Saturday, November 10, 2018

Upton Tea Imports Silver Sprout Green tea

As noted before, when the great folks at Upton teas sent over a Ceylon for me to sample and review, they also included a "bonus" 0.5 oz. sample bag of another tea. But not just any tea - this is pretty high quality green tea - Silver Sprout Pre Chingming Chinese green tea.

Chingming (or Qingming) is...well, let's not pretend I know anything about traditional Chinese culture, let's just let Wikipedia do the talking:

The Qingming or Ching Ming festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English (sometimes also called Chinese Memorial Day or Ancestors' Day),[2][3] is a traditional Chinese festival. It falls on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar. This makes it the 15th day after the Spring Equinox, either 4 or 5 April in a given year.[4][5][6] During Qingming, Chinese families visit the tombs of their ancestors to clean the grave sites, pray to their ancestors, and make ritual offerings. Offerings would typically include traditional food dishes, and the burning of joss sticks and joss paper.
The Qingming Festival has been observed by the Chinese for over 2,500 years. It became a public holiday in mainland China in 2008...

Thanks, Wikipedia. So, a traditional spring festival, but more pertinent here, of some importance in the tea world. "Pre Qingming" teas are those green teas picked before this date, and are considered higher quality or prestige teas, commanding a higher price on the market. So, this stuff is a pretty nice free sample. I've always had pretty good luck with Chinese green (and white) tea. Brewing seems more forgiving than my few experience with Japanese greens, and the flavor profiles seem to have a wide and pleasing variety. This is full leaf stuff, that has the distinctive look of "almost a pine needle" that serves to remind tea is also in the evergreen family:

Brewing is very straightforward. 1 teaspoon of tea per 6 ounces of water, water at 180 deg F, steep for 3 minutes, with a pale yellow cup.

The flavor profile is bigger than I expected, starting with a taste of toasted grain that rounds out to some mild fruit flavors and natural sweetness. The aftertaste is of roasted green vegetables, and lingers pretty nicely.

Stands up reasonably well to a second infusion with a slightly longer steep time - toasted note increases, while sweetness and fruit decreases, but still a pleasant cup. I sometimes add citrus to greens depending on the type (lemon juice usually), but I didn't have any on hand, and I don't know that it would work well for this tea.

Overall, a great cup of tea, very pleasant, and with the toasted grain and vegetable notes, seems a great choice for late Fall and Winter time. I may try one last cup as iced, though I'm not sure if it will add anything.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Bigelow Pomegranate Green Tea

Huh. Didn't I already review this, way back when?

Quick check says I reviewed Bentley Pomegranate Green Tea many years ago. The other major grocery store brand of fruit infused green tea. Bigelow is that tea that is used to stock every workplace ever, since it's cheap and office/workplace distributors will ship it in bulk. Some of it is pretty grim. I'd stay well away from their black teas.

But this stuff isn't that bad, for a fruit infused green tea. It tastes more of fake fruit than tea, but I like that it's fruit-ish yet not sweet. The green tea provides a bitter undercut to what would otherwise be a cloying, nasty drink. It's not the best cup of hot tea, by a long stretch. But I like it a lot as a refreshing iced drink. Is pomegranate trendy bandwagon fruit with vague and certainly exaggerated health claims? Yeah, but who cares?

Brew is easy enough, I put 1 tea bag to six ounces of water, so two for a standard office issue hot cup. Add hot water out of the Keurig. Not in my office, though. For unknown reasons, we don't have a Keurig, we have the "other brand" with the flat pods. Oh well, coffee is coffee, I've had workplaces provide worse, or no coffee at all. We have dark roast most days, and it beats waiting in line at Starbucks or Dunkies to overpay for a burnt or sour low quality cup.

Where was I? Oh yeah, the hot water out of the "coffee machine" is hot enough for a middling quality cup of green tea. I only steep it for about two minutes, cheap green can get over bitter and astringent fast. If making iced, I reduce the water by half (two bags to six ounces of water), and fill the cup with ice once steeped.

So, is it iced tea? Maybe just barely, but it is a refreshing and sugar free cold drink. I'm not a big tea snob (anymore), most days that's good enough.