This was another of my recent sipdowns. Like the review of What-Cha’s Taiwan Shan Lin Xi black tea that I just posted, I am also piecing this review together from the shredded remnants of my handwritten rough draft. Pet ownership is fun. The same cat responsible for shredding my current notebook enjoys making nests or little hoards out of things she steals from me. I’m certain that the pages she wallowed, ripped, and tore loose from the notebook’s binding would have quickly made their way into such a creation, and then there would have been no recovery of any information contained on them. The last time I stumbled upon a Mean Baby cache, I found ink pens, paper clips, bottle caps, rubber bands, cat toys, various coins, and a dirty sock. She had stuffed these items under the base of a floor lamp in my living room. I can only imagine where these notes would have ended up. Anyway, this tea represented something of a first for me, as I’m pretty sure it was the first tea from Sandakphu that I had ever tried. Bizarrely, I had previously tried several teas from each of the other major Nepalese tea producers, but at the time I was working my way through the sole pouch of this tea that I had purchased, I could not recall trying any other Sandakphu tea. It was a respectable enough offering with something of a different character compared to the other Nepalese black teas offered by What-Cha.
I took a break from gongfu brewing with this tea, opting to brew it Western style. I prepared it by steeping approximately 3 grams of loose leaf material in 8 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the tea leaves prior to infusion, nor did I attempt any additional infusions.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced aromas of bread, malt, cocoa, brown sugar, and sweet potato. After infusion, I noted new aromas of earth, butter, roasted peanut, stewed tomato, geranium, and prune. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered a unique mix of earth, cream, stewed tomato, cooked green bean, brown sugar, sweet potato, orange zest, malt, bread, cocoa, grass, lemon zest, pine, roasted peanut, geranium, roasted almond, butter, hay, prune, and roasted walnut flavors. Additional impressions of black cherry, oak, and blackberry were little more than background notes. The finish was creamy, malty, and vegetal, but it also displayed a pronounced woodiness, powerful astringency, fairly heavy roasted nut notes, and something of a lingering fruity character.
Overall, this was a pretty good Nepalese black tea, but it struck me as having some obvious flaws. First, its flavors frequently came across as muddled. There were times where the balance of the tea liquor was lacking. It was also a bit lacking in texture, and the finish was a bit too astringent for me. Still, this was not a horrible offering, pretty far from one actually. I’m happy that I took the opportunity to give it a try.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Blackberry, Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Geranium, Grass, Green Beans, Hay, Lemon Zest, Malt, Oak, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Prune, Sweet Potatoes, Tomato, Walnut