49 Tasting Notes
A good green tea never goes bitter, no matter the temperature of the water (Don’t believe me? Send me a message and I will refer you to some reputable sources to back up my claim). This tea fetches a price that says it will not go bitter. But alas, it gets bitter even if the temperature is slightly over 175 or whatever. What’s more, it doesn’t even taste as good as a bag of Celestial Seasonings Authentic green tea! I don’t understand why people would pay this much
Teavana has created the illusion of super high quality by comparing this mid-quality tea with their other super-low quality teas. The illusion is partly due to the blindness of the majority of customers who have tasted nothing better. I am here to tell you that if you enjoy this tea, then fine, but if you are willing to pay the price that they ask for it, then you are being ripped off and lied to. Let me explain.
A good tieguanyin (what Teavana calls their “Monkey Picked”) will yield no bitterness after the first brew. Rather, its buttery mouth feel and floral aroma would be backed up by almost umami flavors. Furthermore, over subsequent steepings, the umami flavors will be enhanced up until about the fourth steeping.
Teavana’s version of this tea, although it has the buttery and floral qualities, does not have the complex umami flavors. Rather, the tannins are out of balance, and the carefully discerning palate will notice a thin bitterness in the back of the mouth. This bitterness increases over several steepings. A truly high quality tieguanyin would not have this characteristic. The fourth steeping was simply flat, and this is how I know that Teavana’s Monkey Picked oolong is not worth the price that it fetches. At the same price, a tieguanyin could be found that yields 10-15 steepings if brewed properly.
The number of golden buds is a testament to the high picking standard of this leaf. Other than this, I do not have much praise for this tea. The aroma of the brew is pleasant, the appearance of the wet leaves are rather broken (could this be from poor processing, transporting, distribution on a large/small scale, or a combination of these?). For a tea that fetches a price such as this, the leaves should be relatively whole, and there should not be many broken leaves. This is not near the case for Golden Monkey.
The flavor of the first brew tasted simply like lipton, with a bit more roundness. Subsequent brews left me unsatisfied with a thin flavor.
I find it odd that this jasmine pearl tea is made from green tea, when most, not to mention the truly high quality, jasmine pearls are made with white tea from the Da Bai Hao cultivar. Anyways, cut the crap and straight to the review.
I judge all green, white, and scented teas by the following criteria: dry and wet leaf appearance, dry and wet leaf aroma, flavor of first steeping, number of steepings that the tea can get, and its tendency either toward or away from bitterness.
The dry leaves are evenly shaped pearls. Teavana claims that each pearl was hand rolled.
The aroma of the dry leaves is extremely jasminey, almost to floral to be true. Nonetheless, Teavana claims that it was scented six to eight times with real jasmine flowers.
The first steeping was extremely floral. I steeped it according to Teavana’s instructions. Even so, there was a hint of bitterness to the brew. Sadly, I was pleased by the intense floral aroma, but let down by the flavor. For a truly high quality jasmine tea, the flavor would emphasize the aroma.
The second steeping was more flavorful, some of the bitterness gone. However, the aroma was not even half of what the first steeping produced! Again, I was let down. I knew by this time that the third steeping would not increase in either flavor or aroma, so I tossed the leaves.
My high rating is only because of the amazing aroma and appearance of the dry leaves. Then again, it is easy to take a worthless book and rebind it with a fancy looking cover.
A decent tea. The pearls are pleasant to look at. There are a lot of golden buds peeking out of there, and I like that. The flavor, for a Chinese black tea, was rather thin and bland, but with at least a prominent flavor nonetheless. The aroma is delicious. At this price, though? I’ve had much better Chinese black teas at a much cheaper price.
Wait, there’s white tea in there? And I couldn’t taste the Mate, either. I’ve posted this before, but I wonder if Teavana is just making an excuse to sell cheap spices and herbs at a very high price, only because they put next-to-nothing amounts of supposedly high quality tea in it. First of all, if the tea quality truly is as high as they say it is, then what a waste of tea! A lower quality white tea would do much better to reduce the price, and the flavor would not be tainted at all, considering that all other ingredients simply overpower the tea flavor. IMO, this is more of a tisane, not a tea.
Oolong? What oolong? All I taste is chai spices. Seriously, Teavana, you could have made this chai it a much cheaper tea with a black tea. I may be cynical, but it Teavana just trying to make an excuse to charge high prices for a bunch of cheap spices by threading the blend with “Ti Kuan Yin” tea leaves? If you’re looking for an oolong, this tea is not for you. If you’re looking for a chai, you could probably make it yourself at home for a quarter of the price.