Here's a bit of tea trivia: the reason why green tea is less fermented than black tea is because it's roasted or steamed at a certain point, to dry it out before it can complete the fermentation process.
I note this here because the more high-quality green tea I taste, the more I'm started to realize that a part of what I'm tasting is the flavor of something that's been cooked a little. That's the "mealy" taste I refer to when I review purist green teas.
Three reviews this time, all from Republic of Tea:
Cranberry Blood Orange Fair Trade black tea - this tea stinks. Well, not really... but if you try to conceive of how dried unsweetened cranberry and orange peel might smell, that's exactly how the dry bag smells: it's acrid, almost the smell of something burnt.
Fortunately, the smell of the tea steeping is better, and the taste is even better than that. Be aware that if you don't like cranberry, you won't like this tea. There is an unmistakable cranberriness about it: first the sweetness, then a hint of acridness on the back of your throat. The taste is remarkably smooth, not as tart as I would expect. It's a warm, rosy taste. But the acid of citrus and cranberry is definitely there; after a cup, my tongue was completely dried out. Ten minutes later, the citric aftertaste is still there. I think this might be a good sore throat tea, but otherwise, it won't become a favorite of mine. The taste is nice, but not overwhelmingly delicious, and the flavor isn't strong enough to make it interesting. Just a nice tea with a strong cranberry aftertaste. I drink this with honey, I don't even want to think about what it would taste like unsweetened (I say this as someone who actually has unsweetened dried cranberries among her herbs -- trust me, you don't want to know what they taste like, either). I'm also guessing that it would be faintly disgusting with cream.
It's an odd thing to say, but my favorite thing about this tea is the packaging. I love all of Republic's Fair Trade designs.
Ginseng Peppermint herbal tea - Hrm. You know, you just can't get away from ginseng; it's always going to taste like ginseng. You can add whatever you want, and it's still going to taste like your drinking something vaguely hippy-medicinal; strongly herbal. I don't mind the taste, but I really did want more from this tea. I wanted stronger peppermint, and the mint was almost not there at all underneath the ginseng. Peppermint's focus-enhancing abilities are related to its smell as well as its taste, so it needs to be present for a mentally stimulating tea like this to really work. My hunt for a good ginseng peppermint continues!
Spring Cherry green tea - Now here's an odd paradigm I'm running into in the sensory industries: cherry blossom scented bath gel tends, more often than not, to have a definite note of cherry fruit in the scent; and this cherry-flavored tea actually has floral notes. I don't mind this cross-pollination, but I do find it interesting. When I look at the ingredients, it makes sense: this tea contains peony and paklum flowers. How it manages to still taste like cherry baffles me, but it manages somehow.
Well, we could have just stopped at "this tea contains flower petals" = "Ewin likes this tea".
The scent of the dry tea bags is lovely, sweetly floral. As far as the taste goes, the first thing I have to say is that I keep forgetting it's a green tea, because it's just as smooth as a black tea. The taste is very delicate, there's a touch of cherry fruit, a touch of cherry blossom, and the underlying tea taste is sweet and mild. I like this tea a lot. It also falls neatly into the recent list of teas I've been making that are nice during hot weather. Unsweetened: tastes of flower petals. Sweetened: tastes like flowery tea spiced with cherry juice.