Green Tea has a dirty little secret — and nothing can be done about it — and that secret is that real, hardcore, proper, unadulterated green tea has, what Janna calls, a “muskiness” that translates into meaning raw, pure-brewed, strong green tea… smells like urine.



I said it.

My favorite drink in the whole world smells — and probably tastes like — uric ammonia, and yet I still can’t swallow enough of the stuff throughout the day to keep me satisfied and quenched because green tea, in it’s organic state, is hardy, pure, musky, magical and powerful and I need its healing warmth in my body every single day.

The problem with modern, mainstream, green tea is tea merchants know their product smells like pee, and so they try to cover that stank by adding jasmine or lemongrass or mint or other flowery-scented oral accoutrements — and that makes it really hard to just find hardcore, non-flowery, or otherworldly flavor-enhanced, green tea.  Lipton and Bigelow make “plain” green tea for purchase in grocery stores, but you have to use two or three teabags in one cup to get any sense of how green tea is intended to be brewed and bitten.

Believe me, I’m not tea snob. I just want to fall back to the basics and I don’t want to have to pay extra for it or go out of my way to get it.

I guess Americans can’t take the smell or taste of real green tea, so we are spoon-fed these pale-tasting imitators.  There’s nothing more annoying than going out to dinner at a Vegan restaurant, ordering green tea, and getting back a weak pot of pale water that smells like flowery petals.  When you try to order authentic green tea without anything added to it, you are met with blank stares.

Starbucks and Celestial Seasonings are the worst, though.  Green tea with mint?  Really?  Why?  I’m not a big mint fan for any reason, and the idea of having mint mixed with the urinal muskiness of my preferred pee green tea is enough to make me puke.

What can we do?  How can we make Starbucks and all the other vendors realize we just want plain, old, smelly green tea — and we want it fast and strong and RIGHT NOW?  I don’t want to be one of “those people” who is forced to bring my own teabags into my outside life, but I’m beginning I will need to start, because the world is getting stinkier with added scents and spicy flowers instead of remaining preternaturally urine-worthy in more ways than taste alone.


  1. David,

    Starbucks Tazo China Green Tips has one ingredient — spring harvested green tea leaves. I find it to be their best tea overall.

    If you don’t have access to a Chinese supermarket (I have seen one or two on maps of Jersey City) this is quite good!

    I also always recommend loose leaf tea over bagged tea any day of the week. Much richer flavor and you control how much tea goes into the water — just don’t forget a filter later to keep the leaves from your tea!

    1. How do I get iced Tazo Green tea from Starbucks? Special order it? They never ask me what kind of green tea I want — they just give me what they make.

      Yes, loose leaf, is likely the best way to go — but it’s a little complicated for me with my current water setup. Will have to make some changes when the weather changes!

      1. In theory you should be able to get an iced tea out of any tea at Starbucks. I would ask for a two tea bag tall China Green Tips over ice in a Grande cup. That’s basically what I do at home to get a nice iced green tea.

  2. Okay, I found this post (and I know it’s old but I’m commenting anyhow) because I Googled ‘green tea smells like pee’. I purchase Rishi organic green tea in Matcha Super Green. It is the only tea I’ve had that smells like urine and I don’t know what urine tastes like but if it has a taste, it is probably this stuff. I’m forcing myself to drink it because I know it is super good for me. I’m starting off with 2 dollops of raw local honey (I have allergies). Hopefully I will get used to the smell/taste and use less honey. I’m trying! Thanks for your post. I’m glad this is normal for the best, purest green tea!

    1. Yes, too many people are frightened by bad smells — even if they are good for us! — and so we get watered down and filtered green tea with all the good stuff removed.

      Now, when we drink the right and proper urine-smelling green tea, our actual urine afterward doesn’t smell like urine… it smells like Earl Grey.

      (that’s a tea joke for those not following along!)

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