39 Tasting Notes
This is a simple tea that will neither dazzle nor disappoint, but will not supplant your morning startup cup or take the place of those you crave. The tea is medium bodied and lighter than black teas from other regions. The flavor is muted malt with a hint of spiciness, and it brews quickly to almost an Assam-like red hue and aroma, but certainly not as full in the mouth as an Assam. I do not find myself drinking this tea at the expense of others in my cupboard but instead have become rather fond of using this tea as a component in black and black/green blends, especially japanese sencha. Due to its lighter body, it has turned out to be excellent for blends that include safflower, sunflower, tropical fruits, citrus, marigold, among others. This translates into some interesting and refreshing iced teas that do not consume your more expensive teas which are best served hot.
The leaves are long and rather aesthetically interesting – a mixture of frosted green with lighter down-covered leaves populate the tin. As far as aroma of dry teas go, this is a clear favorite, it is simply delicious to smell. The leaves brighten as they brew, to a lively green-yellow that is slightly brighter than tea, which makes for an attractive setup. The aroma in the cup is rather pleasant as well. I find this tea to be very elegant, not at all buttery and just mildly earthy. The brewed color is a light pale translucent green – but be on guard, it steeps quickly and does not get darker. The body has the feel of a medium tea in the mouth, and is rather crisp and more mellow than some of the Japanese greens. This tea is a unique green and one I intend to have in constant supply.
This is plainly a very satisfying first cup of tea. It is extremely smooth with a subtle but declarative scent and a medium-full body taste in the mouth. While I prefer the Nahorhabi 2010, this is a very solid Assam. I have shared this with many coworkers, some of whom drink tea and others who are coffee drinkers, and they all enjoyed it. I suspect this tea will be enjoyed by many, not as an absolute favorite but certainly a reliable cup.
The leaves are a very fine dark brown with just a few grays to represent the experience contained in this tea. At once one will recognize the unique scent of this tea – an unmistakable smokiness beckons your sip. My first reaction to this tea was strongly towards a similarity to some coffees, but after about a cup and thinking about why this connection rose into my consciousness, I realized this was so because the distinctive taste stays with you as you exhale, especially through the nose. Coffee has a similar effect, a lingering aftertaste. The taste, however, is not that of coffee, there is a cocoa note underwritten by the tea’s characteristic smokiness. I had not previously been fond of Keemun’s but this is rather an exception, the swift kick it gives has grown on me and I drink this tea when I need to concentrate or get moving.
This tea has a pleasantly surprising smoothness for a dark Assam and while not completely immune from going bitter, it takes a good deal of steeping amnesia for this to happen. Despite really letting loose on this one – pouring a full boil and even a spoon squeeze of the leaves after 4 minutes, it still brewed strong but with rich yet balanced, enjoyable flavor with some natural honey-like sweetness. This cup epitomizes a deep cup of tea – dark brewed with unmistakable character that declares its quality above many other black teas. The experience is unforgettable enough that I was able to remember the name of the estate and recommend this Assam to others while it is still available.
I have enjoyed this tea iced as well in the summer months – brewing it strong in quantity but not increasing steep time. It pairs well with light, sweet citrus.
This is currently my preferred Assam, though I have ordered some of the new Mangalam and Satisphur varieties and will testify for those once they arrive.
For those that like a darker oolong, this tea will not disappoint. The leaves resemble Da Hong Pao in appearance, though somewhat lighter colored with hints of an evergreen tone, and slightly thinner. The aroma of the dry leaves is rather pleasing and I imagine they’d do just fine as a component of a potpourri. The scent is of an elegant toasted dried peach liqueur and is rather inviting.
For this tea, I use almost boiling water and steep for a good 4-5 minutes. Unlike other oolongs it takes the hotter water quite well and returns a beautiful amber colored brew that is aromatic. It is somewhat similar in appearance to Wuyi Cassia as it is from that region, but has a more robust flavor with a satisfying bite (but not astringent) if one prefers a deeper steep. The tea fills the mouth shyly with a medium body and leaves behind a soothing finish. I find I favor this tea in the autumn and winter and tend to gravitate towards the lighter Ali San or Ti Quan Yin varieties in spring and summer, though the flavor is enough to satisfy any season.
As with all teas I consume, I do not use milk or sugar, and prefer to gain my insights from the pure tea itself. This no doubt is an insightful tea.
The tea brews a translucent pale yellow-green and has a distinctive and inviting buttery floral scent. The leaves are rolled and need space to expand so using a strainer or pyramid is recommended over the common paper type filters. I use a kettle with a temperature gauge and set it to the front of the oolong range for this tea, which is just right. The taste of this tea I describe as savory and it coats the mouth with the buttery earthy flavor characteristic of some of the high mountain oolongs. I was able to get two steeps out of my first bag with the second being slightly more intense on the earthy side. For those that like floral or earthy oolongs this is a privilege to drink, and quite a welcome departure from firm leaf varieties like wuyi cassia or da hong pao, from which I need a short break.
Not for the faint of heart with respect to price – but because the rolled leaves expand to a great degree, just a few are needed for a perfect cup. I just re-upped and ordered another batch, as some family members also took a keen liking to this tea, which we sipped in the evening as a way to relax and put the day behind us.
This tea has grown on me once I found the brewing parameters which bring out the best in it. I find that using a little more than a teaspoon at just under 4 minutes of steep time at just under boiling works best to bring out the delectable flavors hiding in this tea. Using these parameters reveals a subtle fruit tone enveloping a truly high quality classic black tea taste without the bitterness or sting associated with some oversteeped attempts. Brewed appropriately this tea will have me licking my lips after the first few sips. It will dent the wallet but I find the tea to be a rather refined and delicate cup that I simply must have in supply.
This tea is difficult to ice – I have not had much success, preferring other congous such as the panyang. Perhaps adjusting the iced steep parameters will bear better results, and if so I will post such. That said, after mastering the brewing settings this tea has moved into my top 5 and has become a daily enjoyment due to its incredibly smooth finish and heir of sophistication. Good over a book or contemplating non-stressful things.
This was recommended in the absence of one of my favorite H&S teas, Golden Snail, which is not available for the time being. The leaves are large and resemble Golden Monkey leaves in both size and texture. I like to use a larger amount of leaves for larger or full leaf teas and steep for less time, as this allows for a second steeping of high quality. That said I left these in about 4 minutes to generate a darker tone and I was rewarded – there is a very pleasant honey cocoa aroma reminiscent of the golden monkey but this tea is a little lighter and less intense on the tongue. There is less of a bite – and I am pleased to describe how smooth the tea remains after a more intense steep. There is no smokiness or astringency.
This is a very enjoyable second cup of morning tea for me (I like to start the day with an Assam or Assam blend). It also works in early evenings when one has some time to contemplate. A very enjoyable, well-mannered tea.