Okay, before I begin this review, I have to give a sincere thank you to Joshua for sending me a sample of this tea to review. I also have to give an entirely insincere, wholly sarcastic thank you to the United States Postal Service for nearly destroying the package containing it. When I received this in the mail (along with a pouch of Zhi’s Austin Breakfast which I will hopefully be reviewing this weekend), I noticed a large, triangular puncture on the front of the package that went all the way through the other side. It looked almost as if someone had taken a trench knife and stabbed it straight through the entire package. Needless to say, when I opened the package there was a triangular hole that went straight through both packets of tea. Fortunately, this stab wound went through the top of each pouch, so I l hardly lost any tea and there did not appear to be any unwanted blending. Also, I had just cleaned and aired out a couple of old Steven Smith Teamaker tins that I keep around in the event of such occurrences. The contents of each packet are now safely stored in each of these tins.
I prepared this tea using a simple one step Western infusion. I followed Zhi Tea’s suggested brewing method for this one, though I did adjust the amount of tea I used according to the size of my glassware. Zhi suggests using 2 teaspoons of loose tea leaves per 12 ounces of 208 F water, but since I was using an 8 ounce teacup, I used approximately 1.25 teaspoons. I most certainly could have used 1 full teaspoon and this would have turned out about as well.
The infused liquor showed a dark, coppery amber in the cup. The nose was not particularly strong, offering creamy, malty aromas with a hint of toastiness and mild herbal character. In the mouth, I perceived a subtle and satisfying blend of cream, malt, honey, toast, roasted walnut, roasted chestnut, and faint herbal notes leading to a smooth finish that emphasized lingering sensations of cream, toast, malt, and honey. There was practically no astringency whatsoever, just typical Assam flavor components that were very smoothly integrated.
As far as first impressions go, I can say that I really like this Assam. It may not be the most unique Assam as far as the aroma and flavor profiles go, but it is very approachable, very refined, and very smooth, with a good body and a surprising lack of astringency. On its own, this tea is almost too easy to drink. I have yet to try it with either, but I could see this holding up to both cream and sugar well. I could also see this pairing up with breakfast fare very easily. Moreover, I think this works as more than just a smooth, hearty breakfast tea. I could also see this being a good afternoon pick-me-up. All in all, I definitely recommend this one. If you are a fan of traditional Assam teas, I think you will be very satisfied with this one.
Flavors: Cream, Herbs, Honey, Malt, Roasted nuts, Toast