1737 Tasting Notes
Despite my skepticism about the somewhat gimmicky “radiant skin” claims for this Lychee Coconut flavored white tea by Tea Forte, and despite the fact that this brand has been endorsed by Oprah, I decided to try it because it was on sale.
Glad that I took the plunge, as the flavor is a pleasant surprise and the aroma even better. The coconut is dominant, and I am not even sure that I smell much lychee here, although it’s also true that lychee is somewhat elusive, olfactorily speaking. In perfume, lychee often just smells like generic “fruitiness”. Here it’s not really making the brew sweet and it also does not mask the coconut. Left to my own devices, I’d call this a coconut white tea.
It is becoming increasingly clear that flavored white teas work for me. I’ll definitely be enjoying my remaining fifteen filter bags of Lychee Coconut. My understanding is that white tea has more caffeine than even black tea, so I’d better have a second cup of something less stimulating if I want to get any sleep tonight.
I have been looking forward to finding out how Harney & Sons Paris compares with Tazo Earl Grey Blanc, and today at last the moment has arrived.
Paris, like Earl Grey Blanc, features both bergamot and vanilla, but here the vanilla is a touch stronger than the bergamot in not only the aroma off the surface of the tea, but also the taste which lingers after sipping. There is also some unidentified fruit essence which may be black currant. It’s very light, so I am not sure.
I spoke with one of the Harney & Sons customer service reps, and she said that she likes Paris a lot though she does not like Earl Grey. Now that I’m experiencing it myself, I have to wonder whether she was thinking of the more strongly scented Earl Grey blends, because Paris is definitely in that camp. It must be the vanilla which smooths it out, making the blend palatable even to those who do not like Earl Grey.
Well, I like Earl Grey, and I also like Paris, although I cannot claim to find any overlap between this tea and my experiences of the French capital. (Coffee has always been my beverage of choice while in France.) I believe that Earl Grey Blanc is better than this blend, but I’ll have no difficult sipping my way through my four ounce can.
I brewed this tea on the dark side because I knew that I’d be adding cream, as I always do with Earl Grey-type blends.
My Harney & Sons order arrived today, so naturally the first cup had to be Japanese Sencha, which I purchased on the strength of a sample filter bag given to me in a store.
It’s the same: light, crisp, refreshing, sencha. The color is pale greenish yellow and the taste more or less what you’d expect from a Japanese sencha. The body is a bit on the ethereal side for my tastes—I prefer more of a vegetal and nutty texture to my sencha-style cups (closer to Stash Premium Green), but this is definitely nice. I’m pretty sure that some people would appreciate this Harney & Sons blend all the more precisely for its airy quality.
I’ve reached the bottom of the chamomile barrel, left only with the light-colored filter bags of Tazo Calm Chamomile. I had bought a couple of boxes of this (under the erroneous assumption that it was simply a quicker brewing version of the Calm served in Starbucks cafés). Instead, it’s a completely different blend.
I finished my last bag of Stash Chamomile (which isn’t great, but it’s better than this), so here I am drinking another cup, despite my becoming-ever-firmer belief that this formulation is truly mediocre.
I do have some new chamomiles on the way. Hopefully one of them will be better than this (shouldn’t be too difficult to clear that bar).
After my bath this evening I decided to don Clinique Aromatics Elixir, which packs a mighty punch of chamomile. So I figured why not make that the tea of the night as well?
Stash Chamomile filter bag is definitely better than the current version of Tazo Calm Chamomile. The difference is that there is more chamomile to this chamomile. The craving for a substantial oomph of chamomile comes much closer to being satisfied by this blend.
But it’s not as good as Sleepytime, which is Celestial Seasonings’ chef d’oeuvre, in my opinion. (Most of the rest of their line is mediocre, except for the Zingers for iced tea.) This was my last bag of Stash Chamomile, and I won’t go out of my way to acquire it again.
Adagio Aquarius, a nice black and oolong loose leaf blend, smells even better than it tastes. The hazelnut and cocoa mingle beautifully above the surface of the brewed tea. I prepared this in a Bodum and added light cream before drinking.
The tea itself is on the lighter side of black blends because of the oolong—although the Steepster description says that the black part is Irish breakfast. Still the overall briskness is lower, undoubtedly to make the flavors more salient.
I am finding that the Zodiac series blends tend to be quite flavorful, and this one is no exception to the rule. In addition to hazelnut and cocoa nibs, cornflower and vanilla are listed, but I find the first two rather dominant. I am not actually sure whether I know what cornflower smells and tastes like, but I recently received a white tea blend which may clarify matters a bit…
I’ve easily consumed 1000+ filter bags of this simple sencha-style blend from Stash, along with quite a few of the loose tea packets. The tea bags are perfectly measured and foolproof, so I actually prefer to use them. I credit the superiority of the filter bags to the fact that Japanese sencha tea bags have attained the stratum of high craft, no doubt because of the obsession in Japan with this sort of tea, which nearly everyone drinks. It’s really ubiquitous—even hotel rooms come equipped with a “tea center” complete with a little pot and a pile of sencha bags for travel-weary guests looking to decompress. The tea center is just as important as the bathtub—to some travelers, perhaps even more!
Stash used to source their Premium Green directly from Japan, but for several years now it comes from Brazil. Still, it is prepared in the classic sencha style. Crisp, clean, slightly nutty and slightly vegetal, the brewed tea is golden greenish brown. Not as bright as a pure sencha from Japan, but the taste is satisfying to me. Adulteration of this sort of tea (with cream, sugar or lemon) is a big faux pas in Japan. Rather like putting ketchup on filet mignon. ;-)
This was my last bag from a box of 100, and ordinarily I’d have another on the way, but I am anxiously awaiting a delivery of Harney & Sons Japanese Sencha, which will surely satisfy my after-lunch sencha craving for the next couple of months.
I tried a second infusion of this tea (I had put too much in my Bodum), and it ended up tasting good—still flavorful and not too watery…
I decided to experiment and try the remaining cup cold. I discovered that I prefer it hot. The safflower became much more pronounced after being in the refrigerator. I’ll drink this one hot.
Yogi Tea loves black pepper, and they have added some to this lemon ginger blend, along with a touch of licorice root. The overall effect is quite a bit spicier than Stash Lemon Ginger (faint praise), but it also smells and tastes somewhat fresher.
The point of this brew (all Yogi Teas have explicitly stated functional purposes) is to alleviate stomach troubles, but it is a decent lemon and dried ginger infusion in its own right, relative to other filter bag variants on the theme. Quick and easy, and pleasant enough.
A good friend of mine makes fresh ginger tea using just peeled and grated root. Needless to say, this powdered ginger blend does not hold a candle to that. In fact, the Stash Lemon Ginger does not stack up that well even against other filter bag ginger infusions. The problem? It lacks piquancy.
To someone who loves the zesty, spicy, exciting bite of ginger (and who always opts for the extra-ginger (26g) variety of Reed’s Ginger Beer), this presentation seems rather effete. It’s rather like ginger tea muzak. The lemon, too, is not very citric or bright. The color of this brew is brownish yellow, which pretty much conveys the “hue” of the taste and the scent.
Some people dislike the bite of fresh ginger, and this blend may work for them, but it’s definitely not a favorite of mine, which is why I still have some bags lying around…