The battle of Sencha by Lipton: tea review

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My tea love story began with green teas, and it’s no secret: I talk about it often. Getting into more complex and aromatic tea would not be possible for me, however, if it wasn’t for sencha.

Sencha is one of the most popular and loved variations of Japanese green tea. It is characterised by its strong aroma and deep flavour with light grassiness to it: the flavour, however,  usually depends on the region where, and season when the tea is produced. The sencha leaf is darker than other variations of green tea, and it often undergoes faster fermentation, at a lower temperature (with some kinds even at 60 degrees Celsius).

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Lipton, as one of the major tea trends pioneers, have introduced Sencha into their European assortment and offer in the early 2000s. Around 2010 they came up with Indonesian Sencha, following the new trend of pyramidal bags, which I addressed in several blogposts here. With the most recent content and form update they switched the silk material of their tea bags to the cotton, and the packaging itself has been designed more in-line with their current concept. Being an eager tea collector, I happened to own both variations of Lipton‘s Sencha tea and be able to follow their way from fragrant and floral Indonesian Sencha to sharp and strong Spectacular Sencha.

Indonesian Sencha by Lipton is an invitation on a “journey to Java”, an inspiration for flourishing green tea gardens of “long, stylish leaves”, a promise of unforgettable sceneries and scent of an enchanting island. The freshness of sencha is emphasised by the rose petals introduced to this tea mix, and fruity notes develop through the flavouring for a taste of Osmanthus pear. Light, floral, steamed flavour is the outcome of this blend that kicks off with potent and fragrant aroma. “Sip this tea and sip paradise” – we are already aware that Lipton is a master of merchandising poetry.

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As per the instructions, this tea needs a 2-3 minute brew for the full and flavourful experience – your perfect cup of tea. For me it has never been an everyday tea, rather a special occasion treat. One of those highly aromatic, intense teas that surprise you with light bitterness in the aftertaste.

Indonesian Sencha might not be this typical and favourable Japanese sencha – taste-wise it is less grassy, less deep in colour, but rather more fragrant and deep.

Ingredients: 89% green tea, 9,3% flavouring, 1% rose petals

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The re-designed sencha from Lipton was given a majestic name – “Spectacular Sencha“. Ingredients-wise, it reduced the list only to the green tea and aroma, leaving the floral and fragrant element of the rose petals behind. Accompanied by the call to “awaken the senses” it offers “sharp, strong and deeply exotic” flavour, “a carnival in a cup”.

Spectacular sencha is, indeed, less fragrant and aromatic. At a first smell, it strikes with the intensity, typical for green tea. With this update it, however, loses the depth of flavour and the multi-level taste development. The aroma of pear is still present, but in more light-weight, rather unnoticeable form. This sencha is more reminiscent of the regular, Japanese sencha and its grassiness than its predecessor Indonesian Sencha.

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I always welcome fruity notes in tea, it should be known to the readers of my blog by now, as I praise them in almost every post I write. Hence, it will be no surprise that I favour the older, now discontinued, version of sencha by Lipton. The newer variation – Spectacular Sencha – might be, however, much more suitable for followers of orthodox tea drinking ceremony and Japanese sencha lovers, as it fully develops into the delicacy of green tea with “a little something” in the aftertaste.

What about your experience with sencha? Have you experimented with different kinds, and if yes, which one is your favourite? What brand of sencha tea would you recommend? Let me know.

x

 

Tea Review: Kusmi BB Detox

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After a longer while of writing about black, herbal and miscellaneous teas it is finally time to come back to my roots, into my comfort zone and to review a good ole’ green tea. Frankly, green tea is the variation I gravitate toward on a regular basis, and if I don’t have green tea in my stash (which would never happen, because I stuck up way in advance), I would be a very sad person. And a tired person, to put it that way.

I wrote about Kusmi tea already on my blog – I am a big fan. Tea of the month for April was their BB Detox, and after the initial hesitation I’ve decided to give it a go. Why hesitating? First of all, I am not a huge believer in mixing green tea with herbs – which was the case here. Secondly, word “detox” in a name always sounds a bit gimmicky to me. But detox or not, I went for flavour, and in the end, I was definitely not deceived.

This tea is representing a Wellness range of Kusmi teas. As per official text on the website of the company it is a quintessence of a liquid “beautifying balm”: green tea and maté as its main ingredients serve as refreshing and uplifting components, that at the same time work as natural antioxidants. Hand-picked dandelion and rooibos are two other friendly “helpers” who combat free radicals, leaving your skin plump and glowy. Basically, it unifies tea and beauty in one, so perfect for reviewing on this blog!

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Packaging: My tea comes in an “old school” paper packaging – so, no signature aluminium tins this time – and contains 20 muslin tea bags. It’s where it starts to be interesting. I’ve known about muslin use in a beauty department (ironically, I mentioned a muslin cloth in my last blogpost about multi-masking), but what about tea? It was the first time I experienced organic fabric in my cup – I am well aware of paper teabags, silk teabags and even polystyrene teabags, but muslin brings tea drinking to another level. Again, as I said in my previous article dedicated to Kusmi, with this brand it’s all about experience.

Ingredients: Green tea, mate, rooibos, guarana, dandelion. Scent of grapefruit. Well, that’s something! Quite a striking bouquet but somehow it makes sense, especially in connection with the name.

Scent: Aroma hits immediately with a sharp note of citrus (grapefruit, I believe) and slight bitterness. I would consider it rather exotic (perhaps, dué to mate and guarana), definitely without very typical or prominent green tea scent.

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Flavour: Is smooth but refreshing. As a big fan of maté, to my pleasant surprise, I find this ingredient rather bold, however, not overwhelming at all. In contrast to the scent, it does not offer many citrus notes, but instead, strikes with a green tea flavour. I distinguish some presumably tropical notes, which I can almost with certainty assign to guarana. The BB Detox leaves a slight aftertaste, but all in all its very light flavour makes it so drinkable.

Serving: Each teabag, as well as the packaging, gives you quite clear instructions on how to. As is typical with green teas, you leave it steep for 3-4 minutes in the water preheated to 85-90 degrees.

Overall experience: This tea is addictive. So easy to prepare, yet so challenging. Why the name? I would justify it by the green tea and mate components in it – frankly, it’s a perfect companion for a “not so good” (read: hangover) day. As well as a day when you feel low on energy. As well as a day when you crave a boost of flavour. As well as a day… Basically, every day. BB Detox is a universal classic, and I am more than happy that a random merchandising activity brought me to this tea, which I normally would’ve left unnoticed.

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And what about you? Do you believe in “detoxifying” properties of tea? If so, which one is your “universal” recipe for detox? Have you ever tried tea packaged in muslin bags? Let me know!

x

P.S. I accompanied my tea with Minty Humbugs by M&S that added a perfect touch of sweetness.

Tea Review: King’s Crown Vanilla Green Tea

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This time I’m afraid I won’t be 100% objective, because I’m up to reviewing one of my all time favourite teas. It’s a very affordable blend of green tea and vanilla under the German brand King’s Crown.

First disclaimer: this tea might not be easy to get everywhere. As far as I know it is distributed via the chain of the drugstores Rossmann, hence it will only be available in the countries where Rossmann exists as an established brand. Correct me if I am wrong.

Second disclaimer: just like in my previous reviews, we are dealing with the packaged tea of a cheaper price range, hence it will only makes sense to not expect unique, high-quality blends of tea leaves or intense flavour. Nonetheless, I consider this tea one of the best as your “morning-in-a-hurry” choice.

Universality is what I especially like about this tea. Its inoffensive, light, barely there vanilla taste blends so well with the green tea flavour. I guess you still need to be a vanilla fan, at least to some extent, to fully appreciate the miracle of this tea.

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It comes in a packaging of 25 flat tea bags, packed in a separate paper envelope (1,75g each).

Ingredients: Green tea, Vanilla aroma, Vanilla.

Scent: light, subtle aroma of vanilla. Aroma of green tea is not especially prominent though.

Taste: again, as stated above, the taste is an inoffensive, light vanilla blend with extremely soft notes of green tea. It’s very easy to drink, especially for somebody who is just getting into understanding and liking green tea. I reckon that the tea concentration is not very high in each teabag, which makes it a lighter alternative to more “heavy duty” green teas. This makes drinking King’s Choice Vanilla Green tea in the afternoon-early evening possible, without risking a “caffeine stroke”. 🙂

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Serving: leave boiling water to cool down for 5-10 minutes (if your kettle offers a temperature option, heat up to 80 degrees Celsius), then pour it over a tea bag. Let it steep for 3-4 minutes. The steeping time is longer than the usual 2-3 minutes, also because of the green tea concentration I am discussing above.

Energy level: 2 stars out of 5. Again, due to the very light tea concentration, this won’t be your typical “wake me up, NOW” green tea.

All in all, this tea means pure happiness for me. As a huge vanilla fan, I learned to appreciate this light, subtle flavour in a cup of tea. In my opinion, anyone who came with an idea of vanilla green tea might have been a genius. This combination strikes me as very balanced, delicious and simple at the same time, and could only be beaten by the unbeatable classics – green tea + lemon. I noticed that this combination is quite popular in Germany: there are plenty of German mainstream tea brands that offer green tea with vanilla in there assortment, it is almost as popular and easy to find as green tea with lemon combination.

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If you are a fan of flavoured tea like me, and love experimenting with new aromas and blends, you are on the right way here. I recommend pairing the tender flavour of vanilla with the Ferrero Rocher’s Ferrero Kuesschen white chocolates with a hazelnut hidden inside.

Have you tried vanilla-flavoured green tea? How do you feel about vanilla flavours in your drinks (I, for instance, love Vanilla Coke)? If there’s a German person reading this blog, do you often reach for Green tea with vanilla?

x