Part IV: Halmari CTC BOP (TA 27) vs. Nahorhabi Estate BOP CTC Cl. (TA 18)
The long-delayed fourth round! This time it’s two single-estate teas going head-to-head. With their more impressive pedigrees than previous competitors, I imagine they’re donning elbow-length white gloves instead of boxing gloves.
Dry leaf: Both teas are CTC (crush-tear-curl) process, so they take the form of tiny rolled-up balls rather than leaves. The Halmari has more of the “Grape Nuts” appearance that many of us associate with CTC teas; the Nahorhabi tea balls are smaller and less perfectly round. The Halmari has a subtle aroma of lightly toasted bread. I did not discern any distinctive scent in the Nahorhabi.
When the two teas were brewed, the Halmari produced a liquor that was lighter and browner; the Nahorhabi liquor was deeper in color and had a more reddish tone. (Note: In this round, the teas were brewed with 8 oz. boiling water rather than the Showdown standard of 6 oz. I’d like to pretend there was a rationale for this, but the truth is that I just forgot to stop pouring. :)). Accordingly, I added a little less almond milk to the Halmari.
When tasted, the Halmari had a pronounced biscuity flavor that was quite pleasing. The Nahorhabi had a somewhat richer, maltier character. Interestingly, when I drank the longer-steeped dregs from the brewing vessels (Pyrex cups) after downing the “official” test cups, the Halmari tasted more bitter.
In this (highly subjective) decision, I give the edge to the Nahorhabi, for its deeper color (I’m a sucker for that reddish hue), more complex character and greater tolerance of oversteeping. I think it would be an excellent choice for anyone looking for a morning Assam that is full-bodied but not at all harsh. The Halmari would be my pick when I’m seeking that distinctive biscuity flavor; I can see it working well for afternoon tea. It might also be the better choice for someone who drinks Assam without milk (a concept I have trouble grasping :lol). Just be sure not to let it steep longer than the recommended three minutes.