Friday, 29 April 2011

An oasis on the Eastside

Have been reading about Zhi Tea for a while, and promised myself that when I made it back to Texas, I'd definitely make the trip to see it for myself. Am very glad I did. What a great little shop. When I was a kid, I wasn't even aware there was an Eastside of Austin. Things certainly change.

Have had a rather stressful few weeks travelling, and this was exactly what I needed. They've got plenty of loose-leaf tea for you to take home with you, but are just as happy to brew you up a pot while you're there.

Decided to go with the Iron Goddess Oolong (tie guan yin), whose leaves looked like a medium oxidation.

The first infusion's always a bit weak, but I could already tell this was more highly fermented than I expected. There was a hint of something that reminded me of a Formosa Oolong. But only a hint.

The second infusion was much more flavourful. Delicious. Very fruity and vegetal. Can feel The Iron Goddess working her magic. A bit darker cup colour and here are the leaves as they continue to expand.

The leaves don't look that much different for the third infusion here, but they are quite wild coming out of the infuser. The taste the third time round isn't quite as strong, but still delicious. Every time I drink this tea, I'm reminded of the video Leafbox Tea Called my attention to. Here it is. There's definitely still something in these leaves. I'm going for a fourth time.

Although the leaves don't look that much different, I think I like this infusion the best. There's something incredibly sweet about this time. Much lighter shade in the cup, but incredibly tasty.

They have quite a selection of different teas, and their attractive tins can be found in many places around the city. Here's a photo of one of the displays (the black teas), and below is where I sat and drank the tea and wrote this post.

Am really excited about the excitement about tea in the States. Of course, I read about it on blogs, and see fellow tea fanatics on twitter, but to be able to visit multiple tea rooms while I've been here has been a treat. If you're in Austin or happen to be visiting, you should definitely cruise over to the Eastside and check out Zhi Tea.


  1. I've haven't spent much time in TX (except my years zero though nine in Odessa) but I keep hearing cool things about Austin. I met Jeffrey (the ex-Seattle rocker who owns ZHI) at the WTE in Atlanta. He was really cool and I have sense had lots of great chats with him about tea and biz. ZHI is Awesome!

  2. Zhi is awesome! I've sampled their wares before. Particularly fond of their Peach Oolong blend.

  3. This looks good and encouraging.

    I've had some mixed experiences with Tie Guan Yin at small tea houses in places without a strong tea culture. It seems to be the "default" named oolong, so there have been a few cases where I tried it and it wasn't the best quality.

    But when you get a good one, it's exciting. =)