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Recent Tasting Notes
When I first came across this online, I thought “Oh look-obligatory chai blend.” Like the breakfast blend, I expected this one to be relatively generic, but when I looked at the loose leaf they advertised online, I wondered if the tea base was in fact an oolong because some of the leaves looked rolled an light brown. I could have been wrong, but that would not be a bad thing considering how good their Zealong black is.
Since I could not find a single bag sample, I risked a whole box. Luckily, I had Kiwi credits, but I found it was worth it. I drank as many as three bags in a day during work, and that’s including re-steeping it.
As for the taste and smell, the spices are doubtlessly warming chai, but with that edgy char in profile. Tasting it and drinking it, it’s extremely well balanced. The pepper is fairly prominent with the cardamom, the ginger is more obvious mid body, and clove and cinnamon finishes it off nicely with the tea’s cocoa-char note. The overall body is very smooth and a little bit malty, but naturally soothing. It’s not as malty in the second brew with the clove and ginger taking over a little bit more, but the tea is a little bit sweeter and nearly caramelized. It’s not THAT sweet, but the tea is incredibly pleasing on the palette.
I feel like I’m missing something in the description because the tea is just that good, and someone who pays more attention to their palette might describe it better. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d be getting a lot more since this ranks as on of my top three masalas. The roasty Zealong base makes a difference, and whoever blended the spices did a fantastic job balancing everything out. Foodie recommended-it may be too mellow for some, but it’s great for those looking for smooth and balanced chais. I’d also rate it a 90, or something close to it.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Cardamom, Char, Cinnamon, Clove, Cocoa, Ginger, Malt, Roasted, Smooth
I caved in to a need for sachets last month. I got this as a free sample, and it pleasantly surprised me. I expected something bold and astringent like an English Breakfast, but this was an incredibly smooth tea with a much desired roasted cocoa profile in aroma and taste, with an accent clearly identifiable as honey. It is in fact as mellow as the company describes, and it does have a nice citrus note. The mouthfeel is also pretty great-it had a little bit of the nectar profile some Taiwanese blacks have.
I could easily see drink this every day if it were not so expensive. It may also be a little bit too mellow for some people, but it pleases this foodie’s desire for flavor and just a hint of complexity. It is a straightforward tea, but still very enjoyable. If you can find this or want to treat yourself with a good breakfast sachet, this is not a bad bet. I’m personally rating it 80, though I think 85-92 is really the tea ratings range.
Flavors: Citrus, Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Nectar, Roasted, Smooth, Spices, Wood
I have so many teas to backlog. And Rasseru, I owe you for the other ones. For now, I’ll write the review for this sampler.
This was a happy accident. Mom was looking for Christmas presents, and needed to order something pronto, so she accidentally bought this when she went to her cart. She could have canceled it, but then said screwed it. I am so glad that this was only $12.
I have wanted to try New Zealand Zealong teas for a while. If it were not for the price, I already would have mini staples of them since they compare to high quality Taiwan teas, but they are more expensive than even those same calibre teas. A sampler was the way to go to at least try what this terroir can offer.
I greatly enjoyed every sample, with some teas being more enjoyable than I anticipated. I am just going to describe each tea in a few sentences, and I am going to describe them using the same notes as their Taiwan counterparts. Each tea was 3 grams, I did a improvised gong fu for each, so I will not always be specific. Reviews for 5 teas at a time, here it goes:
Zealong Dark-not an oolong that I thought would be the first to try, and not an oolong that I thought would have been as green as it was. I expected something more like a ruby oolong, a dark Dong Ding, but the roast was more on the medium end. Dry leaf had a distinctly chocolate chip cookie like aroma followed by a series of woody roast and florals, and the tea brewed up after a good 30 seconds was very similar. The roast is definitely pronounced, but very balanced with the noticeable background of florals. It was a hint woody, but the charcoal hints and general florals were much stronger. There were some that bordered on violet, but I really cannot go much further than that floral note from what I remember. I liked it more than I thought I would, and would not mind trying it again. I rate this one 80-85.
Zealong Aromatic-very similar to a Dong Ding. Definitely greener than the previous one, but like a traditional style Dong Ding, there was enough roast to caramelize the fruity notes at the end of the creamy florals. The fruit notes were actually comparable and as sweet as strawberries with just enough green grassy notes in the oolong to compare to the stem. It was not really aromatic until the second steep gong fu, but it was bordering on being the favorite of the sampler. It is very well balanced, and it has a very nice sweet note at the end of each steep. It’s just a shame that it was expensive.
Zealong Black-ooooooohhhhh this one was good. It was almost the same as a Shan Lin Xi black-it had prevalent blackberry and currant notes with a few sage like hints in the after taste. It was malty and had some of the chocolate notes that are so common for black teas, but the fruity and herbal notes were the most prevalent for me. The later steeps were actually closer to a Shan Lin Xi oolong because of its ever sweet fruity notes, and its sneaking florals in the background. It was definitely honey sweet, and very, very silky. If this were not more expensive than a Shan Lin Xi black, I would definitely get myself a good 50 grams of this minimum.
Zealong Pure-what I thought would have been my absolute favorite, but it came in the place of third overall. Like other people have reviewed before on separate pages, this one tasted like Gaoshan more than anything else. Although it was an excellent one at that by combining the creamy florals of a Li Shan with the immensely grassy and thick pineapple notes of a Shan Lin Xi, it was still as nuclear green and pungently spinachy as it was floral fruity sweet. It certainly deserves its “pure” title, but all of the teas in this collection were clean and pure, and I honestly would love to have this one again, but I could be just as fine with a Taiwan Li Shan. I still think this one was excellent, just not as nuanced as the black or the aromatic were.
Zealong Green- this one was a huge surprise. I have not really liked a pure green tea in a long time. It was like a cross between the fruity notes of a Mao Feng, the creamy green notes of a Dragonwell, and the florals of a Baozhong. The dryleaf had the same violet-chestnut notes of a Baozhong, but drinking it gong fu was incredibly pure and sweet. There was not doubts that this was a green tea, but the fusion of dense florals, the chestnut middle notes, and the strawberry sweet aftertaste was incredible. The only other teas that could match would be a Hawaiian green tea, but otherwise, this tea stood out of the samplers as being the most distinct and well rounded. I would not drink this tea often because green teas can mess with my stomach a little, but man would I savor and meditate to this beauty. This tea was the terroir favorite, but not the type favorite overall.
All of the teas were excellent, but they were overpriced. That’s why I recommend this tea as a gift for a tea lover who wants to try this terroir and who likes Taiwaneese/pacific style teas. The Black, Green, and Aromatic were my favorite. If you want to find out more about these teas, type up the name of each tea on steepster. You will find that there are a few copies from different companies never mind it is in fact the same tea from the same farm at Zealong. Like the other reviewers, I thought that they were excellent but not sufficient replacements for Taiwaneese teas because of price despite their equal or higher quality. At minimum, I recommend everyone try these teas at least once to say that they have because they are good. I recommend getting them through the Kiwi Importer personally.