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Tag: cranberry

Fruity Iced Teas With Zen Tea

With all of the recent humidity in Toronto, my iced tea pitcher has been getting a real workout! Plus, as someone who probably buys too much tea for my own good, iced tea is great because making it cold uses up more leaf than making it hot.

Of course, that would help if I didn’t keep buying new tea to brew iced. It’s pretty much a no-win situation. I have way too much tea, but it’s too tasty to stop.

Anyways, as part of my little shopping spree from Zen Tea a few months ago, I bought a few blends that seemed like they would be perfect for iced tea. Here’s a quick look.

Cranberry Mango

I bought a 10-gram sample of this tea back in February, which is the perfect size to cold-brew a litre of tea — so that’s what I did.

Pouring out the dry leaf, I was greeted by an intensely rich, juicy, fruity smell. If I hadn’t known the mix was supposed to be cranberry-mango flavoured, I would have had a hard time guessing. In fact, the whole thing smelled like gummy bears! The aroma was sweet, tart, juicy, and very vibrant.

I mean, are you surprised when you look at leaves like these? Dark green needles of broken up leaf interspersed with chunks of dried cranberry and mango. This is pretty sweet!


I took this loveliness, filled my pitcher halfway up with cold water and let it steep in the fridge for about 12 hours. The resulting brew was a golden yellow-green colour with an aroma that matched that of the dry leaf.

The taste was pretty good to match! Juicy, fruity, sweet, with a hint of the earthiness and vegetal flavour of the green tea underneath. The interplay between the base and the flavouring was really solidly balanced. The green tea flavour was kind of sharp, but not so sharp that it became bitter or seaweedy — it was fresh-tasting and green in a way that complemented the fruit well. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the final brewed product because for some reason, WordPress hates me.

You can buy Cranberry Mango green tea from Zen Tea here.

Sweet Tropical Fruits

This was another 10-gram sample that I bought a few months back. And, like the Cranberry Mango tea, I decided to steep this one directly in cold water rather than hot.

The dry leaf here was gorgeous. Strands of black tea leaves were mixed in with dried chunks of papaya, pineapple, orange peel and orange blossoms, resulting in a blend that looked delicious and festive.

The leaf smelled sweet and fruity. I wasn’t able to pick out notes of individual fruits, but the overall aroma was sweet and somewhat musty, with a strong overtone of vanilla and cream


I took the entire packet and steeped it with cold water in the fridge for about 12 hours, and added some agave nectar to heighten the sweetness.

However, the resulting tea was bitter, and the sharpness of the tea leaf base overwhelmed the fruit flavours. I got an overall soft, sweet flavour from the fruit, but it was rather generic and bland, with a strong candied note on top of the fruit notes. It was more vanilla than fruit to me. This was pretty surprising considering just how many chunks of dried fruit were visible in the dry leaf — I wasn’t expecting them to taste so weak.

Diluting the tea with some water and adding some more agave nectar helped to cut down the bitterness, but it failed to make the fruit flavours pop in a way that I was hoping for. However, the brew was a lovely peach colour — sort of a blushy pink — and that helped mitigate my disappointment with the result. I probably would have been better off filling the pitcher all the way to the top with cold water rather than halfway.


You can buy Sweet Tropical Fruits black tea from Zen Tea here.

Sweet Coconut Island

I bought this tea after a fellow Steepster user recommended it. They were gaga over it, saying it was one of their favourite fruit blends, so how could I ignore such an endorsement?

Because this was an herbal tea that contained only chunks of fruit, I decided to get 50 grams instead of only 10 — 10 grams of such a dense, heavy tea would have been too little to experiment with.

Opening up the package, I was greeted with a colourful mix of dried chunks of carrot, pineapple, coconut, apple, and pumpkin. If you look closely at the picture, you can pick out the carrot and pumpkin pieces in particular, which are a sort of muted orange here amid the white flakes of coconut and the glassy chunks of candied pineapple.


As expected, the smell was amazing — a rich, sweet, juicy smell of pina colada from the pineapple and coconut. Tropical! I was pleasantly surprised by how much the pineapple and coconut dominated the scent considering they weren’t as prominent in the dried leaf compared to the other ingredients.

Because the tea leaf was made of such thick chunks, I decided to brew this one with boiling water rather than cold water to give the pieces a chance to reconstitute properly. So I took half the package (about 27 grams), poured about 6 cups of cold water in the pitcher, let the pitcher sit on the counter for about half an hour, then put the whole thing in the fridge to cool for the rest of the day.

The resulting tea was a pale amber with a touch of cloudiness. Maybe it was the coconut that made it cloudy, or that there was so much dried fruit in general? It looked very promising.

However, the promise didn’t hold up to the taste. While I certainly did taste pineapple and coconut, to me the carrot and pumpkin flavours won out. They made the whole thing taste starchy and pale, rather than juicy and vibrant like I was expecting. I still have half the packet left, so I’ll need to see how it tastes when brewed with less water. Right now, though, this tea was a bit of a letdown.


You can buy Sweet Coconut Island fruit tea from Zen Tea here.

Another 52Teas Roundup

I’ve been on a little bit of a 52Teas kick lately — since they come up with a new flavour every week, every new visit feels like a treasure hunt. First, I reviewed their Christmas teas. Then, I took a look at a few of their reblends from the fall. Now, I’m looking at even more teas I bought from them as a result of a sale they had around Christmas time. I took advantage  of their sale to get some more of that amazing Cranberry Orange Cider rooibos, plus a few other random flavours that caught my eye.

Mulled Cider Green Tea

This was an additional holiday-themed tea that Anne, the owner and blender, did not include in last year’s Kickstarter campaign. I bought it on the strength of the Cranberry Orange Cider rooibos that I liked so much, and let’s just say this: the Mulled Cider Green Tea did not disappoint. I mean, look at this:


In that spoonful you can see apple chunks, green tea, dried orange wedges, and possibly some cinnamon chips. I love the fact that you can see so much fruit in Anne’s blends. The whole thing smells like apple pie, or like an apple-cinnamon colour: in addition to the obvious fruit and spice notes, I also sense a sweet pastry note like dough or pie crust.

Give the whole thing a quick 2-minute steep in 80°C water, followed by a 15-minute rest, and you get a cup of golden liquid ready for tasting. Voila:


I gave it a little bit of agave nectar to sweeten things up once I was ready to drink and damn, it’s tasty. It tastes like apple pie! Or like I’m having a really nice deep-fried apple pastry dusted with cinnamon sugar. There’s just this really interesting sweet, powdery note like baked goods creeping in there, and I like it.

Ordinarily I’m not a huge fan of green tea mixed in with cinnamon/chai spices, but adding the extra orange and apple in to balance things out does the trick — it’s very harmonious, neither too sweet nor too vegetal or sharp. This is pretty yummy.

Cranberry Creme Black Tea

I bought this because I was still smitten with memories of the Cranberry Orange Cider tea from before. Once I saw that this tea had whole cranberries in it, I went gimme and added it to the cart. Moar cranberries!

The ingredients for this include black tea, vanilla pieces, freeze-dried cranberries, and cinnamon chips. And yup, the dry leaf delivers; the spoonful that I took a huge cranberry inside it. Behold!


The dry tea smells sweet but muted: although I can smell the fruitiness of the cranberry and the sweetness of the vanilla and cinnamon, it doesn’t have the vibrant bounce I expected. The smell was a cross between cough syrup (unfortunate, I know) and those Campino fruit-and-cream candies.

Luckily, the tea seemed more promising after brewing it up. I took 1.5 teaspoons, let it steep in just-boiled water for 3 minutes, let it sit for 10 minutes to cool, added some agave nectar, and was greeted with a tall dark cup of gorgeousness:


I smelled cranberry juice and vanilla, but underneath all of that, like a big beautiful mattress of deliciousness, was CHOCOLATE. It smelled like dark chocolate covered cranberries!

And it TASTED like dark chocolate coverered cranberries too! The base tea comes through rich and thick, like dark chocolate, and the vanilla pieces here give it an amazing depth and fullness of flavour; this tea has such a thick, full mouthfeel that I felt like a chipmunk with big, fat, pinchy cheeks crammed with tea.

Seriously. Chocolate covered cranberries. I was not expecting that.

Rainbow Sherbet Black Tea

Rainbow Sherbet sounded like a can’t-miss flavour to try: I was really wondering how the cool, creamy flavour would translate into tea form. Plus, I couldn’t resist the idea of a tea that contained oranges, raspberry and lime.

When you open the package up, it really does smell like rainbow sherbet! It’s tangy, it’s fruity, and it’s in your face — it totally smells the bright neon, multicoloured sorbet you’d get at a Baskin Robbins, with that obnoxious, kid-friendly sugariness intact. The addition of vanilla adds a softness and powderiness to the flavour that also makes the whole thing reminiscent of fruit-flavoured marshmallow.


And yup, the label does not disappoint once you actually scoop some of this stuff out and check the dry leaf for yourself: pieces of orange and raspberry are vibrant flecks against the black leaf.

I did the same drill as with the Cranberry Creme tea: same measurements, steeping time, resting time, and same level of agave nectar. In the end, I got a dark umber-coloured tea with cool undertones, smelling richly of lime, raspberry and vanilla.


However, unlike what I was expecting given the strong smell of the dry leaf, this tea does not knock you over with fruit flavour upon the first sip. I got some fruit, but the two strongest flavours were the vanilla and the dark chocolate notes  of the base tea itself (like the Cranberry Creme tea above).

Further sips give a bit more clarity on the situation: the vanilla flavour shows up mostly at the back of the mouth, while the fruit flavours show up the most strongly when I exhale after taking a sip: once I breathed out, I could smell it richly and feel the flavours dancing around my hard palate. Overall, though, the base tea is the strongest flavour here. Considering that the base itself is so rich and chocolate-flavoured, I still consider it a win.


Honestly, all 3 of these teas were winners, though I think the Cranberry Creme beats the Mulled Cider tea by a hair for the gold medal, with the Rainbow Sherbet getting the bronze.

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