Friday, July 29, 2005

Tea Review 4 - Good Earth Chai Vanilla Decaf

Chai Vanilla Decaf
Good Earth Teas

In the interest of full disclosure, I'll state my bias up front. I've never cared much for chai. Nor am I very fond of vanilla. And, as I've stated elsewhere, I never met a decaffeinated tea (real tea, not the so-called herbal "teas") that I liked.

So it was probably a foregone conclusion that I wasn't going to jump for joy over Good Earth's Chai Vanilla Decaf. I do recall drinking a tasty variety from Good Earth some years ago called China Black. Though I'm not fond of flavored black teas, this one used just a hint of peach along with some other subtle flavors. As I recall, it was quite nice. I'll have to try it again - but I digress.

On with the Chai Vanilla Decaf. In addition to decaf black tea, it includes chicory root, cardamom, cloves, pepper, ginger, cinnamon and various other unnamed spices. More or less the standard formulation for chai.

I used boiling water and steeped at the lower end of the recommended four to six minute range. The result was a somewhat cloudy brew with a pale, brownish color and a very faint aroma of spices, which is okay, if you go for that sort of thing. Unfortunately the taste was even fainter than the smell, almost to the point of being non-existent.

The package suggests adding milk and honey, "if desired." We didn't have honey on hand, but I decided to try soy milk. Now, I should point out that I'm not an "additive" kind of guy when it comes to tea. That includes sweeteners of any sort, milk, cream, lemon and whatever else people choose to spoil their tea with.

But I didn't figure I could do much damage to this particular brew, so I gave it a squirt of vanilla soy. This lent it an even less appealing look. As for flavor, well...I took a sip and spit it out.

Now, I've already confessed my bias, and it's quite possible that your results may vary. But unless you have a marked fondness for tea that's just a bit stronger than hot water, I doubt it.

Contents: 18 tea bags per box.
I paid: I don't recall, but Good Earth usually goes for somewhere in the three to four dollar range.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Tea Review 3 - Jade Cloud Green Tea

Jade Cloud Green Tea
Rishi Tea

At just a little bit over two dollars per ounce, Rishi Tea's Jade Cloud make a very nice everyday tea - and it's 100% organic, to boot.

The Milwaukee company imports this tea from China, where it is grown and where it is known as "wulu." It is harvested by hand at about one thousand meters above sea level in the Zhejiang province in southeastern China.

Jade Cloud is produced during the "first flush," another name for the first picking of the spring harvest, a time when the best teas are said to be produced.

I brewed a cup of Jade Cloud using filtered water heated as close to recommended 180 degrees as I could get without a thermometer. I steeped the loose leaves at the low end of the recommended three to four minutes. Rishi says the leaves are good for three uses but I've rarely gone past two.

Jade Cloud has kind of a "classic" green tea taste, if there is such a thing. It has a very light and subtle flavor, with a very delicate overtone of grassiness. Though I've found that it tends toward bitterness, this may be due more to a fault with my preparation methods than a problem with the tea itself.


Contents: Loose tea - 2.75 oz./78g
I paid: $7.29

Monday, July 25, 2005

Tea Review 2 - Steaz Orange

Orange Green Tea Soda
The Healthy Beverage Company

I drink tea for one reason and only one - the taste. If tea happens to have any of the magical powers attributed to it that's fine by me, but by primary concern is not for its therapeutic benefits.

On paper, the notion of a green tea soda doesn't sound too much worse than a lot of ideas, especially if it's an organic variety, with no preservatives. The makers of Steaz turn out eight of these varieties - five fruit flavors and a root beer, cola and ginger flavor. One can't help wondering if, with all the furor nowadays over the alleged health benefits of green tea, if there's not some bandwagon jumping going on here.

The Newtown, PA-based manufacturer refers to Steaz as a "revolutionary tea-soda." Well, alright. The "active" ingredients include sparkling filtered water, organic evaporated cane juice and organic Ceylon green tea, not to mention various and sundry, and presumably "all-natural," lesser ingredients.

As for the taste? Well, nothing too special to report on that count. The sweetness was just about right, but I couldn't taste the tea and the orange flavor was so subtle as to be barely detectable.

The verdict? Not so bad every now and then, if you can get it for half a buck like I did. But at full price I'm not likely to be a repeat customer.

Contents: 12 ounce bottle
I Paid: $.51 (clearance price)