Here is another one that Sil shared with me. When asked what I would like to try, one of my requests was for some Assam or other. It’s a funny region for me. I really want to adore them, but I’m just not quite there. Nine times out of ten I’ll go for a Chinese but every once in a blue moon the Assam just strikes me as the most desirable tea on the planet.
And then I usually haven’t got any.
Lately I’ve been having some small Assam-y thoughts again, though, so it was a fairly obvious request. (Project Assam…? ponder ponder ponder )
I’m making this in the big pot to share with Husband, who opted to not have it milked. When it’s any other tea, I usually just serve it as it is, but sometimes I get confused about what he would prefer. He always drinks it without additives at home, but as soon as he sets foot on English soil he reverts to preferring his tea milked. I don’t know… maybe it’s a geography thing. (I hope he doesn’t think it’s because I won’t let him milk it… O.o )
Now, let me see. I’ve been carefully timing this, because one of the things that stops me from being all over Assam is how finicky they are. You can pretty much abuse a Chinese black from now until Christmas and it’ll still produce a drinkable cup. Sometimes rather stewed, but still drinkable. An Assam however will not put up with that sort of treatment. It will turn around and bite you back.
The aroma is quite malty, but it also has notes of raisins and honey in there. Mostly raisins. Whenever I’ve had an Assam that hasn’t been completely ruined, it seems to have always had a raisin-y aspect to a smaller or larger degree. Less so with honey.
Normally when describing something as malty, I would automatically started searching for a grain-y aspect, but I can’t really find that here. It’s more sort of wood-en for me. (And bright red, my at times weird brain supplies)’
Over it all there is a note of something that smells thick and creamy, almost… like if it had a smidge of vanilla flavouring. I’ve found that Assam generally works great for me as a base for vanilla flavouring, although peculiarly my Perfect vanilla isn’t Assam-y. Now I’m beginning to wonder if that works so well because the flavouring in those cases enhance a note which might already be there, if you know what I mean. It makes a vanilla flavoured Assam taste more natural than really flavoured. If you know what I mean.
But I digress and this tea, for the record, is not actually flavoured with anything at all.
First sip is sweet and honey-y. At the very beginning it was wood-y, but then it turned all sweet. I’m actually dithering a bit on the honey note, wondering if I think it’s more along the lines of toffee or something, but eventually I’ve come to the conclusion that I think it’s most like honey. Second sip starts me considering that question again. It’s almost like it depends on how I’ve sipped. Where on the tongue it hits first, how much I’ve been slurping, how long it takes before swallowing. At the very beginning, I think it’s like honey, but then it turns into something toffee-y and sweetie like. And I’m pretty certain it is actually the same note here. It definitely feels like the same note that changes.
So, apart from that weird sweet aspect that can’t decide what it is, we’ve got some wood-en notes to this like I found in the aroma, and they’re laying down the bottom of the flavour. It’s actually quite discreet, but it adds substance. There’s a hint of mild astringency here too, but nothing too dominating.
Now what about those raisins. peers into cup They’re in there. I know they are, because I can feel them. I just… don’t know where they are. They’re hiding from me, shouting coo-ee every now and then. I suspect the tea needs to develop a bit before I’ll find them.
The tea has cooled off a bit now, and I think we can safely say that this is one of those that only have raisin notes to a smaller degree. They’re out there a little more now all right, but nothing that makes me sit up and say ‘raisin!’. That creamy sort of milky note is very much at the forefront now and I’ve completely lost the honey/toffee/vanilla-y chameleon note. That’s a shame, because I was rather enjoying that. I liked this one best when it was very hot.
All in all, this was a highly enjoyable tea.