Royal Tea of Kenya – Royal Purple Orthodox Hand-Crafted Tea
Dry: Complex toasted aroma, woven with hints of floral/lilac and freshly dried pumpkin seed.
Wet: Delicate, sweet, and nutty, with a gentle floral/gardenia-white honeysuckle nuance.
Leaf: Gorgeous long, dark twisted leaves, thin and clearly showing stem and leaf. Some gold tipping and reddish-umber bud/leafs are woven into the darker, woody umber leaves, accentuating the beautiful texture and allowing the golden pollen a place to rest.
Brewing method: 3.3g in 190 degree water in graduated glass pot and poured from height to aerate, steeped for 3 minutes.
Cup: Glows with a golden-olive hued liquor whose edges darken with a hint of purplish depth. The tea has smooth, silky-buttery body, offering a clean, succulent mouth feel. At first, so smooth that defining it seems elusive, but successive sips build a sweet, floral marigold like flavor on the finish. The juicy cup is totally without bitterness, withstanding long steeps and hot temperatures. As the cup cools, hints of almond weave around a lingering aftertaste that hangs almost like mint, but whose flavor blushes long with mercurial floral notes.
Notes: I had a childhood that frequently was spent navigating railroad tracks, cattails, struggling mulberry trees, and feral honeysuckle bushes. Often my afternoon snack was scavenged from abandoned and neglected fruit trees and moments of sweetness were drawn from plucks of white and golden honeysuckle flowers, whose flavor would indelible be written on my palate. I remember the earthy, grassy, floral taste, the texture that would resist and then give way to your teeth as you bit it, and how there would be a sweet, vegetal honey note that was clean and crisp in the white flowers and gritty, deeply flowery and almost too sweet in the orange flowers. Drinking this tea takes me back to those moments of finding the perfect white honeysuckle flower, while walking home along the tracks, aware of the need to balance on the rail, while watching the rough rock and old creosote ties, and subtly aware of the raccoons and muskrats slipping from sight and the howls of the red-winged blackbirds that chided me from coming too close to their thorn tree nest.
The tea is one to drink and be transported, to set time aside for and to be in a place where the mind can find freedom. Truly a worthy gift to be shared for the rarest tea in Kenya and a labor of love and sacrifice for the farmers who dedicated their harvest and trusted that we could appreciate that there is more worth in a tea such as this, than in a forgotten teabag labeled English Breakfast.
I am extremely grateful to Joy Njuguna for sharing this with me and allowing me to try what is truly one such a rare gift of Africa.
- I published this with some difficulty to Steepster and I’m not sure what the trouble was. Either way, the review is mine and I hope it isn’t confused with the tasting notes that are the official ones from the Royal Tea of Kenya. **