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Recent Tasting Notes
’Here’s Hoping’ Teabox Round #4 – Tea #11
Dark oolong for this dark weathered day. I don’t think I’ve seen dark oolongs like this one before. The leaves almost look like a black tea, rather than like a bundled green oolong that is roasted. Usually this type of tea is not to my taste, but this one is delicious. The light amber brew has a sweet, roasted, nutty, buttery flavor… not as distinctly charcoal flavored as a Fujian oolong typically is for me. So that’s a great thing! Less of the charcoal flavor and more of the good stuff! This one and one other Fujian oolong are the only two of this type of tea I could see stocking up on, so this is definitely high up there. The second steep is almost exactly the same in flavor. Western brewing is probably not the traditional way to go with this one, but it worked here. Very tasty!
Steep #1 // 15 minutes after boiling // 2 tsps. for 11 ounce mug // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few min after boiling // 2 -3 min
I couldn’t remember the name of this tea all day! I looked on the re-vamped Zen Tea website and found that this one was off their list. Ah, just as well. Not as big of a fan of this as I could be. But, I did only cold brew some for work today, which may be the reason. I will have to review this tea when I try it a different way. I think I originally purchased this with the thought of using it in the espresso machine at work, because of all the teeny tiny spindled leaves. I will have to update when I do!
This tea brewed up a light rust liquor with a mild spiced raisin note, along with the usual malt and citrus. I may have underleafed here, but it may as well have been the method of preparation. The brew was a little weak and lfatg for my taste. I know it must be better, because ZTL would not have added the “special” to the same for nothing. I have a few more servings to go, so I will have to find out if there is anything truly special about this tea. Because cold brew sucked the life out of it.
Flavors: Malt, Raisins, Spices
Enjoyed this Ceylon from Zen Tea. I swear I had a tasting note for this already! Well, I guess not.
I had this as a sampler size bag from this company a while back. I also finished it a while back. All I remember is that i had this around the same time an another Ceylon from Capital Tea LTD. This was a toned down version of that tea. It had a dustier quality, and the clover honey notes were much more subdued. It resteeped really well, I had it in my travel tumbler and was able to absent mindedly redrew the same leaves about 3-4times before getting bored. While I would not purchase again, (Capital Tea’s Ceylon I had was far better) it was a good comparison tea.
Flavors: Dust, Honey, Malt
This is another sample from Zach. Thank you!
I have been enjoying Adagio’s Cocomint Rooibos. I am not sure which of the two I prefer. I think the flavors of Adagio’s blend are a tad bit stronger. I might have to do a side by side comparison tomorrow night. This is good. I forgot to add some sugar tonight so the flavors do not pop, but it has been keeping me company while I finish up work tonight.
This is a nice, strong black tea. It seems to be mixed with a bunch of different blacks, and while I like black tea, I tend to find assam too intense without milk and I prefer my darjeelings a bit fruity. So for me, the flavors muddle here a bit into a blend that to me will work best with a splash of milk or as a base for stovetop chai.
Easy drinking comfort tea. Great balance among the rooibos, mint and chocolate flavors, with the mint predominating. The mint is soft, though, and breathy-fresh. The chocolate is almost too quiet in the background, but good enough. Because I’m not a fan of “natural flavours” as an ingredient, it lost points for that.
There is nothing more refreshing than the combination of green tea and coconut. I picked this one up on a whim, because coconut seems to be one of my favorite flavors. I like how fresh this one smells; like freshly washed cruciferous vegetables and cream of coconut. The coconut in the blend is in small pieces, and oddly enough, bright green. Perhaps that is what they were talking about with the ‘flavoring’?
I am pleased as punch with the bright green liquor and the warm and creamy scent of the coconut. I steeped this twice, and the second infusion was not as good as the first. This would be a good take-to-work tea for me because I can just make it in my french press and not feel bad about only steeping it once. :P
I plan on cold-brewing this in coconut water eventually. As if it really needs MOAR COCO!
Flavors: Coconut, Grass, Green
Mmm, man this is tasty! I can’t believe I used to dislike green oolongs. I was missing out on so much!
This tea is so delightful I don’t even know where to start. It tastes like Spring in a cup. Sweet, floral, very refreshing. The first infusion isn’t very milky, but it’s beautifully balanced with a silky, creamy mouthfeel. Oh it’s delightful. And I’m feeling quite teadrunk after only 1/2 a cup. I will absolutely be picking up more of this once I’m through.
Flavors: Flowers, Sugarcane
I’ve only tried one other 4-season oolong before, and it’s a hard one to live up to. The Green Terrace Tea’s version is so complex and tasty it’s surely one of my favorite teas. The Zen version is a bit less expensive so I’m not expecting the exact same experience.
I western brewed this one for the first try. It’s quite a bit more floral than the western brew of GTT’s version. Mostly gardenia with some lavender at the end of the sip. It’s a little bit buttery but not as strong as a milk oolong. It reminds me of lavender shortbread. It’s a very interesting tea as it’s quite light in body, but is very strongly floral at the same time. A little bit of the cinnamon note I loved in GTT’s is faintly noticeable here. Yum, absolutely delightful. A nice bit of spring on this chilly winter day.
Honestly, both this and GTT’s versions are pretty affordable and I’d love both of them in my cupboard. Anlina mentioned Grandpa steeping her 4-season oolong and it sounded so good I went looking for an appropriate vessel. Cost Plus is currently having a sale and I was lucky enough to find a cute one for a really nice price http://www.worldmarket.com/product/laurent+floral+glass+tea+carafe.do?&refType=&from=Search I can’t wait to try it this way.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Floral, Gardenias, Lavender
Need to go to bed, but I’m on a really good tasting note roll right now…
Anyway thanks again Stephanie for the sample! I used extra leaf this time around since my biggest complaint with the last brew was that the flavour was weak and watery. This cup was a little less bland and had some notable differences; it was sweeter with a much more distinct and present vanilla flavour though to me it came off just a touch like artificial vanilla extract and less so like, well, actual vanilla.
There was still a fair amount of cinnamon – that part was definitely consistent. But where I gained vanilla flavour, I definitely lost the cooling, refreshing flavour of the mint. I think I just slightly prefer the vanilla flavour being present over the mint, despite the fact the mint was more natural, but having both present would be ideal. I mean this is Vanilla Mint and not Vanilla or Mint, right?
The earthy Pu was very subtle; most present in the aftertaste. It read to me like damn soil, with a light sweetness to it. I think I’d have really enjoyed the flavour if it was more present.
So to summarize; this was better than the first cup but only slightly. I just want more flavours from this one – more of all the flavours (except maybe the cinnamon). I think it could be really good, if it weren’t so light.
This sample comes from Stephanie!
I had this one earlier in the week on the way to work and honestly, I didn’t find it very exciting or memorable. In fact, it’s already slipped from my mind so much that I’m relying purely on the jot notes I wrote down to write what I thought about it.
What I’ve written for myself is basically that it was surprisingly soft in flavour with a light earthiness and a slight cooling sensation from the mint. Mostly, it was very cinnamon heavy, which was a little unwelcome. I know there’s cinnamon in the blend, but given the name you’d expect the vanilla and mint to be the most dominant flavours – and they just weren’t. In fact, it was kind of hard to pick up the vanilla at all.
I do have at least one more cups worth, but probably two, so I guess I’ll play around with the amount of leaf I’m using and see if I can make this stronger.
Today’s word of the day is/was (I mean, the day is pretty close to over) commodious. Commodious means having a comfortable amount of space.
And I just realized something; it’s practically only a month from my birthday! Holy shit I’m going to be 20. I know the majority of Steepster users are a fair bit older than that (and I still don’t know if anyone is younger), but man I feel really old and unaccomplished now…
I was desperate getting nice quality white tea cup. White because it shows the true color of the tea.
its not that easy. The cup had to be around 80-90ml and not too thin. While i like thin cups they are not practical for me. its too hot to hold them. and im always afraid to break them.
So Zen Tea Life has pretty extensive Korean ceramic pieces which i happen to love. And i found my perfect cup there.
They got new Taiwanese teas . I had to add a sample of this tea.
Its delicious. made gongfu 5g 100ml 195F
Leaves are gorgeous, long full,not broken. had many steeps. it has usual Taiwanese black tea profile of fruity longan sweetness and raw nuts.
Zen Tea never disappoints me with quality of teas, teaware, pricing and careful packing. And i got it in two business days from Canada.
A Gong Fu favourite that I am steeping Western style for a change. Not sure if that is pure insanity, but right now I feel like a large pot of tea to use with my pot warmer.
The raw leaves are: long and flat with light twists and stems present, dark brown/red brown in colour and bares a toasted hay and floral scent.
Once steeped the tea liquor is burnt orange, it has a toasted hay, floral and malt scent, somewhat matching it’s raw form.
Strength is medium. I can taste toasted flowers and earth, sweet malt, wood and a subtle hint of smoke. It is rather mellow and smooth, with each flavour blending in well together to create a toasted and earthy mist in my mouth that lingers.
As it cools it becomes a little sour though remains consistent in flavour and strength. Also slightly dry now in the after taste.
Overall: It’s very pleasant, reminds me a little of Oriental Beauty Oolong but more mild. The flavours were pure and quality of the leaves were nice. However, my taste of darker Oolongs such as this one comes from comparison and this will unfortunately not be memorable. I’m also aware it could be down to the steeping, as it did mention to fare well from Gongfu Steeps.
Flavors: Flowers, Hay, Malt, Smoke, Toasted, Wood
I am really enjoying my cup of this tea! It has an interesting depth of flavor with the pu’erh and the yerba mate with the chai being light but flavorful.
I’m not really sure why it is considered a chai since it doesn’t have the spice I would expect. It has long pepper and cardamom but no cinnamon, cloves, etc. Even though it’s not necessarily a chai it is lovely.
The cocoa, vanilla and coconut blend nicely. And I love almost any yerba mate so this makes a wonderful, invigorating cuppa.
Flavors: Cacao, Cardamon, Coconut, Dandelion, Pepper, Vanilla
This was one of the free sample size teas Zen Tea had (and may still have) on their website. It even says on the package that, ‘yes, this tea is not the pinnacle of refinement.’ I agree. This is not an amazing tea. But, I took that with a grain of salt.
I have an espresso machine at work and I wondered to myself, ‘what if I made tea espresso out of this?’ The leaves are certainly fine enough. Presto! That is how my Teapresso was born!
I prepared this tea by packing it tightly into the portafilter (espresso-shot-puller-thingie) and tamping it into a tightly compressed cake. Pulling the shot as I normally do for a doppio espresso, I got a similar color as the coffee, but without the thick, caramel colored crema you typically see on top. It smelled strong and very… tea-like. I suppose this is what ‘tea smell’ means for the rest of the non-tea-obsessed world.
With a pump of vanilla and steamed milk, I was able to transform this ‘unsavory’ leaf into three amazing tea lattés from the 20g pouch I received. Hooray for sipdowns!
P.S. I did not give this a rating because I know not many of you would not be able to recreate my same brewing parameters.
Cooking TTB #5
I’m drinking this right now and I hope my cup never ever runs out!! This tea is seriously fantastic!! Chock full of amazing coconut and cream flavors its like drinking a coconut macaroon!! I must have more of this!!! Huge thank you to Flyawaybirdie for including this sample in the TTB for me!