Mellow Monk really wasn’t high on my list of tea companies to order from until I looked at their web site. I liked the idea of all their teas being grown by small, family-owned farms, imported directly from Japan. All of their teas are first flush. I also like it that all their tea comes from the southern island of Kyushu, which never had high levels of radiation last year. I’m impressed that MM only chooses teas that are popular locally and not primarily produced for export. They shipped really fast. My tea arrived safe and sound but I’d appreciate a little sturdier packaging than a plain, brown kraft envelope.
So, a black tea from Japan seemed like such an anomaly that I had to try it. Upon opening the pouch, I am hit with a slightly smoky scent that reminds me a bit of a Formosa Keemun and/or Dark Roasted Oolong. The dry leaves are short and mostly chocolate brown with a smattering of chestnut colored tips or bits of twig in the mix.
The brewed leaves smelled a bit like a Taiwanese Ruby Red-slightly malty and minty. The liquor is fairly light-darker than a FF Darjeeling, but not much else. It has hues of burnt orange, amber, and chestnut brown.
The flavor is very smooth, zero bitterness or astringency, and about as mellow as you can get with a black tea. As for specific notes, I am having a hard time gleaning those. I can’t say that my cupping mimics what MM describes. To me, it tastes mostly similar to a Formosa Keemun (not exactly like) but I feel like I am still figuring this out. I think my rating number may change the more I drink this.
Brewing based on MM’s instructions, I got two cups of tea. I think maybe I can get a third if brew a little longer.
I wouldn’t recommend this based on the smoke alone, because I don’t think there’s enough of it for those who really enjoy smoky notes. However, if you like milder black teas or just enjoy the idea of a black tea from Japan made with green tea varietals, you may like this tea.