Snooty Tea Review: Steven Smith Tea Round 2

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From Instagram.

Today, the Snooty Tea Blog is going green.

Last time we took on their blacks, now we’re gonna get our snoot on with Smith Teamaker’s green tea.

(And one white.)

maofengshui
Mao Feng Shui‘s bag aroma is highly understated–or should I say, understa-tea-d? Maybe it’s because of the tightly-woven silk sachet, but this tea does not want to give up its secrets so easily. Still, it’s possible to discern the sweetness of the green held up by the more vegetal notes, like an assortment of fruit supported by a summer squash platter. Interestingly enough, it still won’t talk much once steeped in the cup. Huh. There’s a teaser of botanical fragrance, but it’s more of a, “Yeah, I could be a floral. But maybe I’m not. Could go either way. Wouldn’t you like to know?”

Once you start sipping, the tea has no choice but to cave and let you know what’s really going on: “Alright, fine. I’m a floral. You got me.” But this kind of floral isn’t the perfumed variety we get with oolongs and whites, where they’d have you think you’re in the middle of Monet’s garden. This floral is a curious result of how this green’s innate sweetness responds to its herbaceous over-layer. Instead of confining itself to one area or another, it seeps into those vegetal notes and drips out along the sides, like a pool of honey crammed between two slices of bread. The fruit in this tea starts to come out more as it cools, and you’re treated to some overripe honeydew melon. Got a bit of cilantro in there, too, a touch of sage–Swiss chard! That’s the one, really plugging away at the helm.

(Did I just hear a vegan orgasming?)

At any rate, Mao is probably too stingy with its affections for breakfast, but it’ll play nice with anything between brunch and midnight, depending as usual on your caffeine tolerance. If you’re used to Sencha and other Japanese greens, this is a nice bridge into the Chinese varie-tea. Wouldn’t say an immediate no to a non-dairy milk for this one, as those tend to have a built-in sweet factor that could bring out some components of this tea pretty nicely. Otherwise, sweeten to taste.

fez
In the bag, Fez‘s dry smell is what your Starbucks Tazo mint tea wishes it could be. You get nothing but spearmint, with a hint of lemon that could pass as verbena, though in this case–pun intended–it’s Australian lemon myrtle. When was the last time you saw that one in a tea? Turns out it’s the perfect addition, as those sharp little acidic notes come out to play when the hot water hits the bag. No green smell at all, but that’s no surprise given the understated presence of their Mao Feng Shui.

Smith recommends drinking this tea while wearing a fez, but you’ll want to take your hats off to it–Fez, you sly fox! Honestly, if it weren’t for the label on the packet, you’d swear this was an herbal tea of just straight lemon verbena. Hardly any mint on your palate, and hardly any green unless you want to let it cool definitely and then go really searching for it. (Don’t bother. You’ll be too busy enjoying the sass and spunk of the Australian myrtle as it skips across your tongue.) Unlike actual citrus peels or artificial lemon flavoring, which snap and kick as they go, this herb’s flavor rolls right through the garden without messing up the carefully arranged foliage on either side. Really, lemon lovers will be in heaven. Lime lovers won’t be disappointed either.

Such a light, spritely cup could pair up well with anything later in the day. It’s a lemony-fresh pick-me-up that probably makes a heck of an iced cup. This is legit summer in liquid form, my friends, and you don’t want to keep this one to yourselves. Get a box and expect to drink only half by yourself, because the rest is too good not to share when we’re at the peak of the sunny season.

jasminest
With one whiff of Jasmine Silver Tip, you’ve got the full floral parade. Dare I even call it… soapy? Seems to be all about the jasmine and none about the tea. Oh dear. This doesn’t disappear when steeped, but at least the odor fades a bit–just a bit, mind you, ’cause this flower damsel really doesn’t want to budge–hopefully to make way for some solid green flavor. (Though seeing as it’s called Silver Tip, it’s possible that you’ll have more of a white-y cup after all.) As with many jasmine teas, this one leaves you rubbing your fingers on the nearest napkin, trying to get rid of the oily feeling from the perfume.

Sip up, floral lovers, because this will be your happy hour. Floral haters to the back; you’ll get more out of Fez or one of Smith’s nice, twisty blacks. Tasting this tea is like taking a tour around your neighborhood flower shop. The lady at the desk is rosy-cheeked and cute as a button, showing you everything she has for sale: “And over there, dearie, we’ve got the irises, they’re very popular this prom season, and here are the daffodils, fresh from the greenhouse–careful of the orchids, they’re on the delicate side–and if you want something for a baby shower I have just the perfect set of geraniums…” The finish is an aftertaste of unripe fruit.

This one, do with what you will, but any additions might not be worth it. No milk–why add milk to flowers, anyway?–and sweetener only if that’s your thing.

whitepetal
White Petal, now, is the antithesis of Jasmine Silver Tip. Hoboy, if these were siblings, I wouldn’t leave these two in the car together, unless you want to spend your road trip hearing, “Turn your music down, I can’t sleep!” “It’s not that loud!” “Yes it is!” “No it’s not!”… etc.

But back to the tea. The dry bag yields a wonderful fragrance of warm flowers. We’re not talking about floral in the usual sense, where the aroma hits you the way it would when you’re in the company of actual perfumes. Here, you get the feeling of meadow-y buds with their faces bright and open towards the day. The osmanthus masquerades as a whiff of peach. In the cup, these scents deepen and round out, like they’ve been slowly baked into the tea. Ozzy gets fruit-tastic here.

Oh no this is not something to drink in the morning. As soon as you start sipping, the chamomile takes over. You’d never think that a calming herb could taste so powerful, but something about this blend really takes it to a new level. It must be the influence of the white tea. Honestly, it’s a pleasure to taste, for once, a white blend that successfully incorporates complimentary herbs! Many white blends are simply Bai Mu Dan mixed with a fruity flavor; there’s the general assumption that shy old White Peony can’t cut it as a true base without a louder component to ride it home. White Petal, however, is an elegant demonstration of what can only be called Defined Subtl-tea.

Try it iced to really bring out the osmanthus peachy chime, and you’ll barely need sweetener. This is another one of those teas you’d benefit from leaving alone, since it’s so tea-lightful as is.

With such a grand show of chamo-mastery and herb-blending exper-tea-se, the Snooty Tea Person is certainly looking forward to the round of herbals coming up next.

What a relief to end this review on a happy note. (Pun, as always, intended.)

Cheers!

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