April 2008 Archives

Magical Mint Mate (Guayaki)

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Guayaki | Paraguay This is a bagged yerba mate tea. I went through a period a few years ago when I drank yerba mate of all types all the time. I enjoyed drinking it cool during the Summer. This version would be very good cool because it isn't just yerba mate but also peppermint leaf, spearmint leaf and stevia.

This tea has a nice minty smell with a little bit of yerba mate's typical grassy elements. There is almost no grassy taste. Most of the flavor is made up of mint tastes and is almost sweet because of the stevia. This is a very easy tea to drink for non yerba lovers. It would be a great gateway yerba tea.

I really like this tea, I like to drink it and I will continue to drink it but it isn't really a great tea. It is just very easy to drink a lot of with the normal yerba benefits. Trying to pick a rating was a tough one. I went with 3 because as yerba teas go it wasn't super amazing, kind of middle of the road. Even though I enjoyed it quite a bit I stuck with 3 stars and would recommend it to everyone.

Guayaki has their own rain forest preserve in Paraguay and work with conservation efforts all over South America. I put a little star in my review notebook where this Magical Mint Mate tea comes from and then some tea dropped on it. The smudged ink looks about like Paraguay so I thought I would add that because I have no tea leaves to include.

  • Rating: 3 Stars
  • Water: Spring House spring water.
  • Prep: 150 deg, 10 minutes
  • I drank the whole cup.
  • I was listening to the chirping birds outside.

Darjeeling Green Tea (Stash)

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Stash | India This is a very light tea, slightly yellow in color and transparent. There isn't very much aroma but what is there is nice. There is a very pale flavor with not very much going on. There is a bitter and bad aftertaste. This tea isn't very good, maybe it is too bad. This might be old or a bad batch. I will keep this review up and try to get a replacement batch.

  • Rating: 1 Stars
  • Water: Mountain Valley spring water.
  • Prep: 180 deg, 7 minutes
  • I drank 1/4 of a cup.

Lapsang Souchong (Adagio)

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Adagio | China The story goes that the tea from the Wuyi area was delayed one year because of the passage of an army through the mountains. This greatly delayed the tea harvest and drying of the leaves. In order to meet the great and still growing demand for their tea, the tea producers speed up the drying process by roasting the tea over pine wood fires. This gave the tea an amazing smoky flavor.

I was very surprised by this tea. I had read the story, and another story on Adagio's site about Russian caravans picking up the smoky flavor along the way, but I wasn't expecting such a strong wonderful aroma. It smells like a wonderful campfire, a rich smokey smell with subtle spicy hints hidden inside. I would compare the smell of this tea strongly with the smell of cloves. While I was trying to pin down the familiar smell I went to my cupboard and picked up a jar of cloves and the smell was almost identical. If you were roasting cloves you would get an experience similar to the smell of this tea.

Lapsang Souchong is very dark in color and transparent. It has a subtle taste compared to how powerful the aroma. It is a very easy drinking tea with a wonderful after taste consistent with the taste of the tea. The after taste also has a very slow fade allowing each sip to slowly wind down prolonging the lifetime of a cup considerably.

As great as this tea is it is even better as it cools down. It seems to get even smoother as the heat flows out of it. At room temperature it is still good but I would put the idea temperature between 105 and 110 degrees.

  • Rating: 5 Stars
  • Water: Spring House spring water.
  • Prep: 180 deg, 6 minutes
  • I drank the whole cup.
  • I was listening to "Bayamesa" Buena Vista Social Club

Chamomile (Adagio)

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Adagio | Egypt Chamomile has been around for a long time. Used as a cure for sore stomachs, a sleep aid, a universal remedy for all types of ailments and also for its calming a effects.

I may have had chamomile a long time ago but I mostly overlook herbal teas and never really thought much about chamomile. I guess that explains my surprise at the tiny golden flowers I was scooping into my tea pot. I am not sure what I was expecting but I was very surprised by the look of these tiny Egyptian flowers.

This was a very strong smelling tea. It was sweet and smooth smelling with qualities similar to a mildly spiced cider, hot and sweet. The tea has a very light golden color and is transparent. The flavor is as rich as the smell. The taste and smell compliment each other for a very enjoyable and relaxing experience while at the same time complex with many subtle flavors. Drinking this tea has a very mild feel with a very pleasant mouth experience.

After that amazing experince the after taste is a little bit of a let down. It is kind of empty and hollow, it is best to keep drinking this tea and not let the mouth empty too greatly of chamomile to prolong the enjoyment. This tea reminds me a lot of apple cider because of its similar smell component to apple juice. I should make some apple cider and add chamomile as a test to see how well the two compliment each other.

  • Rating: 4 Stars
  • Water: Spring House spring water.
  • Prep: 212 deg, 7 minutes
  • I drank the whole cup.
  • I was listening to "Los Chucos Suaves" by Ry Cooder, Chavez Ravine in general

Wonderful golden flowers.

Genmai Cha (Adagio)

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Adagio | Japanese I bought this tea a few months ago and it has sat on my shelf always getting itself overlooked. Today happened to be the day for popped rice tea.

from Adagio The Japanese peasants found it difficult to afford much tea, and would mix it with roasted rice, which was abundant and cheap. Thus, they were able to squeeze more cups from the same amount of leaves. A recipe born of poverty, Genmai Cha had now acquired an uptown chic. This tea had outgrown its humble origins to become a favorite of many urban dwellers in both Japan and the West.

That is an interesting concept to set up this tea experience. A tea blend put together by peasants who couldn't afford to drink straight tea so they cut it with popped rice and popped corn. I could get a sense of it right away. This tea was very light and yellow with a slight grain taste. The popped rice flavor dominated this tea. There were many subtle tastes but they were mostly drowned out by the strong flavor of rice. It also has the taste of cardboard. Some teas tend to have this taste, some of the teas I enjoy and some I do not, this was one of the teas I didn't enjoy.

This tea had an unpleasant mouth feel and the aftertaste was just awful. The whole thing smelled like brown rice. I can understand the need for this tea originally but now that there is plenty of available high quality tea this is just a novelty. It might be good for a cup or if you really like popcorn.

  • Rating: 2 Stars
  • Water: I used Spring House spring water.
  • Prep: 180 deg, 3 minutes
  • I drank about half of the this cup.
  • I was listening to "Tears Dry in the Sun" by Amy Winehouse

Green Pekoe (Adagio)

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Adagio | Chinese To start off this tea is very fragrant. It was very pleasing as I sat next to it waiting for the cup to cool. It has a yellow, orange color and is opaque. Maybe the orange color is why it is also called Orange Pekoe. I couldn't find an explanation for the origin of the 'orange' in Orange Pekoe so I will assume it is the color. This Green Pekoe is a very smooth drinking tea with a great texture. The aftertaste is stronger than the initial taste of the tea and fades really well. Some teas have the tendency to have a bitter after taste or seem a bit hollow. Not this tea, it is smooth and wonderful and the aftertaste might be better than the taste of the tea.

The leaves of this tea are long, thin and a little curly. I have always felt that tea leaves that hold together make better tea. I think it is the way they form a filter for the water not letting any tea-less pockets exist. This cooperation of tea leaves allows for strong but also smooth tea by also filtering out the tea particles that aren't held in suspension by the tea water. This tea did have a small amount of loose tea flecks in the last sip leading to a slightly bitter taste but only for the last sip. This is a tea I will come back to because of the overall smooth flavor and drinking experience.

  • Rating: 4 Stars
  • Water: I used Spring House spring water.
  • Prep: 180 deg, 3 minutes
  • I drank the whole cup.
  • I was listening to "Call Me The Breeze" by JJ Cale

Enjoy the color of the tea leaves. They take on a wonderful light green color accentuated by the end of the day's sunlight. Wonderful.

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