Zen Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

drank Earl Grey Cream by Zen Tea
219 tasting notes

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58

Off-topic, but regarding my cotton candy pink hair, I feel like I kind of got swindled. It’s not nearly as pink as what it should have been (about five inches of my roots didn’t absorb any of the pink dye at all), they did a horrible bleach job (lots of peachy chunks everywhere) and they double charged me for it. That said, I got some Joico Colour Intensity pink dye, just blended some in with conditioner, and now I’ll be hanging out like this in the apartment for a few hours. Right now my head looks Barbie pink but we’ll see how it’ll turn out!

Onto this tea. I wasn’t expecting much since CTC teas and I don’t really get along well, but seeing that this is an Assam, and Zen had a killer sale earlier this year, I thought it wouldn’t hurt. Eh. Quite astringent. You can definitely taste that underlying classic maltiness that Assams have but the liquor just seems to thick and sludgy compared to other Assams. I had to brown sugar it up and top it off with half and half to make this drinkable. Their other Assam is lightyears ahead of this one.

Veronica

Hope your hair treatment worked! It sucks that they did a bad job and overcharged you. My daughter’s hair currently has blue streaks. She loves it, and she’s already planning on dying her hair purple in the next few months.

Fjellrev

Her hair sounds awesome either way! Is she doing it at home or at the salon?

OMGsrsly

Oh, that’s too bad! I hope your treatment worked. :)

Fjellrev

Thanks! Yeah, it looked a lot better in that picture I took than IRL. I managed to get out the random peach but now the top of my head is this much darker pink than everywhere else so I’m on my fourth treatment now trying to balance everything out haha. Oh well, it’s fun. :)

OMGsrsly

:) You could pretend you meant to do it and call it ombre!

Fjellrev

Haha I thought of that. You don’t see reverse ombre too often anywhere, where the roots are darker though. It’s all about starting trends!

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88
drank Earl Grey Lavender by Zen Tea
805 tasting notes

But Zen, your EGC is so good, why should I even bother trying the others? Ok, you’re right I should. I picked up an ounce of this last time I ordered and glad I did. This is like their Earl Grey with a fresh bouquet of lavender bursting from the envelope. I enjoyed every single cup with half and half, if I remember correctly, and the floral and citrus notes were very well-balanced. The base, like the EGC, isn’t astringent either.

It is re-order worthy in theory, however, I have a feeling that I’d always be reaching for their EGC because, well, it’s their EGC. Enough said!

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70

I’ve been kind of on a Winners and Marshalls binge lately, desperately keeping my eye out for Fauchon hoping it’ll come back this fall. Instead, I’ve been finding some awesome deals on OPI, random conditioners, lotions, and socks. Plus I snagged a gorgeous cape the other day. They only have mediocre teas there at the moment. Lesigh.

I don’t particularly like rooibos but this was tolerable. The almond was strong in this one, very almond extra-like. It helped cover up the prominent base. Making it as a latte also helped. With half and half that is.

No repurchase for me but it was a fun one to try.

OMGsrsly

Ooo. OPI? I need to go to Winners this week.. I need all the nail polishes, apparently. :)

Fjellrev

Yeah, as usual, it’s quite random though! I found a mini-polish set that I’ve had my eye on forever. Got the last one a few weeks ago!

OMGsrsly

Too bad you didn’t find any Fauchon, but the nail polish has totally eclipsed that for me. Haha!

Anlina

Winners always has a great nail polish selection, but I’ve never found any interesting tea there. It’s always brands I’m not familiar with in flavours that are pretty run of the mill and always, always in bags. I think I’ve seen a tin of loose tea there once ever.

Which is probably okay actually, because I don’t really need to be buying tea by the giant tin anyway.

Fjellrev

I’ve been running into the same problem with the tea section too. I missed out on the Fauchon haul last fall and it seems like since then, they’ve had nothing great. Too bad they couldn’t have a little more consistency.

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drank Chocolate Chai by Zen Tea
220 tasting notes

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70
drank Phoenix Pearl by Zen Tea
200 tasting notes

I believe that this is the last tea I have from Mandy.
At first all I tasted was wood. But as the cup cools I am beginning to taste baked bread along with the wood. A pretty equal amount of both, so not too bad!
Enjoying this one.
Thanks, Mandy!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Wood

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72
drank Genmaicha by Zen Tea
1976 tasting notes

Sipdown (140)!

Yeah, I took my teaware out of my cupboard. We’ll see how I feel about that in a few days; I may want to add them back in…

Thank you VariaTEA for the sample! You know I’m always up for trying “all the Genmaicha”! This one was more roasty than green, though it still had a faintly bitter taste to it that I’m associating with the green tea. Probably a user error in brewing it, but maybe not though.

Cameron B.

Om nom genmaicha. I had my teaware in my cupboard for a while, but then took it out because I got tired of having the number be inaccurate. :P

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78

This was a sample given to me for review. As posted on Zen Tea’s review section:

I brewed this one Gong Fu style, keeping the temperature at about 80C for all infusions.

The first infusion was very light and seemed to have notes of coconut accompanying the green tea flavors. The expanded leaves are really beautiful (as are the dry ones but you can see those here)! Most of the leaves are whole with a bright green color.

The second infusion had more of a bitter background flavor that I personally really like in green tea. I think it happened because I steeped it for longer, creating a stronger brew. At this point there is an aftertaste that lingers and the coconut notes are gone.

The third infusion has had the bitterness recede and give way to sweetness.

The fourth and fifth steep were really weak and only had the lightest of flavor so I probably wouldn’t do a repeat of those but 3 infusions is pretty good for a green tea.

Thanks Zen Tea!

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drank Coconut green by Zen Tea
219 tasting notes

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drank China Keemun by Zen Tea
218 tasting notes

Tea #4 from the (Mostly) Unflavored TTB

As mucky as it is out right now, I still wanted tea, so I grabbed this one out to drink. In hindsight I don’t think the smokyness was the best choice when I was already feeling nauseous due to, well, the weather. But I refuse to pour out a perfectly excellent cup of tea because I’m stubborn and stupid like that. Lol!
It was between this one and Teavive’s Keemun Grade 1, but this one smelled a bit less savory/smoky so I figured it would be lighter on the smoke.
Yeesh. This one turned out pretty smoky in the end anyway. It’s a bit sweet, but I mostly get smoke from it. Not Lapsang type smoke, but smoke nonetheless.
It’s good, but definitely not the tea that I should’ve been drinking right now. Honestly, I think I shouldn’t really have had any tea at all, but ugh, what a depressing thought that is. Lol!

(1.5 tsp)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 45 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML

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LooseTman generously provided a sample of this in our swap – thank you!

I had the first cup of this earlier this morning, but didn’t write down any notes, but I remember thinking it was smooth, creamy and tasted golden (if that makes any sense). And to be honest, I don’t remember very much of the second steep. I also realized that I had been using too much water per the instructions provided, so decided to try again with fresh leaves a couple of hours after.

Third cup, with fresh leaves and less water produced a stronger, maltier cup, but I also detected some bitterness at the end of the sip as the cup cooled. I tried a second time with the same parameters, but still found a little bitterness, so I added a tad more water. Back to the creamy maltiness that I enjoyed this morning.

This is also a sample sipdown.

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80

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

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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94
drank Coconut green by Zen Tea
104 tasting notes

mm. Delicious. mm mm, delicious. mm. Delicious. mm mm, delicious. ← That is the song that I am currently singing to myself as I drink this tea. The tea is making me do it! I can’t help it…it’s just so good!

This tea is pure, simple happiness. You know what is in here? Green Tea, shredded coconut, and flavors (which I am assuming is just more coconut). That’s it. Plain and simple. But don’t let it trick you, this tea is going to take your taste buds on an amazing ride.

Steep 1: 1 heaping teaspoon, 2 minutes, 8 ounces of water, 185 degrees, and a touch of agave
the first flavor to hit you is the sencha… it’s smooth and buttery. As the sip ends you get an influx of glorious coconut. Sweet, lovely coconut. Almost like the coconut that you bake with..it’s just naturally sweet, undeniable, milky coconut without the artificially in your face over-flavored taste that many teas seem to take. There is a bit of astringency towards the end of my sip nothing too off putting.

Steep 2: same leaves, 2 minutes, 6 ounces, 175 degrees, a touch of agave
WOW! Even better than the first steep. No astricency whatsoever. Just perfectly silky, creamy, buttery sencha and coconut. The two flavors perfectly balance each other out. One is not too dominate over the other, solely working together to create a beautiful medley.

Steep 3: same leaves, 2 minutes, 6 ounces, 175 degrees, a touch of agave
Yum. Dear cup, please don’t end. You are making my taste buds dance like a joyous greek family dancing at a wedding.

Steep 4: same leaves, 2 minutes, 6 ounces, 175 degrees, a touch of agave
This tea just keeps going and going with the same amazing flavors. Ahhh. Soo good. Commence the singing that started this post.

So it’s no secret, I really like this tea. It’s buttery and coconuty and makes me happy. What more could I want?

Flavors: Butter, Coconut

yyz

This is my favourite coconut green.

Anlina

You are inspiring me to want to do multiple steeps of the same leaves for more teas. I usually only do that with higher end straight teas, but your tasting notes make me reconsider that limitation.

gmathis

Perkiest tasting note I’ve read all day. Thanks for the smile!

TheTeaFairy

Love this review.

albertocanfly

yzz I can see why! It is definitely the best one that I have ever had!
Anlina I would recommend it! :] Often, the flavor profiles of the tea can shift dramatically..and plus, more lovely cups for free! And if it ends up not resteeping well, you aren’t out anything!:]
gmathis and TheTeaFairy Thank you so much, you two! :D

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91
drank Coconut Oolong by Zen Tea
744 tasting notes

From the Round 3 Here’s Hoping TTB

I’ve wanted to try this tea for quite a while, so when I saw it in the ttb I was excited. This is indeed a lovely oolong. The coconut flavor doesn’t have that funky artificial taste (yay!), and it taste wonderful combined with the buttery smoothness of the oolong. I also like the floral note in this tea. It’s very delicate, and it makes this coconut oolong stand out from the others I have tried. This is another tea I’d like to serve at a tea party. For the right crowd I think this tea could be an absolute show stopper.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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65
drank Toffee Dream by Zen Tea
540 tasting notes

This sample came from Mandy. I really need to stop requesting so many flavored samples from people, as I tend to not like them so much anymore. This one looks like a shou mei with a few flower petals mixed in. It has that alcoholic flavoring smell to it, meh. I steeped it for 3 minutes although the package recommended 2 minutes.

Meh, this tea is just kind of unremarkable. It doesn’t really taste like toffee to me, closer to caramel, and even then it’s mostly just vaguely sugary. I can definitely taste that it’s artificial flavoring. The white tea itself isn’t great either, it’s quite “rough” tasting for a white tea – it reminds me of autumn leaves.

Overall, meh. This one will go in the rehoming box.

Flavors: Artificial, Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Hay, Sweet

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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70
drank Bossa Nova by Zen Tea
540 tasting notes

This sample came from Mandy! A dark oolong with one of my favorite flavors? Yes, please! This is clearly a very oxidized oolong, the loosely-rolled pellets are almost black in color. The website doesn’t specify whether it has been roasted or not, and I can’t tell from the smell because of the flavoring. Dry scent is sweet vanilla and caramel with a bit of that alcoholic “flavoring” note. I did a 3 minute steep.

Oolong is always so amazing to watch! I love how huge the leaves are when they’re unfurled, and I find it interesting that even these leaves ended up looking fairly green once wet. The aroma is vanilla custard with a background note of autumn leaves. I was surprised that the oolong is actually the strongest flavor in this tea! It tastes like autumn leaves with a bit of a roasty note. The vanilla flavor is very creamy and pudding-like, and the hazelnut accents it well without being entirely identifiable by itself. It mostly manifests as a creamy roasted nuts flavor. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of an artificial, almost alcoholic aftertaste to this which makes me very sad. Too bad!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Custard, Hazelnut, Roasted nuts, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

This is from my swap with Mandy. Must try all the almond teas! :D The smell is not terribly enticing, it has that alcoholic “flavoring” smell that tells me nothing, lol! Steeped about 1.5 tsp for 5 minutes in boiling water.

Mmm, the brewed aroma is definitely marzipan! Yummmm! I was fully prepared to be disappointed by this tea, but it defied my low expectations! The flavor is mostly sweet almond extract or marzipan, which I adore. There’s definitely a cherry element here, though. It’s like Jergens lotion! Lol. In the best way possible! I did add sugar to mine. The rooibos taste comes out a little bit near the end, but it’s definitely not very strong.

Pleasantly surprised! :D

Flavors: Almond, Cherry, Marzipan, Rooibos, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Mandy

I wasn’t too impressed, I guess I’m not much for very almondy teas, so I’m more than willing to send you the last ~30g

Cameron B.

That’s kind of you, but I really don’t need more tea right now! :P

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95

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

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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92
drank Bossa Nova by Zen Tea
89 tasting notes

AND I’M BACK!!!!

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

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec
yyz

Welcome back!

Miss Starfish

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

Sil

woohoo! welcome back! :)

gmathis

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.

gmathis

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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drank Earl Grey Lavender by Zen Tea
220 tasting notes

I adore this iced, not hot. The lavender and bergamot complement each other nicely and make a crisp refreshing drink. Not something I would drink all the time because I’m not normally in the mood for flowers but it is a nice change. I’m so exhausted of fruity iced teas right now I could scream.

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drank China Keemun by Zen Tea
366 tasting notes

This sample comes to me from TeaSipper Thank you!

I have been impressed with many of Zen Tea Life’s teas and this one did not disappoint. This was a tad fruity, with hints of smoke and chocolate. This was a little light in comparison to a few others I tried at the same time, but a little more leaf will solve that problem. This was smooth and pretty much spot on for what I would expect from a keemun. I am glad I had the opportunity to try this one.

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drank Vanilla black tea by Zen Tea
219 tasting notes

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88

This sencha is a such a lovely tea.

It represents everything I love about green tea. It is sweet, a little grassy with a salty marine breeze at the end of the sip. It’s very clean, and if prepared right, brings zero astringency to the cup.

Once wet, the leaves turn into a vibrant emerald green, just stumning!

I’m having it in a tetsubin pot tonight. Beautiful tea, beautiful teaware.

Because I know some of you like to watch, here are my pics:

http://instagram.com/p/rQYu-awh8y/

http://instagram.com/p/rQZ3eUQh-n/

Sarsonator

Drinking grass again, my little croissant?

TheTeaFairy

Yes, sarsy, because green keeps you clean!! Are you shenging tonight?

Sarsonator

I’m not, sadly. Our friends came over for tv night before I could get my pot seasoned and dinner made. We had golden orchid instead. I’m planning to sheng in the AM, though!!!!

TheTeaFairy

Lol, sheng before work, that will get you going!

Krystal

Nice! You take really good pics

TheTeaFairy

Thanks Krystal.

Cwyn

Ooo I love me a salty sencha! Am gonna put this one on my list!

TheTeaFairy

Really Cwyn, on top of being super delicious, this sencha is bargain for the quality that you get.

Cwyn

Definitely will be getting this, on my wish list. I comb the tea reviews looking for that salty flavor ever since I ran out of Leaf and Spoon’s salty sejak, they don’t carry it anymore and I crave marine green.

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88

I am just enjoying this sencha tonight in a tetsubin pot. Not much to say really, except that every time I have this one, I feel happy and relaxed.

I’m not afraid of grassy and vegetal, and this is the perfect blend of both. I like the little bit of seaweed poke I get at the end of each sip, kind of a salty marine breeze.

Buttery sweet peas are also in the mix. Yum. Tasty.

I haven’t been very hungry lately and skipped dinner earlier….but having sencha triggered the little hungry fairy in me.

So….smoked salmon, lemon slices and capers suddenly sounded very appealing at 1am. Should I? Hell yeah!

It’s all about life’s little pleasures…

Dexter

I’m eating shrimp, cream cheese, and cocktail sauce on wasa bread at midnight so you can for sure have smoked salmon and capers. :))
“buttery sweet peas” and “salty marine breeze” – no thank you, but if it’s making you happy and relaxed then that’s really all that matters…

TheTeaFairy

Haha! We’re both having sea stuff! You should know that my sencha would work perfectly well with your shrimps, you green tea hatter ;-)

Dexter

LOL I like genmaicha, and I like some fruity greens – so I’m not a total hater. Hmmmm genmaicha – it’s that a Japanese Sushi thing? Maybe I should have been drinking that with my shrimps….

TheTeaFairy

Ok, ok, You’re right, you’re not a total green hater, I’ll give you that…

Oh and yes. That would have been really good.

sherapop

Smoked salmon, lemon slices, and capers at 1am? I say “yes”!

TheTeaFairy

T’was really good, sherapop :-)

Cameron B.

Yum, smoked salmon! I had sushi last night. <3

TheTeaFairy

Cameron, green tea and sushi…mmmmm!!!

Stephanie

I loooove smoked salmon

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