Today’s review will focus on the Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea from What-Cha. You may view and purchase this tea from the What-Cha website by clicking here.
The Azores are a group of islands located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal. The Azores are considered an autonomous region consisting of nine islands. These islands have a subtropical climate, and are situated near the junction of three tectonic plates, the North American, Eurasian, and African, giving the islands a heavy dose of volcanic influence.
The Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea is grown and manufactured at the Gorreana Tea Estate, on the island of Sao Miguel, which is a part of the eastern group of The Azores Islands. Gorreana Tea Estate was founded in 1883, and is thus considered the oldest tea estate in Europe. Gorreana prides itself on not using pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides on the tea bushes, and claims to be located hundreds of miles from any industrial pollution. With mineral rich soils and fresh oceanic air, Gorreana Tea Estate produces high quality green and black teas.
More on The Azores and Gorreana Tea Estate will be provided in future reviews of the teas from this location. The sample packet has been opened, and a clean, earthy scent is filling the air. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a consistent black color with reddish-brown stems and a few goldish-brown buds. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with the possibility of a few small unbroken leaves and buds being in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled, with some bare stems in the mix. The pluck is difficult to determine from the stems. According to the Gorreana Tea Estate website, the Orange Pekoe grade consists of the top leaf and bud. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of autumn leaves, light malt, light freshly cut wood, mineral rich soil, and a touch of dried papaya. The earthy yet sweet smell is very unique and welcoming.
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 infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time. A very light, yet refreshing, third infusion can be prepared.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, golden-orange color and a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of autumn leaves, sweet wood, light malt, papaya, mineral rich soil, and a touch of hydrangea flowers. The body is medium, with a clean and pure, yet lively texture. The taste has notes of autumn leaves, mineral rich soil, wet stones, fresh cut wood, hydrangea, light papaya, and light lime. There is a pleasantly brisk character. The aftertaste carries the floral, sweet, and brisk notes.
The infused leaves have a copper-brown to greenish-brown color. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with a few unbroken buds and small leaves in the mix, as well as some bare stems. Based on the small size of the leaves, I feel confident that the pluck is one leaf and bud. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, and a respectable durability. The smell has scents of autumn leaves, forest floor, mineral rich soil, hydrangea, and light papaya.
As a tea drinker who prefers a tea that does not need any additives to make it more palatable, the Azores Shade-Grown Orange Pekoe “Ponta Branca” Black Tea is a very attractive option of the black tea type. With a comparably light body, a clean yet brisk character, and a fresh, natural, and intriguing aroma and flavor, this tea is definitely worth experiencing more than once. This teas terroir can certainly be felt in the aroma and taste, making it very unique from its Chinese, Indian, and other black tea counterparts. If a black tea can taste this crisp and clean, then I cannot wait to open the packet of green tea from Gorreana Tea Estate.
Thanks to the management of What-Cha for another great tea experience. Cheers!