Zen Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

78

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

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 7 g 30 OZ / 900 ML

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drank Strawberry Cream by Zen Tea
274 tasting notes

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90
drank Energizing Chai by Zen Tea
403 tasting notes

Overboard TTB

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

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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.

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95
drank Coconut Oolong by Zen Tea
116 tasting notes

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!

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35
drank Lavender Nirvana by Zen Tea
69 tasting notes

This…isn’t pleasant. I’m a big fan of Zen Tea but not of lavender. It doesn’t do anything for me – the same can be said for Jasmine. I’ve had worse, but this isn’t my thing. The rooibos has a nice sweetness and this tea is a dark color. Smooth flavor, tad of sweetness, the floral isn’t overpowering but layers.

Flavors: Lavender, Rooibos

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 8 min or more 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML
TheLastDodo

Oh noes, I just picked this one up with my last Zen tea order… I don’t usually like drinking lavender. what was I thinking?

Lupiressmoon

Hopefully you’ll like it more than me, floral really isn’t my thing.

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86
drank Anxi Tieguanyin by Zen Tea
69 tasting notes

I’ve had this sample awhile. It’s weird because it looks like I never logged owning it in my cupboard, when I usually put everything in as soon as I get it. It’s also not on the website anymore, so I guess they don’t sell it now – they do have Anxi Dark, which sounds very similar, so it could have replaced it, but that one lists some differences (like peach) that this doesn’t have, so I don’t think so.

Either way, this one turned out nice. I liked it a lot – it had a grassy, earthy, nutty flavor. Sometimes I would sip in a mild, subtle cocoa, but other sips it seemed absent. When the cocoa was absent, it wasn’t missed; when it was there, it was welcomed.

It’s funny that this dark-roasted tea produces a relatively light cup. I didn’t have much of the sample left, so only brewed in half a cup rather than a full. Very vibrant, smooth flavor – not brisk or robust, but it’s great as it stands.

I’ll have to try the other Anxi sometime, although I really don’t think they’re the same tea. I will also try the same type of tea from Verdant.

Flavors: Cocoa, Grass

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML
Anlina

I’ve had some weirdness with teas that I know for certain I logged in my cupboard disappearing from it. I’ve been emailing Jason about it, so hopefully the issue will get resolved soon. I hate the idea of stuff being missing – I don’t keep a spread sheet, so if it’s not logged in my Steepster cupboard, it’s not logged anywhere.

Lupiressmoon

Oh this could be it. I swear I logged another tea as a review a few years ago but can’t find it now. Discouraging. May start backing up steepster notes at least. I really depend on them with my memory.

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80
drank Blood Orange by Zen Tea
69 tasting notes

Zen Tea continues to impress me with their teas and all I’m sampling from them.

There is nothing really wrong with this tea, I just don’t think it’s my style. I like spicy orange and lemon, but have never tried a blood orange tea. The blood orange does not seem artificial at all, and it does a great job of blending in the background, popping out it’s flavor, without overpowering the black tea. It is not cloying or fake. There is the small taste of acidic bitterness an orange has, but no bitterness in the tea. I’m glad the black tea does not have a bitterness of its own – otherwise that could be a disaster.

The tea also leaves behind a nice taste in the mouth – clean and similar to drinking citrusy drinks. Overall the quality of the tea is quite good, it’s just a flavor that I’m going to keep around as a staple.

Flavors: Orange

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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100
drank Coconut Oolong by Zen Tea
834 tasting notes

I do love this tea and I’m sad it’s gone. But that means one step closer to reducing my stash and getting new tea! I have a long way to go… D: I like this tea because the coconut isn’t overwhelming. The nutty/buttery oolong is the dominant flavor with coconut kind of hanging out in the background. I added a little bit of honey to this and it tastes exactly like a coconut macaroon. MMmmmm

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87
drank Lapsang Souchong by Zen Tea
69 tasting notes

Wow.

Well, I have never had Lapsang Souchong. I’ve been reading descriptions about it lately, and see many don’t like it. I was curious about the smoky and campfire description, so I tossed a sample in with my recent Zen Tea order. I’m digging most of the teas I’ve tried from this company.

I opened the bag and took several big sniffs – they aren’t kidding when they say it smells like smoky campfires and the whiff of bacon that has cooked. I like bacon as much as any person but wasn’t sure how much I’d like drinking anything with it’s flavor!

I steeped at a smidge over four minutes in a five ounce cup, poured over with boiling water from the tea kettle.

I really had no idea if I’d like it – first, I’m picky. Second, I’ve never drank anything like this. I’m delighted to say I actually do like it quite a bit. It’s not something I could drink all the time, but the smoky flavor and uniqueness appeals to me. After it had cooled down a little, I found big gulps tasted good. I like the aftertaste. I added a tiny bit of sugar and I find that helps bring the flavor out more. I almost feel the smokiness slightly in my chest and it’s an enjoyable, almost decongestant feeling. The sugar mixed with the smokiness is a great idea for me.

I can picture this type of tea with the woods, campfires, road trips, old fashioned cowboys on journeys, the moon high in the sky with fog. It would be cool to have a woodsland or moon-centered name with this kind of tea. I’m cheesy like that, ok? And I make no apologies about it by this age in my life. :)

As it cools, it tastes even better still warm. Having a cold drink nearby to sip in between makes this even more enjoyable. That’s a weird thing I do when drinking hot tea a lot of the time.

And for some reason I think an addition of blueberry flavor or other dark berry would taste enticing with a Lapsang Souchong.

Flavors: Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML
Lupiressmoon

I’ve been in the mood to have this again, having cravings. Must have been a closet Lapsong addict.

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84

I was very curious about trying this one from the description.

It’s a beautiful color and I steeped three minutes with just under boiling water from the kettle in my 5 ounce cup. Next steep I will try 4 minutes to see if I bring out more flavor and all the way boil, with some cooling.

I don’t get much spice note at the end, but there are glimpses of it sometimes. It is a pleasant, soothing black tea with a nice reddish brown color left behind in the cup. A black tea that makes me feel tranquil and peaceful. Smooth with no astringency or bitterness.

A great black tea when you’re looking for a standard black tea – good with and without sugar. Milk wouldn’t make sense to me in this one, it’s not a breakfast tea. It’s smooth, not brisk, very peaceful.

I drank this with a small piece of Cheesecake. I hadn’t mixed tea and cheescake before but it definitely works. Delicious! This would be one of those soothing black teas that would fit a hot bath and good book perfectly. More of an evening, relaxing blend over a morning wake-up call.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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65
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

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

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.

Lupiressmoon

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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65
drank Chocolate Chai by Zen Tea
96 tasting notes

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75

I think I steeped it in too hot of temperature, wasn’t paying enough attention.

This is a mild, pleasant Darjeeling with a slight astringent bite during the first part of the sip, but this seems to dissipate by the time the sip is done.

Overall a pleasant drink but almost bitter, and frankly a bit dry for my preference. There’s a smudge of sweetness that’s enjoyable but Darjeeling may not be my favorite thing. Will have to do more experimenting.

Will rebrew later at a different temperature.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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88
drank Strawberry Cream by Zen Tea
69 tasting notes

Well, I have to say this tea is delightfully, surprisingly delicious.

The tea leaves are pretty with bits of strawberries. Dry, the smell is appealing and natural (not artificial seeming). It definitely holds up to the smell – the tea is surprisingly dark when brewed (did at 2 1/2 minutes, it was recommended as 2-3).

Strong tea but not overpowering at all. What surprises me is how non-artificial and realistic this strawberry tea is. A delightful flavor that stands out, but still somehow manages to stand behind the tea and highlights itself at the same time as just complementing.

Why this is so surprising is because I’m NOT a fruit tea fan. I only tried this sample because of an opportunity when doing another order – glad I did. I finally have a fruit tea I want to keep on the tea keeper shelf. It’s like drinking a nice black morning tea and eating a piece of toast with strawberry jam.

I’m curious about trying this with milk as a form of latte – usually don’t drink milk with tea but may in the future with this one just to test.

Flavors: Strawberry

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML
Miss Starfish

Isn’t this one great?! It was the first sample I tried from Zen and I was hooked. Their teas are fantastic!

Lupiressmoon

Yes I really love their Phoenix Pearl too. Thankfully ordered a lot of samples from them, can’t wait

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100

Aaaaand it’s gone… I actually really liked this tea. It was a nice oolong to have around when I wanted something more traditional tasting. It’s sweet and floral with soft nutty notes. It will be dearly missed :(

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82
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

Preparation
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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70
drank China Keemun by Zen Tea
69 tasting notes

Hm, I’m not an expert with Keemun at all, so I really can’t say much about this in comparison to others. I do know that to me this is a good, very basic, plain black tea, with no special frills or pleasantries. When first steeped it had almost no flavor, but after cooling slightly it improved. Still, it’s a flavorless black tea to me, smooth and decent, but not worth making again. It may not be Zen Tea’s fault, though, it could just be that all Keemuns are like this. I’m confused as I see descriptions of smoky, or chocolate, but I get absolutely none of that.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

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80
drank Ginger - Rooibos by Zen Tea
72 tasting notes

I haven’t done any reviews in a while—not because I haven’t been enjoying tea, but mainly due to the limited amount and limited variety I have been drinking. I pretty much have only one or two cups of either Assam, English Breakfast, or a Yunnan black tea per day, all of which I have already created tasting notes on. That, and as my taste buds are rather goofy sometimes so I don’t quite trust myself to write a thorough review! So that at least partially explains my absence from Steepster of late.

After a random bout of morning sickness today, I could only really keep down (at least as far as beverages are concerned) a cup of Assam with a little milk added, and this ginger rooibos. The ginger rooibos was a great tummy-soother! Warm, rich, with a slight sweetness, it was a very good choice for me today. Thanks TeaTiff for the sample!!!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80
drank Ginger - Rooibos by Zen Tea
72 tasting notes

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80
drank Ginger - Rooibos by Zen Tea
72 tasting notes

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80

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

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec

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88
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.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec
Mikumofu

there can never be enough tea puns!

Miss Starfish

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

Mikumofu

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

Miss Starfish

Happy it made you smile :) and thanks!

Lupiressmoon

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 Pu-erh Vanilla Mint by Zen Tea
1032 tasting notes

Vanilla mint puerh sounded great! But there’s CINNAMON in here too? Hmm…

I’m drinking it, but it is a bit weird to me! O_o

Tea Sipper

love this one

Kittenna

Cinnamon? That seems out of place in a vanilla mint tea (but I suppose it could work!)

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