Hello, friends and past readers of my tea blog! I know, it has been a long time, nearly two years since my last tea review post. Time flies, life happens, and unfortunately some hobbies must be put on the back burner of priorities. However, my passion for tea certainly did not stop over the past two years. I have continued sampling, buying, and exploring teas from new vendors and estates. I have definitely not lost my nose and taste for tea!
Over the past couple of months, I truly felt the calling to get back to this review blog. I have found that when I do not write reviews, the true quality of the tea is difficult to focus on. Thus, one cannot appreciate the more subtle characteristics of a tea. Considering all of the hard work that goes in to making high quality teas, I feel it almost disrespectful to not take the time to truly appreciate these products. So, here we are, about to fully appreciate another hand made, high quality tea.
Today’s review will focus on the Nandi Hills Black Tea, purchased from JusTea. JusTea is a vendor of only Kenyan small-holder grown and processed tea, offering teas in both loose leaf form and in pyramid bags. JusTea is a member of the Fair Trade Federation, are Rainforest Alliance certified, and Non-GMO Project verified. The JusTea website gives a wealth of information about their farmer partners, communities, and commitment to improving the lives of those who help create these unique teas.
Before I begin the review of the actual tea, I want to bring attention to the quality of the product packaging, and the attractive (although somewhat impractical for proper measuring) wooden teaspoon that is included with the purchase. As you can see in the photos below, JusTea wraps each tin in a very eye-catching, artistically designed fabric, which is also sourced from the same communities in Kenya. This is probably the most visually pleasing, attractive packaging of any retail teas that I have purchased over the years. It is a tea tin that can be used used decoratively in addition to it’s practical uses. The wooden tea spoon is also carefully hand made. The handle is very smooth, with the top area between the handle and scoop being decorated and wrapped with small beads of many colors. It is another visually pleasing aspect of the total product, although (as mentioned above) the scoop itself is not necessarily very useful in properly scooping or measuring the tea leafs, as the leafs are quite long and light weight. Regardless, the hand made teaspoons are still a welcome touch!
Let’s get down to the true matter at hand, the Nandi Hills Black Tea.
The dry leaves have a dark bronze to black color. It is easy to determine that the leaves are hand rolled, as there is much variation to the size, shape, and general consistency of the leaves. There are some bare stems in the mix, and no apparent full buds or tips. The leaves have a course, dry texture, and break easily into fine crumbs. The aroma of the dry leaves include scents of toasted grains, smoke, dry wood, raw cacao, and raisins.
Nine grams of dry leaves were infused for four minutes using purified water in an eighteen ounce tetsubin teapot.
The infusion resulted in a bright, reddish-copper color. The aroma had scents of toasted grains, pine, malt, and peppercorns. A medium body was complemented by a bright, lightly brisk mouthfeel. The taste had notes of toasted grains, pine, lemon, malt, and peppercorns. The aftertaste had lingering notes of pine and peppercorns.
The wet leaves have a range of colors from copper brown to dark greenish brown. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, with slightly rubbery feel when trying to tear them. The fragments vary from small pieces to large, nearly full intact leaves. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a bud, although no buds can be located in the leaves. The leaves can be reinfused two or three times, and still produce a pleasant tasting infusion. The aroma includes scents of wet wood, grains, malt, and a very light floral perfume.
The Nandi Hills Black Tea from JusTea is certainly a unique, well made black tea. This tea is lighter than any other black tea from Kenya that I have tried previously, and is perfectly enjoyable without any additives, such as milk or sugar. The bright, lively taste will give an instant boost of energy. If you think all Kenyan black teas are too strong and full bodied for your preferences, think again. The Nandi Hills Black Tea is closer in character to a mid-elevation grown Sri Lankan black tea than a Kenyan. As of the date of this review, JusTea is selling the 60 gram (2.1 ounces), beautifully wrapped tea tin with hand carved teaspoon, of the Nandi Hills Black Tea for $17.00 USD plus shipping.
As always, thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Nandi Hills Black Tea from JusTea. I welcome your replies, and look forward to getting in touch with my readers once again! Cheers!