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Kenya Zebra Sencha Tea From Green Tea Lovers

53474125Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green Tea

Where to Buy: Green Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

Light green tea notes with floral accents and exceptionally smooth finish. Produced from an imported Japanese Sencha tea genus. Certain plots of Kosabei Estate shared similar ph levels to traditional Sencha plots in Shizuoka, Japan. The broad-leafed bushes proved highly adaptable in the Kenyan soil. The Japanese method of steaming the leaf before production is employed the final cup is bright with notes of grass, moss, honey and delicate seaweed. What makes Kenya teas so excellent (and called the Tuscany of tea) are its excellent climactic conditions and rich soil found east of Kenya’s Rift valley. This tea estate is pesticide and herbicide free. Pests can’t survive the high altitudes. Nitrogen is used as a natural fertilizer to boost yield and ensure continuous crop. The all natural farming methods produce tea of unsurpassed flavor and high antioxidant content. Grown with no pesticides needed/used due to high altitudes.

Country of Origin:
Region: Kericho
Grade: Sencha
Altitude: 6500′ ft. above sea level
Manuf. Type: Orthodox
Infusion: Rich russet gold.
Ingredients: Luxury green tea

An Ethical Tea Partnership and Fair Trade Tea.

Hot Tea: This tea is best enjoyed by pouring 180F/90C water over the leaves (1 tsp per cup) for 3 minutes (longer=stronger). Don’t remove the leaves. Can be infused repeatedly 2-3 times using higher temperatures & shorter infusions until flavor is exhausted.

Iced Tea: Pour 1 1/4 cups of hot water over 6 teaspoons of tea and steep for 5 minutes. Pour into pitcher while straining leaves, add ice and top up with cold water to make a quart of iced tea. Garnish and sweeten to taste.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

My sample package of this tea says Kenya Zebra Sencha Tea From Green Tea Lovers or Sencha Zebra (Kenya) as it is listed on their website is an interesting green tea.  The leaves are unlike other Senchas or Green Teas I have had before.  These appear to be a greyish-light-brown that are randomly flattened but not completely flatted such as those you would see being paper thin…these have a three- layer dimensional view to them.  The aroma of the dry leaf is more reminiscent of a gentle pu-erh than a green.

Once you infuse this leaf in hot water the tea water is a little cloudy and more of a mucky color instead of a vibrant yellow or green or combo of the two.  The aroma of the tea post-infusion is certainly more of a roasted green or even that of a roasted oolong that I have sniffed in the past.

The first sip of this Kenya Zebra Sencha Tea From Green Tea Lovers – I have to say I wasn’t overly impressed with – however – I know to always give teas a 2nd chance once it has time to cool at room temperature for a bit.  Glad I did because my 2nd sip was far better than my 1st.  This green tea isn’t a mouth watering green tea, nor is it a vibrant or springy green tea.  It’s more of an earthy and roasted green tea.  It has a character and identity of it’s own.  It’s pretty good and I always enjoy trying more teas from Kenya.


Golden Kenya Black Tea GFBOP from Upton Tea

TK40-@DFL-dry leaf imageTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Tea

Where to Buy: Upton Tea

Tea Description:

This tea is no longer in the Upton Tea Catalog however I thought it was worth a mention due to its heavy black tea tastes.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Golden Kenya Black Tea GFBOP from Upton Tea is no longer in their catalog but the closely searched and suggested teas that are seem to be their Milima Estate Kenya GFOP and Milima Estate Kenya OP in case you are interested in somewhat comparable teas.

As for my thoughts, opinions, and findings on Upton Tea’s Golden Kenya Black Tea GFBOP – they are as follows…

Golden Kenya Black Tea GFBOP infuses to a very dark brown and has a strong and sturdy black tea taste.  Therefore I find it to be exceptional in the morning as a nice ‘wake me up’ tea.  There are cocoa notes, too, especially on the end sip.  There are deep and dark black plum notes that are barely there as well.

I once tried this iced and at the beginning of the sip found interesting floral notes as well.  I though this was pretty fascinating as I didn’t notice those notes with the hot cuppa.

Golden Kenya Black Tea GFBOP from Upton Tea was a mighty fine offering and I hope they bring it back at some point.  In the meantime I am looking forward to seeing if their other Kenyan Teas are comparable.


Rington’s Kenyan Gold Tea from Rington’s Premium English Teas

kenyanRingtonsTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Rington’s Tea

Tea Description:

Unlike some traditional teas, Kenyan teas are produced in ways that make them perfect for teabags – fast infusing and full of flavour. Tea grown east of the Rift Valley is widely considered to be some of the best quality tea in the world, that’s why our Kenyan Gold blend is sourced exclusively from this region. We specially seal these teas on the estates to ensure they are as fresh and flavourful as possible, producing a fuller, smoother taste. It’s what Ringtons are good at.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Kenyan Gold Black is a bagged tea from Ringtons, a UK tea company. At first glance, it looks like a typical bagged black tea. It’s in a square paper bag, and is about half full with finely shredded leaf. The scent is typical “black tea”. I used one bag for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. It brewed up to a fairly dark golden-brown, so I added a splash of milk.

I half expected this one to be either bready or chocolatey, given that it’s a Kenyan tea and described as “gold”. Possibly my previous experiences led me astray a little, though, as this one really isn’t either of those things. What it is is moderately malty, with the molasses-like sweetness that implies. It’s fairly one-note in that respect, though, except for a very mild smokiness kicking around in the background. It’s quite a strong, hearty brew with a lot of body, and is almost thick-tasting and chewable. Such texture! The flavour lingers nicely into the aftertaste, making this a very satisfying, flavourful cup. It doesn’t have much subtlety, but that’s a very small criticism.

I enjoyed this one. It’s a reliable, everyday kind of tea – not particularly unique, but strong and wonderfully malty. It’s a tea I’d definitely revisit.

Kenya Marula Black Tea from McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

McQuarriesLogoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

Tea Description:

Flavourful African black tea from Kaimosi, an exotic combination of sweet banana with the tart, fresh taste of the yellow-gold African Marula fruit.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

McQuarrie’s is a local loose leaf tea and coffee store; the kind I feel like most larger cities have at least one of – usually privately owned, and not part of a chain of any kind. They source their teas from other companies, such as the Metropolitan Tea Company and are an interesting middle ground between more commercial/branded loose leaf companies such as Teavana or DAVIDsTEA which can act as ‘gateway’ loose leaf shops and less commercial, higher quality stores for more seasoned tea drinkers. If that makes sense at all. This tea in particular is sourced from a larger manufacturer called Wollenhaupt tea, however it doesn’t appear to be currently listed on their website.

According to my Aunt, McQuarrie’s has ‘probably been around longer than she has’. It’s, of course, right in the heart of my cities’ more ‘hipster’ area with all of the other stores that specialize in more obscure hobbies/interests and fancier, offbeat cafes and such. My roommate, coincidentally, happens to work at one of those restaurants!

I picked this one up in person; it’s always kind of nice shopping in person because you don’t have to blindly purchase something just based on the description or other people’s reviews. I got to see and smell this before hand! The smell was definitely very banana and that certainly made me excited because it’s been a while since I’ve had a good banana tea with a black base – right now 52Tea’s Butterscotch Banana is sticking out in memory but it’s been an awfully long time since having it. The marula was very interesting too; other than knowing it’s an exotic fruit I have no experience or familiarity with it so that absolutely caught my attention.

It seemed, overall, like a very interesting find from my local store!

I cold brewed my sample – someone recently called me the ‘Queen of Cold Brew’ and that may be pretty accurate. I will cold brew just about anything, especially at this time of the year.

This had a very interesting flavour! The banana was the dominant note; it was almost sickly sweet and tread a thin  line between realistic, overripe banana and banana candy. It struck up fairly vivid recollections of two things. The first was the banana liquer that I currently have in my fridge, which is very sugary and sweet. The second thing was Khao Tom Mad which is a Thai dessert made of banana, sticky rice and coconut milk served in either a banana or coconut leaf. I’ve only had it once, but it was pretty amazing – maybe even life changing. I definitely think some of the sweetness of the banana comes from the blackberry leaves; my experience with them has been that they tend to made fruit flavours really, really pop.

I don’t have a familiarity with marula, but I’m told by my roommate that it’s supposed to taste a little bit like guava. I don’t know if I necessarily got that with this blend – though I did get a little bit of tartness which the roomie says is probably from the marula. It was quite mild though and didn’t play much into the overall dynamic of the tea. I am a little bit sad the marula didn’t have more of an impact on the taste – I love when I get the chance to experience new flavours in tea.

The rest of the tea was supporting notes for the banana; both mild cinnamon and a bit of drier wood notes were present. The finish was the biggest let down for the tea though; there was a light sudsy/soapy flavour than was unpleasant and slightly lingering. I first thought that the wood was a little weird to have been coming from the rooibos in the blend, which was my initial assumption – but then I remembered that one of the listed ingredients is lapacho. Aha! I’ve had bad experiences with lapacho, including soapy notes and very dry hardly palatable wood notes. I definitely do NOT see the appeal of lapacho. Fortunately, it was quite mild here. It would certainly explain both the soapy notes and the off wood notes, though.

Overall this tea was pretty interesting, and a bit of a rollercoaster. It had an incredible beginning with some of the tastiest banana notes I’ve had in a very, very long time and the middle was pretty solid too but the weird lack of anything Marula, of which the tea is named after, and unfortunate presence of Lapacho made for a bit of a disappointing finish.

Still a worthwhile try though given how unique it is, and something I’ll continue to personally fiddle around with. I’m determined to taste some marula!

Kenyan Chai from 52Teas

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Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  52Teas

Tea Description:

We had some rich GFOP Kenyan black tea which I thought would be great for a chai blend, but I wanted to combine the Kenyan tea with spices that are more specific to Kenya . . . the Ras el Hanout that I used for this chai listed the ingredients as:

Tumeric, ginger, cinnamon, fennel, anise seed, cardamom, galangal, anise star, cayenne pepper, garlic, nigella, paprika, rosebuds, salt, ajwan seeds, lavender blossoms, mace and other spices.”

Whatever is in it, it is very fragrant, and it makes a lovely and interesting chai that is at once familiar and still just different enough to make it unique. You’re going to want to get your hands on some of this tea. I’m really looking forward to hearing what you guys think about it.

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about 52Teas’ subscriptions here.

Taster’s Review:

This is different.  And as I’ve said before, different is good and that definitely applies in the case of this Kenyan Chai from 52Teas.

I could smell the spices as soon as I opened the pouch.  The aroma here is different from the typical chai – I’m not smelling a strong ginger note like I would probably notice in a Masala chai blend.  I am picking up on a hint of cinnamon, but mostly what I’m smelling is tumeric.  Subtle notes of anise.  Some floral notes.  But mostly, tumeric.

The overall fragrance reminds me a bit of what I’d smell if I walked into an Indian restaurant, actually.  Or perhaps a restaurant that offers Middle Eastern Cuisine.

Which is in itself interesting since I’d probably be more likely to get a more familiar Masala chai tea blend at the Indian restaurant than I would get something like this Kenyan Chai.  Although at our local African Restaurant, they serve “chai” which is also the more familiar Masala blend type chai.  Incidentally, they also serve Middle Eastern cuisine at that restaurant.

To brew this chai, I put 1 bamboo scoop of the tea and 12 ounces of boiling water into my Kati tumbler and let it steep for 3 minutes.  The scent that filled the kitchen was rather delightful!

After it finished steeping, I took a wee sip to see if I wanted to add anything to the cup.  I decided to forgo the ‘latte’ with this (although I think a latte would be quite interesting!  I might have to try that next time!) but I did add a little less than half a teaspoon of raw sugar to the cup to accentuate the spices.  Sugar and spice goes nice together, and the sugar seems to elevate the flavors of the spices just a bit.

And wow!  I’m really liking this blend.  It’s certainly different, mind you.  This is not like any chai you’re likely to find anywhere else.  But as I said at the start, different is good.  It’s not overly spicy and these particular spices give this cup a more savory flavor than ‘spicy’ or even ‘warm’ flavor.  It’s more like a really unique, savory cuppa that I really like.

The black tea is rich and robust.  Now that I have nearly finished the cup, I don’t know if latte is the way to go with this.  I don’t know how well they’d fair with the creamy element since this isn’t a spicy-sweet type of chai, this is more of a warm-savory type of chai.

As I write this review, I see that there are still 20 pouches of this tea left which kind of surprises me!  If you haven’t gotten yours yet, you really should get on over to Zoomdweebies and pick up a pouch of it – this one is a unique and really quite tasty blend.