The focus of this review is the Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Black Tea from Harmutty Tea Estate and Lochan Tea. The Harmutty Tea Estate is located in Upper Assam, and consists of 374 hectates (924 acres) of land. Harmutty Tea Estate was established in 1870, and is now owned by the highly recognized Goodricke Group and Stewart Holl Ltd.
According to the Goodricke Group website, the estate was named after Queen Harimati, married to King Arimatta. Their kingdom is believed to have spread throughout lower Assam. The queens grave rests next to the Maj Bungalow. Given the estates location by the Dikrong River, and the vast undisturbed forests nearby, the Harmutty Tea Estate is known for offering visitors beautiful landscape views, and opportunities to see wildlife venturing out from the forests.
The sample packet has been opened, and the appearance of the tea matches the product name perfectly. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves are mostly (70%) a uniform golden color, the remaining 30% are a uniform black color. The leaves consist almost entirely of lightly rolled, unbroken buds, with some medium sized fragments in the mix. There are very few bare stems, and those few are quite thin. Although there are some crumbs, the amount is not much of a concern. The buds have fine hairs on them, giving them a smooth texture. The pluck appears to be a fine hand plucked and unopened leaf, perhaps with a younger bud enveloped inside. The smell carries scents of dried cherries, dark cocoa, cherry wood, roses, and clove. The smell is very attractive and high quality.
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 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two quality infusions from the same serving of leaves. Increase steep time by 1:00 minute on the second infusion.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a deep orange-red color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma carries scents of caramel, roses, cherries, clove, cocoa, and cherry wood. The body is full, with a very smooth, velvety texture. It should be noted that despite the full body, this tea is considerably lighter than other non-tippy Assam black teas. There is a very mild astringency. The taste has notes of malt, caramel, roses, cherry, clove, cherry wood, citrus (lemon), and earth (soil). The aftertaste carries the malt, earth, and cherry wood notes. The tea gives a dry feel to the mouth.
The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves consist almost entirely of buds. Some of the buds are unbroken, with an unopened leaf and no younger bud inside. There is a considerable amount of fragments and crumbs, but nothing out of the ordinary. The buds have a smooth, soft texture. The smell has scents of malt, caramel, cherry, clove, light soil, and light flowers.
In terms of my personal preferences for Assam teas, this Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea ranks high on the list. The appearance and smell of the dry leaves is both impressive and inviting. The color of the infusion is deep and eye catching. The aroma and taste of the infusion are rich, yet not overwhelming. Milk is definitely not necessary to make this a highly palatable and enjoyable Assam tea. The full body and incredibly smooth texture compliment one another very nicely. This tea also did not give me the jittery energy that bolder Assam teas tend to. I infused the leaves twice, and the second infusion, although not quite as good (obviously) as the first, was still tasteful and palatable. Overall, this was an excellent product.
Another thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this sample of Harmutty Golden Lion 2nd Flush 2014 Assam Black Tea. Cheers!