Manjary Handspun Black Tea From Lumbini Tea Valley

Yes, the tea reviews have been few and far between lately here. Life gets busy sometimes, and unfortunately taking time to prepare reviews is not always a priority.

Today, however, I have a few minutes, and wanted to share a very unique tea with my followers. Allow me to introduce you to the Manjary Handspun Black Tea from the Dalu brand at Lumbini Tea Valley. You can learn more about Lumbini Tea Valley by checking out my Company Spotlight post featuring this beautiful land in the Ruhuna region of Sri Lanka.

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Manjary Handspun Black Tea – Closeup of Tea Leaf

As you can see in the photo above, this is not just another loose leaf black tea from Sri Lanka. This product consists of whole, unbroken tea leaves that are shaped by hand into a blooming rose flower design. This is an innovative appearance for loose leaf tea, and would certainly serve as an effective ice breaker at any kind of social gathering. This is my first experience with a design like this.

Of course, the appearance and design of the dry leaf is a very small part of enjoying the tea in its entirety. As I have seen several times in the past, attractive and high quality looking dry leaves do not always translate into high quality, sensational tea liquids. It’s an unfortunate, but true, fact. With this in mind, although I can always appreciate a good looking product in its dry leaf form, I do not let the appearance give me lofty expectations of aroma and/or taste.

Let’s be honest, if a tea looks interesting in its dry form, but the quality falls short in the cup, then there is absolutely no need to buy more than just the smallest sample to show people as an interesting tea specimen to look at. Not many people are going to spend their cash on that product.

Let’s get to the review.

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Manjary Handspun Black Tea – Dry Leaves

There’s really not much left to say about the dry leaves. They have the dark charcoal gray and brown color of fully oxidized teas. I am expecting the leaves to be fairly large, whole and unbroken with no buds, and maybe the midrib intact to keep the leaf held together. There are no leaf fragments in the sample packet. The leaves are shaped to look like a blooming rose. Again, an interesting and innovative appearance, no doubt. The aroma has scents of fresh rose buds and a touch of dark chocolate.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 4:00 minutes.

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Manjary Handspun Black Tea – Tea Liquid

The tea liquid is rather light in color for a black tea, having a golden yellow color. The aroma has pleasant scents of rose petals and a slight hint of caramel. The body is light-medium, with a gentle, delicate texture, and a lightly refreshing effect. The taste also has a rather light taste, with notes of rose petals and a slight hint of caramel. The aftertaste is light and refreshing, and continues the essence of rose petals.

As you will see in the photo directly below, the tea leaves do not unfurl much in the water. This photo shows a leaf that has been sitting in water for nearly six hours. I even refreshed the hot water once to see if that would open it up.

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Manjary Handspun Black Tea – Infusing Leaf Closeup
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Manjary Handspun Black Tea – Infused Leaves
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Manjary Handspun Black Tea – Unrolled Infused Leaf

The infused leaves have the dark copper brown color of fully oxidized leaves. When unrolled, the leaves are whole and mostly unbroken. The leaves are rather large, most measuring at about 2.5 inches (62 mm) long. Some leaves have the midrib intact, while others do not. The aroma of the infused leaves follows suit with the dry leaves and liquid, consisting of a pleasant, fresh rose petal scent and a touch of caramel.

So, what do I think of this tea, as a whole? For a black tea from Ruhuna, it is comparably delicate and gentle. That is not a negative or sugar coated critique. The aroma and taste are very pleasant, albeit delicate, and refreshing. The rose aroma and taste is fresh, and uplifting. It is somewhat one dimensional in the aroma and taste, with the rose character being the one highlight. The body, texture, and taste can be described as similar to a refined, artisan iced tea. An iced tea you would get at an upscale restaurant or some kind of a upscale social event. Of course, this liquid was not iced or watered down in any way. This tea would make a good late afternoon, early evening tea in a warm location, given it’s delicate and refreshing qualities. If that event includes some friends interested in specialty tea, then that’s even better, since you will have something unique to show them. If you are reaching for a tea in the morning, however, I would probably reach for one of many Lumbini Tea Valley black teas with a more standard leaf grade. The Manjary will most likely not give you the jumpstart you need to start your day.

Many thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley for providing this sample of Manjary Handspun Black Tea! This was a truly unique experience. Keep up the innovative ideas. Cheers!

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea From Panchura Estates in Tamil Nadu, India

After a very productive and busy couple of months at work, I finally have a few moments today to review an interesting pan-fired green tea that I recently received from Panchura Estates, located in Coonoor, western Tamil Nadu, southern India. See the map below to get an idea of where this beautiful estate is located.

This beautiful, high altitude estate, also known as Kilmelfort, is owned and operated by the Mehta family. The estate consists of 22 hectares (55 acres) of land, and sits at an average altitude of 1,950 meters (6,400 feet) above sea level. Since 2012, the estate has used 100% natural cultivation methods, blending modern organic techniques with traditional Indian techniques, on a combination of Assamica seedling bushes and the CR-6017 cultivar bushes.

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Kilmelfort – Panchura Estates – Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India

Kilmelfort produces orthodox styles of green tea, oolong tea, and silver tips white tea. I received three samples of three different grades of the same style of specialty green tea. After trying each of the grades, the aromas, tastes, and other characteristics of the tea liquid were quite similar. The differences between the grades were more noticeable in the appearance of the dry leaves. This review will focus on the highest grade sample that I received, grade 2, as it is the most interesting to observe in all stages.

Although I was not able to find a website to purchase these products, I was able to locate the estate’s page on LinkedIn, and found their website, mehtaherbs.com, showing all of their products, which range from specialty teas to aloe skin care products.

Let’s get to the review…

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light green to pale gray. The blend consists of large leaf fragments, perhaps some unbroken leaves, a few bare stems, with no buds clearly visible. The leaves are lightly hand twisted, creating a long, curled, yet fluffy appearance. Based on the appearance and aroma of the dry leaves, I am guessing that a cast iron pan is used to fire these leaves. I expect the leaves to show some minor oxidation, as is common with green teas produced in this fashion from south India and Sri Lanka. The aroma is unique, with earthy scents of minerals and iron, dry leather, and touches of dark chocolate, dried figs and barnyard.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes. Subsequent infusions had an additional 30 seconds of time added.

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a golden yellow color, with a slight green tint. The aroma has scents of wet stones, mineral, fresh forest floor, and a touch of lemon or citrus. The body is  on the light side of medium, with a clean, silky texture, and a refreshing, revitalizing energy. There is no bitterness, and a light, lemon-like acidity. The taste carries the notes of wet stones, mineral, iron, fresh forest floor, and a touch of lemon. The liquid leaves a metallic taste on the tongue. This is not a negative, as the metallic character has a surprisingly natural, cleansing quality to it. The aftertaste continues the wet stone, mineral character.

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from pale fresh green to fresh forest green. The stems are brown. The blend consists of all large leaf fragments. I did not find any totally unbroken leaves or buds in the mix. The leaves have the hearty texture and thicker midrib of Assamica bush leaves. Some minor oxidation occurred in many of the leaves, as expected, and there are minor signs of slight overfiring on a few of the leaves. The infused leaves carry the fresh, earthy scents of mineral, forest floor, and wet stones, and the touch of dark chocolate is coming through again.

The Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea is like no green tea that I have had in recent memory. The dominant earthy and mineral characters give a refreshing, cleansing quality to the liquid. The dry leaves are a pleasure to observe. There is clearly a great deal of care put into manufacturing this product, and this is not even the best grade to come from Kilmelfort!

Quick side note, the other grades that I received, grades 3 and 4, had slightly smaller leaf fragments in their blends, and a little less consistency in the fragment size than the grade 2 being reviewed here. With the slightly smaller fragments, the strength of the liquids were slightly stronger, but maintained the same general aromas and tastes.

Thank you to the management at Kilmelfort and Panchura Estates for providing these samples of green tea. Keep up the good work!

 

Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea from Yunomi

Join me for a quick review of the Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea from Yunomi, who sourced this tea from the Kaneroku Matsumoto Tea Garden, located in the Shimada City region, Shizuoka, Japan. The Google map below shows the general location of Shimada City.

I will be posting a Company Spotlight on Yunomi in the near future, but wanted to get this review posted while it was fresh in my mind.

This green tea is roasted, then smoked using cedar wood procured from Yakushima Island. Generally speaking, this style of green tea, known as Hojicha, is lower in caffeine due to the roasting process, and sweeter in flavor, with a dominant smoky and roasty character. It makes for an excellent tasting and refreshing iced or cold brewed tea.

You can purchase 60 grams of this Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea from Yunomi for USD $18.00 plus shipping.

Let’s get to the review…

The dry leaves have a uniform, pale brown color. The blend consists of small leaf fragments, and bare, woody stems. The leaves and stems are obviously roasted. The aroma is dominated by scents of cedar wood and smoke.

Seven grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 1:00 minute, per the suggested brewing instructions on the packaging. 30 seconds of time were added to each subsequent infusion.

The liquid had a pale, golden yellow color. The aroma again is dominated by scents of cedar wood and smoke. The body is medium, with a very smooth, velvety texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste is also dominated by notes of cedar wood and smoke, with an overall roasty character. The aftertaste is sweet and woody.

The infused leaves have a uniform dark brown color. The aroma, as expected, is dominated by scents of cedar wood and smoke.

Although the descriptions above may seem two dimensional, being cedar wood and smoke, don’t let these short descriptions lead you to believe that this hojicha is anything other than delicious. That is exactly what it is. There are so many occasions that I can picture immediately that this tea would compliment perfectly. Served hot or cold, this is a satisfying, robust, yet refreshing style of green tea. The leaves can be used multiple times, and still provide that sweet, woody, roasty character. If you have not tried this style of Japanese green tea, now would be the perfect time to put an end to that drought. Trust the Japanese tea expert at Yunomi to source the finest hojicha, and other teas of Japan, that you can experience.

Thank you to Ian Chun at Yunomi for providing this sample of Yakushima Cedar Wood Smoked Hojicha Green Tea! Cheers!

 

Silk Oolong Tea From Araksa Tea Garden

Today’s review will focus on the Silk Tea from Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Although not specified as an oolong tea by Araksa Tea Garden, the leaves are definitely partially oxidized, and have undergone more processing than a white tea. Thus, for the purpose of reviewing the tea, and determining steeping guidelines, I have classified this as an oolong tea.

For more information on Araksa Tea Garden, check out my Company Spotlight post.

Let’s get to the review…

The dry leaves vary in color from pale dark green to pale light brown to pale dark brown, with some pale gold-yellow buds and silverish buds. The leaves consist almost entirely of unbroken, whole leaves and buds attached to stems, showing a range of plucking standards from one leaf and bud to three leaves and bud. There are a few detached, large leaf fragments. There is a generous amount of mature, large buds, and no totally bare stems. The leaves and buds are partially oxidized (as an estimate, maybe 30 to 40%), are very lightly hand rolled, and appear to have been pan fired. It is obvious that great care was put into shaping these leaves. The aroma has scents of toasted oats, light brown sugar, dried corn, and dried chrysanthemum flowers.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Araksa Silk Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, golden yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has interesting scents of chrysanthemum, sweet corn, and a touch of hay. The body is surprisingly full, will a silky, very smooth texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has notes of sweet corn, chrysanthemum, and hay. The aftertaste carries the hay and floral qualities, but with a subtle developing undertone of rose apples. There is lasting floral essence left on the breath.

The infused leaves vary slightly in the depth of the pale brown tones of color. The blend consists mostly of unbroken, whole leaves and buds attached to stems. There are a few large leaf fragments, detached from the stems, and no totally bare stems. The plucking standard varies from one leaf and mature bud to three leaves and mature bud. The largest buds measure nearly two inches (50 mm) long. Most of the buds this size are enveloping a younger bud. These are beautiful tea leaf specimens to observe. While hot, the leaves carry the aroma of chrysanthemum and corn. As they cool, the infused leaves hold a strong scent of magnolia flowers.

The Silk Tea from Araksa Tea Garden is a truly unique product. The leaves are beautiful to visually observe and handle in both the dry and infused forms. As mentioned above, it is obvious that the people at Araksa took incredible care of these leaves during production to not tear, detach, or otherwise damage the appearance. The taste is also unique, a blend of floral and corn notes. I cannot say I expected to find these characteristics in this tea, and although the combination was  a challenge to understand and interpret at first, the final description seemed to come rather easily. The aroma of the cool, infused leaves is spectacular. It feels as if I stuck my nose into one of the large blooming magnolia flowers in the front of my house. Overall, this was a fascinating experience, and I would recommend this more to fellow tea enthusiasts who can appreciate the specific qualities offered by this tea.

Thanks again to the management at Araksa Tea Garden for providing this sample of Silk Tea. Keep up the interesting and innovative work! Cheers!

Cacao Kisses Black Tea From Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea

Although I am not much of a sweet tooth, I do love raw cacao (nibs, full beans, powder) and very dark chocolate. So when I opened the box of samples generously provided by Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea, and saw one sample named Cacao Kisses, I was intrigued.

Want to learn more about Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea? check out my Company Spotlight post.

The Cacao Kisses Black Tea blends cacao husk and cacao nibs with Bitaco black tea leaves. The cacao also is sourced from the Tumaco region of Colombia. This product won the top prize at the Global Tea Championships in 2017 in the flavored hot tea competition. Congratulations to Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea on this success!

Let’s get to the review…

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Cacao Kisses Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few golden buds in the mix, and a few mostly bare stems. There are also several cacao husks and nibs. The tea leaves are fully oxidized, and rather tightly rolled. The tea leaves appear to be large fragments and some unbroken leaves, some detached and others attached to the stem. The overall appearance is very attractive and high quality. But the aroma is the highlight of the dry leaves, with incredible scents of raw cacao, dark chocolate, and a touch of dry cherries.

Six grams of dry leaves were placed in a twelve ounce (350 mL) glass infusion mug, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 4:00 minutes.

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Cacao Kisses Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, copper orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma is again simply amazing, with potent scents of raw cacao, dark chocolate, malt, and light cherry. The body is full, with a plush, pillowy texture. There is a slight touch of bitterness from the cacao, and a slight touch of astringency. The taste carries the delicious notes of raw cacao, dark chocolate, tart cherries, and malt. The aftertaste continues the sweet, chocolatey notes.

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Cacao Kisses Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform chocolate brown color (to stick with the theme here). The blend consists of mostly large tea leaf fragments, a few unbroken tea leaves, a few tea buds, a few mostly bare stems, cacao husks, and a few cacao nibs. The tea leaves attached to a stem show a two leaf and bud pluck. After two infusions, the leaves are very soft, smooth, and tender. The aroma of the infused leaves is more malty than chocolatey, but still very sweet and attractive.

I have absolutely zero wonders as to how this Cacao Kisses Black Tea won the top prize for flavored hot tea at the Global Tea Championship. This product is seriously delicious, exciting, and unforgettable. If you happen to be a fan of black tea and dark chocolate, prepare yourself for a new addiction. The aromas of this tea at all stages is just packed with cacao and dark chocolate. The slight touches of cherry adds a whole new level to this experience. The texture is also perfect and comforting. This could definitely be considered a “dessert tea”. Although I think it is an excellent choice at any and every time of day. I have nothing but praise for this tea.

Cheers to Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea for developing this incredible product! Thanks to the management at Bitaco for providing this with the samples. I am very happy to have experienced this tea, and hope to experience it many more times in the future.

 

Quick Review: Six Borders Black Tea From Rakkasan Tea Company

As part of my attempts to evolve this blog, I have decided to begin publishing a new type of review called a “Quick Review”. The purpose is to avoid redundancy, and focus on the highlights of a particular product without spending time describing less important details. In no way is a quick review intended to imply that the product is unworthy of a full review. I have quite the supply of great teas to review, and I want to have time to give them all their spotlight. In order to do so, I need to improve my efficiency in writing reviews. Thus, the quick review will help accomplish this end.

With the necessary disclaimer being given, let’s turn our focus to the Six Borders Black Tea, offered by the Rakkasan Tea Company. Check out my Company Spotlight post on Rakkasan Tea Company to learn more about them.

You can purchase two ounces (50 grams) of this tea for USD $9.99 from the Rakkasan Tea Company website.

The leaves used to create the Six Borders Black Tea are harvested by a single family of H’mong farmers from wild tea bushes growing at an average altitude over 4,300 feet (1,300 meters) above sea level in the Yen Bai province of Vietnam. The Google map below shows the location of the Yen Bai province.

Let’s get to the review…

The dark charcoal grey to black leaves are all medium sized leaf fragments, fully oxidized, and rolled. There are a few golden bud fragments, and a few small bare stems. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate and an acidic fruity smell, which reminds me of slightly fermented cherries.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

The liquid has a rich, amber red color. The aroma has scents of tart cherries, dark chocolate, and light malt. The body is medium, with a clean, refreshing texture. There is no bitterness, but instead a unique lightly tart quality. The taste has notes of tart cherries, dark chocolate, and light malt. The aftertaste is sweet and lightly malty.

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color, and carry the sweet scents of cherries and dark chocolate.

I have noticed with these wild grown Vietnamese teas, whether green or black, that they have a specific pure, clean, and refreshing quality to them. The Six Borders Black Tea certainly offers this same highlight. Additionally, the light tartness, which dovetails beautifully with the aroma and taste of cherries and dark chocolate, truly gives a unique character to this black tea. The tea liquid itself is not overpowering in taste or texture, and would be well received by those who prefer a mild black tea experience. For the reasonable price that this product is offered at by Rakkasan Tea Company, I highly recommend trying it.

Thanks again to Rakkasan Tea Company for providing this sample of Six Borders Black Tea.

H’Mong Kings Green Tea From Rakkasan Tea Company

Today, I will be taking a look at the H’mong Kings Green Tea from Rakkasan Tea Company. You can also learn more about Rakkasan Tea Company by checking out my Company Spotlight post.

You can purchase 1.5 ounces (40 grams) of this tea for USD $11.99 from the Rakkasan Tea Company website.

This H’Mong Kings Green Tea is sourced from H’Mong wild tea farmers in the Ha Giang province of northern Vietnam. The Google map below shows the location of Ha Giang province.

The wild tea bushes harvested to make this tea are located at an altitude of about 5,200 feet (1,585 meters) above sea level, and are surrounded by forests of pine trees. The leaves are fired and dried over cast iron pans heated by burning wood.

Generally speaking, I have found most wild grown, pan fired green teas to be more similar in character to sheng (raw) puer teas, having a more complex, mineral character than the grassy, nutty, or floral characters of the more commercialized green teas. I love the mineral character, so let’s hope this tea has some of that.

As a quick sidenote, as you may have noticed, I have upgraded this site to an owned domain, and changed the theme. Any feedback, positive or negative, will be appreciated regarding the font sizes, photo sizes, color schemes, layout, etc.

Let’s get to the review…

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H’Mong Kings Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary slightly in color from pale light forest green to pale dark forest green. There are a few silver buds in the mix, as well as a bare stem or two. The leaves appear to be mostly large fragments and whole leaves detached from a stem. Some leaves are still attached to the stem, many including a bud, and show a two leaf and bud pluck. Some leaves appear to have signs of light oxidation. The leaves are hand rolled. They appear to have been well cared for during firing, as there are no obvious signs of over cooking or burning. The aroma has scents of campfire, pine wood, mineral, and fresh earth. Definitely not your typical green tea!

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 7 ounce (210 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 2:00 minutes. 30 seconds of additional time were added to each subsequent infusion. Four quality infusions were extracted from the leaves.

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H’Mong Kings Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has dominant scents of minerals, with touches of grass and pine wood. The body is medium, with a silky, light texture. There is a very slight bitterness, and no astringency. The taste has notes of minerals, wet stones, and touches of grass and pine wood. The aftertaste carries the dominant mineral character, with a lighter touch of grass. The liquid leaves the mouth feeling clean and refreshed.

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H’Mong Kings Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a mostly uniform fresh forest green color, some showing slight signs of oxidation. One or two leaves appear to have signs that bugs were feasting on them. The leaves are mostly large fragments, but there are some whole detached leaves ,and some whole leaves attached to stems that show a two leaf and bud pluck. There are one or two bare stems in the mix. These leaves seem to have a larger than normal midrib. The leaves have a soft, yet durable texture, even after four infusions. The aroma carries the scents of minerals, and touches of grass, earth, and smoke.

The H’Mong Kings Green Tea is not a typical green tea, and I mean that as a positive observation. As I had hoped for, this tea is dominated by a mineral character, with some light touches of earth, grass, and wood. This is the kind of tea I dream of taking with me on a trip into the mountains, as it really offers that “connecting with nature” energy. The appearance of the leaves certainly has the “hand-crafted” look, and is obviously watched over carefully during production. The clean and refreshing feeling that this tea leaves in the mouth is also a noteworthy feature. Overall, a very unique, revitalizing green tea that should cater to the preferences of sheng puer tea drinkers.

Many thanks to the management at Rakkasan Tea Company for providing this sample of H’Mong Kings Green Tea! Keep up the excellent work. Cheers!

Rukeri Rwanda Black Tea From Rakkasan Tea Company

Now that I have formally introduced my readers to the Rakkasan Tea Company in my recently published Company Spotlight post, I am pleased to showcase their Rukeri Black Tea, sourced from Rwanda.

The factory from which this black tea comes is a participant in the Ethical Tea Partnership, Rainforest Alliance, and Fair Trade. The tea bushes are grown at an average elevation between 5,500 and 6,500 feet (1,680 to 2,000 meters) above sea level. Rwanda’s mineral rich volcanic soil and climatic conditions make it an ideal location to grow high quality tea. The small African nation produces about 1% of the world’s tea.

You can purchase two ounces (57 grams) of this tea for USD $9.99 from the Rakkasan Tea Company website.

Let’s get to the review…

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Rukeri Rwanda Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray to black color. There are a few small, bare stems in the mix that have a light copper color. There are no obvious buds or tips in the mix. The mix consists of small to medium size leaf fragments, similar to that of a BOP grade. The leaves are fully oxidized, and machine rolled. The aroma has scents of malt, dry lemongrass, and a light touch of raisin.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Rukeri Rwanda Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a rich, amber-red color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of malt, lemongrass, and light touches of raisins and wild flowers. The body is full, with silky, fluffy texture, and a bright, lively energy. A pleasant twist of briskness and light bitterness round out the character. The taste has notes of malt, lemongrass, raisins, and a light touch of wild flowers. The aftertaste carries the lemongrass, light malt, and light wild flower notes.

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Rukeri Rwanda Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The mix consists of small to medium sized leaf and stem fragments. The leaves are fully oxidized. There are no identifiable buds or tips in the mix, and a few totally bare stems. The aroma has scents of wild flowers, raisins, and a touch of lemongrass.

This Rukeri Rwanda Black Tea from Rakkasan Tea Company is the first tea I have ever experienced from Rwanda. Absolutely, it does have its own unique character, most notably in the texture and energy of the liquid. The silky, fluffy texture jumps into the spotlight, and a bright, lively energy holds the drinkers attention. The citrusy, earthy note of lemongrass is also fairly easy to identify. I can always appreciate a brisk quality in a tea, and this Rukeri Black Tea had a mild, yet unique briskness to it, which I find very enjoyable. Overall, this is a very nice black tea with a specific quality that I can only attribute to the growing conditions in Rwanda.

Thanks again to the management at Rakkasan Tea Company for providing this sample of Rukeri Black Tea! Have a good weekend, everyone!

White Tea From Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Today’s review will focus on the White Tea from Araksa Tea Garden. Learn more about Araksa by visiting my Company Spotlight post.

This white tea is a silver needle or silver tips style, consisting only of tea buds hand harvested from Camellia Sinensis Assamica bushes. The leaves are sun withered and dried in order to maintain as much natural character of the tea buds as possible. This is the first white tea that I have had that was grown and manufactured in Thailand.

Let’s get to the review…

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Araksa White Tea – Dry Buds

The dry buds have a uniform pale forest green color, and are covered in the silver-white fuzz that is common among this style of white tea. The mix consists of all whole, unbroken buds. There are no bud fragments, no leaves or leaf fragments, and no bare stems. The buds have the common sickle shape, and some are quite large. In fact, a few of these buds are the largest (in length) that I have witnessed from any silver needle style white tea from any origin. The longest dry bud measured just over two inches (50 mm) long. The longer buds can be attributed to the Assamica bushes that they are harvested from, known to have larger features than the Sinensis bushes that most other white teas on the market are harvested from. The buds are long and narrow, coming to a point at the tips. The buds have a soft, smooth texture. The aroma is delicate, with light scents of sweet hay, vanilla, dried tulips, and a touch of buttery popcorn.

Four grams of dry buds were placed in a 7.1 ounce (210 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. Four quality infusions were extracted from this serving of buds.

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Araksa White Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a light, pale yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is quite delicate, with light scents of tulip, hay, and a touch of butter. The body is light, with a silky texture. There is no bitterness or astringency. The liquid has a refreshing, calming energy. The taste is also delicate, with notes of tulip, hay, and a touch of butter. The aftertaste carries the delicate floral character.

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Araksa White Tea – Infused Buds

The infused buds have a uniform fresh, forest green color, with a few buds showing reddish-brown spots along the midribs. This is due to a small amount of oxidation that can occur during the natural withering and drying process that the buds go through. The buds are long and narrow, coming to a point at the tips. They have a smooth, soft, delicate texture. Some of the buds are very long, and when closer examined, have three layers of buds. The largest bud envelopes a younger bud which then envelopes a very young bud (see the photo below). These buds are a pleasure to examine. The aroma again is quite delicate, with scents of light flowers and hay.

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Araksa White Tea – Single Specimen

The White Tea from Araksa Tea Garden is a gentle, easy drinking silver needle tea that boasts a refreshing floral bouquet, and a comforting, silky smooth texture. The buds themselves are a pleasure to examine and play with. They feel as if they were just plucked off the bush yesterday. I was curious to see if these buds, plucked from Assamica bushes, would have a bolder taste than those harvested from Sinensis bushes, since the Assamica teas generally have a stronger tasting quality. I found that these buds did not share that robust character. This tea is surprisingly delicate.

Thanks again to the management at Araksa Tea Garden for providing this sample of White Tea. Have a good weekend, everyone.

Preserve Green Tea From Araksa Tea Garden in Thailand

Just a little while ago, I introduced my readers to the Araksa Tea Garden, located in Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai, Thailand. Check out my Company Spotlight post to learn more about this beautiful estate.

Now, I am introducing you to the Preserve Green Tea from Araksa Tea Garden. This green tea is made from freshly hand-harvested Camellia Sinensis Assamica bushes, then is manually roasted, and hand-rolled. The name “Preserve” is intended to communicate the motivation of the tea masters at Araksa to make this green tea using traditional and local methods. As of this post, Araksa does not have an online tea shop, and this tea can only be purchased from their store on the garden grounds. Sounds like a great motivation to go tour the estate!

Let’s get to the review…

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Araksa Preserve Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light yellow buds to pale dark forest green leaves. The blend consists of medium size leaf, bud, and stem fragments. There is a generous portion of bud fragments. There are a few bare stems. There are a few leaves that show a touch of oxidation, but overall the oxidation level is minimal. The leaves are rolled, and have a rather consistent size and shape overall, considering that they are hand rolled. The leaves and buds appear to be fairly young and tender. The aroma is quite fresh and powerful, with scents of brown sugar, toasted pecans, vanilla, and a touch of sweet cream.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes. Two infusions were extracted from the leaves, but they could have given at least one more quality infusion.

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Araksa Preserve Green Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a pale, light gold-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma has fresh scents of lilac, vanilla, mineral, and light touches of pecan. The body is fuller than I expected, with a bright, lively character. There is a touch of astringency, and no bitterness. The taste has clean, fresh notes of lilac, mineral (wet stones), pecan, and a touch of cooked chard. The aftertaste carries the lilac and light vegetal character, and there is a fairly potent flowery essence left on the breath.

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Araksa Preserve Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves and buds are mostly a fresh forest green color, while the stems and a few of the leaves display a copper brown color, again evidencing the slight oxidation that occurred during production. Nearly all of the leaves, buds, and stems are medium size fragments. There are no unbroken or whole leaves in the mix, but there are a few unbroken, tender buds. The leaves and buds have a soft, smooth, tender texture. The aroma carries the scents of lilac and mineral, with a touch of pecan.

The Preserve Green Tea from Araksa Tea Garden provides a rejuvenating, refreshing, and uplifting green tea experience. Certainly not overwhelming on the grassy, vegetal green tea character, this tea offers a fresh floral and mineral aroma and taste that invokes thoughts of spring (we in Pittsburgh are desperately yearning for these thoughts right now). Although excellent served hot, I can imagine this would make for a thoroughly refreshing iced tea, as well. The clean environment that these leaves are grown in, and the care that goes into them during production, can be felt in the potent aromas and pure taste of this tea.

Thanks again to the management at Araksa Tea Garden for giving me an opportunity to experience the Preserve Green Tea! Cheers!