I have an odd relationship with lavender; while I don’t really care for the scent of it at all (and that’s the way it’s most commonly used here in the U.S.), I do enjoy the flavor of it, particularly combined with other flavors. Lavender and tea is a natural pairing in my eyes. When I have lavender teas, I most commonly choose black teas with this assertive flower, but there’s every reason for it to blend well with the clean, grassy notes of green teas as well, not to mention making a refreshing change from the traditional blend of jasmine with green tea. And so I was intrigued by Lavender Zen from DAVIDsTea, which blends a Tibetan green tea with lavender flowers.
The initial scent of this tea out of the package is decidedly lavender, but it’s not heavy or overwhelming; there’s a clean note to it, the fragrance of the tea itself coming out as a green, balancing note underlying the flowers. I find the appearance of the dried tea really attractive, a lovely combination of the purple lavender petals and the soft brown-green of the tea leaves. This is nice enough to be put in a bowl as potpourri, except that it would be a waste of good tea.
I prepared my first infusion of this (Western-style, using a Swissgold infuser and a stoneware pot, brewed for the recommended three minutes) on a chilly early spring evening, when winter was still hanging tenaciously in the air, and the scent of the tea as it infused was like a promise of warmer days. It had a mild, soft character that reminded me of a soft breeze on a spring afternoon, and a lovely floral note like flowers on the wind. It didn’t smell “lavendery,” that strong, almost antiseptic scent that too much lavender can have, but rather was sweet and pleasant, just recognizable as floral without being anything too specific or overwhelming. The color of the tea was a pale, clear green, like the shade of budding leaves or flowers before they open.
The first taste of the tea carried through this springlike, softly-floral motif; it was pleasant and light, although it did have a bit more of a “perfumey” character than just the scent alone. In the middle, it surprised me, becoming unexpectedly mouth-filling and with a surprising toasted note, very much like a traditional bancha, and without much evidence of the lavender; I found this really enjoyable, though more of the lavender flavor would have been nice. The finish was very traditionally “green,” with a strong herbal character, and it was rather astringent.
Overall, I think this tea lives up to its billing as being relaxing–certainly, the echoes of spring it brought helped cheer and calm me after an unusually long winter. I really appreciate that it’s not strongly “medicinal,” the way some lavender teas can be, nor overtly flowery. I do wish the flavor was a little more assertive, and that the overall blend of the green and lavender notes was more refined. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my time with this tea (and plan to again), and I think it’s a good bet for those who would like a green tea with something a little different about it.
April 29, 2009 at 1:02 pm
Reading your excellent review I’m wondering if I actually dislike lavender as much as I think I do. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted it, but I loathe the smell of it, whether it’s in the form of actual flowers or artificial, in incense, soaps, candles, etc. I’ve never tried to get beyond that.
May 5, 2009 at 6:49 am
Beautifully written, I am a huge fan of this tea. And your blog! DavidsTea FTW!
May 19, 2009 at 7:38 pm
Thank you for reading! I’ve been really impressed with the quality of the teas from DAVIDsTEA in general.