Friday, December 13, 2013

Teavana

Why am I posting this?

When I was more into tea tasting, I had an insane amount of tea in any variety. I even had enough that I bought a large filing cabinet at a garage sale to devote to tea storage. Since then, I stopped buying new tea, finished up old tea, and threw away stale old tea in order to get rid of the tea cabinet. Now that I'm getting back into tea, that means whatever tea I have now is tea I've recently purchased. So, I only have white tea and having a taste for green tea, I decided it might be worth tagging along with a friend to the mall to get some tea from Teavana.

I felt conflicted and a little worried going to Teavana just to get tea to hold me off a little while. I've heard the stories about Teavana employees being trained to "educate" customers about their products in a less-than-truthful manner. I didn't want to walk out with a tetsubin and more Silver Needle which I can burn to death in the cast iron.

Thankfully, they didn't push me in that direction. I heard them pushing my friend around a bit with matcha, but somehow I was spared. I got the impression that they thought I was new to tea, and tried pushing their brand of sugar and how tea is so cheap compared to coffee. Yet I've been drinking tea long enough that I never knew what it was like to get takeout coffee everyday. Oh well, I don't have anything to prove. All that matters is that I walked out only buying what I wanted to buy. I bought 2 ounces each of Clouds and Mist green tea and White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos (gift for my girlfriend). They tried to push tins and larger sizes so that I could join what I consider the Teavana club (cult?) to save money the next time I refill the tins.

I wouldn't have posted this if there wasn't a positive. The teas are actually surprisingly good. I didn't expect much because I bought a green tea that was stored in a huge tin which they actually open and fan the lid over the tea so that customers can smell the tea. The green tea smelled stale, yet I bought it anyway.

The leaves look a little like gunpowder, which is a little worrying. It was around 14 dollars for 2 oz; did I just buy overpriced stale gunpowder? The minute the water hit the leaves I was proven wrong. It released a strong, sweet, buttery aroma. Maybe the gunpowder style leaf was a business decision so that it would stay somewhat fresh. As for the flavor, anyone that has tried Clouds and Mist style tea knows that it's not a terribly exciting and complex tea, just something soft and sweet. The softness makes it a very comforting tea, as well as a good everyday tea. This tea is no different. It's very soft, with a decent sweetness that actually lingers on after finishing the tea.

Overall, it's good enough that I would buy more of it, but only if it was priced more reasonably. 2 oz was about $14, which makes 4 oz just under $30. I would compare this tea to Rishi Jade Cloud (same style) which is more than half the price, organic, and fair trade. I'll gladly finish what I bought, but I can't justify buying the same tea at twice the price again. Though on the bright side, I learned that once you get past the employees and the price, they actually have good tea. Just be careful walking into one of those stores.

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Since going to Teavana, I at least got my order from Rishi, which is just Jade Cloud and Golden Yunnan. Jade Cloud was my staple tea that I would buy occasionally when I had a taste for green tea, so I shall post about that soon.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Update and Rishi Silver Needle

Yeah Tea!

Lately, I've felt a little more compelled to write, so maybe I'll take it a little more seriously. I have tried to blog again recently on a new blog, but I deleted it because I couldn't keep up with a narrow topic to blog about (just like with this blog about tea). So, maybe I'll just merge everything into this blog.

The last time I blogged was over 2 years ago, and I had tea from Teaspring to talk about. Since then, I haven't really been drinking tea at all, especially not tea shipped from China. At most, I got Rishi Jade Cloud green tea from Whole Foods, and made maybe one black tea order from Adagio. Instead of tea, I got into the habit of drinking yerba mate, and partially got swept up in the new mate culture in the U.S that started as an online community. There's so much information on the internet about the health benefits of mate, and a lot of sources recommend using mate to get off coffee, and some even claim to get off tea as well.

This is one of the reasons I want to blog again. I'll still write about certain teas when I get the chance, but now I'm more interested in health, and about dealing with endless claims about "health promoting" substances, especially when an addictive substance is involved. Alcohol is touted as healthy in moderation, but how much alcohol counts as moderation? Is it the amount it takes to become obnoxious? Similarly, how can yerba mate proponents claim things such as it promoting sleep when it contains caffeine?

Most people don't think about these things, maybe at most they switch to tea because they're conscientious about their caffeine consumption. For me, I've always been caffeine sensitive, and dealt with anxiety for quite a long time. Not a good combo, but I got into caffeine anyway, and alcohol shortly after. Just a few weeks ago, while I'm not drinking alcohol much anymore, I am drinking copious amounts of yerba mate without second thought. I slowly start to notice that I'm becoming more wired than normal, and I'm not really sleeping at night. This got me to reconsider how much caffeine I'm actually consuming. On average, I think I consume 600-1000mg of caffeine a day, but I never believed it could be that high. Mate is supposed to be like caffeine but without any negative side effects.

Now I'm trying to get back into tea! I need to place a tea order soon, but in the meantime, I have Rishi Silver Needle. I bought it from Whole Foods because it's convenient even if it's also expensive, but also because I generally like tea from Rishi. I would have bought Jade Cloud instead, but they didn't have it, so my second pick is this white tea. It was one of the first teas I tried as I explored other varieties other than black tea, and I really enjoyed this one back then.

So, trying it after not drinking tea for almost a year, I'm pleasantly surprised. White tea was something I never gave much credit, thinking there were always more interesting teas out there. Now I have to rethink that. Initial impressions are that there is absolutely no bitterness, and has a theanine sweetness that gives the tea a decent perceived "body." Instead of tasting green and spinach-like, it has more of a cane sugar flavor. After a few sips, I can pull out a generic fruit-like flavor (I only say that because I can't tell what kind of fruit I'm tasting).


For returning to tea, I guess this really wasn't a bad choice. I may even make it a staple tea.

I guess I'm all over the place with this post. I'll probably start posting again, at least for a little while, though I think this blog may get off the topic of tea fairly often, as I might post about general health stuff, personal growth, or just random personal blog stuff. When on the topic of tea, I decided that instead of posting about every tea I try like I did in the past, I'll only post about teas I like and would actually consider buying again. I generally like trying to find the positive in stuff, as I've done with most teas I've reviewed on this blog. Problem is, I rarely bought those teas a second time, which I guess didn't make the impression on me that I thought it did.