I like tea and I know a lot about it. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf talks about having very high quality teas. I find them to be a mixed bag.
This is a review of some of their hot teas.
First of all, like everywhere now, their hot water is too hot. It will burn the tea leaves and your tongue. If you respect tea, and humans, you would not do that. Second many of their teas have artificial flavors. That’s not o.k. Many of their teas have added “natural” flavors that can distract from the taste of the tea for me. Vague labels don’t allow you to avoid things like citric acid. In general, liquid “natural” flavorings added to tea aren’t made of that food. Dried fruit or flowers would be more natural.
You can find unflavored black and green teas at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, but the particular type of tea you want may not be available unflavored. Their Ceylon Tea has apricot flavoring. The decaf unflavored blacks at the location I go to are English Breakfast, and another type I don’t remember. They have unflavored green in decaf and regular.
I wonder about the plastic-looking tea bags they and others use. Is hot water leaching stuff out of the bags and into our bodies? I was okay with paper tea bags. I didn’t want them changed. Are the new bags not made of plastic? If they are from China, how can you be sure what they are made of? How does that substance interact with hot water and tea?
In spite of these concerns, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has some good teas and is a nice place. Some of these teas are sold by the cup, others by the tin, and some have both.
Lung Ching Dragonwell Green Tea is excellent. It has a better flavor than the average green tea. It’s more complex and less bitter.
Decaf Lung Ching Dragonwell Green Tea Ditto
Japanese Cherry Blossom Green Tea Also very good. It has artificial flavors though. I think it also had some real cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms, aka “Sakura” are coveted in Japan as food ingredients. This is one of the few times I’ve been able to try them. They go well with green tea.
Contains artificial flavors.
Instead? I’ve heard they have preserved Sakura at a Japanese grocery in my town. I haven’t been able to get down there.
African Sunrise Contains Honeybush tea with vanilla and citrus flavors. Tastes good but has artificial flavors, maybe citric acid. Their labeling is inadequate so I can’t tell. I usually avoid citric acid, which is a cheap artificial citrus flavoring that can disagree with some people. This tea did seem to worsen some aches I have. That’s why I stopped drinking it.
Contains artificial flavors
Instead I suggest Numi brand Honeybush tea with some citrus peel, a few grains of sea salt and a few flakes of red pepper.
Decaf Tropical Passion Black. This tea is a lot like African Sunrise and I had the same problems with it. Otherwise it could be a good tea. The black tea component tasted good to me. I would have liked to try it alone.
Southern Tea or Southern Rose Black Tea
Black tea with too much added rose flavoring. Actual rose petals go well with tea. I don’t like this version.
Instead: Where I live, the best dried edible rose buds can be found in some Chinese medicine stores. Quality varies, but I found two places I trust. Place a few rose buds or their petals in hot water with green or mild black tea. Bre as usual. Twinnings Prince of Wales Black Tea is good for this, although it’s harder to find. Rose buds are calming in Chinese Medicine.
Maliboda Ceylon Black This is purported to be special gourmet tea. It just tasted bitter to me. Otherwise it slightly resembled a popular English tea I tried (Yorkshire Gold?) only without the complexity. A tin cost about $12.00. I like all of Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s teas better than this one.
I hoped it would taste like “Ceylon” tea, which I like, but it didn’t. Twinnings is my favorite brand of Ceylon tea.
Chamomile Lemongrass Had an orange flavor I disliked for this tea. If I remember correctly, it just tasted like lemongrass with orange oil on it: hacky.
Contains Artificial Flavors
Scottish Breakfast Tea. I haven’t had this tea at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I just felt the need to say that Scottish breakfast tea can be very acidic. I tried Twinnings Scottish Breakfast Tea. It was even more acidic than their Irish Breakfast Tea, which was more acidic than English breakfast.
If you don’t want to consume artificial flavors in your tea at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, your choices are restricted. I haven’t researched all the options, but their teas that I know of without artificial flavors are plain green and black teas, and plain decafs.
There is no reason to use artificial flavors or citric acid in tea. Plenty of alternatives exist, such as those mentioned above. In addition, those of us that like tea appreciate it without the flavorings. When making flavored teas, use good ingredients and and good recipes. How can Americans learn to appreciate tea if you are always tarting it up? Have some tastings or put some videos on YouTube.