Yes! My shipment came in today!
And OH MY.
The smell…I couldn’t stop smelling the bag once I frantically ripped apart the envelope it came in. It’s SO GOOD. Exactly like banana pudding. I could see little pieces of coconut and huge pieces of banana through the clear front of the bag. There seemed to be a greater measure of toasted rice to green tea, which worried me at first. (I’m not a big fan of genmaicha. I have to really be in the mood for it.) No instructions on the bag, so I guessed the temp to be on the hotter side of “green” and let it steep for three minutes.
I waited, waited and waited…giving the cup a good sniff every fifteen seconds or so. I couldn’t smell much past the toasted rice. Maybe a hint of banana but it was very faint, especially compared to the sublime desserty-banana aroma that drifted out of the bag.
First sip was very similar to the smell. A little disappointing, but I expected the banana to be muted compared to the base. First impressions can be deceiving. I waited a few minutes, hoping that the banana-coconut flavors would emerge at a lower temperature. I was right! First I get the roasty, nutty element of the rice, followed by a very definite banana flavor.
[I’m going to interject here that’s it’s not the flavor of a ripe banana. I don’t really like ripe bananas myself. I prefer bananas that are still slightly green and firm, and not very sweet. While the banana flavor of this tea isn’t a ripe banana, it’s not quite a green banana either. It’s close. It’s very “fresh” tasting…but also mildly sweet. I’m not sure how else to describe it. Maybe someone else can illuminate this for me?]
Anyway, back to the tea. Toasty rice, then banana, then a very soft creaminess that’s a little like vanilla. It’s more of a texture than a flavor…just this soft, full, silkiness. I think I’m catching hints of the coconut. A little cream. I wish it was stronger, honestly. The flavors descend in intensity as they descend in order. I’m not getting much in the way of crusty, vanilla wafer goodness but that’s okay. It makes a very good cup of banana tea with a hint of sweet coconut.
While not what I expected, I drank a whopping seven cups of this today. (: It resteeps well. Second brew was 4 minutes, and the third was for 6 minutes. (I tried coaxing a fourth out of the leaves with 8 minutes, but the flavors were too subdued for me to enjoy it. No banana or coconut or green tea. Just rice.) Out of the three steep times I think the second was best. The silky vanilla-coconut elements stepped up and the toasty rice stepped back. There was greater balance in that cup.
The entire time I was drinking this I kept wondering how it would taste with a black tea base. I’ve never had it before, and I enjoy black tea much more than green tea. What’s a girl to do? Cast a guilty look over her shoulder, get back online and place a hasty order for Banana Pudding Black…which is exactly what I did.
I’m glad that I liked this tea so much since my recent experience with 52teas (Cherry Cheesecake Green) went so badly.
I’m sure time will help meld the flavors nicely. Note that sugar brings out more of the banana-pudding-ness of the tea.