Sichuan Zao Bei Jian (ZK55)

Tea type
Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by SimplyJenW
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 45 sec 8 oz / 236 ml

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8 Tasting Notes View all

From Upton Tea Imports

An extremely well made special tea from Sichuan (Szechuan) province. One of the finest black teas available today. Reddish liquor, clean taste, mellow flavor. Exquisite!

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8 Tasting Notes

2784 tasting notes

Here’s a black tea sample that I got from Upton, I was curious to try based on their description of it. This is a black tea, though they may call it a red tea in China. Another congou to try.

The directions said to steep this for 3-5 minutes so I went for 4 in the end. I got a very smooth, dark black tea with virtually no astringency. There is a nice sweetness about it. I agree it is very clean and mellow. This is a very easy one to sip on plain, which I am enjoying. It’s definitely nice to have a few black teas which I don’t feel the need to take with any additions. Perhaps a slight bit of maltiness in the finish. I am sure I will happily finish this off but will probably not need to buy anymore. I do have a full tin of a panyang congou which is probably enough for a while!

Unfortunately I left my infuser in the teapot when I went back to get a second cup and now I am getting the bitter, ooky quality I think Jen was describing in her note. This is not a tea you want to oversteep.

I know I am weird but I was half hoping for something spicy in this tea since it’s from Sichuan province. hee hee! I enjoyed trying it though.

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

It is funny because I am often lead to resample this based on the reviews on Upton. And then I remember this was the tea where I was the weirdo one who did not really care for it. I am sure my steeping technique has improved, but not that much! ;)

Scott B

Spicy is exactly what I though of when I saw the name of the tea.


Jen – I don’t blame you for not wanting to try it again!

Doug F

I tried this in the past and it was solid but there are so many great Chinese black teas that I didn’t feel motivated to buy it again.


@Triumph – yeah I feel much the same way. Good but missing the “wow” factor for me personally


I have a sample of this somewhere…….if I can only find it! :-//

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4833 tasting notes


I enjoyed this tea. Lovely notes of fruit … the sweet notes of a plum and of currants, but without the sour tones that usually accompany these fruits. Hints of caramel in the background. Astringency develops as I sip.

The tea is reminiscent of a fine, dry red wine. Robust, full flavored, but also with a mellowness that is quite nice.

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294 tasting notes

I thoughly enjoyed my morning cup. And today this was my choice. I have a dizzying array of samples to choose from and for some reason this one was selected.

I noticed the small leaf and I knew to keep a close eye to avoid oversteeping. I settled in on an approximately 4 minute steep. I was greeted by a dark red brew that was delicious. It was smooth and clean and a perfect tea for my morning. It was awakening. I did not notice any dominant or subtle flavors yet there is this balance, a ying and yang that seemed to be in harmony.

When all is said and done with my black tea samples I would have to guess that China is the clear winner of tea producing countries.


Upton is great for trying out lots of samples!

Charles Thomas Draper

Yes Amy. And sampling I am. I will probably do an Assam Monday morning…

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984 tasting notes

Day 2 of SimplyJenW’s China black tea palate training course.

This one is malty, and really kind of flat, in my opinion. What I find interesting is that this one gets stellar reviews on Upton’s site, where not many other teas do. It makes me wonder if I did something wrong in the brewing. For me it is kind of bitter on the finish. I could not continue tasting the tea without adding something. I know that all teas are not supposed to be smooth, cocoa-ey, and wonderful for my taste. We all have our preferences, but I find this one a little harsh, even lightly sweetened. It reminds me of the days when I liked Beck’s beer….which is bitter to me now, but when you are used to the bitterness, it is pretty good. Perhaps that is the same with tea….. This one would appeal to those who like bolder tastes in their tea. And I am at the sweet and subtle stage. Sorry, but I have to dump this one….

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

I totally get you on the bitterness. I’ve also often wondered if it was something in my steeping technique, but I’m starting to think there are some teas I’ll just never warm to because they are inherantly pretty bitter.

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22 tasting notes

The dry tea is raisiny, aromatic, almost sweet, and the leaves are a uniform dark brown. These leaves aren’t large, so avoid oversteeping. The liquor is a red-brown; this qualifies as a “red tea.” While Sichuan Zao Bei Jian is flavorful, it doesn’t have a lot of dimension.

Full, somewhat malty, low on astringency – and an outstanding value.

190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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