Recent Tasting Notes
From the queue
This is out of the EU TTB, round 2. Originally, my plan was to simply take this sample, but since there were nothing in my pile of things I wanted to only try that felt suitable for the morning, I decided to have a cup from the other pile. And that was a good thing, because I’ve put the rest of the sample back, having discovered that Cteresa actually shared a large-ish sample of it with me a couple of years ago, so it’s a known tea to me.
I still wanted to try it again, though. Partly so that I can see if I still agree with myself, but especially so that I can make it part of
This one comes from Mozambique, so it’s been grown further South than the other other African teas I’ve got on the reference map so far, and quite a long way away from the Kenyan ones. It was pretty easy to find on the map, though. At least the place that I’ve decided it came from. The description says it’s from the Zambezi region of Mozambique and near the Namuli Peaks. Having found the Peaks easily enough and starting to zoom in, I almost immediately spotted a structure that looked like tea-fields. They’re easy to recognise because they grow in wavy lines. Look at the map and zoom in, you’ll see. If it’s not from this particular set of fields, at least it should be very very close by.
The aroma has a fair few high-grown notes in them. Spicy, grassy notes that I don’t much care for, but also a fair bit of wood, which I do like.
The flavour is really quite nice. Like the Assam I had yesterday, it’s very sweet. Honeyed and malty, but whereas the Assam was largely honey, this one is mostly malt. It does still have that roughness that is typical for CTCs, and I would have rather liked to have had this with larger, orthodox leaf, because I think it could have been quite lovely.
Having the last half of this this morning for sample finishing week, sample number five.
Let me guess. Chá is Portuguese for tea?
So para fazer um bom chá might be something like loose leaf of black tea?
Am I close? Wildly off the mark?
(Shame it doesn’t come with a pronounciation guide. I should have liked to have seen my Brazilian’s face when I came to work and spouted Portuguese at her. :p These days when I do, she tends to roll her eyes at me, but it’s her own fault for having taught me to swear! :p )
We have already covered how Cteresa sent me Brave Tea. This one is in the category of Interesting Tea, and this is actually the reason she sent me an envelope in the first place. It’s all a way to encourage my little African kick. Mozambique! Another country I had no idea even drank tea! Now I need to make sure to include that Rwanda black next time I order from Nothing But Tea (providing of course that I actually manage to order. I’ll make damn sure next time that I do it properly!)
As this one was suggested that I try following a less than satisfactory go at a Kenya, and as I was informed to not expect miracles as this was also a CTC tea, I have to take a moment here to compare leaf size between the two. Yes, the Mozambique is a CTC as well, but compared to the Kenya, the leaf size of the Moz is still twice as large. I find this bodes well.
This is not presently part of my sample finishing project. Cteresa included enough that I can get two small pots out of it, and as my better half is at work, he obviously can’t share a larger pot with me.
It brews up a dark and strongly aromatic cup. In a previous post Cteresa finds that it’s similar to a generic Ceylon, and I agree with that. It has that malty, bold sort of smell with a note of something kind of wooden. Not rooibos wood-y, just general woodyness. Kind of spicy as well, but not very.
At this point I’m actually a little uncertain if I made it too strong after all. Surely such a powerful aroma has to come from somewhere. As it turns out, however, this does not seem to be the case. This is actually a pretty smooth cup. It’s not super-smooth in the way that a really good Chinese can be, but it’s definitely getting there. Again, I agree with the Ceylon comparison, only a little smoother. This doesn’t taste like a very finicky tea, and I tend to prefer those. A tea that it’s near impossible to wreck, that’s always a good point in my book. I’m in it for the taste, not the challenge. :)
Of course it might turn out that I could have just as easily ruined it by too much leaf or not paying attention to the steeping time, but I didn’t so we’ll go with that.
The very first note I get from a sip is something that invokes a complete absence of colour. Not a non-synesthesia reaction, but actual complete blackness as in total absence of… well everything. I’ve never had that one before, and I’m not sure I like it. It feels slightly malevolent. Ironically, the actual flavour of that note is rather nice in a morning tea. It’s all strong and powerful and ever so slightly very nearly something that could be thought a wee bit smoky. This is just at first, and then when I pay attention to it, it turns more in the direction of slightly floral in a Darjeeling-esque way, but without the grassy spicyness of the Darj. (This transition also rids me of that funny absence of colour experience in my brain. Most of the time synesthesia is kind of fun, but sometimes it’s just plain weird and makes me wonder if I should just try to stop paying attention to it at all, because it might make stuff like this a lot simpler)
As the cup cools, that Darj-y note develops a lot and the whole cup seems to turn into some sort of in between Darj and Ceylon thing, with the Darjeeling’s spicy greenishness and the Ceylon’s strength and malty base note. Had this been a blend I would not have found it strange at all, but as it’s a single region tea, I’m a bit puzzled by it. It makes it difficult for me to work out what I actually think of it. I mean I’m not very fond of Darjeeling, they just don’t appeal to me that much, and I have little experience with Ceylon and most of that was kind of forgettable, so…
I think it’s mostly in the Ceylon end of the spectrum, though. That base note of malty strength is really coming through a lot all the time and that note is pretty good. Very sweet for something completely unsweetened, and it leaves an aftertaste which is long and thick and a little bit sticky.
This works well as a morning tea indeed, and if one was the sort to take tea with a bit of milk, I expect this would handle the addition wonderfully.
I feel a bit like this whole post is a list of teas that the Moz is kind of like, only not…
A warning, my appreciation of this might be biased, Mozambique tea was the standard of “just right” black tea for portuguese ladies of my grandmother´s generation, and this tastes just like “just right” grandmother´s tea to me. Cultural expectations of taste are pretty strong.
This is small leaf black tea, packaged in vintage style (well, not vintage style, real vintage vintage) instructions on how to brew a proper pot of tea . I followed those scrupulously. It would feel like ignoring advice from my grandmother, otherwise! It brews red and it reminds me a bit of Ceylon tea, just sweeter, gentler and without any metallic hints (Ceylon tea often seems to have this hint of copper or iron. Not a criticism, I like it like that). It´s not as strong as Assam, and it is quite different from Chinese tea. The taste reminds me a bit of raisins.
It´s also remarkably, the sweetest black tea I ever tasted. It´s sweet on its own, more than any other tea I ever had (tea tea, black or green or oolong or white, if you know what I mean). It also has very little bitterness, I think it does not have much tannin for the body it has.
I usually find it hard to give numerical ratings to tea usually, but in this case it is extra difficult to do so. But it is a lovely nice tea.