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Recent Tasting Notes
Here’s Hoping TTB
This is a lovely Chinese black tea! The leaves are large and twisty with lots of golden tips and a rich, sweet aroma. The tea brews up to a deep reddish brown with a strong, malty sweet potato flavor. It’s super smooth with absolutely no bitterness or astringency. So glad for the chance to sample this one! I would definitely consider purchasing more in the future.
Flavors: Malt, Sweet Potatoes
The dry leaf of this is long, spindly, and a dark matte brown. The leaves are relatively straight, rather than being all twisted and curled up, and there isn’t much evidence of silver, white, or gold leaf tips. Dry, they smelled kind of fruity and woody, like prunes or bark.
I brewed this tea twice, and in so doing used up the entire sample. First, I did a traditional western steep with a giant mug — 2.8 grams of leaf in 2 cups of 95°C water for 2-3 minutes. After steeping, I had a sip that tasted of rose and citrus, like a Ceylon tea. However, it was much too hot to drink so I let it sit for a bit; while the fresh tea was a warm amber colour, it darkened considerably once it cooled. The cooler tea also tasted quite different, because the flavour turned from citrus to something more resinous, like camphor or pine.
The remainder of the leaf was brewed up gong-fu style in a gaiwan. I used 5.3 grams of leaf in 95°C water, started with a 20-second steep, and increased each subsequent steep by 5 seconds, ultimately getting about 6-7 steeps before letting things rest. Each steep of tea produced a cup of beautiful amber-coloured liquid.
And here is where words fail me, because this tea was so good. Every single steep I had smelled like cinnamon. And not just your bog-standard chai cinnamon sort of smell. No, this stuff smelled like whole cinnamon sticks, like cinnamon and sugar. Sweet, spicy, tingly, vibrant.
The taste was quite different, though, and that camphor/resin note I experienced when steeping it western style showed up again here. It felt very herbal and healing, like I was drinking some sort of tincture meant to restore my health. I could feel the dry woodiness of it all the way into my sinuses and nasal cavity.
As the steeps continued, the cinnamon note of the aroma started to give way to something fruitier, like plums or prunes. For one magical steep (steep 5? steep 6?), the cinnamon and fruit notes were balanced perfectly so it smelled like apple cider! If I could have every cup of tea smell like that, it would be a happy world indeed.
After 7 or so steeps, I called it a night, and gave the gaiwan a last loving inhale: the aroma of the spent leaves was plummy, malty, and rich. The leaves were also easy on the eyes, too, a beautiful rich brown:
Assuming the day ever comes where I manage to get my tea collection under control, I would seriously consider giving Zen Tea’s Taiwan Ruby Black Tea a permanent spot on the shelf.
Full review at: http://booksandtea.ca/2016/05/taiwan-ruby-black-tea/
My first genmaicha. Wasn’t a tea category I was particularly excited to try, as it seemed weird. Took advantage of the Zen Tea sale to pick up a small sample for almost nothing. I used 2.5g for 150mL water at 160 degrees. Steeps of 1m, 30s, 90s, 5ish.
Super roasty toasty aroma. The flavor was roasty and creamy sweet. I didn’t taste much of any vegetal flavor, though I think it was there. Maybe I had more rice bits than sencha bits in this scoop or something. Not sure if it’s something I’ll want to keep around, but it’s interesting to try and was definitely not bad.
Flavors: Creamy, Roasted, Toasted
This is my first White Peony, and I really enjoyed it. I used 5g in a 100mL gaiwan with 175 degree water. This tea yielded the most distinct hay/straw flavor I’ve ever gotten from a tea. Beneath that were some plummy, malty sweet notes. The body was slightly thick, but not particularly so.
The leaves for this kind of tea are pretty interesting with some small fuzzy ones and some larger ones as well. A fun tea to drink and I’m glad I got to sample it. So far (take this with a grain of salt, as I haven’t had much of either), I like White Peony better than Silver Needle when it comes to white tea.
Flavors: Hay, Malt, Plums, Straw
My coral colored teapot has become my genmaicha pot. I realized thay it’s pretty much the only thing I brew in it because I always want a nice big pot of genmaicha when I drink it. This one really does better with less steep times but it’s a very fine line between the creamy and the bitter. Maybe I should say grassy instead. Creamy just isn’t a descriptive word I think of when it comes to Genmaicha.
This is almost right on par with Zhenas Gypsy tea Coconut Chai. The steep time on this was surprisingly shorter then I thought. At least for the coconut flavor. It pairs well with my egg and toast. They could definitely up the amount of coconut they use in the tea. If you want a better coconut flavor it seems that the best steep time is around the 2 minute mark.
The liquor of this tea is a very light orangey-yellow, which is lighter than I expected, considering it’s both roasted and pretty oxidized. I definitely got some fruitiness from this tea, not sure if it’s peach, though that’s probably the closest to what I’m tasting. The roast adds a nice caramel-like sweetness to the flavor of this tea. Body was not particularly thick. I did get the sour note that I’ve experienced with some Tie Guan Yin teas that I’m not particularly sure I enjoy, but it wasn’t particularly prominent in this one.
Flavors: Caramel, Fruity, Malt, Roasted, Sour, Sweet
Green tea and colds don’t mix because you can’t properly taste anything. However, once you get better this is a good one to start off with! Floral notes. Hints of coconut especially in the after taste. My daughter is making faces at herself in the mirror and its pretty amusing (she’s 2.) Anyway, I’m going to try to cold steep this tea and see how it turns out.
Cold steep: I am a fan!!! I let it steep for at least 20 mins in cold water and yum. Quite good!
Another one from Zen! The leafy green tea has tiny cubes of mango and certainly has a fruity scent to them! I didn’t really notice any cranberry pieces in the blend. There wasn’t a fragrance or flavor of cranberry either. But this slightly vegetal flavored green tea sure pairs nicely with this mango. It’s very refreshing with the sweet fruit and slightly bold astringency of the tea. Very delicious. I bet it’s great iced. The second steep has plenty of flavor too.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug// 33 minutes after boiling // 2-3 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
A tea I grabbed in Zen’s super generous Steepster 50% off sale. Basically I grabbed a few favorites and a bunch of samples. The dry leaves here are short in length and black — looks like the typical keemun to me! The flavor has that lovely slightly tangy quality that keemun has, like the tanginess of plums. Along with the tiniest hint of smoke, really not much at all. Otherwise, the medium bodied brew has notes of bread, wine, and the hints of bright brassiness that I usually notice in assam. It’s a great combination of flavor notes and a keemun I could easily stock up on.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for a full mug// 10 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 minute steep
Here’s Hoping Traveling Tea Box
Succulent, juicy, tropical fruit magic! I absolutely MUST remove at least another cup of this gem before I pass the TTB on this weekend. This fruit blend tea has several different fruity pieces that make up it’s bulk. I taste primarily Coconut and pineapple with a creaminess that must come from the coconut. I didn’t taste any of the hibiscus which others have, but I will agree with them as to the pina colada-esque flavour! I am very sad now that when Zen tea had that special steepster sale I didn’t have the funds to take advantage of their generous offer. :(
Anyway, if you get the chance to try this and you enjoy pina coladas I cannot recommend this tea enough!!
Flavors: Coconut, Creamy, Pineapple
The tea itself has an incredible aroma a strawberries and creme, it is like aroma therapy in a can. The tea tastes really good too. The flavor of the strawberries comes through strongly as does the creamy taste. It does not taste artificial.
I brewed this once in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 minutes.
Flavors: Creamy, Strawberry
Mmm, this one satisfies the chai craving! The smooth medium bodied black tea has the perfect balance of spices and hints of sweet vanilla. I wish it were superpowered vanilla but I can live with this. The vanilla really lingers. The spices are perfect on this day of reappearing snow… in April. The cup was gone in a flash. The second steep didn’t seem as awesome as the first, losing a little of the vanilla qualities and transforming into more of a typical chai. Still good though!
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// few minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 6+ minute steep
I also just finished Zen’s Raspberry Vanilla rooibos the other day. Though ancient, it was still pretty tasty.
Tried this in my 20oz cast iron enameled teapot this time rather than attempting to use a gaiwan. I used 6.3g of leaf and 160f water (increased to 165 after two steeps) and did steeps of 1m, 30s, 1m, 2m.
The first steep was the best – Crisp and vibrant grassy flavor with a lightly fruity finish that lingered in the mouth. The flavors of this steep seemed to explode in the mouth.
Second steep was a more subdued version of the first.
Third steep had a sweet and grassy start with a bit of a dry finish. The fruity notes were no longer present.
The fourth steep was more a corn sweetness with a bit of a mouth drying effect.
I much prefer sencha this way to attempting to do it in a gaiwan, and I’m excited to try it with some other small sencha samples I recently received in a swap!
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Green, Sweet
My first sencha! I thought this one was pretty decent. Not particularly suited to brewing with a gaiwan due to the small leaves, but I made it work. I used 3.6g and did longer steepings than usual: 30s, 20s, 30s, 60s, 2m. Liquor looked like yellow gatorade lol. Very grassy flavors and something remaining on my palate that reminds me of some sort of fruit, but I can’t put my finger on what kind. Extremely smooth tea, and body was decent as well.
Flavors: Grass, Green, Sweet, Vegetal
I notice a few notes to this. There is a creamy note. There is a note that seems spicy to me, I suppose this is the bergamot. The tea itself seems to have a slight malty note. Overall this is good.
I brewed this one time in a 16oz Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 4 min.
I needed another tea to cold brew without the dreaded hibiscus. I don’t mind hibiscus when it doesn’t overwhelm the tea, but it gets a little tiring when it is in EVERY fruit tea. Anyway, there’s none in this one so yay!
And really, I couldn’t pass up the 50% off sale they had in March. I have so much tea already, so what’s a little more right ;p. I picked up 100g of it because it was so cheap!
I cold Brewed this tea for about 20 hours. This tea is sweet coconut and pineapple. It tastes very tropical and almost like a pina colada, which is my favourite alcoholic drink. Yum
Here’s Hoping Traveling Tea Box
This is a creamy, toasty coconut-y chai. I enjoyed both steeps that I had of this. The first I added some honey and almond milk to it which was really yummy. I felt that the chai & coconut flavours were spot on and mated with the black tea very well. It was a cup of comfort really. The second steep was slightly less coconut and cream flavoured but still a nice chai blend with a hint of coconut. I’d have it again if offered. :)
Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Spices
Here’s Hoping Traveling Tea Box
Another wonderful black tea! Nice notes of cocoa, and baked bread abound in these lovely little pearls. I infused them 6 six times (all day!) I did however brew these at 180 degrees, which is slightly less than the requested temperature I believe. I was able to watch the leaves unfurl a bit each time which was really quite lovely. It was interesting to see a black tea pretending to be a green oolong. You know what I mean. Hehe.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa
If you read my note here before you could probably guess I was sick and couldn’t taste anything correctly. My apologies to Zen Tea because this is a great tea. I’m a little disappointed that they had to add milk flavor to it but of all the Milk Oolong I’ve tasted thus far only one has been a true milk oolong. This one is by far my favorite in the flavor added category. It’s rick and smooth. Milky, of course and I detect flavors of melon too! It’s light and leaves a good feeling on your tongue. The dry and wet smell are also amazing.