Assam, India, home of some of the worlds best known breakfast teas. Recognized for the intense, bold black tea flavors and full bodied brews, Assam teas are generally recommended to be served with a splash of milk and/or a sweetener such as honey or sugar. But to those who are a little more adventurous, I recommend giving the better quality Assam black teas a try without any additives, and truly experience the tea for what it is, an explosion of flavor and texture. After you experience it pure and naked, then do as you will with the additives. There is certainly a reason that the typical breakfast tea with milk and honey are an international favorite!
I was welcomed back to my office from vacation with a package from Halmari Tea, an estate and factory located in the Moran district of Dibrugarh, a city in the Assam region of north-east India. The package included a variety of orthodox and CTC style Assam black teas, and one Assam oolong. Although generally I do not review the CTC style teas, I have to admit that I tried one yesterday, and was blown away by how good it was, so I will definitely be posting a review on one of the CTC products also. In fact, this particular CTC was so good that it actually has me convinced for the moment that boycotting CTC teas may be doing myself more of a disservice than it’s worth.
Halmari Tea Estate consists of 374 hectares of land under tea cultivation. This estate boasts being ranked in the top nine on the entire planet, a quite impressive accolade. It has been owned by the Daga family for over one hundred years (since 1913), and even today the family members continue to be heavily involved in the day to day operations. Halmari provides a labor welfare program to its 700 plus laborers. Halmari claims to hold the record for the highest price ever commanded at auction for a CTC Assam tea. Overall, it appears to be a very well run, successful estate with a reputation for highest quality Assam teas. The Halmari Tea Estate website offers additional information and a number of excellent photos of the estate. You can also purchase the teas direct from this website, and the prices are quite reasonable. Below is a Google map showing the general location of Dibrugarh, India.
Today I will be reviewing the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate. This tea was harvested in the second flush of the season, in June of 2017. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea from the Halmari Tea website for USD $18 plus shipping fees. This product is offered in loose leaf, or tea bags. Shipping is worldwide, and free with a purchase over USD $50.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal grey- black color, with a very generous blend of fuzzy, golden tips. The leaves and tips are all medium sized fragments. There are no bare stems visible. The leaves appear to be machine rolled. The leaves crumble easily into crumbs, while the golden tips are a little more pliable. The aroma is truly incredible and fresh, reminding me of one of my favorite breakfast cereals growing up. It has scents of brown sugar, cinnamon, toasted oats, dry roses, and a touch of orange.
The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin teapot and infused with 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.
The liquid has a beautiful reddish-gold color, bright and clean. The aroma has scents of toasted oats, malt, raw cocoa, and roses. The body is full, with a rich texture, and a brisk character. The taste has notes of toasted oats, malt, roses, raw cocoa, and bitter orange. The aftertaste continues the sweet, softly floral notes. The brisk character leaves the mouth feeling dry, and the rich texture seems to coat the tongue and throat. This tea provides an instant punch of energy and alertness, making it a perfect breakfast beverage.
The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The aroma carries the scents of oats, roses, and light malt. The leaves and tips fragments are fairly uniform in size and shape.
The Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate is a perfect example of why Assam teas are so commonly used in breakfast blend teas, and an excellent specimen of high quality Assam orthodox teas. The aroma of the dry leaves is very welcoming and comforting. The color of the tea liquid is a visual pleasure. The taste of the tea liquid commands immediate attention, and provides an instant boost of energy. The depth of flavor and body is remarkable, and in my opinion requires no additives whatsoever to be enjoyed to its fullest potential. After trying this Orthodox style, and the CTC style from yesterday, it is not difficult to imagine why Halmari has the reputation that it does, and commands the prices that it does at auction. Very impressive!
Thank you to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea! It was an excellent reminder of the unique, flavorful character that only Assam teas can deliver. Cheers!