|"The unique combination is a delightful one from the hum of star anise amidst the perky, floral green apple, pear scent and flavour that together are a bit like tarragon."|
Upon seeing the tea, it almost seems decked out with pseudo golden armour from the bright yellow heliochrysum flowers. Shaped in medallion rounds, like gerbera daisies the size of a pencil eraser, their mass of open faces do resemble armour. Making up about half of the tea, the tea looks as much like pot pourri as tea as the flowers remain in clusters, rather than a more uniform distribution while the star anise peeks out in double cloves and full stars to keep up the fighting spirit. The leaves within the chunky blend are mostly open flat lightly fuzzy pieced leaves, like halves, thirds and quarters, of a Kelly green that is quite striking against the russet stars and lemony yellows of the flowers.
With all that stuff, the tea launches out with force, fragrantly, wielding a sweet spiciness that is most interesting. The scent is lemony first, with a tangy liveliness, and pear packed, shaping the fruitiness above a muddled spiciness. As such, the tanginess, with darting dried straw florals of the flowers, lend a combination of dried fruit and juice, like lemon dipped pears or dried pears and apple cider. Its enthusiasm is fresh and sweetly fruity with a good meter of anise without it dominating the scent.
Kindly Zen Tara offers brewing suggestions on their website for brewing one teaspoon of leaves for three minutes at 85 C. Upon brewing, the leaves become more vibrant, as if unleashing their power. The brew isn’t as pretty but it has a commanding presence with a dark, saturated yellow with a medium strong bouquet. The scent has a floral fuelled pear with a great bit of tang that lends some green skin notes to the fruitiness that kind of reminds me of lemony cooked Anjou pears or granny smith apples which isn’t quite Asian pears but certainly close. Although the pear is floral based, it’s not a perfumey floral, in a similar way that marigold resembles peach and mango, but you get a dried daisy note. Behind the sweeter pear fruitiness, there’s a light star anise adding a woody spiciness that isn’t so so licorice, complementing the pear nicely. Along with the pear, it actually nods to tarragon. The white tea likely adds the bit of green or blends in somewhere but isn’t overtly noticeable and there’s a hint of lake water to the scent. With the natural nice sweet fruitiness, it’s a heroically chipper aroma. The tea forges ahead valiantly in the cup with a welcoming brightly smooth floral pear flavour. Although you can taste the floral element of the flowers to the pear flavour, it remains fruity with a valiant green apple pear with the dynamic of a fruit based blend to be almost juice like. As such, the bit of tartness has a green freshness to it rather than a honeyed kind of sweetness of bosc pears, yet, still pleasantly sweet, it resembles drink crystals some. A slight waxiness or straw flavour from the flowers also contributes a sense of skin to the flavour. Happily too, the star anise, which can often be controlling, is in a dandy balance, darting through the pear with its earthy spiciness and a sweet calm. With a medium body, the tea has a pleasing flow where the white tea comes through, more so than standing up apart from the rest of the flavours going on. From a light finish, the tea has a last jab of sweet pear and star anise in a medium aftertaste in one’s mouth.
Upon re-steeping, there’s still some fight left to much delight. The medium light aroma still has spunk with a bit of tartness to the floral-ish pear that reminds me a bit of drink crystals despite seeming quite natural, perhaps from the light dried pot pourri, reeds sculpt to the floral notes. The star anise also continues to infuse the scent, nicely in balance. The flavour isn’t quite as fruity, with more of the greenness of the leaves emerging but the cup still has some force and a mild anise to be more tarragon like. The sip is a touch numbing from the licorice as it finishes with a light straw, rice aftertaste. While a third infusion continues to have a slight juicy tartness to the scent, it also smells almost viscous or thick with more pod notes from the star anise than spiciness, despite a lighter colour. The cup retains a mild floral tinge to a light licorice in a very muted rice flavour to spar although, there is some mineral tugs to the flow so a third cup is up to one’s mood. Zen Tara recommends two steeps but I can never quite help seeing just how much run a tea has for one's money.
Yet, from the star studded uniform of Zen Tara’s Asian Pear and Spice, the tea packs a very friendly pear punch. While the tea isn’t as spicy as I might have expected, the star anise is in a great force. Plus, the floral spun pear is a novel move and naturally triumphant enough to keep one on one’s toes, even Xena.
— To purchase Zen Tara Asian Pear and Spice White Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.
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