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Love tea? Try a tea tasting at Zen Tara Tea

I'm sure you've all heard of wine tastings and afternoon teas. I've been to both and am quite a fan. But I've never attended a tea tasting...that is not until Nicole let me know that Zen Tara Tea in Bethesda, MD holds such events at its store. We both bought tickets and attended their Tea as Dessert this past Sunday.

So what's a tea tasting like? This particular tea tasting was held in a little room, was attended about 10 people and led by Guy, who was very knowledgeable store employee (sorry, forgot his name).

There were a total of six teas we've sampled while learning their origins, special brewing instructions and benefits.

Below are the teas we've sampled with some information I found most interesting and my tasting notes!

1. Peach Blossom White (from China) {I took pictures of lose tea in its dry form and brewed}
  • turns out that when using white or green tea, you can brew the tea more than once: quite economical. Of course the first time you brew the tea, the flavor will be the strongest
  • best white teas come from China
  • this tea included citrus notes and a bit of floral scent on top of peach flavor
  • My thoughts: the taste was slightly bitter and did not have a natural sweetness I'd expect from a peach tea 

2. Tropical Coconut Oolong (from Taiwan)
  • this tea "marries the lively taste of tropical coconut with the warm base note of roasted lemongrass"
  • My thoughts: interestingly I did not get any coconut flavor at all; the tea also had a creamy taste and almost coated your mouth...reminded me of sake

3. Tropical Green Tea (from India)

  • this is a combination of organic lemon verbena, orange peel, pineapple and passion fruit flavors with green tea
  • green teas are high in antioxidants
  • you increase the healthful benefits of green teas by pairing them with citrus
  • My thoughts: this tea blend smelled amazing: it'd be a great scent for a candle, but the taste did not measure up. My favorite part was an apricot pastry that accompanied this tea.

4. Cinnamon Vanilla Rooibos (from South Africa)
  • "this tea offers a great flavor kick without the caffeine"
  • 1 teaspoon of this tea = 28 mg of calcium, almost 1 mg of iron, and over a gram of fiber, + vitamins C and K
  • cinnamon is used for digestive ailments, to moderate blood sugar levels and as a mild anti-inflammatory
  • My thoughts: without a doubt the cinnamon flavor came through. In fact, Nicole hit it on the head: it tasted like Big Red!
Quick note: while all of us tasted tea from plastic cups, one lucky participant got to experience drinking tea from real cups. I asked to borrow a few of them for the sake of photos: they are so pretty!

5. Apple Torte Black Tea (from India)
  • this tea pairs apple flavor with cinnamon and vanilla
  • My thoughts: sorry to say, but I did not like this at all. You'd think the apple flavor would really come through. But in this case it just did not. I'd rather eat a fresh apple....or even better an apple pie or cake!  

6. Chocolate Chip Cream (from India)
  • the blend includes organic black tea, actual chocolate pieces and both chocolate and vanilla flavors
  • My thoughts: the tea smelled great: chocolaty and sweet, but the taste was bitter. Sugar anyone?  

Despite the fact that I wasn't a big fan of any of the teas, I had a great time! I learned about different origins of teas and flavor combinations and realized that the teas I already drink and like are the ones I should stick to (at least for now): my favorite ones are fruit teas, mint tea and the Reconfortant one from Aveda.

The most valuable thing I learned from this tasting: when brewing tea, allow the boiled water to sit 4-5 minutes before adding your tea leaves.

Your turn: 1) have you gone to a tea tasting? What are your thoughts? 2) What are your favorite teas?


Make It Naked said...

Wegmans has an awesome loose tea section and I tried a coconut chocolate black tea that is like dessert in a cup. It's got chocolate chips in it?!?! The coconut isn't strong in that one either. It's masked by the chocolate. It's really interesting.

The Purple Carrot said...

I would love to go to a tea tasting, looks like so much fun.

Laura said...

This sounds like a delicious and fun way to spend a Sunday... I'll have to give this tea tasting a try! Thanks for sharing this little look at your tea tasting experience!

sally said...

What a fun activity! I'll have to look for something similar in my area.

Unknown said...

Id love to do a tea tasting one day. Living in England, and going to afternoon tea, you are always presented with a huge tea menu. I am always a bit intimidated by it and so i stick to my old favorite: English breakfast tea with milk and sugar. It goes great with cake ;)
*kisses* HH

Simones Kitchen said...

Tea is becoming more populair here too and we're seeing more and more tea related things as well. The tasting sure sounds like fun!