Zen Tara Tea
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Recent Tasting Notes
I’m glad I cut back the steeping time a bit because I like this cup better than the last one. It’s still grassy in flavour but not as overwhelmingly as it was before and the sourness isn’t as pronounced either. The sweetness is a bit clearer, and I actually can taste a bit of fruitiness that could be interpreted as the plum flavour people talk about with this type of tea.
The name ‘Chunmee’ always makes me laugh – I mean precious eyebrows? I consider my eyebrows to be a lot of things but ‘precious’ generally isn’t one of them. The dry tea does sort of bear a resemblance I guess – the leaves are twisted into short little curves, though to me it’s still a bit of a stretch.
The tea brews up fairly dark for a green tea, turning the water a sort of dark-golden colour. Right away I can taste the sourness in the description, it’s not exactly gack-worthy but it takes some getting used to. In my head it’s not so much like sour plums as it’s comparable to a crisp, dry, white wine like a sauvignon blanc. The body of the tea is rather grassy and the aftertaste has a touch of sweet that I wish was a bit stronger.
The resteep (@ 3:30 min) is much mellower, but it still has a hint of that dry, grass-like sourness. The sweetness at the end is a bit stronger however – possibly because the other flavour elements aren’t drowning it out.
All in all I’d say that this isn’t my cup of tea (pun not intended…okay maybe a little) although I think that might be down to personal tastes rather than this being a crappy tea – I haven’t really tried enough chunmees to form an option of how this particular tea holds up to others of the same kind.
On their site, Zen Tara calls this Pu-erh & Blood Orange Blend, but the package they sent me says “Organic Red Tiger Tea” so I put that in the title too.
Open the package and it smells like fresh citrus fruit, mostly orange. Yum!
The liquor never gets as dark as other pu-erhs do, and really all I can taste is the oranges and grapefruit. Mostly the oranges. I get a little spice in there, maybe the licorice, but not much, just an accent. It kind of reminds me of those orange spice kind of teas, except juicier and just much better. Also with those orange spice teas, it’s usually a black tea that it is blended with (I’m thinking Constant Comment here-side note-Constant Comment was the first tea I ever had with sugar in it, a patient’s sister made it for me, and really it was pretty good.), but the pu-erh is so subtle in this, you almost can’t tell it’s there. The mellowness and earthiness of the pu-erh goes soooo well with the citrus. Seriously, this tastes and smells like fresh oranges squeezed into your cup of pu-erh, without the pulp and that sometimes acrid smell from the pith. I’m talking good fresh oranges. It’s very fresh tasting.
Oh my gosh, I love this one. Quite excellent.
Up to that point, I tried my fair share of Dian Hongs (Yunnan blacks) but never the “golden” variety, which was apparently the best way to get it. And, boy, the sommeliers are right. This IS the way to get it. I felt like I was drinking buttered candy with a cup of straight beer malt. It was clean, subtle, but somehow…manly. Also worthy of mention is a cinnamony note on the scent and aftertaste. It was a perfect black tea.
Unlike yerba mate – which can have a bitter, bark-like taste to it – this has a tinge of sweetness on the aftertaste to offset the initial nettle palate. That and it kicks you in the arse for a good five hours. (I.e. It’s caffeinated. Deliciously caffeinated.)
The leaves for this tea are contrasting light and dark green braided leaves. The dry aroma has overtones from its wok firing and vegetal notes you can pick out.
This tea brews a vivid amber liquor and provides a steeped aroma reminiscent of grilled squash and charred leeks.
The flavors are less subtle. Strong astringency with fired notes similar to a camp firey Lapsang Souchong and notes of charred leeks match with nutty textures in the finish and a long tail.
I happen to enjoy these strong teas from time to time and am excited to find another Yunnan tea I can pick from.
I would recommend this tea for fans of Gunpowder green teas, Lapsang Souchong black teas and less malty Assam teas.
Got a free sample of this including with the rather disappointing GABA tea. This is a nice green oolong with a floral sweetness and spiciness very reminiscent of a Tie Guan Yin, but it is a Taiwanese cultivar.
Can’t give exact brewing directions because I did it in my kamjove, but would start with enough leaf to cover the bottom of a gaiwan, water about 185-195 degrees, and 30 second first infusion, increasing time for at least 5-6 infusions. Didn’t have enough to test the stamina of the leaves for many many infusions.
I bought this tea at the request of a friend who had heard about it and was interested in the purported health benefits of the GABA-rich tea. I thought it sounded intriguing, and I’m always up for an oolong, so I tried it. The dry leaf was brown rather the green I expected from their photo, and when brewed I was a bit disappointed at the relatively thin flavor: I used a quantity that usually is enough to fill my thermos with rich, deep oolong flavor from wuyi, anxi, or taiwanese teas.
I steeped it at 185 degrees, several infusions totaling about 2-3 minutes of infusion time, and combined the infusions to fill my thermos. The result was a brown infusion, with flavor of highly oxidized, almost black tea—no hint of bitterness, but a lightly fruity flavor, without much spice or earthiness.
I have passed it on to my friend after we shared the first infusion, and doubt I’d buy it again. It wasn’t particularly memorable, and I didn’t feel particularly mellow afterwards either.
Addendum: as I was cleaning up last night, I discovered the leaves from this tea were still left in my kamjove, and about 10 hours after the infusion, they were springy, not as soft as typically rehydrated tea leaves, and had a wonderful plum scent—probably more accurately, a very pleasant prune scent—fruity and sweet, and I was regretting giving the entire rest of the bag over to my friend, because it seemed like something with so much good scent must have more flavor potential as tea. Sigh. But if he figures out how to make it yummier, maybe I’ll try a smaller sample again.
I think pu-erh is quickly becoming my favorite black tea.
This one comes in those cute little discs, and fits in my tea ball perfectly.
Very smooth and mellow. Very rich in color and taste. There is a hint of something, I can’t tell what it is, something different than the other pu-erh I have, like a hint of a spice? I’m not sure if my taste buds are fooling me. Either way, I like it!
My first tea from Zen Tara, and it’s a winner!
Had this tea this morning (2nd time since purchasing it) and it was excellent! The toasty/oaky/smoky (slight) flavor I personally refer to as the “keemun” flavor is very nice in this one. If you like Keemun Hao Ya A then this tea is a definite one to try. It’s organic to boot so that’s a bonus. I had 16 oz but wishing I had some more with me.
This tea has a lovely nose, full of gentle tartness from the lemon and spicey black pepper. On the palette even over-steeped it was never harsh, simply more potent. The flavors blend exceptionally well, a new favorite cuppa when my throat and sinuses are feeling sad.