Today’s review will focus on a product vaguely named Special OP Black Tea from the Future Generation Company, a Vietnamese exporter specializing in tea from Vietnam. I am currently hoping to receive more specific information on this tea in the near future, and will update this post accordingly. According to previous conversations that I had with my contact at Future Generation Co., many black teas are produced in the north of Vietnam. Whether that is the case with this tea, I do not know, but hope to find out soon.
The sample packet has been opened, and a woody, spicy, sweet smell is exiting the packet. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform black color, with reddish-brown stems. The leaves are long, lightly rolled and curled. The leaves appear to be large fragments, with some whole leaves being expected. No buds or tips are obvious. There are few bare stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of wood, spice, burgundy wine, and molasses. The smell reminds me of Keemun Congou black tea, but the appearance is much different, with larger leaf fragments than Keemuns.
Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark golden-red color, clear and transparent, with absolutely no particles. The aroma had scents of pine wood, burgundy wine, and light pepper. The body was medium-full, with a round, velvety texture. The taste had notes of burgundy wine, pine wood, light pepper, light citrus, and light malt. The burgundy wine note continued in the aftertaste, and a sweetly floral essence is left on the breath.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-red color. The aroma lightened significantly, but retained the scents of pine wood and burgundy wine. The body lightened to medium, and the texture thinned. The taste also lightened significantly, and retained notes of burgundy wine, light pine wood, light malt, very light pepper. The citrus note was not detectable in the second infusion. The aftertaste lightened also.
A combination of time restraints and the surprisingly light character of the second infusion convinced me to skip the third infusion for this review.
The infused leaves have a uniform dark brownish-green color. The leaves are large fragments and a respectable amount of whole leaves. There are very few bare stems, and no noticeable buds or tips. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, and are moderately delicate. The leaves are generally larger than many comparable black teas. The aroma has scents of wood, light spice, and light cocoa.
Overall, I found the first infusion of the Vietnam Special OP Black Tea to be an excellent detour from Chinese Keemum Congou. It had some similar scents and tastes, but in different strengths, and added some other taste notes that I do not pick up in Chinese Keemun Congou. I found this tea to be slightly less robust than Chinese Keemun Congou, making it a good choice for the tea drinkers who do not care to be overwhelmed by body and taste. The appearance of this tea is interesting, with large fragments and whole leaves being lightly rolled. I was surprised by how much character this tea lost from the first to second infusion, especially considering the large fragments and leaves. However, the second infusion was still enjoyable. Given the lower price of this tea, I can see it being an economic and reasonable replacement for Keemun Congou. Of the black teas from Vietnam that I have tried, this was the most interesting and tasteful. This is definitely worth trying, if you can find it.