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Recent Tasting Notes
From Ontario to California, this must be a record — 6 days to receive a tea package from the wonderful Leafhopper :)
My housemate requested last night a cup of peppermint tea, so I used the opportunity to break into the box of goodies. It’s a sweet, herbaceous peppermint with plenty of menthol kick. I thought it must be that NW US peppermint and reading the description, it is! Peppermint grown in Washington is my favorite because it never tastes muddy or stewed even with boiling water and long steep times.
Thanks for the nightcap, Leafhopper.
Flavors: Herbaceous, Menthol, Peppermint, Sweet
Spring has sprung, which means that everyone on Steepster is rushing to finish their older green teas. I’m no exception, though this one, from 2015, is older than most. I steeped my remaining 5.5 g in a 120 ml pot at 175F for 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 70, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep has notes of bok choy, spinach, and broccoli. The second steep is much stronger, with the flavours of cruciferous vegetables I tend to avoid like broccoli and brussels sprouts. The third and fourth steeps are more beany, with a bit of creaminess and a sweet aftertaste.
Note: This tea does not go well with chocolate. All I can taste in the fifth steep are bitter veggies.
Whether because of the chocolate or because the tea is fading, the rest of the session is similarly vegetal and the liquor becomes more astringent near the end. It’s possible I used too much leaf and am paying for it.
Despite its age, this was a strong green tea that was pleasant to drink. However, I’m happy to have finished it.
Flavors: Beany, Bok Choy, Broccoli, Creamy, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
I found this in my stash and though I think I set it aside for a swap, I decided to just finish it off. However, since I set it aside, it was not in my “cupboard” so no decrease in numbers…boo.
While I don’t recall enjoying this much the last time I had it, with honey it is actually quite nice. Spiced orange and honey are a nice combination. Not my favorite by a long shot but since it is caffeine free, I was glad to change up from the Lemon Cream Rooibos I have been resteeping like crazy.
This is a very Christmas type tea as in it’s that typical spiced orange flavor though in the case of this tea that flavor is slightly diluted by the rooibos base which is smooth yet flat. Not bad but not very interesting either, much like the S’mores Doughnut I ate alongside this tea. Always fun to try new things though so thank you Evol Ving Ness for the share.
When I first had this tea, it was in a small mug and that really brought out the strawberry flavor. This time around, I brewed it in a 16 oz mug and the black tea base was significantly more prominent while the strawberry flavor has devolved into a generic fruitiness. Interesting how the mug size can have such an impact. Thank you for the share, Evol Ving Ness and for the opportunity to experiment a bit.
Check out my full review here: http://sororiteasisters.com/2018/05/03/strawberry-from-zen-tea-life/
Actually a Big Red Robe oolong, oops.
I was seeking a good amount of roasty Big Red Robe and found this option from Zen Tea Life via Amazon. It had all of the characteristics I was looking for: a smoky aroma and flavor, quality leaves, a smooth oolong mouthfeel, and comforting nutty notes. Easily an everyday drinker. It lacked the complexity or cherry tobacco notes of the more expensive Verdant variety I had tried before, but that’s to be expected.
First session I used 175 degree water, second used 185 – the max of the recommended temperature range. Surprisingly (to me anyways) it was much better with hotter water, though it could also be because I managed steep times a little bit better.
When I opened the bag, it smelled exactly like sweet honey. Unfortunately I didn’t get such an intense honey note anywhere in the flavor of the tea. I got a lot of kinda nutty flavors in this, a little bit toasty as well. I was getting a sweet finish on both the early and late steeps that did remind me of honey, but unfortunately not as strong or distinct as in the aroma of the dry leaves. In my first session I was getting a bit of a dryness or bitterness after the first couple steeps, I believe because I ramped my steep times up too quickly. I didn’t get much of any fruity flavor in this one though at one point the flavor was reminding me of lemon – but it didn’t really taste like lemon…if that makes any sense. With the hotter water I got a nicer and thicker body, with a more prominent corn sweetness. Why can’t I list corn as a flavor note? I hear people describe teas as having a “corn sweetness” all the time. Anyways, a pretty good green tea. I will have to try some other ones as well, I get the sense this tea would have been a lot more flavorful if it was more fresh.
Flavors: Honey, Nutty, Sweet, Toasty
The way I see it, there are three reasons to drink this tea:
1) You’ve got a serious cold and you’ve reached that point where you’re drinking directly out of the Nyquil bottle at noon,
2) You’re about to have some kind of Gilmore-level authentic Chinese food extravaganza,
3) You are some kind of ginger fetishist.
All valid reasons in their own way, of course.
Basically, this is crazy ginger and the lemon, while there, just makes the ginger poppier. It’s not bad but you’ve really really really got to like ginger. I like ginger a liiiitttle bit so this was too much for me but I’m keeping it for reason (1) which I’m sure will come around at some point and then I’ll be glad I have it. It’s yellow so I recommend treating it like green and being careful with the temperature and steep time.
Flavors: Ginger, Lemon, Lemongrass
Here’s Hoping TTB
Thank you so much to Zen for including so many intriguing samples in this box! I’m really excited I had the chance to try this one. The dry leaf is super pretty: small, tightly curled leaves in a whole spectrum of different shades of green. It brews up to a lovely pale spring green color with a fresh vegetal aroma. Sipping, I found it to be super smooth and silky with a lightly sweet floral flavor. This is exactly the sort of green tea I love. Adding it to my wish list!
Flavors: Floral, Smooth, Sweet
A very delicate green. Spring snail is not really what I want to think about when I’m drinking tea as snail doesn’t sound too appealing. Mainly grassy with a bit of floral. However, the floral flavor seems to come out more in less steep time; same for the fruity flavor.
I’ve forgotten how to rate evaluate flavored teas I’ve been drinking so much unflavored these days! As far as I can discern, this is a solid chocolate tea, very flavorful. The base tea – some sort of roasted rolled oolong probably – is a good match and adds body. Of course this tastes somewhat artificial, but I enjoyed every cup of my sample. The recommendation isn’t a mis-click. I would have enjoyed this immensely when I first started drinking tea.
The sample was a Christmas gift from Flyawaybirdie. Thank you!!
This is another that Zen sent over for the teabox. Such soft, delicate, crumbly leaves with this one. So many colors to the leaves as well – from white to the darkest green. The flavor is light, lovely and sweet. It tastes like sweet creamed corn, probably because the texture of the tea is very smooth and silky too. One of the lightest green teas there are, while still maintaining a ton of flavor. The second steep has much of the same flavor but with a little more depth and strength. Overall, a fantastic, light, tasty, sweet, refreshing green tea. Not overly vegetal at all. A great example of this type of green tea if you’re looking to try it.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 30 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Flyawabirdie included in her Christmas gift a whopping 50g rather than a sample. Wow! Thanks so much for introducing this to me.
By smelling the dry leaf beforehand I knew this would be a good one. This is one of the freshest – if not the freshest – peppermint teas I’ve ever had. It’s so strong, it’s as if I had been chewing a Dentyne Ice gum (which is my go-to gum for mint power). I even feel the cooling effect in the throat. I’m keeping this is mind for a re-stock when I run out.
I have been drinking my matcha in a little soup bowl for years now. It is okay, but one who loves tea just needs teaware, right?
For years I admired the Zen Brush bowl at Zen Tea Life, but when I finally decided to bite the bullet and ask for one for Christmas they had stopped carrying the dark blue one and had a brown one. They had this lovely Aurora bowl in blue, though! Yes!
I love using it! I have had matcha every day. The depth is great for whisking. Also, you can swirl your tea so the particles don’t settle and it is deep enough that it doesn’t slosh over. I love the scalloped, wavy lip so you can pick your most comfortable spot to sip. It is very pretty and when it is wet from washing, the lighter blue shades almost sparkle.
A while back I ordered two cast iron tea pots from Zen Tea Life. Shipping was fast and reasonable. We love our Iwachu pots! They included a sample of this with my order.
Lately I have noticed caffeine affecting me before bed so I decided to get a tisane that would help me as well as taste good. It isimportant to get good sleep, especially during the holidays! I ordered three – count them, THREE – bags of this plus one other evening herbal that I haven’t tried yet.
I don’t know how well the herbs here will work for detox but it has to be better for me than a lot of things I could reach for in the evening. When a tea or tisane has mint in it, that is pretty much all I taste unless there are some other pretty powerful herbs in large amounts.
This tisane is earthy and minty and the resteep is quite good, so it is a good value as well. Youngest daughter likes it a lot and is drinking it with me. The big test was hubby. He had a traumatic experience with an herbal once (Sandy, remember Evening in Missoula? I liked it and wish I had more!) and I didn’t know if he would try this. He did try it, and he liked it, even liked it well enough to ask for more. He has a lot of job stress so I hope it will also help keep him healthy through the winter.
I can hardly wait to try the other tisane I ordered, Evening Lights. They also sent a sample of Fengqing Golden Buds that I am excited about! I have requested a matcha bowl from Zen for Christmas. Some of these teas may get added to the Christmas list! (Which is a matcha bowl and…that’s it.)
Ordered this on a holiday sale. Sejak is a “second picking.” The bag says the tea was purchased from Japan but grown in Korea.
Sejak tea is usually brewed a bit longer and hotter than fresh teas, but leaves look delicate, like frons, so I brewed it cooler starting with 20 second steeps, using about 7 grams in a kyusu. Yielded a light green brew due to the short steeps, with a white peony and mineral smell.
First steep of both sessions I have had with this tea have been salty, mineral taste, just the first steep. I have read about salty flavors on teas from ocean air, perhaps this is where the taste comes from. The salty flavor is on my lips after sipping, I can literally lick the salt. The salty taste dissipates with subsequent steeps. I didn’t do a rinse, by the way. I like that salty taste though and wouldn’t want it rinsed off, kind of balancing from a medicinal perspective.
After 4 steeps the peony smell was almost gone and a corn stalk, more nutty smell came from the leaves in the kyusu. The tea is less salty but still with a mineral taste. The short steep method is giving me 8 or more steeps. I got some heat going up my back, nice qi but not the umami (theanine) like I get with sencha.
This is tasty stuff, with the saltiness it would be a great follow up to a sweet dessert.
Edit: I am upping my rating slightly, I love this tea and am close to the end of the bag. Unfortunately it is still sold out, but I’ve emailed to see if they are getting more. Really got my steeping parameters down, cool water like for sencha. First two steeps are the salty steeps, the third is floral once the salt is gone, and the fourth and fifth are vegetal green. It is not often a green tea has a palette like this. With the hot, muggy summer I find myself craving those first two salty infusions.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Floral, Mineral
This afternoon, courtesy of Kenneth & Zen Tea Life, I brewed Puerh Loose Leaf Gongfu style: 6 oz. / 1 heaping tsp (3.3g) / 203*F / 50s, 1 & 2 min. without sweeteners, milk, or cream.
Note: This sample is from Zen Tea Life’s previous Puerh Loose Leaf, not their currently available “Puerh Loose Leaf Organic” – http://zentealife.com/tea/type/chai-puerh.html
Leaf: Thick, dark chocolate brown of various lengths up to 2.2 cm
Fragrance: Compost / barn environment
Liquor: Clear rosey copper
Aroma: Peat moss
50 sec.: Clear, clean, pleasant, light to medium-bodied and smooth without any off-putting strong flavors, astringency, or bitterness.
1-min.: Darker rose-tinted copper with the same flavor profile that provided a medium-bodied earthiness.
2-min.: Slightly lighter bodied.
3/25/14: Gongfu style: 6 oz. / 10 g / 203*F / 50s, 1 & 2 min.
Mrmopar suggested I increase the leaf to 10 grams for shou puerh. The increased leaf provided a much fuller-bodied and much more enjoyable aged puerh. However, as a novice puerh tea drinker, it didn’t occur to me at the time to decrease the brewing times accordingly. As a result, this gong fu session was a little too strong.
Impression: An enjoyable, smooth, earthy, aged pu-erh without any astringency, bitterness, or off-putting flavors.
Thanks to Kenneth & Zen Tea Life for this gracious sample.
RO water re-mineralized with an Aptera filter http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/39532-puregen-aptera-alkamag-water-filter
with http://steepster.com/teas/teaware/29177-finum-brewing-basket placed in the pitcher