February Tea Haul

Let me preface this by reassuring y’all that I’m not crazy…I promise. Though I have been told that I take being extreme to a whole new level…and that, I can’t deny.

Last Friday, instead of actually eating our lunches like normal people do, my coworker and I went to Costco. Two girls on a two-fold mission:
1) To hit up all the samples and make our rounds (no shame), and
2) To get our hands on the $80 for $100 Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf gift card – all in less than an hour.

Mission accomplished.

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Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl, Genmaicha Green, Lung Ching Dragonwell, Moroccan Mint & Strawberry Green Tea

So naturally, I went to CBTL the very next day and purchased 4 tins of tea (the 5th is my coworker’s). As if this wasn’t crazy enough, I made sure they were all green tea. Those who know me well are well aware that I have an extreme green tea obsession. I may be guilty of drowning out everything else, but just the phrase “green tea” perks my ears and catches my attention. And I have tried it all – green tea lattes, green tea lemonade, green tea ice cream, green tea gelato, green tea soba noodles, green tea crème brûlée, green tea macarons, green tea mochi, green tea matcha, green tea cupcakes, green tea perfume, green tea lotion, green tea bath salts – you name it, I’ve tried it!

The benefits of green tea are astounding. Green tea contains a considerable amount of flavonoids, which are antioxidants from the pigmented tea leaves. Green tea also contains vitamins C and E, which reduce the risk for various cancers and heart disease. In addition, it has the ability to fight obesity, ward off bad cholesterol, and prevent memory decline. Besides the slew of positive health benefits, I am so fond of green tea because it helps me relax. Whether it’s a hot cuppa tea in the morning to kick-start my work day or a few sips of mild flavored tea at night to unwind before bed, green tea fits the bill.

I prefer green tea over black, white, oolong, and pu-er teas, which is interesting because all teas originate from one plant species, the Camellia sinensis. However, compared to other types of tea, green tea is derived from unwilted tea leaves that are not oxidized during the production process. As a result, green tea tastes more natural compared to other teas, but even among green teas, variety abounds due to factors such as location and climate. Read on to see the reviews of my recent green tea haul:

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Perfection.

Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl Green Tea “A delicate Chinese green tea scented with jasmine flowers, according to a 9th century recipe and rolled into a pearl. Aroma: fragrant Jasmine, Body: full, Flavor: delicate green tea; Origin: China.”
The Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearl is by far my favorite green tea. This is my default choice every time I frequent the local tea lounge. I consider this tea to be a truly holistic sensory experience. From the sweet and fragrant aroma of the jasmine flowers to the unraveling of the beautiful and delicate pearls and the intense taste of green tea, there is nothing I don’t love about this tea. This is also the most expensive of all the teas (literally double the price), as each pearl is hand-rolled from two tea leaves into one, but it is so worth it.

Genmaicha Green Tea “A filling and full-flavored Japanese specialty of green Sencha tea with roasted rice. Aroma: toasty; Body: light; Flavor: toasty, full-flavored with sweet finish; Origin: Japan.”
Also known as “popcorn tea,” this tea is roasty toasty! The tea itself is colorful, with roasted brown rice and popped white rice as unexpected bursts of color amidst the traditional, Japanese Sencha green tea. The scent of brown rice dominates the senses, and it reminds me of the barley tea I lived off of in Taiwan. A fun fact is that the roasted and popped rice is totally edible after steeping. A frugal tip though, is that besides the presentation and packaging, you can actually purchase this tea for much cheaper at your local Asian supermarket.

Lung Ching Dragonwell Green Tea “Produced near the West Lake of Hangzhou, this delicate hand plucked green tea is known for its pale jade color and delicious taste. Aroma: mild, Body: smooth, Flavor: delicate, Origin: China.”
Imagine the aroma and taste of the most traditional green tea. This is the essence of one of the most popular green teas, the Lung Ching. This pan-fired green tea is a safe bet for those who are fans of green tea. It’s not overpowered by floral or fruity notes, which I appreciate. The color of the tea is a light jade/champagne, the taste is semi-sweet, and the aroma is faint with hints of orchid.  This is your go-to tea when you simply want a fresh-tasting sip of green tea.

Moroccan Mint Green Tea“An exquisite age-old recipe of Gunpowder tea and peppermint flavoring. Aroma: fresh, minty; Body: subtle; Flavor: bright, minty; Origin: China.”
Mint is the keyword for this tea. The aroma of mint is extremely overpowering to the nose, perhaps to the point of sensory overload. It’s not the minty fresh fragrance of a cold mojito, but rather the pungent whiff of aged peppermint gum. However, the tea itself does not taste like mint and reminds me of a black and oolong tea blend. After steeping, the color of the tea becomes a golden brown hue. This tea is a nice pick-me-up for cold and groggy mornings.

Strawberry Green Tea “The choicest grades of Japanese and Chinese pan-fired green teas with bits of strawberries, and flavors of strawberries and cream. Aroma: Fruity; Body: Medium; Flavor: Light grassy at the finish with sweet creamy strawberry flavor throughout; Origin: Thailand.”
As with the Moroccan Mint, the sweet, fruity fragrance of strawberries is immediately noticeable. However, the aroma of strawberries is significantly less noticeable to taste and the green tea flavor is mild as well. The best way to describe it isn’t that it’s fully strawberry, but more strawberries and cream. The uniqueness factor of this tea is up there, in smell, taste, and origin. Aromatherapy and hot tea? Count me in.

Overall, I adore the quaint tins CBTL teas come in – it’s neat, stack-able, and perfect for my tea closet at the office (attention organizational neat freaks, myself excluded). The tea tins are also a great gift for tea lovers – I’ve definitely purchased a few and given them out as a thoughtful something special to college grads (I can’t imagine surviving the work day without tea!). Personally, I think it’s only really worth it with the Costco gift card; otherwise, there’s a bit of competition in price and quality with Starbucks (Tazo and Teavana) and Ten Ren, among others. Regardless, it’s always nice to switch things up and have a selection of various teas for guests and also, for yourself.

Best,
Phoebe

(Sources: Harvard Health Publications, Psychology Today, & Web MD)

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