I received a package of samples today that I have been eagerly waiting to receive for some time. Therefore, I had to put everything else aside and do a review. Today I will be focusing on the Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea direct from the Heritage Tea Assam Company, located in Dibrugarh, India.
Heritage Tea Assam Company is one of the few tea growers and manufacturers in the Assam district that are committed to producing high-quality loose teas, and not simply producing CTC teas for the mass market. I was having a rather difficult time finding such a company in Assam that produced above-average quality teas, and when I originally emailed Heritage Tea Assam, I had not heard back in weeks and assumed the worst. I later found out that severe storms had damaged communication lines in to the town. I was quite excited to see the reply email when it did arrive.
So now I have a few products here that I have not had before, high-quality orthodox Assam black, white, green, and even a smoked tea which smells intriguing! Naturally, I had to go with the best black tea first, as this is what Assam is known for.
As a quick reminder to those who may not be aware of what makes teas from the Assam district so unique from the teas of China or Darjeeling, the variety of tea bush that is grown in Assam is the Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica, known for having larger and broader leaves than the Camellia Sinensis var. Sinensis variety, and producing a fuller body and stronger tasting liquor. Many of the different breakfast blends contain at least some black tea from Assam.
The sample packet has been opened, and the bold smell of malt is already dominating the room. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform dark reddish-brown to black color, with a generous portion of golden tips. The leaves are rolled, and are all small to medium sized fragments. There is a moderate amount of crumbs, and some bare stems in the mix. The aroma is strong and sweet, with scents of cocoa, malt, dried fruit, and wood.
Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron Tetsubin. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (95°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, deep red color, mostly clear and transparent, with a very slight “cream down” effect. The aroma is bold, with scents of malt, roses, and wood. The body is full, with a smooth texture. The taste is mouth-filling, with a strong astringency, and notes of malt, wood, light citrus, and light roses. The aftertaste is sweet and astringent, and the astringent character lingers in the mouth for a respectable amount of time.
One minute was added to the infusion time for the second infusion, bringing the total to 4:00 minutes. The second infusion produced a liquor with a lighter color, displaying more of an orange-red color, with the cream down effect no longer noticeable. This liquor is perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has lightened, but retains scents of malt, light roses, and wood. The body has lightened some, and the texture has thinned. The taste retains a fairly strong astringency, however lighter than the first infusion. Lighter notes of malt, citrus, and wood remain. The aftertaste and essence have lightened.
Due to a lack of time and assumption that the third infusion will be quite light, I decided to pass on preparing the third infusion.
The infused leaves have a uniform dark copper color. All leaves are small and medium fragments. There are a few bare stems in the mix, as well as a respectable portion of tips averaging about 0.75 inches (15 to 20 mm) in length. The aroma has scents of malt, wood, and light flowers.
This Orthodox Assam Tips Black Tea is exactly what I was looking for in a high-quality Assam black tea. The color of the first infusion was deep and beautiful. The aroma and taste were robust and eye-opening. The body was full, yet the texture is smooth. This tea can definitely replace coffee in the morning, for those of you who care to try switching. The second infusion is certainly flavorful enough to enjoy also. Considering the amount of tips in the mix, I am expecting the other samples from Heritage Assam with less tips to be even stronger in flavor. That will be a welcome adventure. It will also be interesting to taste the silver tips white teas and the green teas. Stay tuned.
Thank you to Heritage Assam Tea for your generosity in providing these excellent samples! I look forward to reviewing the other teas included in the package. Cheers!