Gong Fu Black/Zhi Tea

Really wanting to use my new gaiwan tonight, I pawed through my tea samples and my eye fell on this. Perfect! I don’t have to wonder if it is a good candidate for the gaiwan. The name tells me so!

The leaves are thin and twisted, and very dark. They have that heady chocolate aroma you find in black and oolong tea sometimes. After warming the gaiwan and allowing the leaves to rest in it for a moment, the scent is now much nuttier.

I experimented a bit and found that I like this one to have a little more time than I would give some teas. It didn’t become bitter – the main incentive for keeping a steep short would be to prevent bitterness – so I let those warm, rich flavors develop over a few extra seconds. The darkest steep was my favorite.

The tea is creamy, nutty, with a little hint of cocoa. It is so smooth that even a black tea phobe drinking with me liked it plain. Although there is virtually no astringency, there is the slightest briskness that develops over time in a very pleasant way. Walnut is the flavor that I most notice lingering.

I lost count but my guess is that we had about seven or eight steeps from this session. Overall, a very pleasant tea. I definitely want to have a look at this company’s other offerings, as well!

Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Zhi Tea


Zhi exclusive. #1 Rated Black Tea in the World!

This exquisite black tea from Fujian Province in China has become the favorite at Zhi. If you like the rich complexity of a classic Chinese black tea with all the hallmark smoothness and depth, be prepared to be enchanted. This is a top-grade exclusive tea with a major wow factor.

Thin, twisted leaves present a deep rich red cup with distinct caramelized sugar and chocolate notes and a long creamy finish. Mouthfeel, mouthfeel, mouthfeel.

If you like a great Keemun or a Gold Yunnan then you will love this tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Austin Breakfast from Zhi Tea

Austin Breakfast is an organic Indian black tea. I have the sachets and – BONUS! – they are biodegradable. I love the company’s vision statement.

“We’re a homegrown Austin, Texas company composed of a few die-hard tea freaks, lovers of fine foods, stewards of sustainable agriculture, and passionately dedicated to the human experience.”

I made this for my daughter and myself to have with breakfast. I noted that the website says this will offer some good resteeps, and not to toss the bag until it has given up all of its goodness, so that is what I intend to do.

First steep – My word, this is a super aromatic black tea. At this point, I had noted that the tea was from India as stated on the packaging but I had not looked up the specifics of origin. No matter, there is no mistaking right off the bat that this is a Ceylon tea from the aroma alone.

And it is one of the more aromatic I have tried. There are lovely, deep round dark raisin notes, a nice middle creamy thick feel, and swirling higher notes of orange and lemon. While eating my oatmeal, I detected no astringency at all. After my bowl was empty, I held the tea in my mouth and swirled it around, and there it was! The classic Indian tea briskness.

I take my tea sans additions, and I have a very dodgy stomach that often rebels at tea of Indian origin, kicking me in the gut as revenge. Nicer Indian teas do not have this effect. Dodgy ones get smoothed with milk if I drink them at all.

Happily, my stomach is quite at peace with this tea. Not so much as a burble. I feel like I am drinking a high quality Irish breakfast tea. No milk nor sugar needed, but if that’s how you roll, it can take it.

Steep 2 – While it is piping hot, I think that the low notes have utterly disappeared and the brisk, high lemony notes are mostly what remains. After a couple of minutes cooling time, I find this tea to have its thick and creamy body restored and the briskness is now slightly muted compared to the piping hot sip. Still a good cup of tea, though different from the first steep. I will definitely be trying a third steep.

This would be a great morning tea at work, with the first bracing cup preparing one for the day and tasks ahead, and the remaining cups serving as an easy peasy resteep as you simply add hot water to continue through the morning,

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Black
Where to Buy:  Zhi Tea

Our Austin Breakfast honors the intensity and laid-backness of Austin. The Ceylon black tea is at once bold and smooth. It has a deep character and clean finish like a great Irish Breakfast tea.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Lemon Blush from Zhi. . . . .

This was a pleasantly zen tea! I tried it hot, at directed concentrations, steeped for six minutes, with no additives. I could envision this tea being enjoyable cold for those that love fruit infused water.

Unlike most lemon teas I encounter, the lemon was present, but not overpowering. It required no sweetening, and my sweet teeth are rather demanding, so that’s saying a lot! It is supplemented with stevia leaf, and unlike the dietary sweetener, was not at all off-putting. The hibiscus brings a beautiful deep blush of color to the cup, and a mild flavor addition. I honestly did not detect the clove, but perhaps my teaspoon missed it!

It is a moderately aromatic tea that could serve double duty as a calming aromatherapy. Calming, but not sedating, the aroma and taste would serve well as a morning or bedtime tea. At longer steep times (twelve minutes), the tartness and tanginess of the lemon and hibiscus are stronger, but still remains one of the most gentle and subtle lemon teas I’ve experienced, and now one of my favorites!

Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type:  Herbal/Tisane
Where to Buy:  Zhi Tea

Straight from customer feedback , suggestions of lemon myrtle and more sweet healthy tea, comes this crafty and refreshing herbal tisane. Great for an afternoon with a book or a friend, this inventive blend certainly has a cool personality.

A lightly sweet, quite lemony, mildly tart cup with a soothing aroma. This blend is designed to balance; it is at once calming and gently energizing.

Organic lemon grass, hibiscus, rosehips, lemon myrtle, stevia leaf, and organic lemon extract.

100% organic caffeine-free drink. Great hot or cold!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Violet Femme Black Tea Blend from Zhi Tea

violetfemmeTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Zhi Tea

Tea Description:

Cousin to the famous Earl, we welcome the illustrious Violet Femme. Resplendent. Elegant. Complex. Mysterious.

Not so simple and definitely refined, Violet Femme takes her cues from the well-balanced Earl Grey and goes a step further with a splash of creamy vanilla and luxurious lavender. The resulting cup is evocative, aromatic, and smooth.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As some of you are probably well aware, I’ve tried many different variations on the classic Earl Grey tea.  I love Earl Grey, and I love trying new spins on the traditional favorite.  This Violet Femme Black Tea Blend from Zhi Tea is another twisted Earl Grey … and I’m loving it!

The sharp, tangy bergamot is softened by the addition of sweet, creamy vanilla and then becomes delightfully floral with the addition of lavender.  I love these three flavor profiles together!  They work very well together.

The black tea base is smooth and richly flavored and can hold its own in the presence of the strong flavors of bergamot, vanilla and lavender.  It has a bold taste to it, and it isn’t overly astringent. It doesn’t taste bitter, although I don’t know if I’d be saying that if I over-steeped the tea.  I brewed this tea at 205°F for 2 1/2 minutes in my Breville One-Touch and it produced a perfect cuppa.

The bergamot is strong but as I mentioned already, the tangy citrus has been subdued with the velvet-y vanilla notes.  Together, they taste sweet and creamy, but also deliciously exotic with lively citrus tones.  There is almost a “caramel-y” sort of quality to this … the combination of the tea, bergamot and vanilla tones offers a hint of caramel-ish low notes that I find very enjoyable.

The lavender hits the palate at about mid-sip, offering a beautifully subtle floral note.  Sometimes lavender can be overdone and end up tasting kind of soapy, but, that didn’t happen here.  Zhi Tea knew what they were doing with this blend and added just the right amount of lavender buds to offer a sweet touch of lavender without overpowering the cup.

Overall, I think that this is a masterful blend that – in my book – raises the bar when it comes to Earl Grey variations.  This is really tasty.

Apple Cider Honeybush Tea from Zhi Tea

apple_ciderTisane Information:

Leaf Type:  Honeybush

Where to Buy:  Zhi Tea

Tisane Description:

Apple cider tea. A new twist on an old favorite. Created by one of our ambitious and talented employees here at Zhi, this honeybush based herbal tea has a nice, soothing mellow flavor profile. Chock full of organic apple bits and cinnamon, the aroma is at once familiar and comforting. A zero caffeine beverage for any time of day or year, but especially great during the fall and winter as the days a darker, the air is cooler, and you just want to sit with a calming, flavorful cup of a gorgeous herbal tea.

Learn more about this tisane here.

Taster’s Review:

Yum!  I’ve tried several teas that have attempted to capture the essence of apple cider, but I think that this Apple Cider Honeybush Tea from Zhi Tea has nailed it.  I had my doubts as I was brewing it, of course, because there’s coconut in the blend (really, coconut!)  and I couldn’t help but wonder what the shreds of coconut were doing in this tea.

But, it all melds together in a really delicious way.  I noticed the coconut prominently in the first two sips, but after that, the coconut seemed to move off into the background and married with the other flavors, becoming more of a unified creamy and sweet note than a distinct coconut flavor.

Now I taste apple cider.  The apple notes are sweet, and there are notes of spice from the cinnamon and cloves.  The honeybush is not a strong, distinguished flavor, but it adds an interesting accent to the earthiness of the spices.  The vanilla tones balance everything out, offering a flavor that is not so much vanilla, but more like the aforementioned coconut, it becomes seamless with the other flavors in the cup, bringing out the sweetness of the drink.

This is a delicious, autumnal honeybush blend.  It’s something that I can see myself drinking on a regular basis!