Thursday, November 1, 2007

Review: Celestial Seasonings' Perfectly Pear White Tea

The idea of a delicate white tea brutally cut, torn and ripped at the hands of an unbridled shredding machine is a little gut wrenching. Somewhere there's a giant steel box, churning with guts full of razor blades, carelessly hacking at what otherwise should be a pampered tea leaf. Why would anyone desecrate something so pure and holy? Do we spit at holy sites? Do we use the bones of Saint's as monopoly pieces? Would we headbutt the Dalai Llama or spill our chocolate shake on the Pope? Barring some eccentric exceptions, no! So why massacre a tea leaf destined for white tea?

Because it suits our palates.

Well, some of our palates.

Celestial Seasonings is no fool. They understand that Americans with their hard work-a-day lives have no time to steep leaves properly. It's a lot of hassle and equipment cleaning to do inbetween McDonald's runs and litanies against soccer. So companies do us a favor and make white tea simple and easy. They bag it. And bagged tea needs to be very small, hence the Zorro act on the tea leaf. The transgression is unpardonable, but nobody else seems to notice. So, with a heavy heart and a thirsty palate I give Celestial Seasonings' White Pear a try.

The box and cat, both with excellent posture.

Here's the company's review:
Long ago white tea was a rarity reserved for Chinese royalty who treasured its wonderfully calming nature and delicate depth of flavor and aroma. We celebrate to the unique flavor of white tea with the lusciously mellow sweetness of Perfectly Pear White Tea. Natural pear and vanilla flavors enhance the white tea's soft, flowery tones ... perfectly. Served hot or iced, this tea is truly elegant. Our suggestion? Find a favorite place to enjoy Perfectly Pear White Tea, and refine the moment into something especially for you.

So what makes up such a perfect tea?
White tea with natural pear and vanilla flavors.
Uncannily vague.

Appearance & Liquour: A quick vivisection yields the tea bag's contents. Inside I found a pile of powder staggeringly transformed. There is no semblance of tea here. Only tragedy, broken into bits and then broken again. The liquor brews up a wet-straw golden brown, leaning a little on the green side but only faintly.

White tea, wishing it were whole again.

Raw Aroma: The sheer assertiveness of the pear dominates the raw aroma, but this is to be expected. It is, like other Celestial Seasonings' teas, very dusty, inciting a long series of sneezes. I think I'm done here.

Steeped Aroma: The Perfectly Pear White Tea's most elegant quality is here in the nose. A decadent waft of butter gambols out of the mug to coat the olfactory before introducing the scent of the pear - specifically pear juice, not the rind or flesh. But the pear's subtle fruity qualities combined with the soft, buttery notes is, if not deep, then intoxicating. It is an aromatic massage sans Helga, giving your senses just the slightest hints of flavor to excite. Not bad, Celestial Seasonings. Not bad at all.

Flavor & Palate: Where the aroma excels, the flavor disappoints. The sip that brings in the tea is flavorless. On the tongue it is flavorless. Coating the mouth with the tea manifests a generic bitterness that reminds me it is an herbal tea, but not a mite of pear can be found. Until the aftertaste. It's here that a slow crescendo of juicy pear reveals itself, materializing into its recognizable softness and sweetness. It is a humming of pear. Like the aroma, both soft and delicate, it is tangible, but still ethereal and persists long after the actual tea has left. Unfortunately this is a poor substitute for the tea's general lack of flavor. No drink, I think, should force the drinker to wait to the end of the sip to catch any of the beverage's qualities.

All the tea together.


Stephane said...

I am impatient to see you get to the good stuff. Though your prose is elaborate as always, I am not sure anyone is surprised by Celestial Seasonings' poor showing.

Jamie said...

Lovely and very humorous review, Garret. I'll look forward to reading your reviews of "real, unabused tea" very soon...

And thank you for the link - I'll return the favor momentarily. :-)

Blonde American Girl said...

I am of the opinion that white tea leaves slashed by a masked swordsman are superior to those abused by a shredding machine. For Zorro tea is the Tea of Justice.

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