I am not sure what it is, but when fall hits, I start craving robust black teas. Now, to be frank, there is hardly a time of year in which I do not crave some sort of black tea, but for some reason, fall equals Assam time for me. My Keemun and lapsang souchong consumption usually goes way up too. This year I managed to hold back a little longer than normal, but I have been hitting the Assam hard for the past week or so. I expect to finish the last of this Assam within the next 24 hours and finally was able to move myself to review it.
I prepared this tea using the one step Western infusion I normally use for non-Chinese black teas and many black tea blends. I steeped approximately 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. At other times, I have attempted longer infusions around the 5 minute mark and will briefly comment on the results of those as well.
Prior to infusion, I did not get as much of an aroma from the dry tea leaves as I was hoping. There was a little bit of a faint maltiness and a fleeting impression of mild cocoa, but that was all I got. Examining the leaves, I could see that this Assam was made up of mostly broken leaves. Some pieces were considerably smaller than others, but I was not particularly concerned. I have had some fine black teas made from broken pekoe grade leaves, so I was willing to give this one a fair chance. After infusion, I noticed aromas of malt, cream, leather, roasted nuts, cocoa, molasses, and toffee. In the mouth, the tea was slightly brisker and more astringent than I was expecting. It was also oddly sweeter than I was expecting as well. I picked up on robust notes of cocoa, cream, vanilla, toffee, molasses, leather, roasted nuts, nutmeg, toast, and malt. I also thought I picked up on a very faint hint of citrus, but it might have been my imagination. The finish provided a pleasantly soothing blend of cocoa, nutmeg, cream, vanilla, and malt flavors with a hint of molasses. The longer infusions were brisker and more astringent, with more pronounced toffee, nut, and molasses notes throughout.
Truthfully, I was not wowed by this Assam. I thought it was decent, but I have had far better. The combination of sweetness and astringency was off-putting for me, though I found the finish to be near exceptional. Of the Assams I have had from Simpson & Vail, this one was by far the most hit or miss for me. I am glad that I tried it, but I do not think I will purchase it again. Still, I could see some hardcore Assam drinkers liking this one. Personally, it just wasn’t my thing.
Flavors: Citrus, Cocoa, Cream, Leather, Malt, Molasses, Nutmeg, Roasted nuts, Toast, Toffee, Vanilla