Thursday, July 5, 2007

Samples: Mint Verbena

Today's Expo sample is Harney & Son's Mint Verbena. It's a caffeine-free tisane made of mint (it doesn't say which kind) and lemon verbena. "Lemon verbena" is the same thing as Verveine Odorante, or French Verveine, which they also carry. I think the reason they don't label it the same way is that their verveine is a beautiful, delicious, whole-leaf tisane that tastes amazing and their bags of Mint Verbena just don't stand up to that. Sure, the packaging is lovely. The bag is large and pyramid-shaped and made of polyester mesh. The infusion smells good and has a rich color. However, the leaves are small and broken, and the brewed tisane is more harsh than soothing.

Somehow, this kind of inconsistency is what I have come to expect from Harney. The owner is quite a character and he's good with people. (Cool.) Some of the teas are delicious. The packaging is good. (Great.) The company has the potential to be an excellent tea merchant. (Wonderful.) But it's not. (Ohh . . . not so good.)

I think that the problem is that they carry a range of quality levels, but they don't delineate them very clearly. Some of their loose teas are excellent. Others, I regret drinking even once. Here's another major inconsistency that gets me. They sell a line of "premium" teabags, which would be great, except that it seems that these teabags are lower quality than their line of tea in sachets. Sachet is supposed to mean bag, right? I'm sure it's not just me who thinks this. So how is it that their premium tea is a lower grade than their tea of unspecified quality in bag-type-infusers? If they want to appeal to people at a variety of interest levels and price points, then that sounds like a good business move to me. But I'd just as soon skip the Orwellian double-speak and hear and honest appraisal of what they are offering. Wouldn't you?

In the meantime, I'm sticking to my Verveine! (If you haven't tried it yet, I highly recommend it!)

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