Swinging my arm around behind me to grab my drink, I thwacked the bottle clear across the room—bam! Jumping up to chase it before it rolled under the barrels (I was at work), I stopped short—the bottle was square, not round, and thus, it didn’t roll anywhere. Sweet! Now, if only I had secured the top before I hit the grand slam….
The square bottle shape is just one of the charms of Ito En Tea’s Tea bottled green tea series. I have now tasted all of the versions available to me in my small town, some of which I like very much and a couple of which are not “my cup of tea”. All of them are worth a try in my opinion however, if you (like me) are searching for the elusive “sweetness-free” bottled beverage.
The Pure Green was previously reviewed here (and by the way, I like it very much), so I made it my mission to check out the five other infused versions listed above. Without further ado:
Mint Green: Ever had a Tums or Rolaid in liquid form? This was without a doubt my overriding reaction to this version of Tea’s Tea. Not my favorite. Yes, there is a minty quality to this drink, but it is musty, chalky and stale, and overrides the green tea taste. Is this because dried peppermint leaves are used, as opposed to fresh which would make a “brighter” mint flavor (and would probably be too unpractical to produce)? I would prefer to tear a few leaves of fresh mint into the Pure Green and see what happens.
Rose Green: Thoughts of a Victorian lady’s parlor were conjured up while drinking this one. Once again, a slight musty taste beyond the earthiness of the green tea; I was reminded of rose petal beads, or potpourri. There is an aromatic component to this more than to any of the others that is both earthy and perfumy, but not like either fresh roses or hot green tea. I had a hard time thinking of foods that this would go well with, because of the rose petal taste; maybe shortbread cookies or Lady Fingers?
Jasmine Green: If you like Jasmine teas, you will like this. The jasmine component is obvious but not overwhelming, and the taste evolves as you drink it from full-frontal incense to light floral to oaty and herbal. I’m not overly fond of Jasmine teas on the whole, but I might give this one a few more tries.
Lemongrass Green: Lemongrass and green tea usually complement each other beautifully, and this is no exception. A refreshing and clean citrus top note over a smooth earthy layer of green tea, finishing crisply and slaking the thirst in a most satisfying way. This is the one to get for those hot days when you’re working (or playing) hard, and really need to cool down. It’ll cut the dust. I will probably keep some of this in my fridge for just those occasions. I think this would also be a great one to serve when introducing tea newbies to green tea drinks—the citrus taste will be familiar, but it doesn’t overwhelm the green tea.
Green White: Probably my favorite, and the most intriguing. The beginning of the taste is subtle and those who want a “burst of flavor” will not prefer it. But as with the Jasmine Green, the flavor evolves in a most delightful way; delicate and floral (paperwhites?), almost fruity, and ever-so-slightly acidic. Very clean in the finish, leaving nothing behind. I would enjoy this on it’s own; it might be overwhelmed by foods eaten with it. Like the Lemongrass Green, another great Summer cooler.
There you have it. All of these drinks contain only purified water, green tea, the natural component of the flavors (ie. Dried rose petals, lemongrass, etc.), and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as a preservative. I would pay close attention to the “Best by” date stamped on the bottle, as I imagine these fade fast around that time, and some of them are so delicate that it wouldn’t take much to miss them at their best.
One more thing I like: The haiku on each of the bottles! Yes, I am a haiku hound; I even submitted a couple of haiku in the Ito En contest. And so can you, by going to their website and following the links.
Meanwhile, keep drinking and enjoying your tea!