A way far back backlog because…I finished the sample in four days. I never had the chance to gong fu it. I brewed it 3 minutes almost every time in my French press with one exception of a near grandpa style steeping. Let’s see if I can do this tea justice from memory.
Alistair described this tea as setting itself apart from Darjeelings as a lot of Nepal teas have very similar profiles. The tendency to compare the two regions makes sense because they both come from the Himalayas, and I find myself putting them in the same category in my head. Now, I am glad to say that I’ve slowly started to prefer the Nepalese blacks, and I definitely prefer their oolongs over the few that I have had from India. Even though the market is expanding their and vendors like Alistair hopes to expose more people to Nepalese teas, I still like the teas for themselves.
What sets this one apart is it’s slight grapiness combined with the rich medium milk to dark chocolate taste that keeps on popping up. It’s very grapey and with a fair amount of malt, but I would not describe it as muscatel. The first initial sips are somewhat dry, but the following notes are rich and almost lavish ending in a slight roast drying it off. The roast was vaguely nutty, but definitely woody for me, and the grapey sweetness was almost comparable to a Chinese or Taiwaneese Honey Black tea, but the most prominent tastes of this tea were malt, chocolate, grape, light roast, and well tea. The general profile was consistent with pretty much all steeps western, though the sweet note was a little more pronounced in the second to last brews of the four or five I would get each time. The chocolate profile was more prominent in steeps 2, and 3, though two occasions of the four I had this tea had strong chocolate notes in steep 1. I unfortunately brewed ad hoc and by color, smell, and an internal clock that I can’t remember the parameters for, but generall, I added 30 seconds to a minute for stronger brews with less water and more leaves, or I incremented the minutes to 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8 with less leaves and more water.
Although the grape notes and chocolate notes were layered on top of each other making this tea stand out from other elusive cocoa and chocolate note teas, the profile for the general person trying this would be a rich black tea. While tea snobs will love the chance to try the terroir for its unique contrasts of dryness and very wet sweet notes, intermediate drinkers, wine drinkers, or anyone who can handle dryer paletted things would appreciate this tea more. Average tea drinkers would appreciate it again as a rich black tea that is not as strong as an Assam, and it is good enough to stand up to cream and sugar. However; I’d go light on the additions to preserve more of the natural qualities of the tea, or use frothy cream or just a few dabs of it along with a moderate amount of sugar to handle the chocolaty notes.
I do not know how much anyone reading can gather from this, but I do recommend this to most people. It is very hardline medium to slightly soft on the grand scale of black teas and for those who like their teas like that with dash of complexity thrown in, this is your tea. And if it weren’t for the Wild Shan Cha, the financial situation of student teaching, and what I already have, I would have purchased fifty grams of this and recommend others to do the same. Was this review helpful?