Review: China Mist Lemon Zinger & Black Currant

Black Currant Tea, China Mist, Ginger Tea, Green Tea, Lemon Tea 1 Comment »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs down."Two more big disappointments from China Mist's Tea Bag Sampler... the black currant blend was particularly awful."
Stephen’s Teaview: 2/10
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lemonginger1.jpgI’ve resolved myself to the idea now that shelling out $10 for China Mist’s Tea Bag Sampler was a mistake. The three teas I’d tried earlier were rather unspectacular, and the trend seems to be continuing in that same general direction. Yesterday I brewed a cup of their Lemon Ginger Green Tea. I’d hoped for a different experience from their black teas, but once again I was less than impressed.

The flavoring was actually not bad add all – citrusy with a nice ginger zing – but there was simply no green tea flavor to speak of. None, whatsoever. I might as well have been drinking flavored water. (Perhaps I was). I thought their black teas were weak and uninspiring, but man oh man, this tea took the grand prize.

Then came the worst tea yet – Black Currant.

blkcurrant1.jpgAdmittedly, black currant isn’t necessarily one of my all time favorite flavorings in a tea. So I suppose this one had a bit of a disadvantage coming out of the starting gate. Even still, this cup was virtually undrinkable. I rarely throw out a cuppa – if its in front of me, I’ll generally down it regardless of taste and move on with my life – but this one just made we want to retch. Three sips were the most I could get down before I dumped the remaining liquid down the drain. Awful, awful stuff.

At this point I feel like I’ve given China Mist the good ol’ college try. I’ll probably sample a few more of their teabags before giving up entirely, but it seems impossible to avoid the inevitable conclusion – that China Mist’s tea bags simply don’t make the grade. I’ve had a bit more success with their iced tea blends, and I think that’s where this company should really focus its energies.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Tea and Pornography Don’t Mix in South Dakota

Weird Tea Facts 1 Comment »

sdtea.jpgOccasionally I Google news stories that have to do with tea, because, well, I suppose I’m a bit off. Anyway, one story popped up with a title that caught my eye:
Tea residents want to shut down adult-novelty store

What the hell, I asked myself, was a “tea resident”? Well, it turns out “tea” was actually Tea, and it wasn’t referring to my favorite beverage, but rather the village of Tea, South Dakota. Apparently an “adult novelty” store opened on the outskirts of Tea, and the town elders decided that simply wouldn’t do. (Ironically, the paper which ran the story, the Argus Leader out of Sioux Falls, ran a big color ad for “Annabelle’s Adult Super Center” right next to the article…)

Anyway, it wasn’t much of a story, but it did introduce me to the wonderfully quaint idea that there was actually a town out in the middle of nowhere (apologies to South Dakotans, but it’s true and you know it) named after my drink of choice. Of course I had to find out more.

It so happened that at around the turn of the century, a village called Byron, which straddled a new railroad line between Yankton and Sioux Falls, sent in an application for a post office. Lo and behold, the name “Byron” was already taken by several other neighboring communities. The postal authorities told the villagers to come up with ten alternate names to submit with the application:

At a meeting around the pot-bellied stove in Heerens and Peter’s General Store, townspeople came up with nine names and could not think of the 10th. Since this was a German based community, the tradition of afternoon tea was a necessity. When someone suggested that they break for tea, the idea to put Tea on the list was agreed upon. The postal authorities advised the town that the name “Tea” had been selected. The town of Tea was plotted in 1900 and incorporated in 1906. (From http://www.teasd.com/)

Awww…. that’s really just too adorable.

The next time I’m in South Dakota I really will have to stop there for a drink.

And directions on how to get the hell out of South Dakota.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Not for all the tea in China? Well, actually…

Pu'er Tea, Weird Tea Facts 2 Comments »

puer-tea.jpgPu’er tea is a new one to me, probably because – as the Daily Telegraph wrote today – 500 grams of the stuff can sell in China for as much as $120,000US. And while I may be a tea fanatic, I’m a relatively modest-salaried tea fanatic. Spending upwards of a thousand dollars on a nice hot cuppa seems, to me, a tad extravagant.

Granted, most pu’er tea sells for significantly less than that; perhaps $35-$40 for a small tin. But certain types of pu’er tea have the distinction of being among the few teas (if not the only teas) that actually improve with age. And we’re not talking about a few weeks or months, or even a couple of years. People shell out the big bucks for pu’er cakes that are decades or even centuries old (going even back to the Qing dynasty period, 1644-1911). For this reason, counterfeit pu’er is becoming more and more common, and, not surprisingly, some people have turned to this magnificent tea as a form of investment. With some pu’er varieties doubling in price every two years, these are the kinds of investments that’ll prick up the ears of even the most seasoned Wall Street investor.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Review: China Mist Fiesta Fria Iced Tea

China Mist, Iced Tea No Comments »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"I'm not sure exactly what's in it, but Fiesta Fria offers a surprisingly refreshing taste of cirtus and berries."
Stephen’s Teaview: 6/10
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mangochinamist.jpgIn the Quest for the Perfect Iced Tea (QPIT), China Mist’s Mango had a brief and illustrious moment at the top. All of about four and a half hours. Well, I suppose its not necessarily been knocked out of the #1 position, so much as it now is “co-leader” with China Mist’s Fiesta Fria.

This is the tea that was originally missing from my order (replaced with a 2nd box of their “Traditional” Iced Tea). But a quick email to customer service and they popped a box of Fiesta Fria straight into the mail and it arrived here lickety split. (This is the main reason why China Mist is a company I like, even if their teas aren’t quite up to snuff with what I’m looking for in a top-notch brew.)

It has a fruitier flavor to it than the Mango, though its hard to nail down what it is exactly I’m tasting. Some citrus, to be sure, but also some “warmer” tastes in there; maybe the hint of berries or some more exotic fruit. Its a very nice blend, whatever it is. I’m not sure if the tea leaves are any different in this blend (I doubt they are), but for whatever reason it seems a tad bit “crisper” in flavor and texture than their other teas. And in my book, that’s a very good thing.

Again, the point and end-game of QPIT is to find the ultimate iced tea. So in that regard, I can only say this blend once again falls short. Its not as crisp and clean as the teas I fell in love with in California. The flavoring, while quite good, still lacks that certain punch and freshness I’m looking for. But of all the teas tried to date – and granted, there’s not been all that many – this one is at the very least tied with China Mist’s Mango for the #1 position.

Still, its good enough to make it into the “Teas I Like” category. I’m looking forward to a rebrew of this blend in the near future.

Some Thoughts on China Mist Iced Teas

Now that I’ve tried three of China Mist’s flavored iced teas (with a fourth – Passionfruit – currently cooling in the fridge), there’s a few generalizations I feel I can safely make.

#1. China Mist’s tea bags (for both their iced tea and for their regular, hot teabags) are rather flimsy. I’ve yet to bust one open in the actual brew, but I came quite close once. (One of my individual teabags tore away from its string as I was dunking it, leaving a small opening at the top). Its a good idea to be very gentle when squeezing, dunking and removing China Mist tea bags.

#2. The tea leaves themselves are fairly low-grade. I opened up several of the used teabags to inspect them (yes, some folks think I’m odd) and found them to be miniscule “tea shavings,” almost powery in size and texture. This generally doesn’t make for the best brews. This may also explain the “creamy” texture of the tea, as there’s a lot of particulate matter floating around in the liquid.

#3. They brew best with the maximum steeping time. The iced tea boxes recommend 5-7 minutes of steeping. I did 5 minutes for the Prickly Pear – the first tea I tried – and found it to be pretty weak and uninspiring. I’ll probably give it another try with a longer, 7 minute brew, and see if it makes any difference. Both the Mango and Fiesta Fria brews got a full 7 minutes, and I thought both were better-tasting than the first – more robust and just a tad more bitter. This works out in the end, since you dilute it 50/50 with plain water in the end, leaving the final taste just about right.

#4. Refrigerate each brew thoroughly and let it sit for several hours before tasting. As I mentioned in #2, there’s a lot of particulate tea-matter floating around in your brew, no matter how careful you are not to puncture the bag. Some folks probably don’t mind this, but for me at least, this results in a thicker, “creamier” texture to the tea. However I’ve found that this is mitigated to some degree if you allow the brew to cool thoroughly, and to sit for several hours before you actually drink it. This seems to give the particulates some time to settle to the bottom of the jug, so that you’re drinking a cleaner, crisper tea in the end.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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Review: China Mist Mango Iced Tea

China Mist, Iced Tea, Mango Tea No Comments »
Stephen’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"A pleasant mango taste saves what would otherwise be a fairly unremarkable iced tea..."
Stephen’s Teaview: 5/10
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mangochinamist.jpgI don’t know it for the fact, but I’ve always just sort of assumed that the iced teas I order in California – which at least in Napa and San Francisco have been absolutely perfect – were mango-flavored. Its sort of a non-descript, faint citrus-y flavor and for whatever reason, I’ve always ascribed it to mango. It may be, it may not. But because of that, I was very much looking forward to trying China Mist’s Mango Iced Tea.

In the end, it wasn’t half bad. Its still missing that crisp, clean flavor I’m looking for, but the mango flavoring works very well. Its got a tinge of artificiality to it, but certainly its quite a bit tastier than their Prickly Pear.

Its not quite to the point where I’d say I’d definitely buy it again, but certainly I won’t have any compunction about brewing up another batch in the near future. Of all the iced teas I’ve tried to date in the Quest for the Perfect Iced Tea (QPIT), this one’s got a tenuous hold on first place.

Teaviews Member: Stephen Stephen
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