Hello Steepsterites! Remember I did Project Ceylon earlier this year, in which I tried a bunch of different Ceylon teas and tried to work out if there was a pattern to which ones I liked and which ones I liked less? That was fun. Let’s do it again!
I spent some time pondering whether to do Project Africa or Project Assam. Both sounded interesting to me. African teas have interested me for a while, but I’ve never done much about learning the area, and I’ve been in a bit of an Assam-y mood recently. In the end I decided Project Africa sounded more interesting. We are seeing more and more single estate loose leaf out there, and from more and more different countries it seems. Kenya still heavily in the lead, but others are definitely getting out there as well. It’s a shame I didn’t decide to do this yesterday, since I just discovered Jenier Teas yesterday and accidentally AHEM WELL, moving right along! At any rate, they had a LOT of different Kenyan teas and a few from other African countries as well, so samples shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
I already had this one that Sil very generously shared with me. And it was generous because it was actually a sample that had been shared with her by Terri HarpLady, so I had told her to only send me some if there really was enough to share. Lucky for me, there was.
This tea comes from the Kaproret estate, which was highly difficult to find on the map. All I got when searching for Kaproret were two different primary schools that weren’t even that close together, and I couldn’t see anything on the sattelite photo that looked like tea fields. That was a great help during Project Ceylon, because tea fields are pretty easy to recognise from the air. Turns out that they aren’t so easily recognisable in Kenya, because they have a layout which is much in straight lines on square fields, making them look like any other kind of green field. Further Google investigation then revealed that it’s part of the Kericho tea districts, where I found a name tag that just said ‘Tea Gardens’, but no further explanations of which gardens were there and what they were called. So I put the marker there. Seemed to be the right area and as good a place as any. And nowhere near those other two primary schools. While searching I did find a different and name-tagged tea estate, so I put a pin in it, just in case I need to find it again later.
The aroma is quite grainy and malty and it has a sort of Assam feel to it somehow. It’s like it just has a something that tells me Assam. Seriously, you could totally fool me with this. If I’d been given this without knowing what it was, Assam would be my first guess. Makes me wonder if I should do Project Assam hot on the heels of Project Africa… The grain is stronger than in most Assams though, so it does stand out. A little bit. Not enough that I’d notice if I didn’t know better, but there is a small difference there. It smells like it can really pack a good punch.
The flavour is surprisingly fruity sweet right at first. Reminds me a little of plums or apricot, although that still feels a bit like a stretch. Then the grain and malt comes into play and it is indeed a quite strong tea. It’s no wonder ctc-ed Kenyan is often used to beef up the blends in certain inferior teabags that we could mention. It’s strong and it lays down a heavy bottom.
Underneath the flavour there is a mild to moderate degree of astringency, which once again reminds me of Assam. That and the strength are really the only things about the flavour that reminds me of Assam, unlike what I noticed in the aroma. It’s not so much, though, that it feels like drinking ashes and it’s fairly well balanced with the strength of the flavour.
As it cools down a little more, it changes character completely. It loses the fruit-y sweet aspect I noticed right at first and instead takes on a strong Yunnan-like note of hay. The very note that makes me less interested in golden Yunnans. Where did that come from?
This is a different beast entirely from my usual Chinese blacks. I’m quite enjoying how strong it is, but I think I could have lived without the Yunnan-y aspect. This is one that I preferred while it was still piping hot.
Reference map: https://www.google.com/maps/ms?msid=211803378882467968316.0004dd9c2591ff5d7d6bf&msa=0&ll=-0.394539,35.252938&spn=0.014741,0.021651 (This is what I get when I check the ‘short URL’ box. Deal with it…)
(Edited to add in a forgotten word, the absense of which totally changed the meaning of the sentence)