Saturday, December 29, 2012

Teavana- Youthberry Wild Orange Tea

 This year, my christmas list for my mother had a few tea products on it. My mother took this to mean that she should buy out our local Teavana store (including 3 POUNDS of german rock sugar). I absolutely LOVE Teavana and needless to say, I was quite happy with my christmas gifts (I love you mom). Besides the tea products, the teas themselves were all expected- except for one. The biggest tub of them all was a 16 oz. canister of Teavana's Youthberry Wild Orange Tea blend. I was very excited because I'd tasted a few small sips of it because its the tea that Teavana sets out as their sampler, and the dry leaves smelled like PARADISE. Alas, all was not as it seemed...
Tea Tin
Dry Leaves and Fruit
Name: Youthberry White Tea & Wild Orange Blossom Herbal Tea (BLEND)
Company: Teavana
Youthberry Price: $12.00; 2 oz.
Wild Orange Price: $6.80; 2 oz.
Suggested Amount: 1.5 tsp for 8 oz.
My Amount: 3 tsp for 14 oz.
  • Youtberry has no caffeine
  • Wild Orange Blossom has 1% of the amount of caffeine in coffee
1st Steep: 
  • Time: 2 Minutes
  • Temp: 175°F
2nd Steep:
  • Time: 2.5 Minutes
  • Temp: 180 °F

Steeped Leaves

Ingredients: Apple pieces, white tea, hibiscus flowers, rosehip peels, candied mango pieces (mango, sugar), candied pineapple pieces (pineapple, sugar), flavoring (pineapple, orange, mango, grapefruit), beetroot pieces, citrus peels, red currants, rose petals, orange juice pieces, sunflower petals, pomegranate blossoms, acai fruit powder (acai, maltodextrin)

Dry: It smells very citric and fresh. Its actually quite beautiful with large chunks of dried apples and oranges, but they vastly outnumber the white tea leaves and herbs. 

Tea Liquor:
  • 1st Steep: Orange/Red/Pink (I think it would be called coral), probably from the hibiscus.
  • 2nd Steep: Dark Orange

Second Steeping

First Steeping

Flavor: Fruity (White tea flavor is pretty much lost), Smooth, Sour/Tart

 The sampler at Teavana is a lie. Well, that may be a bit dramatic but I'm pretty sure they douse that stuff in sugar. This tea was pretty weak and while I usually put NO sugar in my teas, I had to put 1 tsp of their german rock sugar (which I actually love) and 1 tsp of honey (Teavana White Gold Honey, which I also love) for this to taste good for me. I know a lot people say that this is too sweet already, but its almost like an artificial sweetness that needed more natural sugar to accompany it. While this teas biggest sell is the huge chunks of orange, I didn't really taste much citrus. I mainly tasted the hibiscus, and the tartness usually associated with hibiscus. While I initially loved the fruitiness of this tea, I quickly grew tired of its mildness. I guess it would be a good special occasion tea, because I see this as more of a hot fruit juice than tea. I bet this would be good for children who haven't really grown their palate for teas. Apart from the weak body, a few good things about this tea is that it is very smooth and you can easily tell that it is very fresh. 

 Once again (to my surprise) I found that the second steep on this tea was better than the first.  It had less of that overwhelming fruity tartness and I found that the white tea was now more prominent. I imagine that the first steep was almost pure fruit juices and the second steep was leftover fruit juice with white tea.

 While I would accept an occasional cup of the stuff, I won't be buying this one with my own money. Like I said before, this would be good for kids and non-tea drinkers.


I seem to always have this type of problems with flavored white teas. Anyone have any suggestions or recommendations for a good flavored white?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Tazo- China Green Tips Full-Leaf Tea

 So I had bought a TAZO bagged tea sampler set for $25, and managed to get through the whole box in an embarrassingly short amount of time. One of my favorites was the China Green Tips, I liked it so much that I decided to go out and get myself a tin of their full leaf sachets. While it isn't exactly a gourmet tea, it's a great tea for the price.
Tin and Dry Leaves
Company: Tazo
Price: $6.95; 15 Sachets
Amount: 1 Sachet for 7 oz. (I did 2 sachets for 14 oz.)
Caffeine: 31-45 mg

1st Steep: 
  • Time: 45 Seconds
  • Temp: 175°F
2nd Steep:
  • Time: 1 Minute
  • Temp: 175°F
Ingredients: Blend of spring-harvested Mao Feng green tea leaves

Dry: The leaves were somewhat short and tightly rolled. A little less curly than other green tea leaves I've seen. While it didn't smell extremely fresh,  It did have a pretty strong vegetal smell and I could already smell the typical rice smell that comes with many green teas.

Tea Liquor:
  • 1st Steep: Golden Honey, more yellow than green
  • 2nd Steep: Pretty much the same as the 1st steep but this time with a heavier green tint.
Flavor: Vegetal, Not very smooth, Astringent (at first), Light-bodied, Nutty.

 On the first steep this tea was VERY astringent, but I found that if you let this tea sit for a few minutes the astringency almost completely vanishes. It has a strong vegetal taste that I really like, with a nutty taste that sort of reminded me of Sencha. The tea itself has a weak body on the first steep,which can be taken as a good or bad thing. For me it just means that I use a little less water than usual because I like my tea to be strong, but that completely depends on the person. 

 While the first steep is just average, the second doesn't even compare. Whenever I prefer the second steeping its usually because the first was too strong, but in this case it was the opposite! I was very (happily) surprised with the second steeping. The second steeping brought out and amplified all the good aspects of this tea and had a heavier body, but had none of the astringency that the first steeping had. Maybe it's just me but if you look at the photos below, you can SEE that the second steeping is more powerful. I think what I'll do if I only have time for one steeping is do a pre-steep with the leaves first.

Steeped Leaves
The First Steep                                        The Second Steep