Friday, May 6, 2011

Today's Steep Thoughts

This week's installment of Steep Thoughts is actually a bit of a rant that went on in my head while steeping a much needed tea to cleanse my palate. Background: while grabbing lunch today, it was warm and I was feeling summery. I decided to try a brand of iced tea that I never usually pick up. I usually stick with Ito En's unsweetened tea when the mood strikes. But if you've been following my posts, you'll know that I've been on a sweetened tea kick lately. Because of this, I was feeling nostalgic for a particular brand's peach iced tea, which doesn't really taste like peach, or tea. But I used to drink it in my college days, and I have a fondness for the flavor. While looking at the iced teas in the grocery store, I noticed a White Peach iced tea from Inko's. I've never tried this brand before, so I thought I'd give it a try. I wish I had thought more rationally about how my palate has changed since college. But I let nostalgia guide me.

The label says 'Made with White Tea-which is documented as one of the rarest and healthiest teas in the world.' Rarest? Is white tea rare? I can get it in any tea shop, and I'm guessing Inko's couldn't charge less than $4 a bottle if it was rare. The label goes on to say, 'Inko's isn't loaded with sugar, nor does it leave you with any harsh, grassy aftertaste.' But I like both bitter and grassy teas! I wish I had read this before purchasing. I knew I was in for an overly-sweet beverage that did not taste like tea.

Well, it did not taste like tea. I did not detect any white tea, I only tasted syrupy sweetness with a slight hint of peach. The tea had a strange cloying consistency, and tasted almost chemical. The dominant sweet taste and whisper of peach did conjure up images of my college days, which I guess is a positive thing. I was drinking the tea outside in the sunshine, which made things better. I had the sun warm my face with a cool liquid to drink, which was a nice break from a hectic day.

With only a few exceptions, it seems sweetened iced teas are always sweeter than you are expecting. I imagine they are catering to an average American soda drinker, and not the tea enthusiast. if you are looking for a bottled tea that tastes like tea (and may have a strong grassy aftertaste!), try the Ito En unsweetened varieties.

When I came back from lunch, I brewed a fresh cup of Royal Yunnan from the newish tea company Tea Licious. The tea was malty, slightly sweet, and just what I needed to wash out the sticky sweetness of the White Peach Tea. Now I feel better. Perhaps the bottled tea will end my sweet tea kick.

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