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!

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OP1 Black Tea with Tea Flowers from Amba Estate & Plucky Teas

Here is another interesting product from Plucky Teas and the Amba Estate located in the Uva district of Sri Lanka. As if their original OP1 black tea is not phenomenal all on it’s own in regard to aroma, taste, and appearance, Plucky Teas decided to give the OP1 an aesthetic upgrade by blending some tea flowers in to this batch. I highlight the aesthetic upgrade only because I have a hard time believing that this tea can be upgraded by any margin in regard to aroma and taste. The original OP1 black tea from Plucky Teas definitely holds a top three position in my preferred black tea category.

I am not expecting much difference from the review I did on the OP1 a month or so ago, but any variety of this tea certainly is deserving of some exposure and praise. Let the journey begin…

OP1 with Tea Flowers Dry Leaves
OP1 with Tea Flowers Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color. The tea flowers are yellow to pale orange in color. The leaves are long and finely twisted, and a good number of leaves appear to be unbroken. The aroma is incredible, with scents of dried papaya, toffee, and honey. This smells more like a candy mix than dry tea leaves.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 1 minute thirty seconds on the first infusion, one minute on the second, and one minute fifteen on the third.

OP1 with Tea Flowers 1st Infusion
OP1 with Tea Flowers 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful, bright, lively orange color with a slight reddish tint and a perfect golden ring, clear and transparent. The aroma is mesmerizing, with scents of papaya, toffee, honey, black licorice, mint, and light citrus. The body is medium, with a perfectly rounded and layered feel. The taste has notes of juicy papaya, toffee, mint, light black licorice, and citrus undertones. There is a modest brisk character. The aftertaste is minty, sweet, and slightly spicy, with a menthol effect being left in the mouth. It is difficult to wrap your mind around the number of tastes and effects that can be pulled from this tea.

OP1 with Tea Flowers 2nd Infusion
OP1 with Tea Flowers 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a very slightly darker shade of orange with red tint. Again, this liquor has an aesthetic quality that I have not seen in other teas. The aroma retained all of the qualities of the first infusion. The taste has lighter notes of papaya, and stronger citrus notes. It is also slightly more brisk than the first infusion, leaving a slightly dry feel in the mouth, which is balanced by the mentholated effect. The second infusion was somewhat different than the first, but by no means of lesser quality.

OP1 with Tea Flowers 3rd Infusion
OP1 with Tea Flowers 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a liquor with a color nearly identical to the first infusion. Still bright and enticing. The taste had a lighter briskness, and the papaya and citrus notes balanced very well. The minty, spicy, and sweet tastes all remain. There is almost no quality lost from the first to third infusions.

OP1 with Tea Flowers 4th Infusion
OP1 with Tea Flowers 4th Infusion

I had to take a photo of the fourth infusion. Although this infusion did lighten in aroma and taste ever so slightly, it was still incredibly aromatic and tasteful. I infused these leaves a total of six times before deciding to retire for the night. How many black teas can you get six quality infusions from?! This is one of the few!

OP1 with Tea Flowers Infused Leaves
OP1 with Tea Flowers Infused Leaves

The infused leaves had a uniform light brown color with some green spots. There are quite a few unbroken leaves, and the rest are large fragments. There are no stems present, and some buds. The unbroken leaves are long and not very wide. Despite six infusions, the leaves are not as delicate as I would expect them to be. The aroma of the leaves, noted after the first infusion, has scents of black licorice, papaya, and light floral.

I don’t think I need to elaborate much on this tea. The review speaks for itself. This tea is truly one of a kind, artisanal black tea. I suggest buying it by the kilo from Plucky Teas, as I plan to in the near future. However, if you have a more reasonable tea habit than I do, you may also find samples at the Tealet Teas website. Try this tea now!

Thank you, Plucky Teas, for providing these high quality samples! My highest praises for all of your products! Cheers!

Vangedi Pekoe Black Tea from Amba Estate (Plucky Tea)

It’s one of those rare days that my house is quiet and clean, allowing me to devote time to a more intriguing review. This product, the Vangedi Pekoe from Amba Estate, Sri Lanka, is quite unique to Plucky Tea. Plucky Tea is the only estate in Sri Lanka that produces this style of black tea commercially. According to the Plucky Tea website, which may be found here, the estate workers in Sri Lanka tend to process teas in their home in this fashion. The people use a stone mortar, called a “vangedi”, to grind the tea leaves into coarse fragments before they undergo the oxidation and firing process. For some reason, the large estates in Sri Lanka forbid this style of production, thinking that the estate workers are somehow stealing leaves for personal consumption. A little more research is needed on my end to understand why the large estates feel this paranoia.

As I look through the samples and product descriptions from Plucky Tea, I find that the majority of products are quite different than other Sri Lankan companies offer. Of everything that I have tried, the only thing that I found to be overall “average” was the pan-fired green tea. Everything else has been very unique in at least one, and in several cases many ways. Note: I would like a second chance to review the pan-fired green tea. I get the feeling that my senses were out of sync at the time of the original review. I will give the green tea another review if and when I get the chance. Anyway, Amba Estate and Plucky Tea have some top quality and highly intriguing products, moreso than any other estate that I have found in Sri Lanka.

If you want to try the GF OP Black Tea or the OP Black Tea with Tea Flowers, I believe Tealet Teas is still offering sample packets. Their website is http://www.tealet.com.

I may have mentioned this in a previous review of a product from Amba Estate, but I really like the amount of information that they supply regarding their community and even their workers. Amba really seems to encourage strong relationships among the workers and the community. They also have some great videos up on Youtube, including one regarding this vangedi pekoe.

The packet has been opened, and a very fresh, classic black tea smell is in the air. Let the journey begin…

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The dry leaves have shades of light brown to dark brown color. There is much variation in the size and shape of the dry leaves since they are coarsely ground into flakes. Impossible to determine the plucking standard or make any other useful visual observations. The flakes are very dry, and crumble easily. The aroma of the leaves is a bakey, almost biscuity sweet scent with malt. There is a slightly earthy hint, in a way similar to a shu puer. Considering the appearance of the dry leaves, I was interested to see if this tea could last for my usual three infusion review.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 205ºF (96ºC). Leaves were infused for two minutes for the first infusion, three minutes on the second, and three minutes thirty seconds on the third infusion.

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The first infusion produced a liquor with a glowing reddish-copper color, clear and transparent. The aroma had scents of malt, and very light citrus and floral (dandelion). The body is full, with a very smooth yet mouth filling texture. The taste is moderately astringent, with notes of malt, light citrus, and light floral (dandelion). The aftertaste is sweet with a modest hang time. This is what I consider to be a classic, but high quality, black tea taste. Now let’s see how this tea will be in the second infusion.

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The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter shade of reddish-copper color. The color is fuller than I expected. The aroma also lightened some, but remains quite fragrant. The body and taste were both surprisingly full, despite a slight lightening in all aspects. The taste maintained the same general characteristics, with the astringency lightening significantly between the first and second infusion. This infusion was very enjoyable, much to my surprise. It can’t possibly give another decent infusion, can it?

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Again, the color lightened some, but is surprisingly full with a lighter reddish-copper color. The aroma has lightened again, but is still strong enough to enjoy. The body has lightened to medium, and the taste has lightened. However, the taste is certainly strong enough to be enjoyed. This third infusion was still better than any bagged black tea that I have had. Very impressive.

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The dry leaves have a uniform dark copper color. The leaves are all small flakes. The aroma is sweet, malty, and lightly citrusy. Although I doubted this tea from the beginning, only to be proven wrong on two occasions, I still have a hard time believing that it can make a fourth infusion. I can very easily be wrong.

I have had a few black teas over the years that I would refer to as having a “classic” black tea taste, but this Vangedi Pekoe had the smoothest and most agreeable “classic” black tea taste. In fact, I could see this as being a perfect every day morning tea, as the estate workers in Sri Lanka have come to find. Although I cannot say that the complexity or general taste characteristics were outstanding or unique, the texture of this tea was definitely remarkable. I am happy to have another two kyusu loads of this Vangedi Pekoe in the sample pack, as I will be looking forward to enjoying it soon. Another success from Amba Estates and Plucky Tea. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to try a truly unique Sri Lankan black tea. The estate workers definitely know what they are doing when producing this tea. Cheers!

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

OP1 Artisanal Ceylon Black Tea from Amba Estate

UPDATE: The Amba Estate Hand-Rolled GF OP1 Black Tea is now available at The Tea Journeyman Shop! Click Here to view and purchase this masterfully crafted Ceylon tea from the Uva Province of Sri Lanka.

About two weeks ago, I received a beautiful package of samples from the Amba Estate. The Amba Estate is one of the few, if not only, estates in Sri Lanka that produces very high quality, hand plucked and hand processed, artisanal quality teas. Considering the fact that my favorite black teas already come from Sri Lanka, I have been very excited to open one of these artisanal black tea samples from Amba Estate.

Sadly, I did not have a brewing vessel that I felt was appropriate for the sample weight. Admittedly, I drink more tea than I probably should, because most of the teapots in my collection are rather large (30 to 40 ounces). With the holidays coming up, I decided to invest in a nice, smaller, traditional Japanese Mogake Tokoname Kyusu. It holds about eight and a half ounces (240 ml) of liquid. I primed the pot in boiling green tea, let it dry overnight, and now it is ready for use.

What better way to welcome the Kyusu into my home than to offer it a tea that I have been waiting to experience for weeks. The sample pack of the OP1 from Amba Estate has been opened, and a beautiful aroma of dried fruits, honey, and sweet hay have hit me, as I see nicely rolled, whole leaves in the pack.

Let the journey begin…

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The dry leaves of the OP1 are a uniform dark brown to black in color, with some golden tips present. The leaves are gently rolled. There appears to be some fully intact leaves, as well as tips and some fragments. No bare stems are noticeable. These leaves are certainly longer (leggy) than other OP1s and OPAs from Sri Lanka that I have experienced. The aroma is magnificent, having strong scents of dried apricots, raisins, sweet hay, and a touch of honey. The aroma is complex, sweet, and definitely on a higher level than anything I have smelled from Sri Lanka. That is really surprising to me, as many of my favorite black teas (Nuwara Eliya OP1, Uva OP1), whose aromas I find very attractive and high quality to begin with, are not on the same level as this tea.

The standard method of preparation was used for this sample. Filtered tap water was heated to 212ºF (100ºC). Three grams of dry tea leaves were placed in the eight and a half ounce (240 ml) Mogake Tokoname Kyusu. The teapot was filled about 2/3 of the way with water, about five ounces (140 ml). The leaves were infused for two minutes, with fifteen seconds being added to each infusion.

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The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful, bright, and lively orange color, with a glowing golden ring. The liquor was clear and transparent. The aroma was incredibly sweet and complex, boasting scents of papaya, apricot, toffee, sweet potato, and very light mint and citrus scents. The liquor had a medium to full body, with a mouth filling and uplifting feel. The taste had strong notes of papaya, thick honey, black licorice, apricot, and the classic slight briskness that Uva teas are known for. The aftertaste had a black licorice note, with a menthol effect. A cooling sensation came over the mouth as I inhaled. This is an incredible tea, like nothing I have ever experienced before. Who wants to go in on a few kilos of this with me?! It is worth every penny.

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The second infusion produced a liquor with a very slightly lighter shade of bright orange, with a golden ring. The color retains it’s lively, beautiful color. The aroma remained very powerful, with scents of papaya, sweet potato, black licorice, toffee, and a slight mint scent. The body remains medium to full. The taste has balanced itself slightly, but certainly lost no quality between infusions. Notes of papaya, black licorice, thick honey, apricot, with a menthol effect in the aftertaste. The briskness has dissipated some, but this fact had no negative effect on the overall taste. This second infusion was just as good as the first, if not better due to the balance. I am honestly overwhelmed by this tea.

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The third infusion again was slightly lighter in color than the second infusion, but retains a bright orange color with a golden ring. The aroma can be felt the second that it is poured from the pot, and is just incredible. The scents continue to be strong on the papaya, apricot, sweet potato, black licorice, and slight mint. There is very little dissipation in the quality of the aroma between the second and third infusions. The body has lightened to medium, but maintains the mouth filling and uplifting feel. The taste remains very high quality, with notes of papaya, apricot, black licorice, thick honey, and some citrus coming through. There is no noticeabe astringency or briskness to this infusion. I think this tea can produce yet another infusion or two before it is exhausted.

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The infused leaves of the OP1 have a uniform copper color. There are some fully intact leaves, quite a few tips, and some large fragments. There are very few stems, but none are completely bare. The leaves maintain some structural integrity, suggesting that an additional infusion or two may produce a good flavor. The aroma is very sweet, maintaining a papaya, citrus, black licorice, and toffee smell. These are definitely the best smelling infused leaves that I have ever experienced. These are also the best looking infused leaves from Sri Lanka that I have seen.

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To say that I am impressed with this tea does not even scratch the surface of my strong feelings for it. Amazed is not even close. There is no word that holds a positive connotation that can describe how I feel about this tea. As far as black teas are concerned, this is number one to me, followed by the Red Rhythm from Taiwan. The aroma is intoxicating, the color is truly beautiful and lively, the tea has an uplifting energy to it. The taste is overwhelming. To most people, I think they would have a very hard time believing that this is not somehow flavored during production, but it is not! If you think Sri Lanka produces some good black teas, try this out and be ready to say that Sri Lanka makes some of the best black tea in the world. If you want to try this tea, I think our friends at Tealet Teas have some in their subscription boxes right now. Otherwise, I am able to order directly from Amba Estate. If you trust my word, live in the U.S., and are interested in ordering some of this tea, please message me. I will be happy to contribute towards getting a few kilos of this. You will be incredibly satisfied with your purchase.

Thank you to a very helpful woman, Beverly Wainwright, from Amba Estate. Beverly reached out to me to introduce me to the teas from Amba, and I am so grateful to have had an opportunity to try such a first class tea. Beverly, I cannot thank you enough for contacting me. By the way, Amba is one of the few estates in Sri Lanka to produce coffee, as well. Maybe I will have a friend of mine, a coffee roaster and entrepreneur, submit a guest post with a review of the Amba Estate coffee. My wife absolutely loved the “big bean” product. Anyway, thank you again, Beverly, and please continue the good work at Amba. I will be singing praises to it! 🙂 Cheers!

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.

Dimbula OP1 Pure Ceylon Black Tea from Tea and Herb Company Limited

Today, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Dimbula region of Sri Lanka, as I tasted a sample of Dimbula OP1 Pure Ceylon black tea, provided by the Tea and Herb Company Limited, located in North Mulleriyawa, Sri Lanka.

According to documentation provided by my contact at the Tea and Herb Co., the tea in this sample was sourced from four estates (Garden Marks) in Sri Lanka. These estates include St. Andrews, Queensberry, Bogahawatte, and Weddemulle. This tea is considered a high altitude (3,500 ft to 5,000 ft) grown tea whose planters focus more on the flavor of their teas, and less on the leaf style during production. The estates each provide teas that have a fresh taste, but differ slightly according to the microclimate in which they reside. The teas blend together very well, producing a tea that is bright, fresh, and leaves a clean taste in the mouth. Below is a map of the Dimbula growing region, courtesy of Vicony Teas.

Dimbula Region Map

Let the journey begin…

Date: 09/03/2013

Product Name: Dimbula OP1 Pure Ceylon Black Tea

Purchased From: The Tea and Herb Company Limited

Origin: Dimbula growing region of Sri Lanka

Type of Tea: Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Black

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 Dry Leaves

Aroma: Sweet, fruity (dried fruit). A very pleasant and rich aroma.

Dryness: Very dry. Leaves crack in to coarse crumbles.

Color: Dark Brown to black, with a few reddish tips.

Texture: Smooth, dry, twisted leaves with some stems.

Size, Shape, and Length: Fairly uniform size and shape. Average length about 0.5 inches (13 mm). Leaves are twisted.

Unique Characteristics: Great aroma, uniform color/shape/size, a few nice reddish tips.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 18 oz (532 ml)

Amount of Tea: 9 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Infusion Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma: Slightly fruity and spicy. Fresh and clean black tea aroma.

Color: Bright copper. Clean. Transparent.

Taste: Fresh, clean taste with a slightly floral (jasmine) note, and a very mild bitterness. Body is full and smooth. Aftertaste has a certain spiciness, but hard to determine which spice.

Comments: A fresh black tea taste with a touch of jasmine and spice towards the end.

Second Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Infusion Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma: Lighter overall. Slightly fruity and very slight spice.

Color: Very light copper. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall. Aftertaste maintains a floral (jasmine) and very light spice taste. Body is lighter.

Comments: Despite lighter aroma/color/taste, still a good taste. Third infusion should produce an acceptable flavor.

Third Infusion:

Dimbula OP1 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Infusion Time: 3 minutes and 15 seconds

Aroma: Lighter than the 2nd infusion. Very lightly fruity.

Color: Dull golden, with a very light touch of copper. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall than 2nd infusion. Very light floral (jasmine) taste toward the end. Spice is no longer noticeable. Lighter body.

Comments: Still an acceptable flavor, despite lighter character. I do not expect a fourth infusion to be worthwhile.

Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Dimbula OP1 Wet LeavesColor: Brown to dark brown, with a few green leaves. Brown stems.

Aroma: Slightly fruity and sweet.

Size, Shape: All leaf fragments and stems. Leaves appear to be on the smaller side of the spectrum. Not much structural durability.

Unique Characteristics: Pleasant wet leaf smell. Some green leaves blended in with mostly brown.

Final Comments: Now that I have sampled four unflavored black teas from four different regions of Sri Lanka, I can honestly say that each region really does have specific characteristics, and they are not always subtle differences. This Dimbula OP1 had a very fresh, yet classic, black tea taste with obvious notes of jasmine at the end. This blend could be used as an Earl Grey base, or perhaps a lighter style of breakfast blend. This was a very enjoyable black tea, with the only noteworthy and potentially negative aspect being the obvious changes in color and strength from infusion to infusion. However, the third infusion still produced an acceptable taste, and I had no problem finishing the pot. Another good quality Ceylon black tea from the Tea and Herb Company.

Nuwara Eliya OPA Pure Ceylon Black Tea from The Tea and Herb Co. Ltd.

On August 29th of 2013, I tasted a sample of Nuwara Eliya OPA Pure Ceylon Black Tea. This sample was provided by The Tea and Herb Company Limited, located in North Mulleriyawa, Sri Lanka.

According to documentation provided by my contact at The Tea and Herb Company Limited, the Nuwara Eliya growing region of Sri Lanka is located in the center of the hilly countryside, where the elevation is high. At this altitude, the temperatures are lower, causing the tea bushes to grow slowly and produce unusually small leaves. The geography of this growing region can cause the weather to be dramatically different from estate to estate, as the two different climatic systems of the east and west balance one another. 

This particular sample of Nuwara Eliya OPA was produced from tea leaves out of two estates: the famous Lover’s Leap and Mahagastotte (Pedro Estate), and the Court Lodge Estate. Just opening the bag has me excited to brew this tea up and dive in.

Let the journey begin…

 

Tea Analysis and Review Form

Date: 08/29/2013

Product Name: Nuwara Eliya OPA Pure Ceylon Black Tea

Purchased From: The Tea and Herb Company Limited

Origin: Nuwara Eliya region of Sri Lanka

Type of Tea: Ceylon (Sri Lanka) Black

 

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

Nuwara Eliya OPA Dry leaves

Aroma: Fruity (ripe fruit), Floral, rich, room-filling. This tea has an exceptional aroma. Unbelievable. 

Dryness: Very dry. Leaves crack in to fine crumbles.

Color: Black, brown, some reddish tips, even a little green and purplish. Eye catching and beautiful.

Texture: Smooth twisted leaves.

Size, Shape, Length: Fairly uniform length average 3/4 inch (19 mm). Leaves are mostly twisted and curled. 

Unique Characteristics: The aroma is exquisite, and the leaves are very colorful and eye catching. I cannot wait to brew this tea.

 

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 24 oz (700 ml)

Amount of Tea: 10 grams

 

Tea Liquor Evaluation

First Infusion:

Nuwara Eliya OPA 1st Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Steep Time: 2 Minutes and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Flowery (Dandelion), fruity, very aromatic.

Color: Lively golden-yellow. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Flowery (dandelion) is the most noticeable taste. There is certainly a fruity taste, which seemed like a combination of plum and grapefruit (a strange combination – I know). Very smooth with a pleasant aftertaste of light bitterness and dandelion.

Comments: Of the three samples from The Tea and Herb Company that I have tried thus far, I have been a huge fan of two of them, and an average fan of one. This is definitely one of the samples that I am a huge fan of. Very flowery and fruity, while still maintaining enough of a black tea taste. Great body and aftertaste.

 

Second Infusion:

Nuwara Eliya OPA 2nd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Steep Time: 2 Minutes and 0 seconds.

Aroma: Flowery (dandelion), fruity. Slightly lighter than 1st infusion.

Color: Remains a lively golden-yellow, slightly lighter than the 1st infusion.

Taste: The taste of dandelion flowers is still most apparent, with the fruity taste leaning more toward grapefruit than plum. Lighter overall taste and body, but still very tasteful and pleasant.

Comments: This is a very good 2nd infusion. Despite the lighter body, enough taste remains to make this a highly enjoyable cup. I am confident that a third infusion will still be worthy of brewing and consuming.

 

Third Infusion:

Nuwara Eliya OPA 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature: 200°F (93°C)

Steep Time: 2 Minutes and 15 seconds.

Aroma: Flowery (dandelion), fruity. Smells sweeter than the 2nd infusion.

Color: Lighter but lively golden-yellow. Clear. Transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall than the 2nd infusion, but retains a flowery dandelion and light fruity grapefruit taste. Body is lighter, not much aftertaste.

Comments: Definitely an infusion worthy of consuming. Much lighter, but still acceptably tasteful. I would not attempt a fourth infusion, however.

 

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

Nuwara Eliya OPA Infused Leaves

Color: Some fresh leaf green, but mostly lighter brown to brown leaves. Brown stems.

Aroma: Still flowery and lightly fruity.

Size, Shape: All fragments. Some larger fragments of about 1 inch (25.4 mm). Leaves have some durability, but not enough to suggest that a fourth infusion would be worthwhile.

Unique Characteristics: Some leaves look very fresh. The aroma is still pleasantly fragrant.

 

Final Comments: This is one journey that I plan on taking many times over. The aroma of the dry leaves, liquor, and wet leaves were all very attractive. The dry leaves were eye catching and colorful, yet obviously a black tea. The taste was a nice combination of flowery and fruity, with a touch of bitter at the end. This tea would make a great blending base for a high quality blend. However, I am perfectly content drinking this tea all by itself. This is a great Ceylon black tea. I am very happy to have had an opportunity to try. Thanks again, Tea and Herb Company. This tea is highly recommended.

Uva OP1 Pure Ceylon Black Tea from Tea and Herb Co. Ltd.

On August 26th of 2013, I tasted a sample of Uva OP1 Pure Ceylon Black Tea. This sample was provided by the Tea and Herb Company Limited, located in North Mulleriyawa, Sri Lanka.

According to documentation provided to me by my contact at the Tea and Herb Company, whom I have very much enjoyed working with, the Uva tea estates in Sri Lanka were some of the original estates owned by Sir Thomas Lipton. The teas produced on the Uva estates were the ones that Sir Thomas Lipton used to convert Americans in to habitual tea drinkers. There are multiple estates (or Garden Marks) in the Uva region that supply tea leaves for this particular black tea. These estates include Dickwella, Sarnia-Plaiderie, Glen Alpin, Demodera, Adawatte, Shawlands, and Aislaby.

Now, on to the review.

Tea Analysis and Review Form

Date: 08/26/2013

Product Name: Uva OP1 Pure Ceylon Black Tea

Purchased From: The Tea & Herb Company Limited

Origin: Multiple estates in the Uva region of Sri Lanka

Type of Tea: Ceylon Black (Sri Lanka)

Tea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

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Aroma: Sweet, smells of ripe fruit, with a touch of lemon. Very pleasing aroma.

Dryness: Very dry. The leaves crack in to a very coarse crumble.

Color: Uniform black, with many leaves exhibiting reddish-brown tips.

Texture: Smooth, tightly rolled leaves.

Size, Shape, Length: Uniform tightly twisted and wiry leaves with length of about 0.75 inches (19 mm). Leaf fragments and stems.

Unique Characteristics: A very pleasant aroma with a noticeable lemon smell. Uniform leaves in color and size. Nice reddish-brown tips.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water: 8 oz (227 ml)

Amount of Tea: 5 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 200ºF (93.3ºC)

Steep Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma: Brisk, a smell of lemons is apparent.

Color: Bright amber. Clear, transparent.

Taste: Very brisk, mouth-filling taste. Notes of lemons all the way through the aftertaste. Mildly bitter. Full bodied.

Comments: The first sip of this tea almost made my face pucker. The taste of lemons is apparent, even through the aftertaste. This is a very tangy and brisk black tea. I can honestly say that the taste of this tea reminded me of a Lipton Brisk Iced Tea, sans the numerous grams of sugar.

Second Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 200ºF (93.3ºC)

Steep Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma: Lighter smell of lemons, still brisk.

Color: Slightly lighter amber than the 1st infusion. Clear, transparent.

Taste: Lighter overall, but still a brisk and tangy taste with lemon. Body is lighter than 1st infusion. Same lemon aftertaste.

Comments: Despite the lighter overall qualities of this infusion, it still made a good quality cup.

Third Infusion:

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Water Temperature: 200ºF (93.3ºC)

Steep Time: 3 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma: Light lemon aroma, lightly brisk.

Color: Very light amber-orange.

Taste: Light overall. Slightly lemony and tangy taste. Lighter body and aftertaste.

Comments: The taste of this 3rd infusion is good enough to drink, but I would not expect a 4th infusion from these leaves.

Tea Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

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Color: Mostly greenish-brown leaves, brown stems.

Size, Shape, Length: Leaf fragments and stems. Hard to develop an average length or size.

Unique Characteristics: The infused leaves have a light scent of lemon. Leaves are not very durable, suggesting that the leaves are mostly exhausted.

Final Comments: As I mentioned earlier, it is very possible to compare the taste of this tea to that of the popular Lipton Brisk Iced Tea. I know I am being repetitive, but the best way to describe the taste of this tea is brisk and lemony. It is certainly unique from other black teas that I have tried. I can certainly see this tea being popular with tea drinkers who like adding honey, milk, or sugar. I think these additives may give a very pleasant and refreshing balance to the natural taste of this tea. It could also be a good choice for the black tea drinker who is looking for a different taste than many other common black teas. Thank you, Tea & Herb Co. Ltd. for giving me the opportunity to taste a tea from the historic region that Sir Thomas Lipton once owned.