Today, I have two black teas from two Rainforest Alliance Certified, Fairtrade estates in two different continents. The first product is the FOP black tea from Poabs Organic Estates in Kerala, southwest India. The second product is the Thyolo OP1 black tea from Satemwa Tea Estates (Thyolo Mountain) in the Shire Highlands of Malawi, southeast Africa.
Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of the Poabs FOP have a uniform dark brown to black color, with little copper color. The leaves are medium sized, rolled fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The aroma is sweet, with scents of malt, brown sugar, and spice (pepper).
The dry leaves of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 have a uniform black color, with little copper color in the veins/stems. The leaves are medium to large sized, rolled fragments, with a few leaves possible being whole. There are some longer stems in the mix, a few bare, others with small leaf fragments attached. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a small bud. The aroma is sweet, with scents of dark chocolate and dried fruit. The aroma reminds me of dark chocolate covered cherries.
For both samples, three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.
The first infusion of the Poabs FOP produced a liquor with an orange color and a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was spicy (pepper), and lightly floral and malty. The body was medium-full, with a sharp, dry feel. There was a medium-strong astringency. The taste had notes of spice (pepper), mineral, and light floral. The aftertaste was lightly sweet and floral.
The first infusion of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 produced a liquor with an orange color and a deep red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was very sweet, with scents of dark chocolate and dried fruit (cherries). The body was full, with a round, silky, feel. There was a mild astringency. The taste was sweet, with strong notes of dark chocolate, fruit (cherries and raisins), with a light mineral hint. The aftertaste was sweet and lightly spicy.
The infused leaves of the Poabs FOP have a uniform copper color. All leaves are medium sized fragments, with some stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of spice (pepper) and light floral hints.
The infused leaves of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 have a uniform dark brown-copper color. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with a few whole leaves, and some long stems in the mix. The stems show a two leaf and small bud pluck. Some large fragments appear to be more mature leaves. The aroma has scents of cocoa, dark chocolate, and dried fruit (raisins, cherries).
Aside from the color of the leaves and liquors, these two black teas were vastly different in feel, aroma, and taste. The Poabs Organic FOP had a more spicy, floral aroma and taste, with a sharp feel. The Satemwa Thyolo OP1 had a sweet, fruity aroma and taste, with a silky, smooth feel. Comparison like this are a great way to smell and taste the difference that growing conditions have on the final product. It is also interesting to note that Poabs Organic Estates are known for their various types of pepper products, and the tea had a spicy, peppery smell and taste.
Both teas are highly enjoyable in their own rites. This was a great experience in comparing visually similar teas that turned out to be completely different in smell and taste. Thank you to Poabs Organic Estates and Satemwa Tea Estates for providing the samples! Cheers to both of your Rainforest Alliance Certified, Freetrade estates!