It is a delicious, beautiful tea with huge full leaves. The taste is a sweet burnt sugar, with a slight caramel and slight hint of tropical fruit. It is a full mouth taste with no bitter and no astringency. I love this tea.
“I’m having a lot of trouble describing this tea. It is so unlike any other black tea I’ve ever had. It’s sweet, but a dark sweet, like grilled and sugared fruits. It’s got a bit of raw sugar or...” Read full tasting note
“This smells like Hawaii. I’ve been spending time there regularly since I was kid, and was overwhelmed by memories in a Proustian moment when I opened the packet of tea. Warm rain, damp...” Read full tasting note
“Hey Steepsterites. Do you remember me? No? That’s cool. Can’t say I blame you. Anyway, I hope all has been well in the Steepsterverse. I poked around a few times during the...” Read full tasting note
“Thanks to Ian for sending me this one. Sometimes you need put all formality aside and just say DUDE! I have to be honest I’ve been giddy about getting to try this...” Read full tasting note
Origin: Hawaii Island, Hawaii, USA
Flavor Profile: Thanks to the emerging terroir of Hawaii, this black tea’s flavor profile is completely different from that of any other tea. It is tremendously clean, smooth and refined, with no astringency or bitterness even when brewed for long periods.
High-quality leaves brew into a crystalline amber infusion. A thin, crisp body yields delicate notes of mugicha (roasted barley tea), caramel, barley malt and rice syrup, with a slight taste of roasted sweet potato. Each sip warms, refreshes and reveals new dimensions of flavor.
Tea Story: Samovar is the first tea company in the world to retail Hawaii-Grown Black outside of Hawaii. A man named John Cross cultivates it from tea plants that his father planted as an agricultural experiment 15 years ago.
The plants are a Cambodian sinensis varietal, which is thought to be a hybrid of the small-leafed Chinese plants and the larger-leafed Assam varietals. John’s garden is on the slopes of the now-dormant Mauna Kea Volcano. It is located at 900 feet above sea level, and you can see the Pacific Ocean while standing amongst the tea bushes. It is locally known as “Makai Black;” the word “Makai” is Hawaiian for “toward the ocean.”
John cultivates his plants and prepares them for harvest, and then fellow tea grower and processor Eva Lee of Tea Hawaii & Company harvests them, transports them to her farm and hand-processes them overnight with her husband (a potter who creates art for tea and a practitioner of the Japanese tea ceremony) and, sometimes, her daughter (an artist who lives abroad most of the year).
Eva feels that Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that is likely to be able to sustainably produce specialty tea. She said Hawaii’s air, soil and water are amongst the purest on earth. Tea growers in Hawaii do not face many of the environmental concerns of other tea-producing areas, such as typhoons and natural predators, so they can grow teas at lower elevations without facing the wrath of nature.
The soil is particularly suited to tea production, as it is both fertile and acidic. At Samovar, we feel this new terroir is a must-try for any tea aficionado and for those interested in buying domestically-grown tea, and are also proud to offer Hawaii-Grown Oolong.
Samovarian Poetry: Lush green islands yield a lush black tea.
Food Pairings: The warm, clean flavors of our Hawaii-grown black tea pair well with roasted, salted pecans, subdued lemon custards, British “teacakes” (treats akin to Mallomars) and milk chocolates with sea salt.
Samovar's is dedicated to preserving the simplicity and integrity of the tea traditions and inspiring people to practice peace through drinking tea.
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I received this in the mail completely by surprise from SeyKayYay. I wasn’t expecting it, but I was overjoyed to receive it. This makes the third US-produced black tea I’ve tried. The first and second belong to Charleston. And, I will echo every other description here when I say it’s unlike any other black tea I’ve tried. If I were to come up with a metaphoric comparison, it would be a Yunnan gold taste with an Assam body and a sweet Keemun finish. That’s the closest I can come up with. It’s also the only black tea I’ve come across that *requires * at least a four-minute steep to get the full effect. I tried it at three first, and it was too light. At even four minutes there was no astringency, no bitterness, a chocolaty palate, and a smooth maltiness. Different, indeed.
…AND it lasts two very strong infusions. Just F.Y.I.
I think I drank this tea under it’s name of “Makai Black” direct from the Tea Hawaii Company, owned by Eva Lee and her husband. I received it from my sister, who lives in Hawaii, and I’m waiting to hear the story of how she obtained it.
See my tasting notes under “Makai Black” by Tea Hawaii.