This is a tea of the month for April on the Classic plan. Unlike the other April TOMs, I have been drinking this one. I’ve had it plain, I’ve had it as the black tea added to stovetop chai. I just haven’t written a note about it.
I like the way it looks — it’s a salt (or maybe light cinnamon) and pepper kind of look with the tippy tan highlighting the dark brown. Distinguished. A touch of not really grey. Grateful Dead stuck in your head now, anyone? Guilty.
The dry leaves have a woody smell with a little damp canvas mixed in, that reminds me of waking up early at a camp site. I get a fair amount of the same from the tea’s aroma, though there’s a mysterious fruity undercurrent.
The difficulty I’m having with this (and other Assams, though I’ve only had them in blends) is there’s an aspect to them that I don’t find easy to love. It’s hard for me to describe, though I suspect the aspect that grates on me is what you’re supposed to love if you love Assams. I’ve read about it being described as malty, but it isn’t what I think of as maltiness. Malty to me is sweet, like the flavor inside malted milk balls. This isn’t sweet. I guess I’d call it more yeasty than malty, there’s something vaguely bready about it. It’s very bold, and to me it often comes across as pretty harsh.
Today I’m having this for breakfast with milk and some sweetener and that makes a huge difference. Perhaps, coming from India, this was a style of tea that was developed for the British milk and sugar palate? It certainly stands up to both. The yeasty flavor is still there, but it doesn’t grab the back of my throat with the additives.
I’m just not sure solo Assam is for me, but as I said, this is really my first attempt. I’ve had it in blends, but not straight up before. So I’m trying to keep an open mind.