Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 From Lochan Tea

One of the most difficult parts of my break from publishing tea reviews was the feeling of missing out on some of the best and freshest teas that were produced each season. This was particularly true when I saw the different flushes being produced from the Darjeeling and Nepal areas.

The tea I am reviewing today comes from the Doke Tea Estate, located in Bihar, India. This estate is owned by the Lochan family (Rajiv, Vivek, and Neha), renowned champions of specialty tea production and promotion in northern India and Nepal and beyond. From using organic and sustainable farming practices at the Doke Tea Estate, to experimentation with new production skills and techniques, the Lochan family exemplifies passion for high quality tea and responsibility in the tea industry.

Many thanks to the Lochan family for providing this sample of Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 black tea, and for all of their hard work and efforts in their promotion of specialty tea!

Let’s get to the review…

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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Sample Label
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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color, with a sprinkling of silver-gold tips. The consistency of the leaf fragments is impressive, given that the tea is hand-rolled. There are very few bare stems, and the ones that are present are quite small. The aroma is incredible, with strong hints of raw cacao powder, dark chocolate, toasted grains, and molasses.

Dry tea leaves were placed in 205°F water for 4:00 minutes.

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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, copper-orange color. The aroma has dominant scents of toasted grains, dark chocolate, roses, and dandelions. The body is medium, with a silky, smooth texture, and a light briskness. The taste has notes of toasted grains, raw cacao, dark chocolate, roses, dandelion, and a touch of molasses. The aftertaste holds on to the toasted grains, dark chocolate, and rose notes.

Two quality infusions were extracted from the same sample of leaves.

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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Wet Leaves

The wet leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a bud. The fragments are fairly uniform in size. The leaves have a soft, silky texture. The aroma has scents of toasted grains, dark chocolate, raw cacao, and a touch of molasses and roses. The sweet scents of dark chocolate, molasses, and roses are intensified as the leaves cool.

It has been over two years since I last sampled and reviewed the Doke Black Fusion tea. I can say with certainty that the experience of this sample was notably better than my experience of the previous sample. Not to take anything away from the previous sample, but the 1st Flush 2017 is proof of the increasing skill and improving technique of the Lochan family in producing teas at the Doke Tea Estate. This 1st Flush 2017 sample was incredible! It was sweet and rich in aroma and taste, from the dry leaves through the wet leaves. The texture and mouthfeel were incredibly smooth and comforting.

I congratulate the Lochan family on their success in producing this extraordinary tea, and look forward to experiencing the sample of Doke Green Diamond that they also graciously provided.

You can purchase the Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Tea directly from the Lochan Tea website, with 50 grams starting at USD $7.00 plus shipping.

Thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 black tea from Doke Tea Estate! Cheers!

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Side by Side: Poabs Organic FOP Black Tea and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Black Tea

Today, I have two black teas from two Rainforest Alliance Certified, Fairtrade estates in two different continents. The first product is the FOP black tea from Poabs Organic Estates in Kerala, southwest India. The second product is the Thyolo OP1 black tea from Satemwa Tea Estates (Thyolo Mountain) in the Shire Highlands of Malawi, southeast Africa.

Check out the website for Poabs Organic Estates here. Learn more about the Satemwa Tea Estates here.

Let the journey begin…

Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Dry Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Dry Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Dry Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of the Poabs FOP have a uniform dark brown to black color, with little copper color. The leaves are medium sized, rolled fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The aroma is sweet, with scents of malt, brown sugar, and spice (pepper).

Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Dry Leaves
Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 have a uniform black color, with little copper color in the veins/stems. The leaves are medium to large sized, rolled fragments, with a few leaves possible being whole. There are some longer stems in the mix, a few bare, others with small leaf fragments attached. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a small bud. The aroma is sweet, with scents of dark chocolate and dried fruit. The aroma reminds me of dark chocolate covered cherries.

For both samples, three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 5 ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.

Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) 1st Infusion
Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) 1st Infusion
Poabs Organic FOP 1st Infusion
Poabs Organic FOP 1st Infusion

The first infusion of the Poabs FOP produced a liquor with an orange color and a red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was spicy (pepper), and lightly floral and malty. The body was medium-full, with a sharp, dry feel. There was a medium-strong astringency. The taste had notes of spice (pepper), mineral, and light floral. The aftertaste was lightly sweet and floral.

Satemwa Thyolo OP1 1st Infusion
Satemwa Thyolo OP1 1st Infusion

The first infusion of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 produced a liquor with an orange color and a deep red tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was very sweet, with scents of dark chocolate and dried fruit (cherries). The body was full, with a round, silky, feel. There was a mild astringency. The taste was sweet, with strong notes of dark chocolate, fruit (cherries and raisins), with a light mineral hint. The aftertaste was sweet and lightly spicy.

Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Infused Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP (Left) and Satemwa Thyolo OP1 (Right) Infused Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Infused Leaves
Poabs Organic FOP Infused Leaves

The infused leaves of the Poabs FOP have a uniform copper color. All leaves are medium sized fragments, with some stems in the mix. The aroma has scents of spice (pepper) and light floral hints.

Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Infused Leaves
Satemwa Thyolo OP1 Infused Leaves

The infused leaves of the Satemwa Thyolo OP1 have a uniform dark brown-copper color. The leaves are mostly medium to large fragments, with a few whole leaves, and some long stems in the mix. The stems show a two leaf and small bud pluck. Some large fragments appear to be more mature leaves. The aroma has scents of cocoa, dark chocolate, and dried fruit (raisins, cherries).

Aside from the color of the leaves and liquors, these two black teas were vastly different in feel, aroma, and taste. The Poabs Organic FOP had a more spicy, floral aroma and taste, with a sharp feel. The Satemwa Thyolo OP1 had a sweet, fruity aroma and taste, with a silky, smooth feel. Comparison like this are a great way to smell and taste the difference that growing conditions have on the final product. It is also interesting to note that Poabs Organic Estates are known for their various types of pepper products, and the tea had a spicy, peppery smell and taste.

Both teas are highly enjoyable in their own rites. This was a great experience in comparing visually similar teas that turned out to be completely different in smell and taste. Thank you to Poabs Organic Estates and Satemwa Tea Estates for providing the samples! Cheers to both of your Rainforest Alliance Certified, Freetrade estates!

Side-By-Side : Poabs OP Black Tea and Keemum Congou Hao Ya A Black Tea

I find that the best way to enhance one’s ability to differentiate between and learn to identify teas from various regions is to do a side-by-side comparison. Today, I am comparing two black teas from very different regions. Therefore, the teas should have significantly different characteristics.

The first tea is an Orange Pekoe (OP) black tea from Poabs Organic Estates. This estate is located in the Nelliyampathy Hills in Chittur Taluk, Palakkad District, Kerala state of South India. Here is a quote from the Poabs Organic Estates website, “Kerala state, known as “God’s Own Country”, is a tropical paradise famous for its enchanting backwaters, lush green hills, ayurvedic systems, and cultural heritage, and attracts ecotourists from around the world. Through sustainable agriculture, Poabs Organic Estates makes a positive contribution to the ecosystem.” To visit the Poabs Organic Estates website, please click here. In addition to tea, Poabs grows many vegetables and spices, as well as coffee.

The second tea is the famous Keemun Congou Hao Ya grade A black tea from Anhui Tea Imports and Exports. This company owns about 20,000 hectares (nearly 50,000 acres) of tea plantations in and around Qimen county, Anhui Province, China. They produce many styles of tea in addition to this famous black tea that has been used in English Breakfast blends throughout tea’s European history. The Camellia Sinensis Sinensis cultivars are used to produce Keemun black teas.

Let’s see how these vastly different black teas compare. Let the journey begin…

Poabs OP1 (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Left) Dry Leaves
Poabs OP (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Right) Dry Leaves
Poabs OP1 Dry Leaves
Poabs OP Dry Leaves
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A Dry Leaves
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A Dry Leaves

The dry leaves of these two teas are quite different. The Poabs OP have a light to dark brown color, while the Keemum is black with some golden tips. The leaves of the Poabs OP are fairly large and rolled, with an occasional twig being visible (see photo). The Keemun leaves are much smaller and finer, twisted, no sticks, and obviously contains some tips. The Poabs OP leaves give scents of light molasses, wood, spices, and baked biscuits. The Keemun leaves give off scents of cocoa, malt, and other characteristics that remind me of dry red wine. The Poabs OP has a more spicy and woody character, while the Keemun is sweeter.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in ceramic professional tasting sets. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes.

Poabs OP1 (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Left) 1st Infusion
Poabs OP (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Right) 1st Infusion
Poabs OP1 1st Infusion
Poabs OP 1st Infusion
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A 1st Infusion
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A 1st Infusion

The first infusion of the Poabs OP produced a liquor with a orange color with a red tint. The Keemun liquor had a darker orange color, almost red. Both were clear and transparent. The aroma of the Poabs OP had floral, citrus, dry wood, and spicy scents. The Keemun had scents of pine wood, burgundy wine, and light floral. The Poabs OP had a brighter aroma, while the Keemun was bold. The Poabs OP had a medium-full body, with a slightly dry feel. The Keemun had a full body, with a dry feel like a burgundy wine. The Poabs OP had notes of spice, dry wood, citrus, and light floral in the taste. There was a moderate astringency. The aftertaste was spicy and floral. The Keemun had bold notes of pine, burgundy wine, and light floral. There was a mild astringency. The aftertaste was winey and lightly floral.

Poabs OP1 (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Left) 1st Infusion
Poabs OP1 (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Right) 1st Infusion
Poabs OP1 Infused Leaves
Poabs OP1 Infused Leaves
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A Infused Leaves
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A Infused Leaves

The infused leaves of the Poabs OP have a dark green to brown color. The leaves are fairly large fragments with an occasional twig. This indicates a cultivar that produces a larger leaf, perhaps an Assamica or other hybrid. The aroma has scents of wood, spice, and light sweetness.

The infused leaves of the Keemun have a uniform copper color. The leaves are rather fine fragments with some tips being present. These fragments indicate the smaller leaves produced by the Camellia Sinensis Sinensis cultivar known to be used in Keemum teas. The aroma has scents of toast, pine, and resin.

Poabs OP1 (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Left) 2nd Infusion
Poabs OP (Left) and Anhui Tea Co Keemun Hao Ya A (Right) 2nd Infusion
Poabs OP1 2nd Infusion
Poabs OP 2nd Infusion
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A 2nd Infusion
Anhui Tea Keemun Hao Ya A 2nd Infusion

Both types of tea leaves were infused a second time. Although the general characteristics remained the same from infusion to infusion, it seemed to me that the Poabs OP retained stronger properties than the Keemun. This could be due to the larger leaf fragments of the Poabs OP. Both teas produced tasteful infusions with fairly strong bodies.

The conclusion: although these two black teas are much different, both have their advantages. The Poabs OP had a bright smell and taste, which I believe would be more palatable to lesser experienced tea drinkers. There is no need to add milk to this Poabs OP. The Keemun had a bold aroma and taste, with a full body, which is why it is so popular among more experienced tea drinkers and those who like to add milk or cream. However, it certainly does not need milk or cream to be highly enjoyable. Basically, a person’s preference between these two teas will come down to how bold and heavy they like their tea. A drinker with a lighter preference will certainly prefer the Poabs OP, and a drinker with a bold preference will prefer the Keemun.

Thank you to Poabs Organic Estates and Anhui Tea Imports and Exports Company for providing the samples used in this comparison. Both are excellent teas, and I truly enjoyed this comparison. Cheers!