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!

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Company Spotlight: Rakkasan Tea Company in Dallas, Texas

It is my sincere pleasure to introduce you to Rakkasan Tea Company, a retail and wholesale tea vendor based in Dallas, Texas, founded in 2017.

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Rakkasan Tea Company is not your typical retail tea vendor. The founders and team have a specific mission for their business. That mission is to help spur awareness, peace, and opportunities for economic growth in tea producing areas that have had relatively recent political and societal conflicts or war, including Vietnam, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.

The vision for this mission began with the founder, Brandon Friedman, a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, who served as an infantry officer in the 101st Airborne Division. After honorably serving his country, Brandon took an interest in specialty tea. Since then, Brandon has teamed up with another veteran and Green Beret, Terrence Kamauf, and his wife Crystal Kamauf, to lead the Rakkasan Tea Company mission. These people have experienced the destruction of conflict, and now work to help reverse the long-lasting effects of war, both at home and abroad.

The origin of the term “Rakkasan” is Japanese, which translates into “parachutist”. This term is used as a nickname for a particular unit of the 101 Airborne Division. Love the name. Love the connection and significance.

The teas offered by Rakkasan Tea Company are also extraordinary, or as Rakkasan succinctly puts it, “Uncommon Tea From Uncommon Places”. Not your ordinary flavored and blended commodity teas, their products are pure, unflavored, unadulterated, high quality teas from farms who aspire to create the perfect tea experience. If you are reading this blog, you have probably experienced tea from Sri Lanka, but few of you have probably had the pleasure of drinking a tea from the Amba Estate. This estate does not produce your typical Ceylon black tea. Amba Estate teas redefine high quality Sri Lankan tea. If you haven’t tried them yet, start with the Amba Ceylon Black. Your new obsession will begin there. Don’t worry, Rakkasan offers bulk discounts!

Rakkasan Tea Company does offer special pricing for other retail and restaurant businesses. If you are interested in working with Rakkasan, and making a difference for veterans here in the U.S. and communities abroad in war-torn areas, please contact Rakkasan to discuss pricing. Their contact information can be found on the website.

You can also follow Rakkasan Tea Company on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram.

In the near future, I will have the pleasure of reviewing the Rukeri Black Tea from Rwanda, the H’Mong Kings Green Tea from Vietnam, and the Six Borders Black Tea from Vietnam. I hope to have the review of the Rukeri Black Tea posted within a few hours.

Thank you for taking your time to learn about the Rakkasan Tea Company, and be sure to check out and experience the interesting teas on their website. Many thanks to Brandon and his team at Rakkasan for providing the above tea samples! Cheers to you, Brandon and the RTC team, and to your mission!

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!

Company Spotlight: Araksa Tea Garden in Chiang Mai, Thailand

It is my sincere pleasure to introduce you to Araksa Tea Garden, located in the Mae Taeng district, Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Google map below shows the location of Araksa Tea Garden.

Araksa Tea Garden is a beautiful estate consisting of 45 hectares (111 acres) of land under tea cultivation. The estate grows Camellia Sinensis Assamica tea bushes, and the current bushes are said to be 40 to 70 years old. The average elevation of the garden is 550 meters (1,800 feet) above sea level.

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Assamica Tea Bush – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

The tea garden was originally founded in 1939, and among the first tea factories in Thailand was established. The estate began growing the Assamica tea bushes is 1941, then consisting of 20 hectares (50 acres). After some years, the garden changed ownership, and was not maintained for over two decades. Again in 2014, the ownership changed to it’s current owners, who have taken great care to restore the garden.

Due to the length of time that the garden went untouched, and because the current ownership believes in environmentally responsible farming practices, the tea bushes have not been directly exposed to chemicals for decades. Together with the elevation of the garden, the high quality soil, and filtered mountain valley water, Araksa Tea Garden is beginning to produce some very high quality teas. The garden is currently in the process of obtaining USDA Organic and EU Organic certifications.

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Fresh Picked Assamica Tea Leaves – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

In addition to environmental responsibility, Araksa Tea Garden also focuses on social responsibility in the community. This includes buying as many resources as possible from local farmers and businesses, employing locals and providing training, rewarding employees based on skills and performance, and sponsoring teachers in mountainous areas to promote education for children in remote villages.

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Hand-harvesting Tea Leaves – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

Currently, Araksa Tea Garden produces green tea, black tea, white tea, and herbal teas, such as lemongrass and butterfly pea. The teas are hand-picked, manually roasted, and hand-rolled. I will be posting reviews of the Preserve Green Tea, the Silk Tea, the Cha Yen Black Tea, the White Tea, and the Bluefly Herbal Tea. Yes, the Bluefly Herbal Tea is interesting enough to warrant a review. Even my six year old son loved the Bluefly Herbal Tea. As of this post, Araksa only sells their products in their brick-and-mortar tea shop, so I feel quite fortunate to have an opportunity to try these teas.

Araksa Tea Garden offers guided, hands-on tours of the estate, which demonstrates how leaves are grown, harvested, and processed. They also offer a beautiful setting for business or personal events.

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Looks Like a Beautiful Place to Enjoy Some Great Tea! – Photo used with ownership permission from Araksatea.com Gallery

You can keep up-to-date on all things Araksa by following them on Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for taking your time to learn more about the Araksa Tea Garden. I hope to post a review of the Preserve Green Tea tomorrow. Many thanks to the management at Araksa for their generosity in sending the samples. I am truly looking forward to experiencing these unique teas!

Organic Black Tea From Zealong Tea Estate in New Zealand

Today, I will focusing on the Organic Black Tea from Zealong Tea Estate. You can purchase 50 grams of this tea for USD $31.95 plus shipping from the Zealong Tea Estate shop.

Check out my Company Spotlight on Zealong Tea Estate for more information and some photos on the only estate in New Zealand to commercially grow tea.

Below you will find images of the attractive, beautiful, and cleanly designed packaging that the loose leaf teas from Zealong arrive in.

Let’s get to the review…

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Zealong Organic Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color. There are no signs of buds, and a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, and there does not appear to be any whole, unbroken leaves. The leaves are loosely rolled, giving them a relatively light, fluffy appearance and feel. The leaves are fully oxidized. The aroma is incredibly fresh and potent, with dominant scents of sweet wood chips, like sassafras bark, toasted oats, molasses, and dark honey.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in a 7 ounce (210 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 3:00 minutes. One minute of time was added to subsequent infusions. Three quality infusions were extracted from these leaves.

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Zealong Organic Black Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a beautiful, rich yet bright amber color, clear and transparent. The aroma has potent scents of sweet wood (sassafras), dark honey, and stewed stone fruits. The body is surprisingly full, with a honey-like, very smooth texture. The liquid seems to coat the tongue and throat like honey does. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste continues the notes of sweet wood (sassafras), dark honey, and stewed stone fruits. The sweet wood and honey also carries over to the aftertaste, and there is even a light, sweetly floral essence that can felt on the breath (at least in the first infusion).

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Zealong Organic Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark brown color with a dark green tint. The leaves are all medium to large fragments. No unbroken, whole leaves are found in the mix. No buds are found. A few bare stems are present. The leaves are fully oxidized. The leaves have a smooth, delicate feel to them. The larger fragments show a long, fairly narrow leaf shape. The aroma continues the attractive scents of sweet wood (sassafras), fresh wild flowers, and a touch of stewed stone fruit.

The Organic Black Tea from Zealong Tea Estate is truly an exotic black tea. You will not find the character of this tea in any other black tea on the market. The sweet, woody aroma and taste that dominate the experience of this tea is remarkable. The full body, and honey-like texture of the first infusion instantly catches the drinkers attention. The second and third infusions are much lighter in body and texture, but still enjoyable. The lack of bitterness or astringency accommodates the preferences of the occasional tea drinkers, as well. If you love black tea, but find yourself getting bored with the classic characters of standard black teas, give this Organic Black Tea from Zealong Tea Estate a chance to redefine black tea for you.

Thanks again to the management at Zealong Tea Estate for providing this sample of Organic Black Tea. Keep up the great work! I truly enjoyed experiencing the three teas from Zealong that I reviewed, and look forward to seeing their progress in the coming years. Cheers!

Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea From Lumbini Tea Valley

Today, I will be reviewing a jasmine scented green tea from Sri Lanka. This is the Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea from Giri, one of the brands produced by Lumbini Tea Valley.

Check out my company spotlight post on Lumbini Tea Valley, which has been updated with more information on the details of the estate, cultivars grown there, as well as some beautiful photos. The photos made me appreciate these products even more.

My six year old son is with me at my office, and this boy loves jasmine green tea, although usually the type sold at his favorite Thai restaurant that is served in a can and has sugar. But, he can enjoy it without sugar, if the mood catches him. That was my inspiration for opening this sample packet today. Once I started checking the leaves out, observing the jasmine blossoms, and feeling the aroma, I decided to give it a little extra attention. This has a very high quality look and aroma to it.

This style of green tea is said to be grown in the higher altitude regions of Sri Lanka. If this is true, then I believe these tea leaves were not necessarily grown at a Lumbini Tea Valley estates, but brought in from perhaps the Nuwara Eliya area, or somewhere near there.

Let’s get to the review…

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Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry tea leaves have a almost uniform color, with some slight variation in the pale forest green tone. The jasmine flowers have a pale yellow-white color, and are whole flowers, not just petal fragments. Some of the tea leaves do show oxidation spots, as is common with this style of green tea from Sri Lanka. The leaves are quite large, again common, and there are no bare stems or buds in the mix. The leaves are loosely rolled, and quite fluffy. These Sri Lankan green teas can unfurl into some of the largest tea leaves one will ever find in their pot. Although larger leaves are considered of lower quality than fresh, young, smaller leaves, nonetheless they are interesting to observe. The aroma is obviously dominated by potent scents of fresh jasmine flowers, but there are also scents of mineral and a touch of wood smoke from the green tea leaves that are not difficult to feel. The jasmine scent is very clean and natural. I do not get the feeling that it is too perfumey, exaggerated, or fake. This is a very pleasant scent of jasmine.

Seven grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes.

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Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a clean, pale, light yellow color, clear and transparent, with no oily residues or other signs of additives. The aroma is dominated beautifully with scents of fresh, pure jasmine flowers, and a touch of wet stones and minerals. The body is medium, with a silky, light texture, and a crisp, refreshing energy. There is no bitterness of astringency. The taste is also dominated by notes of fresh, pure jasmine flowers, and notes of wet stones and minerals. The aftertaste carries the fresh, sweet jasmine character, which pleasantly and lightly lingers on the breath.

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Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves are mostly a uniform dark forest green color, with some reddish spots of oxidation. Some of the leaves also show signs of the pan firing process, having some small holes and light char marks. The jasmine flowers are a pale, yellow-white color, and all are whole flowers. The tea leaves are mostly large fragments, some unbroken leaves, and all are individually plucked. There are no buds or bare stems. The leaves are fairly mature, and some are very large. The leaves have a thin, wet leathery feel. The aroma carries the scents of fresh jasmine flowers and minerals.

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Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea – Large Leaf

In fact, as you can see in the photo above, I found exactly what I mentioned above of what can happen with these Sri Lankan green teas, the largest leaf I have ever found in my teapot, and it is not even complete and unbroken. This fragment, which is about 85% of the whole leaf, measured over 4 inches (100 mm) long, and 2.5 inches (62 mm) wide. The whole leaf would have measured around the 5 inch range. This leaf got paraded around the office. For some reason, no one else seemed to share my excitement for this treasure.

No exaggeration on this statement, this Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea is in my top two jasmine scented tea products. It may even be in the number one spot. The jasmine aroma and taste are so clean, so pure, and so fresh, that I really could not get enough of it, and neither could my six year old son. So many other jasmine scented products smell and taste so fake, it honestly makes me not feel well. This tea, on the other hand, was simply a pleasure to experience. Just a perfect blend of sweet jasmine and mineral notes to make a unique, refreshing, uplifting tea. Of course, the visual observation of the tea leaves and flowers was also an excellent part of this review. Quality theories aside, observing these huge, mature leaves is fun for me. This is a top-notch jasmine scented tea, in my opinion.

Many thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley for providing this sample of Jasmine Ceylon Leafy Green Tea! Cheers!

Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea From Nepal Tea

Today’s review will focus on the Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea from Nepal Tea. You can purchase 50 grams of this tea for USD $12.99 plus shipping from the Nepal Tea website.

I covered the positive impact that Nepal Tea, and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, has had on their tea growing community in my previous reviews of their other products. Simply type “Nepal” into the search box and check out the other reviews.

Let’s get to the review…

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Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color, while the buds have a pale yellow-gold color. A light fuzz can be seen on the golden buds. The blend consists mostly of what appears to be whole, unbroken leaves and buds, with the remainder being large leaf and bud fragments. The plucking standard shows one leaf and bud. There is also a large number of detached, but whole, leaves and buds. The leaves and buds are fully oxidized, and twisted. The appearance is very high quality, and attractive. The aroma is also very attractive, with fresh scents of malt, caramel, toasted oats, baked bread, and raisins.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 7 ounce (210 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea – Tea Liquid

The liquid has a beautiful, deep amber red color, clear and transparent. As the liquid cools, a light oily residue seems to appear on the surface. The aroma is quite potent, with scents of malt, caramel, baked bread, raisins, and a touch of roses. The body is full, with a layered, smooth texture. There is no astringency, and just a touch of bitterness. Some might describe the character of this tea as “biscuity”. The taste has notes of malt, caramel, raisins, light roses, and a touch of baked bread. The raisin sweetness and light rose notes carry into the aftertaste, and the lingering sweetness left on the breath is impressive.

This portion of leaves gave five impressive infusions. If I had more time, I am certain I could have pulled another two to three quality infusions from them.

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Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves and buds have a uniform copper brown color. The blend consists mostly of unbroken, whole, leaves and buds detached from one another. There are also some that are attached to a stem, showing a one leaf and bud pluck. The leaves appear to be quite young and tender, and are long and narrow in shape. They are very soft and smooth, yet hearty to the touch, meaning they are not easily falling apart or being torn. The leaves and buds are fully oxidized. The aroma of the infused leaves, even after five infusions, is very potent, with impressive scents of caramel, raisins, and roses.

The Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea is the exact type of tea that reviewers love to experience. Hours can easily be spent observing this tea. The appearance of the dry leaves, the beautiful color of the liquid, the aroma and taste, and the observation of the infused leaves, were all a pleasure to behold. The time and care put into creating this product can be seen at every stage of analysis. The sweet, fruity, and slightly floral aroma and taste of the tea is remarkable, and how it carries into the aftertaste is also noteworthy. This may be the most impressive tea I have had from this box of samples from Nepal Tea. This is a tea that I would proudly add to my personal collection.

Many thanks to the management of Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for providing this sample of Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea. Cheers!

Aromatic Oolong Tea From Zealong Tea Estate in New Zealand

Today, I am introducing you, my readers, to the Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate. This tea is another certified organic product from Zealong. You can read more about Zealong Tea Estate on my recent Company Spotlight post.

This Aromatic Oolong Tea is given a quick roast at a high temperature to bring out the sweet, fruity flavors, while leaving much of the floral notes still intact. This product, like the Organic Green Tea, comes in very stylish, high quality packaging, as shown below.

You can purchase 50 grams of the Aromatic Oolong Tea for USD $31.95 plus shipping from Zealong Tea website.

Let’s get to the review…

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves are pale green to pale dark green in color. The leaves are mostly unbroken, whole leaves still attached to a stem, with a few detached whole leaves and large fragments. The leaves are tightly rolled and compacted into semi-ball shapes, similar to the famous oolong style of Taiwan. I expect a common oolong pluck of three to four leaves on the stem, hopefully with buds intact. The oxidation level appears to be in the medium range (25% to 35%). We already know there is a brief roast given to the leaves. The aroma, as with the Zealong Organic Green Tea, is incredibly fresh (are you noticing a pattern here?), with sweet, roasty scents of dark chocolate, caramel, toasted grains, and a touch of dried cherry.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (250 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 2:30. Fifteen seconds were added to the brewing time on each subsequent infusion.

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, golden yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has a beautiful combination of scents, including gardenia flowers, tart cherries, and toasted grains, all wrapped in an overall roasty blanket. The body is medium, with a silky, almost creamy texture. There is a light astringency, and a light bitterness. The taste, like the aroma, has notes of gardenia, tart cherry, and toasted grains under the general roasty character. The gardenia notes carry in to the aftertaste, and an impressive floral bouquet lingers on the breath.

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Zealong Aromatic Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark forest green color, with most of the leaves displaying reddish brown edges, evidencing the level of oxidation. The plucking standard ranges from the expected four leaves on long stems to two leaves on stem, with a few detached individual leaves. Most of the leaves are unbroken, and the rest are large fragments. There are some tender young buds included on some of the stems also, to my pleasant surprise. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves are long and narrow in shape. They have a thin leathery texture. The aroma of the infused leaves, especially as they cool, is truly an amazing bouquet of gardenia and generally sweet smelling flowers.

The Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate beautifully carried the very high quality torch that began with the review yesterday of the Organic Green Tea. The use of the descriptive term “Aromatic” in the product name is perfectly appropriate for this tea. From the dry leaves to the nectar to the infused leaves, the aroma is very impressive and fresh. Despite the brief, high temperature roast applied to the leaves, I found the floral qualities to be the most pronounced, with lighter notes of tart cherry. The lingering, highly floral aftertaste was also very impressive. The similarities are definitely there between this product and good quality Taiwanese oolongs, notably a light roast Dong Ding style. Considering that the cost of this product is in line with Taiwanese oolongs, I definitely suggest giving this Aromatic Oolong Tea from Zealong Tea Estate a try the next time you place an order. Try something exotic!

Thanks again to the management at Zealong Tea Estate for providing this sample of Aromatic Oolong Tea. Cheers!

Organic Green Tea From Zealong Tea Estate

Now that I have properly introduced you all to Zealong Tea Estate in the recently published Company Spotlight post, allow me to introduce you to the first of their products to be reviewed, the Organic Green Tea.

You can purchase 50 grams of this tea from the Zealong Tea Estate Shop for USD $48.00 plus shipping.

As you can see in the photos below, Zealong Tea Estate appears to put much focus on offering their teas in high quality, attractive packaging. When offering organic, specialty teas from an exotic place, and charging a premium price, it is certainly a worthy philosophy to do so in beautiful, eye-catching packaging such as this. The tea leaves comes in a resealable, opaque packet, which comes inside a stylish, beautifully designed box. The box gives brewing instructions, and the resealable packet has a code printed on it that identifies harvest details of the leaves held inside. I love the idea that the leaves can be traced back to their harvest. It is obvious that the management at Zealong truly pay attention to details, and I am certain that quality will be reflected in the tea itself.

This Organic Green Tea, as well as the other unblended teas from Zealong, is certified organic by the USDA and BioGro NZ.

Let’s get to the review…

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Zealong Organic Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform pale dark forest green color, with a few silver leaves that appear to be buds. The blend consists of medium to large leaf fragments, with perhaps a few unbroken leaves, and some bud fragments and a few unbroken buds. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. The leaves are lightly rolled. There are no obvious signs of oxidation. The appearance and feel of these leaves remind me very much of kamairicha style green tea from Japan. The aroma is very fresh and fragrant, with scents of passionfruit, dark brown sugar, and roasted chestnuts.

Four grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (250 mL) bizen-ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 2:00 minutes.

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Zealong Organic Green Tea – Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, fresh, pale light jade green color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is fresh and revitalizing, with scents of chestnut, fresh grass, and light touches of chrysanthemum and autumn leaves. The body is medium, with a remarkably smooth, velvety texture. There is no bitterness, and a pleasant, mild astringency. The taste has notes of chestnut, fresh grass, autumn leaves, and chrysanthemum. The aftertaste carries sweet, grassy notes, and finishes with a light lingering floral hint.

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Zealong Organic Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused laves have a fresh, dark forest green color. There are no signs of oxidation on any leaves. The blend consists mostly of large leaf fragments, with a few small, young, unbroken leaves, some unbroken, small, tender buds and bud fragments, no totally bare stems, and a few mostly bare stems that show a two leaf and young bud pluck. The leaves have a smooth, delicate feel. The leaves appear to be rather long and narrow. The aroma continues the scents of fresh grass, chestnuts, and chrysanthemum flowers.

The Organic Green Tea from Zealong Tea Estate screams and boasts of remarkable freshness. The appearance of the infused leaves looks as if they are fresh off the bush. The appearance of the tea liquid is beautiful, and visually uplifting. You can see the cleanliness and pureness of the bushes in the tea liquid, in that it is very clear and bright. The light jade green color is also quite memorable. The fresh aroma and taste of chestnuts, chrysanthemum flowers, and vegetal grassiness is truly revitalizing. The texture of the tea liquid is also remarkable, with a velvety character that rivals some of the best teas I have ever reviewed. In fact, the texture is probably the first thing that really struck me when tasting the tea. Finally, and maybe I am just imagining things, but the very light touch of passionfruit in the aroma and taste added another subtle dimension to an already impressive product. This Organic Green Tea needs to go on your list of teas to try as soon as possible, especially if you enjoy a good Kamairicha Japanese green tea.

Many thanks to the management at Zealong Tea Estate for sending this sample of Organic Green Tea! Your strict attention to detail, and focus on clean farming and production practices, definitely reflects beautifully in your products. Keep up the great work!