Other reviews for comparable teas (or roughly same tea, different harvest) can be found by JaquelineM here [ http://steepster.com/teas/premium-steap/7032-assam-khongea-ftgfop-1 ] and Paul M Tracy here [ http://steepster.com/teas/shui-tea/14910-outta-bed ].
I’m condensing my tasting notes from a cupping I did of this one tea brewed at several different parameter sets with a couple different water hardness/purification levels. Don’t expect as in-depth a review on this guy, as I’m not doing multiple infusions on it and a couple approaches dunked this into my “unremarkable” territory, though other parameter sets were really nice compared to most Assams I’ve had over the past couple years.
Overall, this is a good, solid workhorse tea with a bit daintier impression at times than its brethren and more accommodating of brewing parameter shifts than some.
Gah, while cleaning up for my last cupping I think I accidentally threw my sheet of notes away! Blearg I do NOT want to redo this cupping… I’ll do a small set tasting (4-10 cup parameter test) to make up for it but I’m not bothering with water sources. I’m just sticking to bottled or water machine water for a while as my tap water run through a Brita is not worth wasting tea on at the moment – a lot of decent tea that winds up as “meh”.
As a short rundown on this tea from memory, let’s see…
Dry Fragrance is biscuity with a touch of florals, dried fruit (prune/raisin) and hay; Wet Leaf Aroma has more wet hay and a tannic expression; Liquor Aroma is light, slightly woody and cupric with an acorn-like tannin hint.
Body is comparatively light for an Assam but the leaves are more intact here than many, so that’s to be expected – still in the higher-moderate to lower-full body range of the texture spectrum. Astringency isn’t sharp unless pushed beyond 4 minutes but even a 3 minute steep has a lingering astringency that builds while drinking or tasting. The level of astringency at 3:30-4:00 is perfect for adding a couple drops of 2% milk or heavier and 4:15-5:00 is good for a little more, if you are the type who enjoys adding junk to tea. Okay, I admit that I liked how this tasted a whole lot at 3:45 with 5mL whole milk and 0.5tsp raw sugar added to it, but I’d rather not screw with tea after infusion except maybe a bit of water for dilution if need be. Drunken straight there isn’t a ton going on here but it’s tasty nonetheless. Has a bit of a tannic edge and slight coppery-metallic expression but there’s a pleasant slightly overcooked scone impression I get and a hint of ginger in the aftertaste. There are light florals at lower concentration (faint, but I get something similar to California Poppy) but they are mostly overridden by base barley and raisin notes. Not much malt – more malted barley. Grape Nuts comes to mind, but it isn’t that ferrous… more like those little bran sticks mixed into the cereal Kashi makes. There is a light bitterness that I love in this tea. I rarely get bitter in red teas at all – I get astringency, acids, charred characteristics, and metallic tastes very frequently but bitter is typically the realm of aggressive oolongs and young puer or overbrewed greens and green oolongs. It’s light here, but it goes well with the base woody bran flavor. This tea would go great with either hot or cold cereal in the morning and may be fantastic with grits or a more buttery scone.
Not the best Assam around and not aggressive enough for making Masala Chai, but approachable and easy drinking. The Golden Tips offerings from Khongea are amazing and the CTC works well for Masala Chai while this is sort of a sad mid ground between the two that isn’t a shining example for unique and expansive character straight nor stable in the face of many additions. However, it is versatile and easy to prepare without the harshness of many Assams that are out there.
I may have to revise this later when/if I do another parameter set cupping on this. I should probably test its ability to handle successive steeps. When I prepare it at work with an infuser basket in a cup it handles three infusions with little shift; it seems to handle reinfusing a bit better than other Assams, likely due to smaller leaf surface area to volume.
Off to do a Taiwan Hongcha lineup.