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Here’s Hoping Teabox – Round Seven- Tea #6
I usually love Zen’s teas but this must be their worst. I’ve never had a tea that tasted like liquid cardboard before… and this isn’t even a Ceylon (to me Ceylon would probably usually be described like cardboard but not even those come close to this though to be fair this does say it is 1/3 Ceylon.) And if this is a BREAKFAST tea then it has to be much stronger than this. I poured most of this mug in a plant. And I NEVER waste tea.
From the Here’s Hoping TTB. I should almost write two different reviews for this tea. My first cup was OK; not terribly strong, but with pleasant spice flavors. Nice but not special.
For the re-steep, I tried to approximate the directions on the package, and mixed the steeped tea with hot milk. It was really good! I don’t think I’ve ever actually tried chai with milk before. It reminded me of a weak latte but with spice rather than coffee flavor. BTW: I couldn’t taste the coconut at all.
This is a really lovely Darjeeling with a sweet and smooth flavour. The most notable characteristic is that it is very plain. It tastes like a plain, high quality black tea. I find it has hints of bitterness, but also sweet notes. I add half a tsp (a pinch) of brown sugar to round it out. It would also take milk, although it stands on its own and is quite drinkable straight. It doesn’t have a lot of unique characteristics, but it would make a solid daily drinker or English afternoon tea (served with scones or sweets, of course).
Flavors: Bitter, Honey, Tannin
I had drank this about a week ago now, but as I look through my tea notebook with all of the unwritten notes, I realize that I need to catch up. I want to start producing more notes on here; rather than getting too far behind….Which I am already. :P So, here is my attempt at doing that.
Notes: Thick, creamy mouthfeel. Reminds me of almond milk or vitamin D capsule. The longer the session, the less “creamy” it becomes and it “smooths” out a bit.
Steep 1: 300 mL 95 deg. C water, 45ish seconds
-Earthy, similar to a good puerh
-bittersweet cocoa, woody, lots of tannin (a bit bitter and overly tannic, maybe try a shorter steep time)
Steep 2:300 mL, 95 deg. C, 15 seconds
-very aromatic, it smells like a Chinese black with some honey and cocoa in the background
-less Earthy, still slightly bitter
Steep 3: 300 mL, 10 seconds
-still very flavourful, more cocoa
-hints of wood
-honey (but I wouldn’t say it is very sweet)
Flavors: Bitter, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Earth, Honey, Tannin, Wood
I didn’t realize I had not added this to my cupboard yet. I have taken a lot of teas out but hve failed to get the new ones added. Ah well, I will catch up one day!
This was the second tea of tea party, and I focus on it because one has already been reviewed a lot and the other was detested by my guest!
Zen Tea is taking a year off from selling tea. I remember a note on the discussion board long ago where the owner expressed frustration that he could sell teaware all day long but had trouble moving tea. I did indeed buy a good bit of teaware from them, but also tea.
My favorites from Zen were their Keemun and Vanilla Mint Puerh. My daughter loved their Lapsang. I am pretty sure I bought their matcha a couple of times.
This strawberry cream was a gift from my eldest daughter, purchased right before they announced that would not be selling tea for one year. I wish them the best in finding great new sources, and I do hope to find a great Keemun to buy from them for breakfast again,
This tea has a really nice strawberry flavor and the cream aspect of it takes the edge off so that the strawberry is neither sharp nor candy-like.
This is a decent chai but nothing I haven’t had before. The base is smooth and the vanilla palpable, but I think I would have preferred if they were a little more heavy-handed on the spices. Cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves are the most predominant spices here, and in that order (at least to my palate), but it is still lacking something. I added some half and half which subsequently drowned out the vanilla.
One day, when I’m feeling ambitious enough, I’ll concoct my own chai blend loaded with spices galore. But for now, it’s still exciting exploring various companies’ renditions of chai.
Good job not logging this tea when you actually drank it, Fjellrev. It’s all gone now too. From memory, I wasn’t overly impressed with this. The flavours were a little weak facing the strong rooibos base, but on the plus side, the vanilla was detectable, creamy, and dainty. The almond wasn’t a heavy almond extract kind of almond either, but more like roasted almonds. This had the potential of being great if the vanilla almond weren’t so overpowered by the dry, woodsy base.
Major thanks to mtchyg for this sample! He’s classing me up with these straight teas and I am always sending him bizarre picks. “This one has molten cherry and glitter-lava and the giggles of a monkey mixed with a green base.”
This tea was the first I tried, and I’m onto the third cup before actually getting around to tapping out a review. The first cup was far and away my best cup. I was sipping it while making brunch for house guests and I kept going “(sip) this is niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice (sip) (cook).” I think I oversteeped and understeeped 2 and 3 respectively, but here’s what I’ve found to be the case!
This is a semi-sweet, earthy, honey-nectar flavor. The dirt that bees carry into their mudrooms after a long day swirling among flowers.
“HONEY,” the bee yells, “I’m home! What’s the BUZZ around here?”
The nectar sweetness is gentle, in the background, unaggressive. But it’s still there. There’s also a little bit of a tang, like the striking of a bell, that’s maybe a little bit raisin-y. A thing that I totally like.
I would be remiss, before pulling out of this quick post, without making note of one last thing: the leaves. They are SO LONG. OH MY GOSH. So much DRAMA. They’re the tea equivalent of the Penguin’s long cigarette lighter and umbrella collection.
Flavors: Earth, Honey, Nectar, Raisins
Yay, sipdown. This is great Assam but it’s still nice to make some room in the cupboard. I made the last of this with boba! My mom gave me some leftover boba she found from a nuts.com order we made a few years ago, and understandably, in spite of storing it in a cool, dark place in its ziplock bag, the boba didn’t taste as good.
I also steeped this a little stronger than necessary and didn’t add sugar the result of the ultra strong tea, some 2% milk, and older boba didn’t make the best drink.
I decided to experiment further and did a second steep, mixed it with honeydew bubble tea powder, top with milk, and add some more boba. Better, actually! But I’m just not liking the boba so I drank the liquid, leaving the boba because it just isn’t worth the calories, ugh.
Zen has brought us quite a tasty Assam. Malty, not all that astringent, at least to my tastes, and a hint of caramel-like sweetness. I added some whole milk and it brought out the sweetness even more. It’s like I’m drinking tea with cream and sugar yet I didn’t add any sugar to this.
It was a good thing that I’ve run out of coffee to brew in the morning because it only pushed me to try this. It’s going really well with the new Pure Protein Mocha Brownie bars.
Oh look at that, according to Steepster, this is the 800th tea I’ve rated on here. I know I’ve tried even more than that, but that’s still cool.
It is hard for me to get green tea (especially flavored green tea) to come out right using my gaiwan. But I continue to try. For this tea, I’m glad I did.
This comes out surprisingly smooth with no trace of bitterness. The coconut flavor is present and creamy. I am enjoying this after a perfect spring trail walk. Life is good, friends. Drink it up.
Flavors: Coconut, Creamy
This tea smells amazing. Just like blackberries.
Hot, I kind of lose the blackberries, which take a backseat to the tea itself. I get the tang, but not the taste. I do get a nice greeny spinach finish from the sage.
So, I cold brewed this overnight and I found my blackberries! They’re fruity, and juicy and tangy and right there! The spinach splash from the sage becomes more prominent too, as the tea itself just seems to bind all the flavors together smoothly without making itself known as much.
I like this tea both ways for sure, but I think iced edges out hot just because that’s where the blackberry flavor is!
Flavors: Blackberry, Creamy, Earl Grey
Yeah, I can see why these are rated so highly. They are delicious. Malty, slightly sweet, slightly citrus-y and bright, very smooth. I’m happy that I discovered Zen tea before they stopped selling actual tea but also sad that I discovered them this late in the game. Everything I have tried so far has been really top notch.
Flavors: Citrusy, Malt, Sweet
I went into this not expecting much because I haven’t had the best of luck with their chai blends in the past, but this is better than expected. Not nearly as spicy as I would like, but it’s like nibbling on some chocolate cake with a light spiced drizzle on top. In terms of spices, I taste mostly super muted cinnamon and cardamom, but the licorice is overpowering the spices a little bit. The chocolate is realistic but not as prominent either, more like milk chocolate than anything else.
Not repurchase-worthy but it’ll be easy to sip down my sample.
This is a nice daily tea. Nothing too noticeable that stands out. It is very smooth and drinkable. If you are at all familiar with Taiwanese black tea, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say that it is evident in the flavor profile that it is in fact a Taiwanese black.
The main flavor in this style of tea that tends to stick out at me is almost a greener umami flavor. More than you’d expect in a black tea. And while this tea has those flavors, they are subdued. Which is fine by me.
Overall, glad I bought some tea from Zen during their sale.
I don’t remember the last time I had so many teas in my cupboard. 72! That is crazy talk. I’m opting for this tonight because the weather is brutal and sucky in my neck of the woods. It’s cold, damp, and half rainy/half snowy.
Despite loving coconut and spices, I went into this chai not expecting much. My gut told me that the coconut was going to be soapy and the spices mild due to the licorice root. I know, I’m so optimistic, right? But sadly, I was right. The coconut is soapy, the licorice is drowning out the majority of the spices. To be fair, I’ve had much soapier coconut and more cloying licorice root. The ginger is more prominent than the cinnamon, and I can’t taste any cardamom, sadly. With half and half, the astringency of the base is toned down a little bit.
So glad they have 10g options. Is it sad that I’m not even sure if I can bring myself to finish it?
Oh wait, weird, a few minutes after I finished my cup, I’m picking up on the cardamom. It reminds me of the kheer I had earlier this week, especially blended with the coconut and cream.
If the coconut were fresher and the spices a little more balanced, this could have been pretty good.
Here’s Hoping TTB
This tea wasn’t what I was expecting at all based on the description, but I really liked it! It has a strong strawberry flavor and a smooth, slightly sweet green tea base. Hanging onto another serving of this so I can try it iced this summer!