Friday, August 31, 2007

®evolution Tea

I'm Molly, wife of Alex and occasional drinker of cheap tea. The rest of the time I drink Diet Dr Pepper or sugar-free calorie-free "fruit-flavored drink" from Wal-Mart. And water. And sometimes coffee with Splenda. I'm not a tea person. I don't know about tea, except what I've learned by accident when Alex talks at me. Everything he posts on this blog, I've heard in person plus a lot of "um, ah, tea is great, I want to go to Japan." Not that I mind... I just don't particularly care about tea.

But we thought it would be fun to do a dual-review of some teas, in order to juxtapose Alex's learned mind and refined palate against my ignorance and affinity for overly-sweetened carbonated beverages. This company called ®evolution sent him some samples. My first impression is that the packaging is nice. I'm a commercial artist and graphic designer, so I like good package design. The look is clean and simple, very modern, but not stuffy. The logo is lame, though. I love the little metal tin that the green tea came in. Very cute. But should tea be cute? We tasted four teas, and I tried very hard to be fair and balanced in my writing, totally unlike Fox news.

Tea #1 Peach Dragon Eye Something Bullshit
(Green Oolong, Safflower, Marigold Flowers, Ginger, Peach and Apricot Flavors)

Dry leaves smell like peach, chocolate and orange. Reminiscent of those chocolate oranges at Christmas that you whack on the counter. Alex brews the tea. I can smell the "peach flavors" from about 5 feet away. I love bottled peach-flavored iced tea, but I'm not so sure about hot tea. Seems like I might as well drink TROT or something. (This one, I drink a whole mug-full, but all the teas to follow we just did a small one or two ounce tasting each).

Aroma still smells of chocolate, which is nice. I was afraid that would have disappeared under the overpowering peach, but it didn't. I can smell apricot if I think about it. Color is dark golden-brown; pretty. Alex says it's the same quality as Mighty Leaf, but for 2/3 the price. He poured his down the drain after one sip, then wanted to try mine. He's doing the slurp-smack-smack thing that drives me up the wall.

I admit, I usually drink my tea with Splenda. Actually, not even Splenda. I use Altern, the Wal-Mart store brand. The first sip tastes remarkably like warm water. Quite a let down after all the strong scents. There is a tiny taste of something that might be peach. But mostly it's just warm water. After 4 sips, I give up and add 1/2 packet of sweetener. mmm... Altern. Still no flavor worth mentioning. There is a tiny hint of peach, and a tiny bit of generic "tea" flavor. Overall, this isn't even as good as Celestial Seasonings, which is a pity, cause the packaging is way better than a bear in pajamas.

Tea #2 Organic Scottish Breakfast Tea
(some leaves)

Dry tea has a very light scent. I can smell the metal of the tin more than the tea itself. Brewed in the pot, the color is beautiful, almost ruby. Once poured into a cup, however, it looks almost the same as the other tea, but with a slight rust tone.

Alex uses these little ceramic tasting cups that burn my fingers.

Aroma is unremarkable. Smells like tea. Not too strong, not too weak. My nose cells aren't as trained as Alex's. Tastes like tea. Slightly bitter. Pretty generic. I think I generally don't like any of the "breakfast" teas. What the hell IS a breakfast tea? This one is not as strong as some breakfast teas, which is surprising, given that it's called "Scottish". I expected this tea to kick my ass.

Tea #3 English Breakfast Tea
(more leaves)

Dry tea smells like tea, but again, fairly weak. Color in pot is nice dark brown/garnet. In the cup, though, it's totally lame. Brown-gold-orange-red AGAIN. I want hot pink or teal or something. Someone should make blue tea. I would buy it.
Aroma is nice, although I can tell it's going to be bitter. It smells like "tea." Surprisingly, this "breakfast" tea isn't bitter! Unfortunately, though, that means it's just flavorless. It tastes like warm water that sat next to tea leaves on the bus.

Tea #4 Organic Green Tea
(organic leaves, I'm sure)
As mentioned, the tin is highly attractive. Reminds me of cigarette cases. One of the bags broke open, spilling tea everywhere. Dry tea smells like celery. CELERY. Color in the pot is pale topaz. The leaves expanded a lot, which Alex said left little room for water. In the cup, the color is almost Naples yellow.

Alex makes a groaning noise. He's not excited about this tea. Aroma is pleasant but unremarkable. Celery scent is gone. BITTER. Like eating grass. I don't like grass. I also don't like green tea.

In case you were curious, the actual event of this review included profuse cursing, some your mom jokes and Alex and I saying that we hate each other about 15 times, which may or may not be our way of saying "I love you". Our house is an interesting place, with thundering cat feet, occasional arguments, plenty of yelling (for business or pleasure) and daily naptime.

That's my wife...

As she explained Revolution sent me some free tea after contacting me and several of my fellow tea bloggers. I have fairly strong feelings about tea bags, so I enlisted Molly's help to try to offer a balanced review. It turns out while I am not wild about any thing we sampled. I like it more than she does.

Tea #1 Dragon Eye Oolong

This is the only flavored tea I asked for, and I only asked for it because a customer at work was quite insistent about getting some of this. The dry leaves look like and have the chocolate aroma of a Wuyi oolong. My problem with this tea is that it smelled exactly like TROT's Yerba Mate Latte, something I do not care for at all, so there were some unpleasant associations with it.

The peach wasn't particularly strong, but the chocolate came through. I wouldn't buy this tea, but I can see how someone with different tastes might be interested.

Tea # 2 Scottish Breakfast

This time I weighed the tea bag out of curiosity; its 2.2 grams, almost a gram less than I prefer. The dry leaves are rather dusty. The ingredients are Assam, Keemun, and Nilgiri Dunsandle Estate. Points for including the estate in the ingredients, but unfortunately I've had Nilgiri Dunsandle, and I am not too excited about seeing it again.

The liquor is beautiful, ruby-ish; aroma smells like a breakfast blend. The taste is smooth, no astringency and no depth. I can't make out the keemun. This one isn't doing it for my either, but I've had worse.

Tea # 3 English Breakfast.

The leaves have a better appearance, a mixture of Assam and Ceylon, fairly standard. The liquor is more brown this time. The aroma is a bit P.G. Tipsish. I like the Scottish Breakfast better; this has even less depth.

Tea # 4 Organic Green Tea.

The dry leaves on this one look the most promising. Its a blend of Chun Mee, Sencha, and Idulgashina, what I think is a green tea from Sri Lanka.. Whatever it is, yields a yellow brew. The tea bag becomes rather bloated, and I don't think there's enough room for proper circulation. The taste is almost....but not quite. It lacks character, and it is indeed bitter.

Over all I think I see what Revolution is trying to do, and I respect it. It is definitely better quality tea then you'll get in most store-bought tea bags. The price is okay, $5 for 16 bags, about .32 a serving. I guess what I am trying to say, is that those who have not yet made the transition to loose leaf tea might enjoy this tea, but I didn't.

Sorry, Revolution, we tried to be fair, but this tea is not for us.


Mary R said...

Aw! It's so good to hear from the famous Molly! You had me rolling on the floor--fair and balanced unlike Fox...Dragon Eye Something Bullshit...warm water that sat next to tea leaves on the bus--priceless. Thank you for posting, you made my morning.

What IS a breakfast tea? I don't know...I'd always assumed that an English was bracing, a Scottish knocked you on your ass, and an Irish held its own against a jigger of Jameson's finest. Meh...more research for me I guess. :)

Brent said...

Molly, thank you. That was truly hilarious. I should show this to my girlfriend, who probably has some of the same feelings about my tea habits as you. :)

Wes Crosswhite said...

Heh, I finally convinced my old man to switch to green tea from coffee (at least in the afternoons), and this is the kind of tea he drinks. I tried the Organic green and found it not to be terrible, smoky, almost like a gunpowder. Well, I may post a review of them as well sometime.
Thanks for the quite entertaining post!

Steven Dodd said...

I just love checking the site for updates and seeing Molly's "what the f*ck???" face. This post was a good read. Always nice to have someone who isn't a freak examining what we are so overly eccentric for.