black base that isn’t particularly complex but makes for a solid iced tea. My partner was pretty pleased with it too.
But, there is one more tea to cover and for that I need the help of my Earl Grey obsessed fiance:
I will admit, I approached this review with some trepidation.
For one, there’s almost eleven months to go until my “traditional” feature on this blog. Amanda wants me to feature more, but I’ll level with you – I’m not sure what I can offer to you guys here. I can enjoy a good cup of tea, and I can REALLY enjoy a low-quality cup of tea, but I don’t have her poetic sense of taste, or her mental library of every sensory experience she’s ever had.
For another, tea crystals. I mean, what? It’s a really strange way of preparing the stuff, and whilst I can see the advantages in some abstract sense (less clean-up than leaves without the problems of bags), I wouldn’t want to sacrifice taste to avoid a little cleanup. Even more concerning – tea crystals have very little smell when unsteeped, so it was impossible for this tea to pass my basic Early Grey test of making people cough.
But never let it be said that I’m not a game sort of Tea Barbarian – I tried a cup. With some measure of trepidation, mind: even fully steeped, at had a very faint aroma, and I was expecting a few bland sips, followed by a heated internal debate about whether to finish the mug or pour it out.
Boy, was I in for a surprise.
The tea has a shockingly rich and balanced taste. The deepness of tea leaves, set off with the sharpness of citrus, without either one getting overpowering or making the other taste bitter. There wasn’t a lot of nuance to its taste, but nuance is largely wasted on me, anyway – I like a rich flavor which is fulfilling in itself and pairs well with any meal I might be having, and this delivered. In short, somehow these crystals managed to be a perfect Earl Grey – in fact, I would happily rank it among my four or five favorites I’ve ever tried! Crystals or no, coughing or no, it’s an excellent tea in a surprising yet convenient package. I can recommend it wholeheartedly.
(I also tried the other two of these teas. It seems like that “lack of nuance” preference of mine may be important here – both were fine, and I didn’t actively dislike them, but they didn’t make the same strong impression that the Earl did, even accounting for my own Earl-oriented preferences.)
Today I am looking at three different teas of a completely different sort than I usually examine, with some help from the Tea Barbarian (aka Ben) since he is my in house expert in all things Earl. I was contacted through Instagram by Pique Tea to try their tea crystals, and I admit I am enough of a tea snob at this point that when I first saw it I was tempted to go a big nope, but I was curious so I investigated further. Unlike the ungodly gross instant tea I occasionally drank in moments of desperation when I was a youngin’ this is organic whole leafed tea, sourced by Roy Fong (of Imperial Tea Court fame) and then crystallized. No sugars or grossness, in theory this is just dehydrated brewed tea waiting to be rehydrated. Kinda sci-fi and I like that, but at the same time and with this introductory caveat I am not sure this is the tea for me, regardless if it is the best thing I have ever had or any spectrum in between. A huge part of the enjoyment of tea for me is the sensory bliss of examining the leaves, the process of brewing (one of the reasons I favor Gongfucha so much) and while I would not go as far as to say that tea is spiritual for me, I wouldn’t say it isn’t either. And while the tea crystals are incredibly easy to brew, they do take what I consider the most fun part out of the equation. But, enough of that, time to find out if they are any good or not!
I tried the Jasmine first, a green tea that has been scented with jasmine, so yay for not blending jasmine oils in with the tea. The crystals themselves have a fairly faint aroma, granted I didn’t want to accidentally inhale them so there was not the full on piggie searching for truffle snuffling that usually happens with leaves. Once I poured the hot water onto the crystals the aroma became very strong of jasmine, its heady scent wafted out of the cup and around my tea-desk like a flowery fog.
The taste was decent, I was not hugely wowed, but in this tea’s favor I have not been wowed by a jasmine in a long while, part of me thinks I have just gotten over jasmine in favor of osmanthus, rose, and tangerine blossom. The jasmine was quite strong and it didn’t taste like perfume, it tasted like flowers with a light green tea base, nothing really stood out as spectacular or awe inspiring. It was very convenient for a quick brew before dashing out the door to run errands, and chilled it becomes a bit sweeter.
Next up was the Mint Sencha, I like mint and I like Sencha, so this seems promising. Like the Jasmine it lacked much in the aroma department, but once I added water to the crystals the mint and slightly vegetal tone of the Sencha made itself well known.
The taste of this one was mild and surprisingly umami, savory notes of spinach and kelp blend with cooling mint and a back taste of kale. It was not bad, it lacked depth but its taste was enjoyable if not a little mild. I think my only real complaint with this tea is its price, and since I know cost value is different for everyone this is not something I bring up often on the blog. See, I am not a person with income so I am always looking for tea that is a bargain while not skimping on taste and quality, take for instance a favorite tea of my, Ailaoshan Black is $6 for 50 grams of tea, if I use roughly 2 grams per 100ml gaiwan that is 25 sessions of tea, and since that tea gets me 3+ steepings each session, well you can see it does not even compare to something that costs almost $10 for 14 cups of tea. To me it is not worth it, but like I said earlier, I am not sure I am this tea’s target audience. But to be fair, let’s look at who this tea’s target audience really is, the bagged tea drinkers, if we are to look at higher end teabags (let’s just say Adagio’s Sencha which is $19 for 15 teabags) things make a bit more sense. Taste wise these teas blow most teabags out of the water, so that is a solid win there, thus ending my tiny foray into economics.
Life has put me on the easy-to-steep, bagged-when-possible, oh-my-ears-and-whiskers-I’m-late track, so K S’s reviews, and kindly supplied samples, of these little crystals intrigued me. Heat water. Stir. Done. No wait.
The English Breakfast was so strong, I just started with a larger mug this time. Result: a light, lovely, surprisingly fresh cup. Nice balance between the sencha and the hint of mint. Neither overpowers.
One of my first (4-year-old?) kitchen responsibilities was to make the Nestea. Mom would tell me how many spoonfuls to put in the pitcher, and then I got to stir it! (My cooking skills haven’t improved much since then.)
Pique’s crystals allow you to experience the sophisticated version of the same process, and it works admirably for convenience, ease of prep, and dissolving nicely without getting gritty. The little sleeve K S sent my way recommended 8 ounces of water, so I stuck with that (roughly), even though I drink out of significantly larger mugs and tumblers most of the time.
At that powder-to-water ratio, the English Breakfast is very strong. Builders’ tea strength. I was surprised! Good stuff, just proceed knowledgeably if you prefer a less stout wakey-uppy.
This was yesterday’s tea. I’ve enjoyed these crystallized packets. Not just because they are convenient to the extreme. They also taste pretty good. They don’t have all the nuances of brewing some fine leaves yourself, but are better than bagged or any RTD that I have tried.
This one surprised me. All of the others have had a fairly sharp edge – almost tart. I like that but not everyone does. This blend is Assam and Ceylon. I expect a brisk bite. Instead this is smooth malt. They call it earthy. My mind interpreted it as woods and leafy. Fruity. Maybe a little floral. The color was dark orange leaning heavily towards ruby. At the end just before the aftertaste it develops a nice edge that breaks the smooth mold.
I next tried it cold by adding a packet to a 12 oz bottle of icy water. What is interesting to me is it had more edge iced. This works perfect for me. I like my hot breakfast tea to bring me evenly into the day rather than with a jolt. I want my iced tea to be more grrrr. This does both and pretty well.
These Pique teas are not pre-sweetened. They don’t need sweetened, but they take it well if you so desire.
Life is hectic. I could go into details but we all have a lot going on in real life. In the rush, making time for proper tea has been near impossible most days of late. I am so glad I have had these crystallized teas to get me through.
I was highly skeptical at first. Yes they are convenient to the extreme. Pour into the cup, add hot water, drink. Don’t have hot water? Pour into an icy water bottle and shake. Nothing is simpler except over sweet bottled tea. The best part is they taste and smell way better than probably necessary. Are they going to replace your loose leaf stash? No, but if you don’t have time, what’s it matter?
This one smells intensely of green vegetation. I immediately picture tiny spring green leaves from China when the aroma hit me. Turns out this ‘sencha’ is grown in China and shaded the last week or so before picking.
The cup is light honey yellow. The taste is vegetive. There is a sharp clean citrus bite. The aftertaste is green, slightly sweet, and lingering.
I’m about to grab another packet and a water bottle before facing RL head on once again.
I used my last packet of crystals in a bottle of cold water. Nice refreshing and minty green tea without all the sugar RTD generally contains.
These packets were originally only available through a subscription plan. Now you can also buy individual boxes without the plan. For those who might be interested, Pique Tea made a promo code to save 15% off your first order, especially for my blog.
Pique Tea Promo Code
We have a major lake in the back yard from heavy rain. Thankful. In northern Indiana they are getting heavy snow. I hate snow. I hate winter. I thought I hated spearmint.
This is a spearmint and sencha green tea in crystallized form. While my brain keeps telling me this is instant tea, my taste buds remain unconvinced. Super easy to make. Pour the packet powder into the mug add some water at 175F. Drink. I don’t even need to stir.
Instead of tasting like toothpaste which I never ever buy spearmint toothpaste – ever, this is just different. I am thinking it is like jasmine, which I thought I didn’t like until I had a better one. This is obviously spearmint and intense, but not icky intense.
It is accompanied by an equally intense amount of grassy bite. It reminds me of the level of bite often found in Ceylon tea. I rather like that.
I’m pretty sure if someone handed me a cup of Pique tea and didn’t tell me, I would not know it wasn’t home brewed loose leaf. It is an interesting idea, done well.
I feel like I have too many things going at once and I am not doing any of them justice. I’d give you a list but I’m sure you have your own. Tea is on the list. I don’t seem to have time to drink just for the enjoyment much less serious meditation on the cup for reviews. With that in mind, I have been enjoying the alternative brewing methods that have come my way lately. Of these Pique tea is the simplest and most convenient. Cut the individual serving packet open. Pour the crystals in the mug. Add hot water (or add to cold bottled water). Drink. Except for RTD there is not a simpler method out there. Unlike almost all bottled RTD there are no piles of sugar added. Pique says they use only organic whole leaf to brew their tea before crystallizing it. While it is essentially instant tea, it is unlike anything remotely instant I’ve had before.
This is a scented green made with jasmine blossoms (not flavored). It has a very natural jasmine fragrance. The brew is golden in color. The taste is sweet, floral, jasmine. It is not overly intense but definitely not a wall flower. If you want a mellower cup add more water. The green tea jumps forth halfway in the sip and finishes with a clean bite. The aftertaste is sweet, grassy, and lingering.
This is really pretty good. Better than any bagged jasmine I’ve had. As good as many loose jasmines I’ve tried. The however here is if you are accustomed to the higher quality loose leaf, the crystallization process does seem to scoop some of the nuances out of the middle of the sip. If you need something for everyday on the go drinking, or a convenient fast way to have tea in the office, in my opinion this would be a solid one to try.
Pique Tea Earl Grey comes in individual serving packets. There website says they use organic whole leaf teas to brew the tea, then they turn it into crystals. I’m open to trying about anything tea related. My fear was this would be similar to the Nestea I drank in my misspent youth. I promise you, this tastes nothing like that stuff.
I used 8 oz of 205F water. The crystals dissolved immediately without the need for a spoon. The color was a beautiful Burgundy. Just a light bergamot fragrance. The taste was far more citrusy than I expected. What impressed me most was I could tell they used a Ceylon base. It has that brisk bite of clean almost tart astringency that I crave in my Earl. How they managed this I have no idea.
While sipping the cup I hit upon an idea to test the limits of the crystals. I grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and added the contents of a packet. Replaced the lid and shook the bottle. After a few moments I had an icy cold bottle of Earl Grey. It was a 12oz bottle but really didn’t seem weak.
I look forward to trying their unflavored teas to see if they capture the taste correctly. For now, I’ll say this Earl Grey was extremely convenient especially for on the go drinking and I thought it tasty both hot and cold.