Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal Tea from Surajmukhi Tea

Moving right along through the samples of high quality orthodox teas from Nepal, I have come to the SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush 2014 tea from Kanyam Tea Estate. This sample was provided by Surajmukhi Tea.

The Kanyam Tea Estate is located in the Ilam District of eastern Nepal, a short two kilometers from the Darjeeling district of India.The estate consists of a total area of 240 hectares (about 593 acres), of which 200 hectares (494 acres) is dedicated to tea cultivation. The tea estate itself is situated at an altitude around 6,000 feet (1,828 meters) above sea level. The Kanyam Tea Factory is situated at an altitude of about 5,500 feet (1,675 meters) above sea level. The Kanyam Tea Factory produces an annual output of about 125,000 kilograms of high quality orthodox teas.

The sample packet has been opened, and a candy-sweet aroma is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush Nepal Tea Dry Leaves
Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush Nepal Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light green to light brown to reddish-purple to black, with a generous amount of silver tips covered in fine hairs. The leaves are medium to large fragments, and are rolled. The pluck is two leaves and a bud. There are a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a dry, rigid texture. The aroma is very sweet, with scents of ripe red grapes, ripe cherries, sugar candy, autumn leaves, flowers, and potpourri. As usual for the high quality orthodox teas from Nepal, the aroma of this Kanyam SFTGFOP1 is highly impressive.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 3:30 minutes. Expect two quality infusions from the same serving of leaves. Add an additional minute to the steep time for the second infusion, for a total of 4:30 minutes. The second infusion will be lighter in character than the first.

Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush Nepal Tea Infusion
Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush Nepal Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of grapes, grapefruit, raw cacao, roses, autumn leaves, and cinnamon. The body is medium-full, with a lively texture, and a noticeably uplifting energy. The taste has notes of grapes, grapefruit, roses, light malt, raw cacao, and cinnamon. There is a very mild astringency, and a pleasant bitterness that balances well with the sweet tastes. The aftertaste is sweet and lightly spicy (cinnamon), which translates into a sweetly floral essence left on the breath. From color to taste, this infusion is just as impressive as the aroma of the dry leaves.

Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush Nepal Tea Infused Leaves
Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush Nepal Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper brown color, some leaning to greenish-brown. The leaves are all medium to large fragments. There are no whole and unbroken leaves, but plenty of whole buds, and a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a smooth and slightly leathery texture. The aroma maintains the sweet scents of grapes, cherries, candy, flowers, and potpourri.

It is hard to imagine that the popularity of high quality orthodox teas from Nepal is not on the verge of skyrocketing. I understand there are some socio-political roadblocks that are not allowing the industry to fully blossom, and I truly hope that the government, tea industry leaders, and the workers of Nepal can find a mutually beneficial solution to these problems. The high quality products are certainly there! The Kanyam SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush 2014 is another shining example of the beautiful and highly impressive tea products being produced in eastern Nepal. The aroma of the dry leaves has certainly left a lasting mark in my memory. The bright color of the liquor, the aroma, the lively texture, the uplifting energy, and the beautifully balanced taste certainly sealed a highly favorable opinion of this tea. I am starting to see the bottom of this package of Nepal tea samples, and I am a little depressed by that fact. These teas are incredible! If you haven’t tried a tea from Nepal, and I mean any high quality orthodox tea, then you need to find one and buy it now! Shameless Plug Alert: The Tea Journeyman Shop currently offers the Kanchenjunga Green Tea from Kanchanjangha Tea Estate! Why not start your Nepal tea experience with my favorite green tea from this emerging market!

Thanks to Ankit Lochan from Surajmukhi Tea for providing these incredible samples of tea from Kanyam Tea Estate. Cheers!

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Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 King Clonal Musk 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from Surajmukhi Tea

Today’s review will focus on the FTGFOP1 King Clonal Musk 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from the Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate in the Kurseong North Valley of the Darjeeling area of India. I have covered various details of the Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate in previous posts, so I will skip the redundancy in covering those details in this post. This sample was provided by Surajmukhi Tea.

The King Clonal, or Clonal King as other estates call it, from Margaret’s Hope is not one of the varieties of theirs that I have had before. As I have said many times, Margaret’s Hope produces my favorite Darjeeling teas, regardless of the season. Any time I receive a new variety from this beautiful tea estate, it will end up getting reviewed on this blog.

The sample packet has been opened, and the sweet, floral, yet uniquely robust aroma that Darjeeling “musk” teas are known for can be immediately recognized. Let the journey begin…

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 King Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 King Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from light copper-brown to black, with a generous portion of silver tips. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, and are machine rolled. There are a few stems in the mix. The tips are mostly whole and unbroken, and are covered in soft, downy-like hairs. The leaves crack easily, but do not crumble, and have a somewhat rigid texture. The aroma is very sweet and floral, with scents of grapes, chocolate, roses, light spice, and a light white musk hint. The aroma is impressive.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect to get two quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. For the second infusion, steep the leaves for 4:00 minutes.

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 King Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infusion
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 King Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infusion

Sorry, the photo of the infusion did not turn out as nicely detailed as it originally looked on the small screen. Anyway, the first infusion produced a liquor with a bright reddish-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of roses, grapes, light chocolate, light caramel, and light white musk. The body is medium-full, with a caramel-like texture. The taste has notes of roses, grapes, chocolate, caramel, and light white musk. There is a mild astringency. The aftertaste carries the grape and floral notes, and even the essence left on the breath has hints of grapes.

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 King Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 King Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper brown color, some leaning to a green-copper, others leaning to brown. The leaves are all medium sized fragments. Most of the tips are whole and unbroken, and measure about 3/4 inch to 1 inch (18 to 25mm). The leaves have a soft, thin, smooth texture. The aroma has scents of roses, grapes, light white musk, and light chocolate.

Another strong showing from a product from Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate. The classic Darjeeling tastes of grapes and roses combined nicely with more unique notes of white musk and caramel. The smooth, caramel texture was very pleasant as well. A potent aftertaste leaves a lasting memory of the quality of the FTGFOP1 King Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea. This product is a perfect example of why I am always excited to receive samples from Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate.

Thanks to Ankit Lochan of Surajmukji Tea for providing this sample. Cheers!

Yun Bi Oolong Tea from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership in Thailand

I always get excited to receive samples from a new source, especially when it is a new tea farm looking to get some well-deserved attention for their products.We all know that I have come to love the teas from Thailand, specifically the oolong teas. So when the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership contacted me to request that I review two of their oolong teas and one green tea, I did not hesitate for one moment to accept the generous request. Let me thank the management team at Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership for their generosity!

Today, I will be focusing on the Yun Bi Oolong Tea. This is an organically grown high mountain oolong tea. The raw tea leaves are harvested from the TTES # 12 (Jin Xuan) cultivar.

The Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is located in Bhan Khun Wang, Tambon Mae Win, Amphoe Mae Wang, Chiang Mai Province, north Thailand. The garden cultivates only five acres (2.02 hectares) of land, and of these five acres, only about half is covered in tea. The cultivars grown are the TTES #17 (Qing Xin) and TTES #12 (Jin Xuan). The tea garden has an average altitude above 1,500 meters (4,900 feet). The factory focuses completely on the production of oolong and green tea. A Google map of the Bhan Khun Wang area is provided below. For more information on the Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership, please visit their website here.

The sample packet has been opened, and the appearance of this tea is quite different than any other oolong tea that I have seen. Let the journey begin…

Yun Bi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Yun Bi Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly consistent color of dark greenish-black, with plenty of goldish tips in the mix. The leaves appear to be all large fragments and a very high number of whole leaves with stems and buds intact. The uniform appearance indicates hand processing from the pluck to rolling. The leaves appear to be quite small compared to those used in semi-ball shaped oolongs. The pluck is varied, with some showing a single leaf and bud, and others showing two leaves and bud. From the color, the oxidation level looks quite high, with my guess being about 40%, give or take 10%. The leaves also appear to be roasted significantly. The aroma has scents of brown sugar, sweet wood, cinnamon, and fresh baked bread. The appearance and aroma of the dry leaves are both intriguing and impressive!

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195° (90°C). Infuse the leaves for 2:00 to 2:30 minutes for the first infusion. Expect at least three or four quality infusions out the same serving of leaves. Decrease the infusion time on the second infusion to 1:00 to 1:30 minutes, then add 15 to 30 seconds to each additional infusion.

Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infusion
Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of cream, light brown sugar, light vanilla, light wood, cinnamon, and light flowers. The body is medium, with a silky, creamy texture. The taste has quite an array of descriptions, with notes of wood, cream, brown sugar, vanilla, peaches, flowers, and very light cooked leafy vegetables. The aftertaste is sweetly floral, and a persistent floral bouquet can be felt on the breath.

Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Yun Bi Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a consistent fresh forest green color, with some minor reddish hints around the edges, and brown stems. The oxidation does not seem as high now that the leaves have been infused. These leaves are 99% whole and unbroken! I found very few fragments in the sample, further indicating the careful hand plucking and hand processing of the leaves. The leaves are quite small and many appear young, with the majority measuring well under one inch (25 mm), and very few measuring over 1.5 inches (38 mm). The leaves are fairly narrow. Their is a generous portion of nicely developed buds, and the pluck varies from three leaves and no bud to one leaf and a large bud. The aroma has scents of vanilla, sweet wet wood, light cooked vegetables, a touch of cinnamon, light peach, and light flowers.

I have reviewed many teas whose manufacturers have claimed that the entire production process is completed by hand, but few teas have proven this claim so clearly as this Yun Bi Oolong Tea from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. This tea was among the most interesting reviews, from the dry leaves to the infused leaves, that I have completed on this blog. It is amazing to see such small farms do what Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership is doing. If you read their website (I linked to it in the introduction above), you will see what the land was used for before it was rehabilitated and turned into tea, Chinese Mulberry, and Japanese persimmons. Amazingly, I can still taste all of the old crops, such as the peaches from the peach orchards, and the leafy green vegetables. This tea paints a very clear picture of the history of the land, as well as the care that goes into manufacturing it. I feel like I could write a book about this tea alone. It is seriously that interesting to me.

With that being said, I will cut the rambling off here. What I will say is that I simply cannot wait to get to the other two samples from Doi Inthanon Tea Partnership. Another thank you to the management and all of the workers at Doi Inthanon for producing these amazing teas, and for the generosity in sending them to me. This has been a very noteworthy experience, and I look forward to watching this garden grow and develop! Cheers!

Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea from Yunomi.Us

Here is an interesting Japanese green tea that I have not opened in a few months, but certainly deserves a review. This is the Shincha Hatsuzumi (1st Flush 2014) Green Tea. This product was purchased from Yunomi.US. You may find the website by clicking here.

This Shincha Green Tea was produced on Tanegashima Island, one of the Osumi Islands, in the Kagoshima Prefecture of Japan. Tanegashima Island is fairly flat topographically, with the highest point being measured at 282 meters (925 feet) above sea level. Tanegashima Island produces little tea in comparison with other growing areas of Japan, so the May to Spring Shincha season produces the best quality sencha style teas coming from Tanegashima Island. As is common with Japanese teas, identifying the exact estate that provided the tea leaves in this product is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Especially considering that the leaves may have originated from several estates on Tanegashima Island.

As mentioned in earlier posts, Shincha is the Japanese green tea version of a first flush, or first harvest of a new growing year, tea. The aromas and tastes are generally known for being more delicate and complex than later harvests of the same growing year.

The retail package has been opened, and a sweet, grassy fragrance is filling the air. Let the journey begin…

Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea Dry Leaves
Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform fresh and dark forest green color, with a slight gleam. The leaves are all small leaf fragments, with a considerable amount of crumbs. The leaves are machine rolled, and there are few stems in the mix. The tea leaves are steamed. The leaves are thin, needle shaped, and crack easily. The aroma has scents of fresh cut grass, very light brown sugar, and light dry seaweed.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to about 140°F to 160°F (60°C to 70°C). Steep first infusion for 1:00 to 1:30 minutes, second infusion for 0:30 minutes, then add 15 to 30 seconds to each subsequent infusion. Expect to get three or four infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea Infusion
Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright yellowish-jade green color, with a slight haze, and very fine particulate. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, steamed spinach, steamed asparagus, and steamed seaweed. The body is light-medium, with light yet creamy, rich texture. There is a pleasant moderate umami character. The taste has notes of sweet grass, steamed spinach and asparagus, and steamed seaweed. The aftertaste is grassy, and a pleasing flowery essence is left on the breath.

Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea Infused Leaves
Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color, with the stems having a lighter fresh green color. The leaves are all small fragments. The leaves have a very soft, smooth, delicate texture. I can easily imagine putting soy sauce on these leaves and eating them for a post tea snack. The aroma continues the scents of fresh wet grass, steamed asparagus and spinach, and steamed seaweed.

The Shincha Hatsuzumi 1st Flush 2014 Green Tea impressed me the most with its unique texture, having both a light-medium body, but a rich and creamy feel. It is difficult to explain, but it was certainly different than sencha teas from later harvests. The aromas and tastes are very fresh and invigorating, promoting refreshment, relaxation, as well as a sense of heightened awareness. This green tea embodies all of the positive characteristics that Japanese green teas are so well respected for.

Thank you to Ian Chun at Yunomi.Us for working so hard to bring Japanese tea farmers and the rest of the tea consuming world together in one marketplace. Cheers!

High Grown Hyson Green Tea from Craigmore Plantations

Today’s review will focus on the Hyson grade Green Tea from Craigmore Plantations, located in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu state in southern India. I covered the Craigmore Plantation in good detail on my previous review of the FOP Supreme Grade Black Tea. Click here to see that review and to read more about Craigmore Plantation.

All of the green teas produced at Craigmore Plantations are manufactured at the Pascoe Woodlands Factory. All of the green teas produced at this factory are pan-fired, not steamed. The tea bushes that are harvested to produce these green teas are considered High Grown, with average elevations of 5,500 feet (1,675 meters) above sea level.

The labeling of this product as “Hyson” may cause frustration with some people, but we will let them voice their opinions on their time. The manufacturer has labeled this product as “Hyson”, thus I am using that name. The sample packet has been opened, and an earthy aroma is being detected. Let the journey begin…

Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Dry Leaves
Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from dull forest green to very dark green, almost black. The leaves are all large fragments, with the possibility of a few whole leaves. There are a few stems in the mix. The leaves are tightly rolled (machine), causing some to curl significantly. The color of the leaves is evidence of the pan-firing technique. The size of the dry leaves indicates that larger, more mature leaves are being harvested to produce this tea. There are no tips in the mix. The aroma has scents of forest floor, animal hide, light molasses, and dry grass.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (75°C). Infuse the leaves for 1:30 to 2:00, maximum. Expect to get three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infusion
Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale yellow-jade green color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of earth (forest floor), mineral, grass, and light flowers. The body is medium, with a gentle, velvety, clean texture. The taste has notes of grass, mineral (wet stones), and light flowers. There is a medium strength astringency. The aftertaste continues the grass and mineral taste, and a light flowery essence can be felt on the breath.

Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infused Leaves
Craigmore Hyson Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform forest green color, with a few spots of light brown. The leaves are all medium to large fragments. There are some stems in the mix, including the one pictured, which measured nearly four inches (100 mm) long. The fragments come from rather large, mature leaves, similar to those that I have found in Hyson/Young Hyson green teas from Sri Lanka. The leaves have a very smooth, thin rubbery texture. The aroma has scents of wet grass, forest floor, and wet stones.

Overall, the Hyson Green Tea from Craigmore Plantations is an interesting detour from the more well known and recognized green teas of China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Again, it has some similarities to my favorite green tea from Sri Lanka, but this product was missing some of the liveliness, consistency from infusion to infusion, and taste components that make the Ceylon Big Leaf Green Tea from Radella Tea Estate my preference. This green tea from Craigmore does has a clean texture that I found pleasant, and overall the aroma and taste were enjoyable. The aroma of the dry leaves was unique, but some may find it off-putting. Again, if you have been drinking plenty of Japanese or Korean green teas, and want a drastically different profile in a green tea, then the Craigmore Hyson Green Tea will satisfy that desire.

Thank you to the management of Craigmore Plantations for providing this sample of Hyson Green Tea. It was a great experience! Cheers!

Libra Rooibos and Black Tea Blend from Nina’s Paris

Having the zodiac sign of Libra myself, I decided to try the Libra Rooibos and black tea blend from Nina’s Paris. Libra, as most of you know, is symbolized by a scale, and Balance is the primary virtue. If I have come to realize one thing about the Nina’s Paris blending team, it is certainly the fact that they have a good understanding of balance. All of the samples that I have received from Nina’s Paris are products that seem to have a perfect amount of flavoring. The flavoring is not too heavy or too light, allowing the products to provide the natural taste of the base tea or herb, and having the desired aromas and tastes from the flavoring. Check out the Nina’s Paris North America website by clicking here.

The sample packet has been opened, and there is a pleasant balance of aromas. Let the journey begin…

Libra Rooibos Blend Dry Leaves
Libra Rooibos Blend Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are a blend of red rooibos (African Red Bush herb), orange safflower petals, and black tea leaves. The blend is slightly weighted on the amount of rooibos, with a ratio of about 65% rooibos and 35% black tea. The black tea leaves are all small fragments, orthodox style, and machine rolled. I am guessing that the black tea is Ceylon BOP grade. The red rooibos has the usual thin twigs or needle shape.  The aroma is dominated by scents of orange. Vanilla can be easily detected, but not as strong as the orange. The naturally soft and sweet scent of the red rooibos can also be detected with some effort.

Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in a twenty-one ounce (620 ml) cast iron teapot. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 3:30 minutes. Use the same water temperature and time parameters for at home preparation, and use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used.

Libra Rooibos Blend Infusion
Libra Rooibos Blend Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful rich amber color, clear and transparent. The aroma is a soft and gentle blend of orange, vanilla, and red rooibos. The black tea itself is difficult to detect in the aroma. The body is medium-full, with a lively, invigorating texture. The taste has notes of orange and vanilla, with a mild astringency. The natural taste of the red rooibos can be detected easily, and the character from the black tea comes more in the form of the mild astringency and lively mouth feel. The aftertaste is sweet with orange and vanilla.

Libra Rooibos Blend Infused Leaves
Libra Rooibos Blend Infused Leaves

Considering the components of this product blend, there is little to describe in the infused leaves that differs from the description of the dry leaves. The aroma continues to be very attractive, with dominant scents of orange and vanilla.

The Libra Rooibos and Black Tea Blend from Nina’s Paris reflects the virtue of Libra quite well. The flavoring and the leaf blend resulted in a perfect balance in the cup. The aroma and taste of the flavoring in the infusion are quite gentle, and far from overpowering. The natural character of the red rooibos is easy to feel throughout the experience. The black tea provides the mouth feel and pleasant astringency. Balance is what I expected in a product with Libra in the name, and Nina’s Paris was successful in accomplishing balance in this product.

Click here to check out the Libra Rooibos Blend at Nina’s Paris North America website.

Thank you to the management team at Nina’s Paris North America for providing the sample used in this review. Cheers!

Khima FTGFOP1 2nd Flush 2014 Nepal Green Tea from Surajmukhi Tea

I have to admit that I have samples from a few vendors waiting for review, but I am having a hard time pulling myself away from the box of samples from Nepal. I have yet to find a Nepal tea that I have not been and impressed with and thoroughly enjoyed. This is definitely a region that I will be keeping an eye, as I expect the popularity of Nepal teas to increase exponentially as more consumers get to try these amazing products.

Today’s review will focus on the Khima FTGFOP1 2nd Flush Nepal Green Tea. This sample was provided by Surajmukhi Tea. The estate producing this tea is located in eastern Nepal, on the opposing hill slopes of the Thurbo Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India.

The sample packet has been opened, and if you put these dry tea leaves in front of me, then a box of dark chocolate covered cherries, I would probably not be able to tell them apart. Let the journey begin…

Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Dry Leaves
Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from bright green to very dark green (almost black), and a few brown. There are some silver tips in the mix, as well as some stems. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, and are machine rolled. I am not convinced that this is a true green tea, not to take anything away from the overall quality of the product itself. The aroma is incredibly attractive, with dominant scents of sweetened dark chocolate, ripe dark cherries, and a very light touch of dried cayenne or chili peppers. This is a very impressive aroma!

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 minutes.

I prepared this sample using the parameters that are appropriate for an evaluation of a true green tea.  I will also prepare a separate sample using 205°F (96°C) water and a 4:00 minute infusion time to gauge the level of bitterness and other undesirable effects that result. This will help determine whether this is a true green tea or not. I will report my findings at the bottom of the this review. At that time, I will also provide my suggestions for at home preparation.

Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Infusion (175F)
Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Infusion (175F)

The first infusion produced a liquor with a pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of cocoa, cherry, and light grass. The body is light-medium, with a clean, smooth texture. The taste has notes of dark chocolate, cherries, and grass. There is a mild astringency to the tea. The aftertaste is sweet and grassy, and a sweet yet light floral essence can be felt on the breath.

Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Infused Leaves
Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves range in color from fresh forest green to dark forest green to greenish-brown. The leaves are all medium sized fragments, with some unbroken tips in the mix, and some smaller stem fragments. The leaves have a soft, smooth, delicate texture. The aroma maintains the scents of dark chocolate, cherries, and a light grass hint.

Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Infusion (205F)
Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea Infusion (205F)

Using the 205°F (96°C) water and a 4:00 minute infusion time, the tea has a darker golden-yellow color. The aroma is not as pleasant. The taste is certainly more bitter, and the dark chocolate note is more of woody note. The aftertaste is quite bitter. Although I am still not fully convinced that this is a true green tea in the traditional definition of the word, I am convinced that using green tea steeping parameters is the best method of extracting the most favorable characteristics from these leaves.

Therefore, my suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 175°F (75°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect to get two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, with the second infusion being overall lighter in character than the first infusion.

The teas coming from this tea estate in eastern Nepal have the amazing quality of offering strong scents and tastes of dark chocolate and cherries. I would almost describe these products as desert teas. The visual aspect of the dry leaves is not as impressive as the aromas and tastes, having the general look of other Darjeeling second flush teas. As a basis for comparison, my favorite green tea out of Nepal comes from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate. Although that green tea is not as sweet, and instead is more floral, the dry leaves have a very high quality appearance, and consist of large leaf fragments, whole leaves, and impressive tips. It is my humble opinion that if Nepal tea producers want to compete and gain market share on their Darjeeling (and other) competitors, then they may want to consider diversifying the appearance of the teas. Of course, if improving the appearance translates into lower quality aromas and tastes, then appearance should not be the priority.

Do not forget that the green tea from Kanchanjangha Tea Estate is available for purchase at The Tea Journeyman Shop! Click here to check it out!

Overall, this Khima FTGFOP1 Nepal Green Tea was an impressive product! If you like chocolate covered cherries, then you will absolutely love this tea. At least you don’t have to worry about the calorie counting while indulging in this treat!

Thanks to Ankit Lochan at Surajmukhi Tea for providing these incredible samples from Nepal, Assam, and Darjeeling. Cheers!

 

Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea from Surajmukhi Tea

Along with some interesting tea samples from Nepal, there were two samples from Assam included with the recent package from Surajmukhi Tea. Today’s review will focus on the Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea.

The Seajuli Tea Estate is located in the North Bank of the Brahmaputra River, Lakhimpur District, Assam region of India. Focusing specifically on orthodox styles of teas, Seajuli is well known for the high quality teas produced here, as well as the natural beauty of the estate itself. Seajuli Tea Estate consists of about 289 hectares (714 acres) of land under tea cultivation.

The sample packet has been opened, and the scent of dark chocolate is immediately recognizable. Let the journey begin…

Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves
Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform faded black color. There are a few golden tips in the mix. The leaves are all medium fragments. There are a few stems in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled. The leaves have a rigid texture. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, dried cherries, clove, and light leather. The aroma is very attractive.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every eight ounces (240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of dry leaves. The second infusion will be significantly lighter than the first.

Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infusion
Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright amber color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, malt, clove, light cherry, and light valley flowers. The body is full, with a very smooth, velvety texture. The taste has a biscuity quality, with notes of dark chocolate, clove, light cherry, and light valley flowers. The astringency is moderate for an Assam black tea, and lingers through the aftertaste. The aftertaste also carries hints of dark chocolate and flowers.

Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves
Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark greenish-brown color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, cherry, and clove.

The Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush Assam Black Tea had plenty of positive attributes, and almost no negatives! From the highly attractive aroma of the dry leaves, to the full bodied, yet not overpowering qualities of the infusion, it is easy to see why the products from this tea estate enjoy much popularity in the European tea market. This tea does not need milk to be easily palatable, but surely a splash of milk will not take anything away from it. It is quite tasteful and aromatic in its most pure form. The astringency is very pleasant, and not overwhelming. It also carries nicely through the aftertaste. This is definitely an Assam tea that can satisfy many tastes.

Thank you to Ankit Lochan at Surajmukhi Tea for supplying this sample of Seajuli GFOP 2nd Flush Assam Black Tea. Cheers!

Earl Grey Green Tea from Satemwa Tea Estate

A more recent addition to the high quality unflavored loose leaf tea products produced by Satemwa Tea Estate near Thyolo, Malawi, are the flavored or herbal tea blends known as the “Fusion” products. I recently received three of the Fusion products, including the Green Earl Grey (723), which is the focus of today’s review.

To learn more about Satemwa Tea Estate, please click here to be taken to the informational page on The Tea Journeyman Shop website. The Satemwa Antlers White Tea and Bvumbwe Peony White Tea are currently offered at the Tea Journeyman Shop, so please check these products out! They are the best selling teas on the website for a reason. You can find a link to The Tea Journeyman Shop website on the menu bar at the top of this page.

The sample packet has been opened, and there is definitely a unique aroma to this Green Earl Grey. Let the journey begin…

Satemwa Earl Grey Green Tea Dry Leaves
Satemwa Earl Grey Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are mostly very dark forest green, with a few being a lighter shade of green. There are also a few blue cornflowers and citrus peel pieces in the mix. The leaves are medium to large fragments, and are lightly rolled. The leaves are light and crispy, so they crack easily but do not crumble. No buds are immediately visible, and there are a few stems in the mix. The aroma is dominated by scents of bergamot and lemon, with perhaps a light touch of vanilla. If enough effort is put in to smelling the dry leaves, the natural aroma of the tea leaves can be felt, giving faint earth and grass scents.

Twelve grams of dry leaves were placed in a twenty-four ounce (700 ml) ceramic teapot. Purified water was heated to 175°F (75°C). The leaves were infused for 2:00 minutes. I suggest using these same parameters for at home preparation. Use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Expect three infusions out of the same serving of leaves. The bergamot and citrus flavoring will diminish significantly after the first infusion, but the natural character of the tea leaves will be more noticeable.

Satemwa Earl Grey Green Tea Dry Infusion
Satemwa Earl Grey Green Tea Dry Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright greenish-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has dominant scents of bergamot and citrus, with lighter scents of vanilla, grass, and earth. The body is light-medium, with a smooth, gentle texture. The taste is also dominated by notes of bergamot and citrus, with lighter notes of grass, earth, and vanilla. The aftertaste is sweet and citrusy.

Satemwa Earl Grey Green Tea Dry Infused Leaves
Satemwa Earl Grey Green Tea Dry Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, but an occasional whole leaf can be found in the mix. There are some stems, most of which display a two leaf and small bud pluck. There are a few small buds in the mix. The leaves have a soft, velvety texture. The aroma is dominated by scents of bergamot, citrus, with lighter scents of vanilla and fresh grass.

The Green Earl Grey from Satemwa Tea Estate is nicely balanced in the cup, with dominant, but not overwhelming scents and tastes of bergamot and citrus. I personally enjoyed the second infusion the best, as more of the natural character of the green tea became evident, while enough of the bergamot/citrus flavoring remained to create a very nice blend. The tea leaves themselves are of good quality, and appear to be the Zomba Steamed TSFOP Green Tea from Satemwa. Although I have not had many Earl Grey style green teas, so my basis for comparison is limited, I certainly do recommend giving the Green Earl Grey from Satemwa Tea Estate a try. Good balance of scents and tastes, good quality tea leaves used, and it comes from an estate that produces some of my favorite teas, those are three good reasons to try this tea.

Thank you to Ross at Finlays Tea for providing this sample! Cheers!

Golden Tips Black Tea from Heritage Tea Assam Company

Although I am always excited to receive packages of samples that I am expecting, receiving an unexpected sample usually helps positively enhance the mood during a day of insurance work. The Heritage Tea Assam Company was the catalyst for having had a more enthusiastic day last week, as they sent a sample of the Golden Tips Black Tea from their factory. A special thanks to Heritage Tea Assam for providing such a pleasant surprise.

This tea is exactly as described, pure golden tips. There are almost no black leaves in this sample whatsoever. I almost thought it was a packet of loose shu pu’er until I took a closer look and realized where the sample had come from. Needless to say that I was much more excited once I realized that it was golden tips from Assam.

The sample packet has been opened, and the aroma is certainly unique from the golden tips of Yunnan. Let the journey begin…

Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves
Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a mostly uniform yellow-gold color, with some black color on stems. The leaves are mostly tips, with some fine leaves and tip fragments in the mix. There are just a few small stem twig fragments in the mix. The pluck is one fine leaf and bud. The leaves are lightly rolled. There is some chalky residue on the leaves, and they have a smooth, soft texture. The leaves snap easily, but do not crumble. The aroma has scents of nutrient rich soil, raw cacao, dried fig, and light valley flowers.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes. The infusion was poured into a separate tasting cup.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F to 205°F (90°C to 96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect to get two or three infusions from the same serving of leaves. The second and third infusions will be lighter in character than the prior infusion.

Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infusion
Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-orange color, clear and transparent. I have to admit that I was slightly concerned that the chalky residue on the dry leaves would create a cloudy infusion, but this was not the case at all. The liquor is lighter in color than I expected, but is certainly the result of more tips and less leaves. The aroma has very attractive scents of malt, cacao, cloves, and fig, with a hint of fresh baked bread. The body is full, with a juicy, almost wine-like texture. The taste is surprisingly fruity, with dominant notes of fig, and lighter notes of cacao, nutrient rich soil, clove, and valley flowers. The astringency is lighter than most Assam black teas. There is also a candy-like sweetness that I cannot accurately describe at the moment. The aftertaste is malty and pleasantly proportioned.

Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves
Golden Tips Assam Black Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform light brown color. The leaves are mostly tips fragments, with some whole tips enveloped in a fine leaf. There are a few stem twigs in the mix. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma has scents of cacao, malt, light fig, light baked bread, and very light floral.

I truly appreciate the initiative that Heritage Tea Assam Company is taking in experimenting with the production of specialty types of tea. This Golden Tips Black Tea has an incredible overall quality in the cup, with sweet and fruity aromas and tastes. The hints of fresh baked bread also give this tea a welcoming character. I have never had a tea with such obvious fig hints in the aroma and taste. The texture of the tea liquor is between prune juice and a lighter style of red wine. If basing the success of a review on the tea liquor itself, then this product is definitely a success!

One recommendation that I would give is that more attention be paid to the tips during processing. Although the general gold appearance of the tips was in line with the similar style teas of Yunnan, the product was mostly tip fragments. Perhaps it is simply the content of the sample packet that I received, or the handling during shipment that broke the fragile tips. However, I personally do like to see whole tips as I believe that whole tips and leaves present a more aesthetically pleasing product, and suggest a high level of care during production. I have always been impressed with the visual aspects of high quality Yunnan golden tip teas. I have full confidence in Heritage Tea Assam Company that they are working diligently to perfect the production of this tea. As I mentioned before, and would like to repeat, the quality of the tea liquor was simply incredible! There is no concern on my end about that aspect of this product!

Thank you very much to the management at Heritage Tea Assam Company for providing me with this sample! As always, I enjoyed every moment of this analysis! Cheers!