This is my first cup of real tea in a few days, and boy, does it feel good to be back! I’ve been really busy and out of my house, and haven’t even had a second to attempt to drink some tea. And I’ve been coming home too late to have anything other than decaf, so I’ve just been skipping out.
This is actually my first, pure Assam. I’ve had Assam blended into other teas (like Irish Breakfast), and I was pretty sure that I could pick it out in the sea of other flavors, so I was pretty excited to see if I got it right.
Can I rhapsodize a bit on the beauty of the dry leaves? Downy and silky and pure autumn gold, most of which were unbroken in my sample packet. So. Gorgeous. And the smell coming off them… black tea roasty mixed with something sweet! A bit fruity, somewhat akin to a Darjeeling smell, but a bit lighter and less assertive.
So I steeped this one up, and the tea scattered and swirled like a tea-snow-globe. And almost immediately, as the hot water hit the leaves, the water turned a brilliant copper. The copper darkened as the tea steeped, and when it was time for the pour…
The wet leaves smell very, very fruity with a hint of a signature black tea robustness. And the infusion? Very black tea-esque, with some fruit added in. This was interesting. I couldn’t smell the signature malty smell that usually screams “ASSAM” at me.
My first sip was a surprise, because this one is damned complicated! There’s almost a muscatel, Darjeeling grape taste, followed by – there it was – a rush of malt. When I talk about malt from an Assam, I’m not really referring to malted chocolate balls like Whoppers. I’m talking more about the malty characteristics of beer. This malt was nice and robust and brisk, but mellowed out at the end. The flavors left at the end were somewhat sweet and smooth.
As the tea cooled, the fruity notes spiked a bit, and the malt smoothed out. There was definitely more of a honey-like sweetness after every sip. An almost burnt sugar taste, even. And then there was this elusive bake-y taste that would pop up in the aftertaste after every couple of sips! It was so intriguing that I kept pausing and drinking to try and draw it out. A fresh baked bread taste, which you can sometimes get at the end of a good beer, if you’re paying attention.
There were downy bits floating around in my cup, so I think I might do a rinse of these leaves next time. Or maybe those downy bits add flavor? I have no idea. Anyway, this was a great tea to come home to. Very intriguing, indeed.