The Good: Great ingredients, Tastes great, Caffeinated, Ethically produced
The Bad: Environmentally irresponsible packaging, Expensive
The Basics: A surprisingly rich and delightful green tea, Saphara Gen Mai Cha tastes like seaweed and tea!
Never in all of my tea reviews did I suspect I would ever find a green tea I would enthusiastically recommend and actually come to enjoy as one of my favorites. Come to think of it, with my generally negative experiences with Celestial Seasonings’ Saphara line of teas, I didn’t think I would actually have a good experience with their highly-ethical, yet expensive and annoyingly un-environmental teas. But, with the Saphara Gen Mai Cha, I have both. This is arguably the very best experience I have had with a green tea, as well as a delicious tea in its own right. While the packaging still mortgages Celestial Seasonings’ otherwise exemplary record of environmental intelligence and respect, the Gen Mai Cha is just good enough to overlook the problematic way it is distributed.
Outside that, the only real problem with Gen Mai Cha tea is that it is expensive. In fact, the entire line of Saphara teas is expensive, but the Gen Mai Cha is the first to truly justify that expense. That said, those who like black teas will find that the Saphara Gen Mai Cha is the green tea for them. It is robust, flavorful and in every way delicious.
Gen Mai Cha Tea is an organic green tea from Celestial Seasonings's Saphara line, which is "organic fair trade certified." This green tea – which is made from fresh tea leaves, not ones which have been matured and dried - is entirely natural and organic. Unlike every other green tea I have tried, the Saphara Gen Mai Cha has a surprisingly rich taste which sets it apart from standard green teas. Come to think of it, this is most like the fresh green teas my father brought back from China, so those disappointed by watery green teas that are the standard at Chinese restaurants in the United States might do well to try this Gen Mai Cha tea; it is just the opposite of bland. Like the other Saphara teas, the consumer pays for their ethics with this box of tea.
Gen Mai Cha Tea comes with Saphara's standard pyramid-shaped tea bags. Each pyramid-shaped tea bag is made of biodegradable materials (it turns out, it’s silk!) and unlike other Celestial Seasonings products, the Saphara tea pyramids come with strings and little tags. Each box of tea has fifteen individually plastic-wrapped tea bags. On the plus side, because the tea pyramids allow the tea leaves to expand and offer more surface area for the tea to brew with, a pair of tea bags will easily make an entire pot of tea.
Ease Of Preparation
Gen Mai Cha Tea is your standard green tea as far as the preparation goes. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea and could be reused and make a second cup of this tea, and the second brewing is not bad. The second cup is likely to come out about ¾ as strong as the first brewing. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and two tea bags makes a pot of tea as strong as this gets and may be used to make a fair second batch.
To prepare Gen Mai Cha Tea, bring a pot of water to a point just below a boil and pour it over the tea bags; boiling the water fully will cook the tea leaves, as opposed to allow the flavor to brew out of them. Filtered water should be near boiling as this will brew the flavor out of the green tea leaves. This tea takes three to five minutes to steep and when the water is just below boiling, it gets to full concentration in about three minutes with only moderately stronger results at the five minute mark. After five minutes, the flavor does not concentrate any more so there is no benefit to letting it steep longer than that.
The Saphara Gen Mai Cha Tea is one of the few Celestial Seasonings teas that has a very powerful, distinctive scent. This smells like a mix of tea leaves and seaweed. There is a freshwater lake scent to the steam which comes off the mug of Gen Mai Cha tea and it is delightful and inviting.
When one tastes Gen Mai Cha, they will discover that they have been perfectly prepared for the beverage by the scent. This is a surprisingly full-bodied tea and the taste actually is very much like that of kelp. It smells vaguely like seaweed and it tastes like it. My father used to cook Chinese food and use kelp as a garnish on certain dishes and this smells and tastes just like that. The scent is good, slightly mild, but overall, this is a delicious tea that will force naysayers to rethink green teas. This has a bit of body to it, as well, lingering on the tongue with a slightly dry and sour aftertaste that invites one to simply drink more of the tea!
With a teaspoon of sugar, Saphara Gen Mai Cha Tea is only slightly sweeter than the mug of tea without sugar, though the aftertaste is effectively cut through with sugar. I actually enjoyed this tea without sugar more and those who like coffee or black teas are likely to enjoy the Gen Mai Cha. Cool, this becomes a little drier in the flavor, but it is still palatable.
This wonderful green tea is comprised of two types of green tea and organic toasted brown rice. As with most Celestial Seasonings teas, there is nothing unpronouncable in this tea and it is 100% natural and organic. It is not noted to be gluten free, but it is Kosher.
In terms of nutrition, I would not suggest trying to live on Gen Mai Cha Tea. In an 8 oz. mug, there are no calories, nor fat, nor sodium, nor carbs, nor protein. Any nutritional value would come from what you add to this. As well, this tea does have caffeine, though its concentration is not noted on the package. I’ve never found myself tired right after drinking this tea!
Gen Mai Cha Tea is very easy to clean up after - the tea bags may be disposed in the garbage, or composted if you have a good garden and/or compost pile. The tea itself is a fairly light brown tea and it will stain most fabrics. Consult a fabric guide if you get the brewed tea on a fabric.
The Saphara Gen Mai Cha Tea tastes great and those looking for a good green tea will want to spend a little more and get this in their cupboards. A strong and worthwhile green tea!
For other teas by Celestial Seasonings, please check out my reviews of:
Saphara Blackcurrant Hibiscus
For other food and drink reviews, please visit my index page!
© 2010, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.