Friday, May 25, 2012

Celestial Seasonings Authentic Green Tea

Several years ago, I had a conversation with one of my friends in California in which he told me that he preferred to drink green tea rather than other sorts of beverages. Though he has since moved on to the more manly choice of coffee (though he still puts milk in it like a little girl), he was happy at that point in time when I said I wanted to send him a teapot and some authentic green tea from Japan. While he liked the tea pot, he was puzzled by the bag of what appeared to be grass clippings that I sent him. The green tea that I experienced in Japan was nothing like what he was quaffing in America.

One of the ways in which the green tea he drank was different was that it wasn't really, truly green. This was a fact that he didn't relay to me until I'd sent him a bag of green tea leaves that was, well, very green. That's not to say that all of the green tea that is sold in America is not green, but just the variety he was having. However, when something sells its green tea as "authentic", I expect it to be like what I had in Japan. In the case of Celestial Seasonings Authentic Green Tea (with white tea for smooth taste)", that was not quite the case.

I guess part of the issue is that I'm not sure what makes anything "authentic". In my fevered imagination, I believe it means that it is like the original and in my bias toward Japan being the center of all things green tea, I thought that meant it should be like Japanese traditional tea. That is, it should be green and have a more than faint taste like chlorophyll. It turns out that, like many things in Japan (like "Japanese cheesecake", "Japanese bread", etc.), the origin of green tea and the truly authentic version is hardly like the Japanese one at all. Green tea originated in China and this may actually be more authentic than the green tea I had in Japan because it is akin to Chinese green tea.

I don't brew or serve my tea out of drinking glasses, but I don't have on of those cool-looking clear Captain Picard tea cups with the metal bands. ThinkGeek sells them, but I don't have one because I'm still a homeless person and have no place for cups.

When I brewed up a cup of this, I was surprised to see that it is closer to gold and that a bit of oil floats on top of it. The oils are more akin to what you sometimes see when brewing coffee. It also does not smell very grassy and it tastes a a bit like a blend of oolong tea and what I drank as green tea in Japan. It has a deeper, earthier taste rather than a profoundly grassy one. The truth is that, not being an ardent fan of Japanese green tea, I rather liked this better than what I had previously conceived of as "authentic" green tea. I liked it a lot more, and it has a cool dragon graphic on the front of the box as an added bonus.

You can get Celestial Seasonings teas at nearly any supermarket in the United States. I could actually buy them at markets in Tokyo as well, though the variety of flavors was limited and I never saw this green tea for sale there. I guess it would be just as confusing for the Japanese to buy this and see how it differed from their version of green tea as it was for me. If you can't find it anywhere else and want to try it, you can find it at Amazon. It's mellow and well-balanced and requires no sweetener or milk to make it enjoyable, though I'm guessing you could probably find bags of bulk oolong and green tea and mix up you own blend and it which would be similar and cheaper than this. However, I think they'd also taste a bit harsher and have a less spiffy graphic on the box. 


bingata744 said...

I haven't tried the green tea, but I do love the graphic on the box as you do. May have to try, just to get the box ;) Love your blogs!

Anonymous said...

What sort of green tea would you usually drink in Japan? I bought some sencha in bags from an import store, and it really did have more of a goldish-green color. The flavor was pretty much like you described, though.

Anonymous said...

What sort of green tea would you usually drink in Japan? I bought some sencha in bags from an import store, and it really did have more of a goldish-green color. The flavor was pretty much like you described, though.

Orchid64 said...

bingata744: Thank you, and it is impressive how a pretty box will lure me in. ;-)

hijournal: I drank whatever I was served in restaurants, but students often gave me green tea as a gift and I would drink that. I never purchased green tea for myself, but what I had was always light and very green. The only goldish stuff I had was a "gold green tea" (loose leaf) that a student gave me after she returned from Hong Kong. Most of the green tea I had in Japan was very light green and was supposed to be steeped for a brief time. Not being much of a green tea expert, I can only speak to what I tended to be served and given.