Experience buying from Teavana Online http://steepster.com/places/2822-teavana-online-atlanta-georgia I need to update that review to include my new purchase experience, which was generally positive.
Age of leaf: No information available on website.
Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: a mixture of both very light-green and dark-green smallish leaves; very aromatic: vegetal with a strong smoky overtone, and a hint of licorice.
Brewing guidelines: Glass Bodum pot with metal infuser/plunger. Stevia added. For reasons I mention below I went with higher-than-normal temperatures.
……….1st: 180; 1’
……….2nd: 185; 1.5’
……….3rd: 190; 2’
……….4th: 195; 2.5’
Color and aroma of tea liquor: pale yellow and somewhat cloudy: not very inviting looking for a green tea; mild aroma.
Flavor of tea liquor: about the same as the leaves smell, but not as strong: vegetal, with smoky and licorice notes. I noticed that I had a slight dry-mouth feeling after drinking the second steeping, which I think is attributable to some astringency in the tea; not overwhelming, just worth noting as I don’t get this with the greens I normally drink.
Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: Standard chopped leaf: medium to small pale green looking pieces of leaves and buds, with a fair amount of stems; not very fresh looking; mild aroma similar to dried leaves.
Blends well with: I imagine this would blend well with any other smoky green—like a Huang Shan Mao Feng.
Value: Expensive at full price ($4.90/oz), but worth buying at Teavana’s 75% off sale. Interestingly enough, even at the sale price it is still about three times what the SpecialTeas version was going for (on sale) last year.
Overall: Based on the name, the appearance, the aroma, and the taste of this tea (and the fact that Teavana bought out SpecialTeas about a year ago), I strongly suspect that this tea is basically the same tea as SpecialTeas China Green Yunnan Silver Tips (which I still have from about a year ago). SpecialTeas Yunnan Silver Tips seemed to give it’s best flavor at higher temperatures (that’s why I decided to go with the higher temperatures on this tea). The Teavana version is probably from a newer harvest (I hope so, at least) than the SpecialTeas version, and it does seem to fair better on the third steeping than the SpecialTeas version, and this version was surprisingly smooth tasting and still had decent flavor on the third (if I can reproduce that the next time I steep this tea remains to be seen, though); this impressed me, as the third steeping of many green teas usually don’t have that much flavor to speak of, and this third steeping wasn’t astringent tasting either (although I had that somewhat odd dry-mouth sensation). So, what stands out most about this tea? the licorice flavor (and that it had good flavor on the third steeping). All of that said, I am still amazed that this tea is three times the price of the SpecialTeas version (at 75% off it cost me $9.99 for two pounds of it). This only reminds me of the unfortunate event of SpecialTeas going out of business. Oh well. At least SpecialTeas very existence was (and still is) a testament that tea retailers can produce teas that are as good as Teavana for a much better price. Hail to SpecialTeas!