110 Tasting Notes
I was in Starbucks today, and decided to pick up a tin of their bagged whole leaf tea to try. Zen is one of the Tazo teas I like fairly well, , so I took home a tin.
The tins are absolutely huge, and about half empty – not a feature I appreciate when I have limited tea storage space. I used one bag for a one pint pot, and that seemed sufficient. I think using a second bag would probably make the tea a little overwhelming. I like lemongrass, but I don’t want to swim in it.
This is also giving me a chance to play with my new toy, an Apple Iphone. My husband claims I have been obsessively, obnoxiously geeky about it since it arrived. I found a neat little tea timer app for free, with an amusing little graphic of a glass tea cup that gradually turns darker as the timer counts down. I set it for the recommended time, and was thrilled when it went off. So cool!
The bags are huge, and the leaf inside smells and tastes very attractive – large chunks of lemongrass, with a very minty aroma. (Have I mentioned that I love mint?).
In taste, this could just as well be an herbal infusion – I get spearmint and lemon grass, and just a hint of lemon zest, but no real tea flavor. Looking again at the bag, it appears that it is almost all mint, lemongrass, and lemon balm – there’s not a whole lot of tea present. Still, it’s a pleasant flavor and aroma. The mint is dominant in the first steep. The lemon flavor and scent are more pronounced in the second steep.
I would really prefer to buy this as a loose tea – it is way overpackaged. But good. I enjoy this cup.
This tea was a gift to me from a friend who knows the family who owns this estate. It is very much as described. A strong, earthy dark brown tea that is deep and satisfying on its own, with a grassy flavor. It blends well with milk and sweetener without losing its character, and makes a good base for chai – cardamom in particular seems to marry happily with this tea.
I don’t quite know what to think of this. The dry leaf has a very strong pear flavor, together with something rather astringent, like vinegar. During brewing, the honey and pear scents are overwhelming, and smell delicious. The tea has a strong pear/honey scent and much milder flavor, but the tea is . . missing, somehow. Possibly I need to use more leaf, but I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that from the scent. I’m wondering if mixing it with another plain black tea might provide a more satisfying cup, or if slightly sweetening it would reinforce the flavor.
This reminds me more of an Assam, with its chocolate notes and deep brown color. I was surprised to find that it is a Ceylon origin tea. It doesn’t taste or look as bright as Adagio’s Ceylon Sonata, for example. It is rather bland to my taste – not quite as rich as an Assam, nor as bright and thirst quenching as a Ceylon. Nonetheless, a pretty decent cuppa, but I have other teas in my cupboard I like better.
They say scent has the power to trigger memories, and the rose scent of this tea is wonderfully evocative. Years and years ago, in my hippie herbalist days, I gathered several pounds of wild rose petals, and made a wild rose conserve. The memory of the scent of that jam is still with me, and this tea has exactly that scent. It also reminds me of locoum, or Turkish delight, a sweet confection made of roses.
Once brewed, there is a distinct flavor of rose, but no cloying sweetness. The tea, which tastes like a Ceylon, is clearly present and not overwhelmed by the rose.
It’s not a tea I would drink everyday, but it’s definitely going to take a permanent place in my pantry. It would go well as a finish after Middle Eastern food, I think.
Much thanks to Ricky and to Auggy – your reviews talked me into buying this.
I think I’m going to have to upgrade my rating of this somewhat. It still has a rather odd butter rum flavor, but after letting the tea sit in the cupboard a while, the mint flavor is coming more to the fore, and I am enjoying drinking this somewhat more. Did I mention that I am a sucker for mint?
The tea is very dark, and still does not assert itself much over the other flavors going on, and the butter rum flavor is not as strong as I remember it. It’s not my favorite flavored tea, but I can enjoy an occasional pot.
This is a very fine, wiry looking leaf. The smell is earthy and sweet, like peat moss. First brew was five minutes. Fairly dark liquor, sweet and clean tasting like a Ceylon and finishing with an earthy, smoky flavor, rather like good barbecue, but just a hint of the smoke. Second steep wasn’t really worth drinking – the flavor was much weakened. I tried a new batch with a somewhat longer steep time – about six minutes. This made the earthy/smoky flavor much more pronounced, with no bitterness. This tea would probably benefit from a longer than usual steep. That finished off my sample, and now I am totally out! Sadness :( I like this very much!
I picked the last of the lemons from my Meyer lemon tree yesterday, to keep them from freezing, and spent today processing lemons into marmalade. Big steaming pots of lemony goodness, big steamy canning kettle, lots of steaming hot jars. I’ve steamed myself limp, and need some refreshment.
This really is what the doctor ordered – light, fresh, rather grassy and with a faint mineral aftertaste. Aaaahhh – I think I’ll put my feet up for a while.
Well, I know a bit more than I used to about making tea, so I decided to apply that knowledge, and try this tea again.
This is a loose leaf tea, but the leaf is very fine, and seems to have a lot of tea dust clinging to it. I used water that was less than boiling – brought it to a boil first, then let it cool till it was still. I also reduced the amount of leaf compared to what I used before – a scant tablespoonful, and steeped for much less time – 3 minutes, where I had used 5 minutes previously.
I prepared this in traditional East Frisian fashion – pour the tea, add a lump of rock sugar, and dribble in a bit of cream, without stirring. Then “wait and see and take some tea!”
East Frisian teas are supposed to contain Assam tea, and this definitely tastes like it – a bold, assertive malty Assam flavor. I expect that is necessary to stand up to all of the cream and sugar. I tried the second cup from the pot without the additional cream or sugar, and it is quite an acceptable cup of Assam blend, though not the best I’ve tasted.
Anyway, I’m upgrading my rating of this. This is something I would definitely reach for, when I am in the mood for a strong tea with cream and sugar.