96 Tasting Notes

drank Chocolate Chai by Zen Tea
96 tasting notes

I have been trying to submit this note since yesterday, but Steepster keeps showing continual “saving” without progression. I got into the habit of copying and pasting notes until I was sure they went through after Steepster would randomly “eat” tasting notes a couple years back, but haven’t seen anything since. Is this normal? Or Holiday traffic?
First of all, this sample is quite old. I found it hiding in a drawer.

Dry scent is super strong chocolate and orange. This made me a bit hesitant, as I like chocolate, and I like orange, but the melding of the two has never pleased me for some reason. Shame. The next strongest scents are then pepper, clove, cinnamon, cardamom. I may also be picking up on some ginger. The orange peel chunks are as big as my thumbnail!

I had this with milk, and the 5 minute suggested steeping time causes it to not be as strong as I would like (I experienced this also with Zen’s Masala chai [which was excellent by the way], so tacking on an extra minute, minute and a half fixed it right up). Zen suggests making this like a normal black tea as “boiling Chocolate Chai in a pot with milk results in an undesirable taste”. I normally find Zen’s steeping instructions bang on, so I heeded Kenneth’s warning.

Clove is the dominant flavour, followed by cinnamon. The chocolate note is there, although not very strong. I get the chocolate note stronger in the upper back of my mouth as an aftertaste after a few sips. There’s a citrus freshness that cuts through the creamyness, but the orange doesn’t present as strong as I thought it would given the dry scent.

I wouldn’t keep this in my cupboard, but it may be because the sample is pretty old and I have been spoiled by trying the Masala Chai earlier this week; http://steepster.com/Starfish/posts/278781 It was just so darn good!

Flavors: Cardamon, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Ginger, Orange, Orange Zest, Pepper

Boiling 5 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

I have this saving issue often.

Usually I just copy and paste the text of my note, close the page, then go to my Tealog page. The empty note will be there, then I edit it and save, and it usually works. PITA but it’s a pretty reliable work around for me.


I prefer cinnamon heavy chai with the clove in the background as a complement myself. Loving Zen Teas but it’s so hard to find a good-for-me Chai. It’s funny that out of all I’ve tried of Chais, I still prefer twinings tea bags as the most flavorful. So weird.

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drank Chocolate Chai by Zen Tea
96 tasting notes

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I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed this, it’s my favorite tea!

A proper review will have to wait, as I’m currently giving it a little funeral. My gift this year was a cute mug, so I thought there was no better tea to christen it with. This was my last teaspoon.

RIP Caramel Vanilla Assam.

Mmmmmm. You will be so incredibly missed. Such a shame Stacey is shutting up shop – she is the most talented tea blender/sorceress I’ve ever come across, but I wish her the best in her future endeavors.

I am getting a group together to split costs of a reblend of this(and she has ever so generously offered up some of her private reserved assam so we will have the original base), so give me a shout below if you’re interested.

Happy holidays!

Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Gyokuro by Zen Tea
96 tasting notes

Dry leaf smells great; vegetal and sweet.

The liquor is a light, vibrant green. Aroma of sweet baby asparagus and hay. Wow. This is really good. It’s like a sweeter version of sencha. But calling it sweet isn’t quite right, as it’s still savoury. It’s hard to describe. This tea starts on a sweet delicate note, and then quickly crescendos with a strong (but it’s not a “loud” kind of strong, it’s more of a depth?) sencha flavour, before rounding down with punctuated mellow notes of grass, baby jasmine and umami.

Also, I read online that a lot of people eat the leaves, so I tried that tentatively (As a small child I also tried eating a rabbit dropping after my father convinced me it was a raisin. It was not a raisin. Granted that is neither here nor there, but will hopefully serve as an amusement at my expense). Leaf report: I think there was some water left in with the leaves, so they’re a bit bitter. But I enjoyed the texture and if I had Ponzu on hand to add to them, I bet they’d be quite yum!

Flavors: Asparagus, Hay, Jasmine, Sweet, warm grass, Umami

155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

that sounds very much like something my dad would have done to me!

Ponzu is super yummy on the leaves, I have also sprinkled some furikake on it which made it really tasty, reminded me of a really mild seaweed salad

Miss Starfish

Thanks for the rec Amanda, I’ll pick some up! :)

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This was a typical decent Mao Feng, nothing out of the ordinary to report.
This tea became even better after the first resteep – so in future I would probably abandon western style and favor an eastern approach to wake up the leaves. A gongfu session with this would be wonderful.

Flavors: Chestnut, Mineral

3 min, 0 sec

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drank Masala Chai by Zen Tea
96 tasting notes

My first cup of this is the quick and dirty western way, because I’m pretty tuckered today. I’ve saved enough of the sample that I will be able to do the traditional brewing method as well.
The picture of this tea is an exact representation, there’s heaps of spices. I had a taste of the full strength version before pouring milk into it, and it was amazing (too strong sans milk thought). Now that i’ve added sugar and milk, it’s lovely. Now knowing what I do, I would have extended my steeping time (which is what Zen recommends, and I always find them to be so bang on about steeping times and methods that it’s almost unsettling. Does Kenneth have a camera in my house, to see exactly how I like my tea? I wouldn’t be surprised) by a couple of minutes. I cut it off at 4:30min as there is/was a decent amount of the ctc base tea in it, and I didn’t want it getting too astringent. I needn’t have worried.

Alright, despite how tired I am, my curiositea (oh bad tea puns! how I enjoy you…) got the better of me, and I’ve prepared a cup on the stove.
It was delicious this way too, but I think I need more practise at stovetop brewing. Okay, I know I do. I scalded the milk. Twice. Lesson learned, do not prepare stovetop tea while tired and distractible.

I’m planning on continuing my search for my perfect chai (and knowing me, I’ll end up with 3 of them), but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is what I settle down with.

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

there can never be enough tea puns!

Miss Starfish

look to the right if you want more haha (my profile) ;)


haha, those are some great ones! and nice color scheme :)

Miss Starfish

Happy it made you smile :) and thanks!


I still need to find my perfect chai, will try this sometime

Miss Starfish

Definitely give it a shot. I was almost disappointed as I had expected a long search before finding my chai match (I quite enjoy the “hunt”), haha! ;)

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drank Blood Orange by Zen Tea
96 tasting notes

Omg you guys, I suck! I fully intended to catch up on my logging, but I fell off the map. And now it’s almost summer here in New Zealand, and thus a lack of hot tea drinking. Our winter was milder than usual as well, so I didn’t drink even a quarter of the normal amount.

There’s a huge storm going on outside, so I’ve pulled down my samples box and picked one at random.

Plain – Yum! Base doesn’t overshadow the flavour. This is great!
With milk and sugar – pretty damn good!
With just milk – I prefer it straight, definitely still good though. Takes milk well.
Plain, with sugar – Good! The sweet and slightly sour notes are bouncing off each other, it’s interesting. I’m also picking up on something that tastes faintly like saffron?

Overall, I was impressed! I always love when there’s a tea I equally enjoy several different ways.

Flavors: Blood orange, Citrus Zest, Saffron

Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Cameron B.

Welcome back! :)

Miss Starfish

Thanks Cameron! :)


oooh, how did you get colored text in your bio?

Miss Starfish

easy madametj, just type"%{color:fill in a colour here} enter whatever you want to say here %". Hope that was helpful! :)


thank you :)


{color:red} testing testing


i did something wrong :(

Miss Starfish

you’re forgetting the % on either side

Miss Starfish

try again :)

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Oh wow, this smells pretty intense!

You know, never in a million years would I have thought that I’d like this straight, but I do. There’s a malty, almost caramel note, another one that reminds me of when you cook with beer for that depth of flavor? that’s present! Which now makes me wonder about dumping a strong cup of this into my next stew!

w/ sugar – good with sugar, but a bit more sour which doesn’t make immediate sense. But I’ve realized it enhances the caramel note, making it taste like caramel that is close to being scorched.
w/ milk – mmm yum.
w/ milk and sugar – okay, prefer without sugar

Overall, this tea really surprised me in a positive way. I’d consider keeping a small amount in my cupboard as I have friends who enjoy really strong dark blacks, and have the odd cup myself from time to time.

Flavors: Astringent, Caramel, Malt

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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I was really looking forward to trying this one as I LOVE vanilla. To not have a bottle of nielsen massey in the house is akin to high treason in my family.

The aroma is very vanilla, mmmmmmmm. Slightly artificial but not much, although that’s me being very picky with my really sensitive nose.

Oooh!! There are sliced vanilla pods in the tea!

Straight – the vanilla note is there, but its weak, beautiful tea base though. Just the tiny tiny hint of astringency, so I’d try it at 2:30-2:45 if I was drinking it plain.
w/ sugar – Doesn’t really change the overall taste or bring out different notes.
w/ milk – Decent.
w/ milk and sugar – the vanilla note comes out a bit more. Interesting.

Overall not a *super** vanillary tea, but a light vanilla tea with a beautiful base.

*That being said, I love vanilla and like it STRONG. I restrained myself from adding my homemade vanilla sugar to this tea since I wanted to judge it on it’s own merits, but that’s what I would do in future.

Flavors: Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Bossa Nova by Zen Tea
96 tasting notes


We had an awfully hot summer here in NZ, so now that it’s very much winter, true to my Canadian heritage, I’m ready to GET LOGGING! Haha, that was terrible…. I think we’re off to a good start.

First tea is Bossa Nova by Zen. Holy moley guys, the dry leaf smells amazing! Like ferreo roche, but without the chocolate.

Smells so good when brewing with the addition of what seems like roasted? oolong. (Obviously, to the oolong portion)
Alrighty, plain I can really taste the nut and the vanilla is faint, but still present.
w/ sugar –Alright, didn’t love it with sugar.
w/ milk – prefer than with sugar. Helps to bring out the vanilla and creamy hazelnut note
w/ milk and sugar – better than just plain sugar, but definitely preferring this one without the sugar.

Plain or with milk was my pick for this one. I steeped it to 3 minutes at one point to try and that was definitely too long, so 2:30 is the magic number for me. This is definitely something I would keep (in a small quantity) in the cupboard.

Sadly I have run out of my sample (Many thanks to the generous Zen Tea – Kenneth is such a sweetheart), but when I make my next order I’m looking forward to mixing it with a chocolate black tea and seeing what comes of that… because it sounds really really good in my head.

Edit: I read notes from 2 years back and a common thread was that this tea tasted artificial. I didn’t find it artificial at all. I wonder if they’ve tweaked it in the elapsed time, because I have eaten fresh hazelnuts today and this seems pretty on point.

Flavors: Hazelnut, Vanilla

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

Welcome back!

Miss Starfish

Thanks hun! It was nice to see that you’re still around :)


woohoo! welcome back! :)


Starting with a pun is always appropriate :) Geographical curiosity: what’s considered “very much winter” in your part of the world?

Miss Starfish

Thanks Sil! :)
and gmanthis- always happy to indulge curiosities! It depends where you are in the country. I’m from Queenstown (South island, inland & mountainous), but living in Wellington (North island, coastal) at the moment. So if I were in Qt, it would mean lots of snow, ice, and easily below 0’C temps. Wellington probably averages around 7’C? If it snows, it doesn’t stay very long. Lots of hail though. The main hurdle is the wind. It’s an extremely windy city. Today we had 140km/h. When southerlies come directly up from Antarctica (which happens often sadly), that’s when you put three duvets on the bed.


Nice to know it’s good tea weather somewhere ;)
Can’t complain—we’ve had a very mild summer so far and September isn’t that far off!

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Time for a profile update. I’ve been on Steepster since early 2012, and my tastes have expanded since then.

I generally take my tea straight, although occasionally blacks may end up with a splash of milk if I’m after a certain comfort factor. Right now, I’m going through a black phase, although white and oolongs still remain my secret favourite children. Honeybush and Rooibos are still a case-by-case basis.

Likes: Coconut, Peach, Honeydew, Various Melons, Lychee, Nectarine, [Blood and normal] Orange, Tangerine, Berries in general, but specifically Strawberry and Raspberry, Chocolate, Pumpkin, Caramel, Pecan…

Dislikes: Licorice, Coffee, Grapefruit…

I (still) haven’t perfected a rating table as of yet, so here’s some bad tea jokes instead!

What is a baby teapots favorite game?

What does a teapot say to it’s lover?
O, dajarling!

How long does it take to ship tea from China by slow boat?
Oolong Time!

What does a tea bag do when it’s tired?
It seeps.

What do lady teapots like to wear?
String of Earls!

Why did the tea get away?
Because it was loose.


New Zealand

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