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Recent Tasting Notes
Had to go to Wiki How to make a cup – there aren’t any instructions on the box! This a tea powder and needs to be cooked in a pot on the stove then strained into a mug. Made with half milk and half water it is a very good breakfast tea. It is strong, a bit sharp and a little spicy. Added two teaspoons of sugar and enjoyed very much. A+ will make again and recommend to others.
When I visited Trinidad my Grandma had a lot of this tea, and I grew very used to it while I was there. It’s very rich and doesn’t taste anything like the tea I’ve had in America. It’s yummy with whole milk and cane sugar. I took back two boxes of the tea and hopefully I can drink it sparingly.
I lived off this tea when I visited Belize last summer. It’s your normal staple black tea just like that little black dress that everyone has one time in there life. I don’t know if it was a lack of tea over there but I had to buy it in bulk and bring it back home. I’m sad to say this is the first time I have had it since I have been back, since last September… And it tastes just like it did last summer… Simple.
I am tasting some teas in my collection tonight. I made a cup of Harney & Sons’ English Breakfast (the 100% Keemun variety), and a cup of Taj Mahal. I made them in identical mugs, and for the life of me I cannot tell which is which. They both have a malty richness to them. I think the English Breakfast is the one with a “rounder” flavor, but I can’t be sure. I even looked up the ingredients because I could swear Taj Mahal is Keemun, from this little mix-up. Is it not?
A friend returning from Sri Lanka brought me a saree and a loose bag of Ceylonta tea. I didn’t really know what to expect since the package wasn’t in English, but I did a little searching, and it turns out this tea used to be a line from Lipton (the previous Brooke Bond, whom is also responsible for PG Tips) that was publicly rebranded by Unilever in 2010. Anyway – to the review.
This tea is like crack.
I drink it at work in the morning, in the afternoon, and then when I get home. I’ll consume literally up to two litres of it in a day. It’s simple, but it’s anything but plain. The flavours are robust, clear, and it’s near impossible to mess up brewing. So simple, but so good.
Definitely a hardcore Assam CTC tea, which is next to impossible to enjoy if not brewed correctly. Great for either plain with a twist of lemon and some sugar(sorry, honey doesn’t go well here). Or great to prepare a cup of Indian Chai.
Below is how to make your own good chai at home(skip it you do not care for it) :)
Water – one cup
Milk(whole) – 3/4 cup (depends on taste, so be careful)
Sugar – 2 teaspoon (agan depends on taste)
Ginger – 1/2 inch (mash it up)
Green Cardamom – 2-3 (just crush it, whole – do not leave the covers)
Good Assam/Darjeeling Tea – Tata Tea Gold(blend of CTC & Long leaf tea) – 1.5 teaspoon
1. Heat up the water, DO NOT let it come to a rolling boil.
2. Once you see the bubbles forming up, put in the tea & ginger.
3. Most Important – Let it remain in low heat itself for about 8-10 minutes. If you heat it up a lot then the tea will become bitter, but less heat and long time imparts all the flavour.
4. Add Milk & Sugar, push up the heat to Medium and let it come to boil for once.
5. Add Cardamon – Let it Boil for a second time, a take it off the stove top.
6. Wait for couple of minutes before you filter it out. Do not sqeeze the filter at all.
Use more Cardamom in Summer time, and more of Ginger in winter. The dominant spice normally vary according to the season. Also cardamom oil is not a substitute for real cardamom in this tea.
Now its time to enjoy a real cup of Chai. :)
It’s a CTC tea, so you need a very short brewing time if you brew it in water. The ideal way to prepare it, though, is to make Indian chai, with whole milk and water about 50:50. For two mugs, bring to boil in a saucepan a cup of water. Add tea, sugar, cardamom, fresh ginger, and cinnamon stick. (I use 2 cardomom pods per cup, about a teaspoon of finely chopped ginger, and 1/4 of a cinnamon stick. Black pepper is also nice. If you use clove, use it sparingly. To increase flavor, roughly grind the cardamom, cinnamon, and any other whole spices with a mortar & pestle). Meanwhile, microwave a cup of milk until scalded (about 1:30 per cup). Add hot milk to the boiling (yes, leave the heat on!) tea & spice mix. Return to a boil. Let it foam to the brim. Remove from heat until foam drops. Return to heat to foam up two more times: the chai should finally be a lovely caramel color. Strain through a fine sieve & enjoy – goes great with bhel puri or samosas or other spicy Indian street snacks.
A really quick (non spiced) alternative is to steep for 2-3 minutes in water and use a healthy dollop of evaporated milk. Treat CTC roughly, add lots of milk, sugar, and spices, and it’ll treat you nice.
So how good can a tea for $3.99 for a pound box of loose “leaf” tea, purchased on a whim at an Ethiopian market be? It turns out far better than I was expecting, and even better than other higher priced assam teas I’ve had. I typically drink Chinese teas and I didn’t have a typical english style tea pot to brew this in the proper english style, so I resourcefully used my trusty gaiwan. The dry tea has peat potting/ soil look to it and a malty scent, similar to a golden monkey or some of the Yunnan blacks that I’ve really enjoyed. My first cuppa, I went pretty heavy on the leaf, a heaping teaspoon in a 6 oz gaiwan. I steeped the tea in 210 F water for a little over a minute and poured out a very bright brilliant red cup of tea. I let it cool for a bit and took a sip expecting an insipid, soup of tannins and bitterness but was rather instead treated to fairly complex maltiness, followed sweetness detected at the point the mouth meets the throat, followed by a brisk yet mild astringency. The tea is actually smooth, and fills and coats the mouth entirely. It is rare for me to drink the same tea throughout the day, but I have enjoyed 3 sessions of this tea trying to figure out why I really like this tea. I am so glad I took a chance on this tea, I’ve taken chances before on Asian market teas and gotten burned. But I like this tea far better than other assam teas I’ve had at many times the price…
Tea with Lunch……
This tea is loose leaf and was brought back from a trip to India by my neighbors. Today I was just looking for a basic taste to go along with my fast food chili. (My daughter and I were out at training for volunteering at our local animal shelter and needed to pick up a quick lunch on the way home…..) This works well. I purposely used lighter leaf than normal and a shorter steep time due to the blend being mostly CTC tea. Good solid tea. Very smooth flavor, and just enough Assam to taste very good (sometimes Assam is a little over powering for me…) The liquor is very dark, nearing that of coffee. I have to say, it is definitely a good, reliable, mealtime blend. The taste does not seem affected by what you are eating.
24 oz. teapot with 3 actual tsp tea, freshly boiled water, 1 1/2 minutes. Lightly sweetened.
Tea of the morning…….
I have some new tea from friends who were recently on a trip to India. Thank you Kanuk and Neha! They brought back three varieties for me to try, and I am very excited to try them. This is a bagged variety (the others are loose). I can tell the leaves are of the granular type that I have seen in some authentic Indian chais. I am guessing it is a blend of many teas, and is more of an every day tea.
The brew is very dark and rich in color, almost nearing the color of coffee. The aroma is malty and warm (I know this is kind of a blah word since the tea is hot, but I am more referring to the fact that the smell just makes you feel relaxed and cozy, if that makes sense.) I was expecting the bite you get from an Assam tea, but this is very smooth. It is a little stronger than the English Breakfasts I usually drink in the morning, but I really like it. I am sure the entire pot will be gone in no time. I wonder if those not in India could find this in their local Asian market. I would consider buying it again as I am always looking for good bagged tea for travel, or when I am out.
I did a short 1 minute brew because the box showed brew times of 30 seconds to 90 seconds and the actually recommended dunking the teabags to get it to the strength you preferred! I used three tea bags in my 24 oz pot, and think I could probably get by with two next time. It is really good!
A friend from India previously recommended this to me as a good solid everyday tea. So when I stumbled upon an Indian market in town, I couldn’t help picking up a box.
The tea itself is CTC type, lots of little granules that have a very malty aroma when dry. The aroma is a nice prelude to the good strong cup of malty goodness that you get from brewing this tea. I’ve found that the tea is also actually quite forgiving, when it comes to brewing, since it still tasted fine even if I over-steeped it by a little over a minute once or twice..
While the tea is good, there isn’t much subtlety or layering when it comes to the flavor. Just a good brisk maltiness, that can actually get one-dimensional and boring after a while. This brings me to another strong point of the tea. It mixes very well with a variety of different additives.
The tea takes milk very well, which is to be expected from Indian tea. Lemon slices work great too. But I’ve been surprised to find that I can throw in a splash of pretty much any juice and be happy with the taste. Thus far I’ve mixed orange juice, grape juice, apple juice, even tangerine juice. Tried making HK Style milk tea by mixing evaporated milk and condensed milk with it too.
I suppose the strong flavor and full body helps the tea act as a solid base for mixing. Definitely have to try more experiments with this tea. :)