Zhi Tea

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drank Masala Chai by Zhi Tea
726 tasting notes

I have been drinking obscene amounts of this tea lately! It has such a warming feeling, which I think is the cinnamon and ginger. I don’t get a ton of cardamon, it’s there but is hiding in the background. No cloves in this one and it isn’t very spicy (I do love a spicy chai), but makes up for it in how flavorful and well rounded it is. I have been drinking it with a bit of honey and creamer which makes it so delicious and steeping it like I would any other tea. Might try it chai style on the stovetop at some point, but it’s hard to imagine an improvement on how it is now.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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80

Slight floral scent to the first steeping, which results in a floral note upfront. It reminds me of chrysanthemums, but then deepens into a rounded grassy note that lingers. I am normally not a huge fan of floral teas, preferring deeper-notes, but I believe this tea is a good tea to have mid-afternoon, which is when I am currently enjoying it.

As far as prep goes, It’s a beautiful tea to observe. I chose to make this in my English-style pot, using 1/2 the regular amount I normally would have, to appreciate the difference in volume that normally comes with preparing an oolong.

Flavors: Floral, Grass

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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77
drank Coconut Assam by Zhi Tea
169 tasting notes

This is a pretty solid, if not remarkable, tea. All the elements are there. A nice coconut flavor. The Assam gives it a good background to work with. The bitterness factor is low to none if you steep it correctly. I bet I could make this really pop with a splash of some coconut coffee creamer. I can almost hear some of you gasping and clutching at your pearls. I get it. I often like my tea unadulterated as well. I could make an exception for this tea though.

Flavors: Coconut, Malt

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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82
drank Austin Breakfast by Zhi Tea
555 tasting notes

This was another sample from Joshua who is working with Zhi Tea. Thanks, Joshua!!

The dry leaf has a very sweet, Ceylon-like aroma. Like hay and vintage leather. The leaves themselves are little brown nuggets, some broken, some whole. The resulting dark amber tea is a strong cup. Definitely appropriate for the first tea of the day. I get notes of leather, raisins, hay, and something woodsy. Sort of like the way the forest smells when it hasn’t rained in a long time.

I can’t say I’m as impressed with this one as I was with Assam Breakfast. It’s pretty astringent, though the flavors are nice. I guess there’s a sharpness that’s not appealing to me as much. But still, I’m happy to have it for the upcoming first cool mornings of fall.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dark Wood, Hay, Leather, Raisins

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec
MrQuackers

The other day it rained after not raining for a while and I enjoyed that aroma. A good breakfast tea should have some astringency to it along with depth due to tanin. Teas that don’t tend to be flat.

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I received this tea as a sample from Joshua – thank you!

The dry leaves smell a lot like the Chinese dried plums that I loved to eat when I was little. I followed the directions and used 2 tsp/cup in boiling water for 3 minutes. The resulting brew was a pretty amber color. I’m not sure if I used too many leaves or accidentally oversteeped, but it was quite bitter. However, I do also get a maltiness and a fruitiness. It does pack a punch, so I think it’s great as an early morning wake-up tea! I rarely take my tea with milk, but I think this tea would be good with some milk.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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96
drank Assam Breakfast by Zhi Tea
77 tasting notes

Oh my! This is a delightful Assam tea. I’m getting lots of sweet stone fruit flavors of bright cherry and deep, ripe plum. It’s pleasantly malty and smooth – Very smooth. There are no bitter notes or rough edges, only a pleasant astringency typical of Assams. Overall the tea was creamy and sweet. I detected a smidge of cocoa.
For those who are Assamaphobic, this Assam would be a safe choice – Sturdy, but oh so gentle and completely delicious!
Thanks for the sample, Josh! I loved every sip!

Flavors: Cherry, Cocoa, Creamy, Plums, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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96
drank Assam Breakfast by Zhi Tea
77 tasting notes

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80
drank Austin Breakfast by Zhi Tea
198 tasting notes

This is the other tea that Joshua was kind enough to send me. It is a single estate black tea from the Venture Estate in the Dimbula district of Sri Lanka. Though I am still not huge on Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) black teas in general, I do tend to have a somewhat more favorable opinion of some Dimbula teas. I can honestly say that this one is solid.

I prepared this tea using a one step Western infusion. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 208 F water for 3 minutes. I also tried slightly longer infusion times (4 and 5 minutes), but the results were not really all that different from the 3 minute preparation. This review will specifically refer to that one.

After infusion, the liquor showed a dark, clear amber in the cup. I noted interesting, but not particularly distinct aromas of flowers, leather, caramel, herbs, must, and hay on the nose. There was also a very slight fruitiness. In the mouth, I detected notes of cream, malt, brown toast, leather, roasted nuts, herbs, must, hay, and flowers. This tea also displayed something of a leafy, almost grassy quality that is pretty much impossible for me to describe. I also thought I detected a hint of fruitiness in the mouth. It was very faint and quickly flitted across the palate, but I was reminded a bit of stewed apricot and mango. It may have just been me though.

All in all, I kind of like this tea. As mentioned above and in several of my other reviews, I do not tend to be a huge fan of black teas from Sri Lanka. There are exceptions, but in general, they do not consistently do it for me. This one is a little better than some others that I have tried. It is smooth, has just enough flavor to be interesting, and would serve its purpose as a breakfast or afternoon tea. I do wish it had just a little more body, but that is a common complaint I level against many black teas from Sri Lanka. Overall, I don’t see any serious issues with this tea. It’s a solid little breakfast tea that should appeal to fans of no frills black teas.

Flavors: Brown Toast, Caramel, Cream, Fruity, Hay, Herbs, Leather, Malt, Musty, Roasted nuts

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85
drank Austin Breakfast by Zhi Tea
168 tasting notes

Another sample from Joshua. Thank you again!

This is a very malty tea, like the Breakfast Assam from this company. I must say that I usually steer clear from Assam tea, but these two have been completely different than most other Assam. This one in particular is sweet, malty, slightly chocolaty, smooth, and not very astringent (as I’ve experienced many times before). I’m really considering getting more of these two when winter comes, as a morning brew.

On a side note: My dad really loves Assam, and I thought that I’d share these two from Joshua with him. He said, “These are very good. Great black, with cream, or sugar.” My dad isn’t picky, but I know he has added these to his wishlist. Perhaps I’ll buy some for his birthday/Christmas this year; considering he only drinks tea with me or in the winter.

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89
drank Assam Breakfast by Zhi Tea
555 tasting notes

My thanks go to Joshua at Zhi Tea for sending me this sample! I really like the packaging. Very elegant, artsy pouches.

The leaves are a dark chocolate brown, small, and very concentrated. Because of this, one teaspoon makes a hearty cup of tea. Of course, that makes it a very effective first-thing-in-the-morning cup. But strength is not bitterness in this Assam, as it has been in others I’ve had in the past. Even as it brews up to a dark brownish amber, it remains pretty mellow. Some Assams I’ve had in the past have a sort of sharpness to them, but this one doesn’t. The flavor is nicely balanced.

I get notes of malt, cream, and honey. Maybe whole wheat bread. It’s a very satisfying and rich taste. I could definitely see myself ordering this come winter.

Flavors: Cream, Honey, Malt, Wheat

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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90
drank Assam Breakfast by Zhi Tea
198 tasting notes

Okay, before I begin this review, I have to give a sincere thank you to Joshua for sending me a sample of this tea to review. I also have to give an entirely insincere, wholly sarcastic thank you to the United States Postal Service for nearly destroying the package containing it. When I received this in the mail (along with a pouch of Zhi’s Austin Breakfast which I will hopefully be reviewing this weekend), I noticed a large, triangular puncture on the front of the package that went all the way through the other side. It looked almost as if someone had taken a trench knife and stabbed it straight through the entire package. Needless to say, when I opened the package there was a triangular hole that went straight through both packets of tea. Fortunately, this stab wound went through the top of each pouch, so I l hardly lost any tea and there did not appear to be any unwanted blending. Also, I had just cleaned and aired out a couple of old Steven Smith Teamaker tins that I keep around in the event of such occurrences. The contents of each packet are now safely stored in each of these tins.

I prepared this tea using a simple one step Western infusion. I followed Zhi Tea’s suggested brewing method for this one, though I did adjust the amount of tea I used according to the size of my glassware. Zhi suggests using 2 teaspoons of loose tea leaves per 12 ounces of 208 F water, but since I was using an 8 ounce teacup, I used approximately 1.25 teaspoons. I most certainly could have used 1 full teaspoon and this would have turned out about as well.

The infused liquor showed a dark, coppery amber in the cup. The nose was not particularly strong, offering creamy, malty aromas with a hint of toastiness and mild herbal character. In the mouth, I perceived a subtle and satisfying blend of cream, malt, honey, toast, roasted walnut, roasted chestnut, and faint herbal notes leading to a smooth finish that emphasized lingering sensations of cream, toast, malt, and honey. There was practically no astringency whatsoever, just typical Assam flavor components that were very smoothly integrated.

As far as first impressions go, I can say that I really like this Assam. It may not be the most unique Assam as far as the aroma and flavor profiles go, but it is very approachable, very refined, and very smooth, with a good body and a surprising lack of astringency. On its own, this tea is almost too easy to drink. I have yet to try it with either, but I could see this holding up to both cream and sugar well. I could also see this pairing up with breakfast fare very easily. Moreover, I think this works as more than just a smooth, hearty breakfast tea. I could also see this being a good afternoon pick-me-up. All in all, I definitely recommend this one. If you are a fan of traditional Assam teas, I think you will be very satisfied with this one.

Flavors: Cream, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Roasted nuts, Toast

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90
drank Assam Breakfast by Zhi Tea
198 tasting notes

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90
drank Assam Breakfast by Zhi Tea
168 tasting notes

This here is a great morning and afternoon tea. Sure it’s called “Assam Breakfast,” however, it’s a nice mellow smooth rich malty tea that’s great as a pick-me-up. I had tried it with and without cream Western style.

Without cream: there is a nice malty flavor that is rich and mellow, that leaves a nice chocolaty flavor in the aftertaste.

With cream: the sweetness of the tea comes forward a little more, bringing that chocolaty sweetness out a little more.

Overall, this was a great tea that could be used as a daily morning/afternoon brew throughout the year. I’d prefer this tea as a Fall and/or Winter morning cuppa.

Thanks again Joshua for the sample!

Flavors: Chocolate, Creamy, Malt, Sweet

Fjellrev

Sounds wonderful!

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95
drank Gong Fu Black by Zhi Tea
438 tasting notes

Here’s Hoping TTB

This was the last tea I sampled before mailing the box on to skysamurai and it was a great way to end my tasting adventure! This is a smooth yet robust Chinese black tea with rich cocoa notes and a hint of lingering caramel sweetness. My sample re-steeped beautifully and I’m sad there was only enough left for one cup. Adding it to my wish list!

Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Smooth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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88
drank Violet Femme by Zhi Tea
169 tasting notes

I used this tea to pair with The Mists of Avalon in my tea book club, titled Steeply Scared. It was such a hit. Velvety smooth, the flavors blended perfectly. Out of about a dozen or so teas I have introduced to the book club thus far, this one seemed to have the biggest positive reaction with a couple of members wanting to get the information on the tea to order some for themselves. I think that says more than anything I could write up here.

Flavors: Earl Grey, Lavender, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 14 g 48 OZ / 1419 ML

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83
drank Gong Fu Black by Zhi Tea
169 tasting notes

I had ordered another tea from Zhi Tea for a book club of mine and saw that this tea had a great rating so decided to pick up a sample.

I can see why this has such a good rating. It is a smooth, balanced black tea with yummy malty notes. Very drinkable and tasty. It is a very solid black tea that would be a superb choice for an everyday drinker.

Flavors: Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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80
drank Coconut Assam by Zhi Tea
110 tasting notes

This tea really surprised me with the delicate coconut flavour. I had enjoyed plain assam before so I knew that it had the potential to be good, but I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy this tea on my first try. I did put a little bit too much leaf, leading to slight bitterness, but overall this will be one of my new go-to teas for the morning or during that afternoon slump. The body is really smooth and the coconut adds a nice kick of tropical sweetness. Smells very pleasantly too!

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85

Seeing TeaTiff’s review reminded me that I wrote something up for this when tea-sipper shared some with me awhile back.

The flavors were all extremely well blended together. It was a really balanced floral and vanilla. I really did like this one. And I forgot all about it when I placed an order with Zhi recently.

Dustin

This one is my favorite from Zhi!

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60
drank Cacao Chai by Zhi Tea
636 tasting notes

Well you can’t love them all. This is sweet, weird sweet, and the base is missing.

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84
drank Coconut Assam by Zhi Tea
636 tasting notes

Another hit from Zhi Tea. So I was on the fence about this one. Coconut and me are iffy, but the Assam put me over the top. In my head it sounded like it should be so delicious. This time it was! The coconut is a toasted coconut and it brings a very toasty sweetness to the tea. The base Assam is smooth and actually offers a bit of a coffee/chocolate flavor. I love it when the samples that I order surprise me. Now I will just have to wait until next years sale to get more:)

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