Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: Stash Green Tea Sampler

18 Foil Teabags, $3.47,

Anyone with a certain amount of musical hipness has made a mixtape (or CD or mini-disc or wax cylinder depending on who you are and what you believe in). From ancient Make Out Club threads to movies starring John Cusack, a lot of time has been wasted on figuring out how to get your mixtape just right.

As someone who used to be into that sort of thing I will say I always tried to use variety within a theme. For instance the theme of the tape you make for that slender legged gal that caught your eye on the L train might be I Want to Have Sex with You (preferably soon). The variety then might include a range from the playfully forward “Never Say Never” by Romeo Void to something a little more flattering like “She’s a Rainbow” by The Rolling Stones.

In this sense the tea sampler pack is a lot like a mixtape, there is variety built around a theme. The theme of this Stash sampler is green tea and the variety ranges from chai to decaf. What follows are some of my thoughts on the nine flavors included.

Chai Green (Blended green tea, cinnamon, ginger root, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon flavor, clove, clove bud oil, and cardamom oil):

Never had Green Chai before, didn’t know it existed
Nutmeg and allspice make themselves known
The green smooths out some of the spiciness
Surprisingly pleasant

Fusion Breakfast (Indian Assam black tea, Indonesian black tea, Chinese green tea, Japanese green tea, African black tea, and Japanese Matcha):

Peachy green aroma
Dark amber brew
Generic flavor
Like too many stars crowded into a mediocre movie
Good but no big standout

Fusion Green & White (White tea, Japanese green, Chinese green, Assam green, Darjeeling green, and organic green teas):

Clean floral scent
Mild green tea flavor
Flavor could be fuller after such a rich smell

Ginger Peach (Green tea, ginger root, peach flavor, and Japanese Matcha):

Have you ever been punched in the nose by the ginger bread man while walking the peach orchard?
My least favorite of the sampler

Organic Premium Green (Blend of organic green tea):

They only give you one
Much like the Premium Green albeit a little lighter
Tastes the same as any other green tea in the box

Moroccan Mint (Green tea, spearmint, lemongrass, and peppermint):

Rich peppermint smell
Rich peppermint flavor
Just enough of a whisper of green
Top marks

Pomegranate Raspberry (Green tea, chamomile, hibiscus flowers, orange peel, citric acid, pomegranate flavor, raspberry flavor, and Japanese matcha):

Sharp pomegranate odor with a dash of hibiscus
Not too much raspberry
Tamer than your average pomegranate product
Not too much zing

Premium Green (Select blended green teas):

Grassy fresh odor
Light green liquid
Roasted green tea flavor
Very good for a bagged tea

Decaf Premium Green (Select blended naturally decaffeinated green teas):

Just like the real thing

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Review: Calpico Lychee Drink

1.5L (, $6.60)

There is an Asian supermarket close to me called Asian Food. For someone like me who has never really been in an Asian Supermarket there is a lot to see and touch and laugh at and be disgusted by. From the silly cartoon people on noodle boxes to the wads of tripe in the cold section to the 30 some odd types of tofu, it is easy to spend an hour and a whole spectrum of emotions in the store without really accomplishing anything. How am I supposed to figure out which Korean BBQ sauce will go best with my bok choy? What are you supposed to do with black duck eggs? Why is this herbal tea not safe for children?

Amongst the exotica there are all kinds of neat things to drink that I have never seen before, including this lychee flavored drink from Calpico. While trying to find more information about it on the internet I learned that it is a Hello Kitty drink. It is unclear as to why but sometimes this product comes with a Hello Kitty logo and sometimes it does not. A quick Google will tell you that some people only like it because of the Hello Kitty appeal. The one I bought (along with its sister flavors available in the store) did not feature any sign of Hello Kitty however it did show up on my receipt as “Hello Kitty Lychee Drink”.

Sans Hello Kitty (such as in the picture above), the product immediately reminded me of a prize you might come across in the Nintendo game Bubble Bobble. It would please one of those dinosaurs to devour a bottle of white sugar milk amongst their 8-bit cakes and pies. Make no mistake, dinosaur or not, there is a certain attractiveness to the packaging. It feels kind of good to look at and hold the bottle. The white plastic is not like a regular plastic water or soda bottle. There is something a little more futuristic going on. It’s the kind of plastic children of tomorrow will be familiar with, something they will recall as a fond part of Saturdays filled with Ultra-Comics and Hyperball. It’s a reward their parents will give them for walking Rex the Electro-Doggie all week.

Within this plastic the ingredients are pretty simple. Consisting mainly of water, sugar (52 grams), and non-fat dry milk it is a dessert kind of drink with a hint of lychee at the end. Kind of like drinking a melted sorbet it’s not exactly liquid candy, but it is a close runner-up.