Hawaiian Aged Roasted Black Tea (Koko Ki) from Tealet Teas

On July 29th of 2013, I tasted a sample of Hawaiian Grown Aged Roasted Black Tea. This sample was provided by Tealet Teas. To learn more about Tealet Teas, please visit their website by clicking here.

Tealet has built personal relationships with tea farmers from multiple countries, including Japan, China, Nepal, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Korea, as well as the United States, and continues to search the planet for high quality farms to work with. Tealet provides a direct connection between tea buyers and the tea farmers, allowing tea buyers to purchase high quality teas, as well as giving the tea farmers an international platform from which they can sell their teas. Rather than simply seeing a certification stamp for organic teas or fair trade practices and deciding to do business based on those certifications alone, Tealet is committed to farms that demonstrate exceptional transparency in their farming and production practices. Certifications can be expensive, and many small artisan tea farmers are not able to afford them. Therefore, even if they do practice organic farming and fair trade ethics, which many of them do, they may not have the “credentials” to display. However, their teas are often times a very high quality and unique product. Thankfully, companies like Tealet are aware of the reality of the organic and fair trade certification programs, and have decided to do their own homework on tea farms. Thus, they have sources that provide teas that are not like what the other companies often offer.

This particular sample is sourced from the Onomea Tea Farms in Hawaii. Onomea Tea Company is fairly young, being established only about ten years ago. However, they have quickly become a respectable tea producing company. For more information on Onomea Tea Company, please check out their website by clicking here.

As described on the Tealet website, this Hawaiian Grown Roasted Black Tea has been aging since 2010. This black tea has no flavoring added to it whatsoever, and I can assure you that it does not need any additional help with the flavor. It is quite pleasantly tasteful all on it’s own.

Now, on to the review.

Tea Review and Analysis Form

Date:  07/29/2013

Product:  Hawaiian Grown Aged Roasted Black Tea (Koko Ki)Purchased From:  Tealet TeasType of Tea:  Hawaiian Black Tea

Origin of Tea:  Onomea Tea Farms in Hawaii, United States of America

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Dry, unsteeped leaves of the Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea.
Dry, unsteeped leaves of the Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea.

Aroma:  Rich, Cocoa is most prevalent. Also has a nutty hint, most similar to almonds.

Dryness:  Quite dry. Leaves crack easily, but do not completely crumble.

Color(s): Dark Brown with numerous golden tips. A nice consistent color.

Texture:  Fairly smooth, twisted and curled leaves. No rigid feel.

Sizes and Shapes:  Length of leaves average 1/4 inch to 3/4 inch (1 to 2 cm). Some leaves curled, others straight.

Unique Characteristics:  Nicely crafted twisted and curled leaves with a consistent dark brown color and many golden tips. A rich and pleasant aroma of cocoa and almond.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water:  8 oz (237 mL)

Amount of Tea:  3 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea - 1st Infusion
Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea – 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 205ºF (96ºC)

Steep Time:  3 Minutes and 0 Seconds

Aroma:  A strong nutty aroma, with some cocoa hints. Rich and pleasing aroma.

Color:  A beautifully perfect amber color. Clear, transparent.

Taste:  Nutty at first, followed by a pleasant mineral taste, ending with a sweet cocoa note at the back of the tongue. The aftertaste is pleasant and lightly bitter. The liquor has a smooth, medium body.

Comments:  This first infusion had a very pleasing taste profile, from nutty to minerally to sweetly bitter. This was a very enjoyable cup of tea.

Second Infusion:

Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea - 2nd Infusion
Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea – 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature:  205ºF (96ºC)

Steep Time:  3 Minutes and 0 Seconds

Aroma:  Nutty, cocoa, this infusion had a very light fruity hint in the aroma.

Color:  Still a beautiful amber color. Clear, transparent. Very little noticeable difference in color between 1st and 2nd.

Taste:  Remains nutty at first, with a mineral taste, then cocoa with a light and sweetly bitter finish. Maintains a nice,  smooth body.

Comments:  I barely noticed any difference in color, taste, or feel between the first and second infusions. The aroma  was slightly different, with light fruity hints in the second infusion that I did not detect in the first. Another great cup.

Third Infusion:

Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea - 3rd Infusion
Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea – 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature:  205ºF (96ºC)

Steep Time:  3 Minutes and 0 Seconds

Aroma:  Earthy and mineral aroma. Pleasant but different. Aroma of nuts, cocoa, and fruit are much lighter.

Color:  A lighter shade of amber than the first and second infusion. Clear, transparent.

Taste:  The nutty and cocoa tastes have become lighter, and the body is lighter overall. Tastes of earth and mineral have become more apparent. A slight fruity and sweet aftertaste exist.

Comments:  There was a noticeable difference in aromas, color, and tastes between the second and third infusions.  The third infusion had an interesting and pleasant taste of mineral and earthiness, and was less sweet than previous  infusions. This was an interesting contrast to the other cups, but still a good tasting cup.

Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea - Infused Leaves
Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted Black Tea – Infused Leaves

Color:  Mostly uniform brown leaves with some green leaves mixed in.

Sizes and Shapes:  Many full leaves, appears to be one leaf and a bud. Some broken leaves.

Unique Characteristics:  Very nice tea leaf specimens. Full leaves with bud. Leaves still have a durable feel, indicating that these leaves were not completely exhausted of infusions.

Final Comments:  Black teas are not usually on my list of favorite teas, but this Hawaiian grown Aged Roasted black tea (Koko Ki) is now on that list. Of all the black teas that I have tried, I have to say that this one is definitely in the number one or two spot on my favorite black teas list. From the dry leaf aroma, uniformity in color, and abundance of golden tips to the smell and taste beautifully amber colored liquors, this black tea was a true pleasure to sample. I just pray that I will be able to find more of it soon, because this sample will be finished very quickly. Thank you, Onomea Tea Company, for your work on this great tea, and Thank You to Tealet Teas for deciding to work with Onomea to offer such a product.