Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea From Assamica Agro

Today, my review will focus on the Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea from Assamica Agro. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $19.90 from the Assamica Agro website.

This black tea is a TGFOP grade (Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe). The leaves were harvested during the second flush season of 2017 from the Kanoka Tea Estate, located in the Sonitpur district, Assam region of India. In accordance with the other partner growers involved with Assamica Agro, Kanoka Tea Estate engages in organic and eco-friendly farming practices. The estate covers about six acres (2.4 hectares). Unlike many now organic estates in the Assam region, the owners of Kanoka Tea Estate historically did not use pesticides or chemical fertilizers on their land. Instead, the team regularly engages in manual removal of weeds from the garden. Vermicomposting and cow-based fertilizers are used to maintain a natural growing environment.

I provided more details of the great business model being enacted by Assamica Agro in my previous reviews of the Queen of Assam Black Tea and the Assam Green Adventure Green Tea. Check out both of those reviews to read about Assamica Agro, and click the links to buy some of their amazing quality teas. The prices are quite amazing also!

Let’s get to the review…

20180201_094758
Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few spots of pale brown, and a few small silverish buds. The blend consists of mostly large leaf fragments, with a few unbroken leaves, some medium fragments, and a few young buds and bud fragments. There are one or two bare stems. The leaves are rolled, and the appearance is similar to other high-end TGFOP black teas from Assam. The aroma is very nice, with scents of grapes, raw cacao, dry rose petals, and a touch of hay.

Nine 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 4:00 minutes. I would normally have used 200°F water for 3:00 minutes, but the package suggested the lower temperature of 190°F for 4:00 minutes.

20180201_095706
Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea – Infusion

The infusion has a rich, vibrant red-orange color. The aroma again is very attractive, with scents of cocoa, roses, wild flowers, and a touch of hay. The body is full, with a lively, mouth-filling texture that seems to coat the tongue. There is a nice, brisk character, and no bitterness. The taste carries the notes of cocoa, roses, wildflowers, and a light touch of grapefruit. The aftertaste is sweet and lightly floral, and pleasantly lingers on the breath for a longer time than expected.

20180201_153501
Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The blend consists of mostly large leaf fragments, a few unbroken leaves, and some medium leaf and bud fragments. All leaves are detached from stems. The leaves appear to be younger, but still have the more pronounced hardiness and smooth leathery feel typical of the assamica bush. The aroma is very floral and sweet, with scents of roses and grapes.

As I have come to expect from the products offered by Assamica Agro, this Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea took a classic tea like Assam TGFOP black tea, and crafted it into something truly unique. Yes, one can tell this is an Assam black tea by the color and body of the infusion, but the more pronounced cocoa aroma and taste is the twist on the more commonly found malty qualities found in Assam teas. The floral notes add to the high quality character of this tea. The leaves give at least two very high quality infusions, and the third was certainly worthy of drinking. Again, for the price that Assamica Agro offers this tea for, it is worth every penny!

Many thanks to Assamica Agro for providing this sample of Kanoka Summer Breeze Black Tea, and my compliments to the producers at Kanoka Tea Estate. Keep up the amazing work!

Advertisements

Assam Green Adventure Green Tea From Assamica Agro

Another bitter cold day in Pittsburgh, and nothing is more appropriate than a bold Assam tea. Although generally I prefer a rich black tea on days like today, there is a sample of Assam Green Adventure Green Tea in this box from Assamica Agro, and the leaves look too interesting through the package window to pass up.

You can purchase 100 grams of this Assam Green Adventure for USD $7.50 through the Assamica Agro website. Or get an entire kilogram (2.2 pounds) for USD $41.50! I spent a good paragraph or two in my previous review of the Queen of Assam Black Tea from Assamica Agro describing how incredible of pricing this company has for their products. Seriously, check out their website and buy some amazing tea!

Like the Queen of Assam Black Tea, this Assam Green Adventure was also produced at the Prithivi Group of Small Tea Growers, located in Dibrugarh, Assam, India. That fact alone has my excitement peaked for this green tea, since the Queen of Assam was an absolutely phenomenal black tea. This tea is from the second flush harvest of 2017.

Assamica Agro is truly a model for how tea companies should run. They have the right vision for a tea company, practicing fair wages to workers, organic farming, and protecting the land and environment. Somehow, they do all of this while offering fantastic quality teas at affordable prices. It seems that the lack of “middlemen” and unreasonable profit margins truly makes this possible. Cheers to Assamica Agro, and any tea companies that follow these same practices.

Historically, many of the largest tea growing regions of the world had the same strategy as many other corrupt industries and governments, exploiting the local people, weak economies, and land in order to maximize profits for those who need it the least. This strategy has left nothing but waste in its wake, including perpetually weak economies, poor local people being lacked of sufficient incomes and services, and polluted, damaged lands. These are the practices and entities that need to be dissolved in our age, where we no longer need them in order to find tea and other products. I am not one to get engaged in political conversation in this blog, but I am one for promoting and offering ethics and good moral character in business practices. These things in business are what is best for the development of humanity.

Now, let’s get to the review…

20180117_090522
Assam Green Adventure Green Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale forest green to pale dark forest green. There are a few smaller silver buds. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves are hand plucked. Some are hand twisted into long, wiry shapes (some measuring over 2 inches), while others appear to be lightly hand rolled. The mix appears to consist of mostly large fragments and unbroken leaves still attached to the shoot. The plucking standard is two leaf pluck, with very few having a small bud. The leaves appear to be pan fired. The aroma is rich and woodsy, with scents of wood smoke, forest floor (fresh mushrooms and dry autumn leaves), minerals, and a touch of bitter cacao beans. This is a type of tea to sit around a campfire with and get the full experience of nature.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 175°F (80°C) water for 1:00 minute. 15 seconds were added to subsequent infusions.

20180117_102614
Assam Green Adventure Green Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a fairly light, pale green color. The aroma has scents of wood smoke, wet stones, fresh mushrooms, and steamed collard greens. The body is surprisingly full, with a savory, rich texture, and a light touch of astringency. The taste has notes of wet stones, autumn leaves, collard greens, fresh mushrooms, and wild flowers. The aftertaste carries the vegetal character, and slowly evolves into a flowery essence.

20180117_102246
Assam Green Adventure Green Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform bright, fresh forest green color. The blend consists of mostly large fragments and unbroken leaves still attached to stems, with a few detached unbroken leaves and fragments. There are no totally bare stems. The plucking standard is two leaves. There are very few small bud fragments in the mix. The leaves feel young and fairly tender, although the size is considerably large, again indicating the leaves come from Camellia Sinensis Assamica tea bushes. The aroma has scents of wet forest floor, wet stones, collard greens, fresh mushrooms, and a touch of wild flowers.

The Assam Green Adventure Green Tea has a very appropriate name, because experiencing this tea is truly like adventuring through a forest. The aromas and tastes of wood smoke, like a campfire, fresh mushrooms, minerals, forest foliage, and a touch of wild flowers, really transports you to an early autumn forest after a light rain shower. I really get the feeling of camping from this tea, and I personally love it. It seems to connect me to nature.

This green tea is more similar to a sheng puerh in terms of aroma and taste. Being dominantly earthy and complex, it does not have the grassy, nutty, or stronger floral flavors that many other green teas have. I find that most pan fired green teas share this earthy, mineral character. As of this moment, I am on the fifth infusion of these leaves, and there is plenty of taste left in these leaves. It is impressive. Again, for the price of this tea, you can buy yourself an amazing amount of excellent green tea pleasure.

Thanks again to Assamica Agro for all that they do in their communities, and for providing this sample of Assam Green Adventure Green Tea! Go check out their website, and help a positive, ethical movement generate some well-deserved revenues. Cheers!

GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate

Today, I will be reviewing the GTGFOP1 Clonal Black from Halmari Tea Estate, which was awarded a 2017 Global Tea Championship First Place Award in the Fall Hot Loose Leaf Assam category. Congratulations to everyone at Halmari Tea Estate for this accomplishment!

You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $35.00 plus shipping fees direct from Halmari Tea Estate.

I have covered Halmari Tea Estate in detail in previous posts, and the link above takes you to their website, where there is plenty of additional information, so let’s just jump right into the review today.

20171002_120039_Richtone(HDR)
Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown color, with a generous portion of fuzzy golden tips. The size and shape of the leaves is also uniform, and consists of small leaf and bud fragments. This tea has a very high quality appearance. The aroma has sweet scents of malt, dark honey, and a light, nutmeg-like spiciness.

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

20171002_120712_Richtone(HDR)
Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a deep, amber red color. The aroma has scents of malt, dark honey, roses, and a touch of nutmeg. The body is full, with a brisk and robust character, and a rich, layered texture. The taste has notes of malt, rosebuds, pine wood, and black peppercorn. The notes of malt and pine carry over in the aftertaste.

20171002_124316_Richtone(HDR)
Halmari GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The leaves and buds are all small fragments, quite uniform in shape and size. The aroma has a dominant scent of malt, with a very light scent of roses.

It’s not difficult to understand why the GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate won the first place award in it’s category this year. This product is a very nicely refined, luxurious taste of Assam style black tea. It has the malty, full bodied, brisk character that Assam teas are known for, but with a rich, layered texture, and more complex taste than your typical Assam black tea. This tea deserves to be enjoyed without any additives. However, it is an Assam tea, which always takes well to milk, honey, or any of your favorite additions. Enjoy it any way you choose, but do take the time to enjoy it!

Thanks again to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of GTGFOP1 Clonal Black Tea. Keep up the great work! Cheers!

 

 

Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today, I will focus on the Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling tea produced at the Rohini Tea Estate. This sample was provided by Lochan Tea.

I have covered the Rohini Tea Estate several times in previous reviews, so I will spare you all the redundancy. You may click on the link above to learn more about Rohini Tea Estate.

This 2nd flush product from Rohini Tea Estate was produced early in the second flush season before the labor strike began in Darjeeling. Due to the ongoing political disputes in the Darjeeling area, this year (2017) marks the first time in forty years that the Kolkata tea auction centre has no Darjeeling second flush 2017 teas to sell. If you absolutely demand fresh second flush Darjeeling teas, expect to pay very, VERY high prices for it this year, and realize that what you are buying is from early second flush production, if you are able to find any at all available for retail sale.

Products comparable to Darjeeling second flush teas can be found coming from Nepal, which shares a border with the Darjeeling area of northern India. The Nepalese teas have been growing in popularity and recognition over the past couple of years due to the significant increases in quality and, in many cases, more affordable pricing than their Darjeeling counterparts. To be honest, unless you are truly a tea tasting and analyzing professional familiar with both Darjeeling and Nepalese teas, you will most likely not be able to tell the difference between the teas from these two areas. While the brand of Darjeeling teas is currently suffering due to the political problems in that area, the Nepalese products are gaining even more recognition as a suitable and reliable replacement for Darjeeling teas.

Let’s get to the review…

20170912_082152_Richtone(HDR)
Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown color with a generous portion of fuzzy golden tips. The shape of the dry leaves is remarkable and noteworthy, as they appear to be hand-rolled into pellets that in some cases resemble pretzels. A closeup of one of the pellets is below. I have never before seen a Darjeeling tea with the dry leaves rolled like this. This gives the tea an even higher quality and specific appearance. I would easily recognize this product in a blind evaluation. I expect these pellets to unfurl into unbroken and large leaf and bud fragments, and show a two leaf and bud pluck. There are no bare stems in the mix. The aroma has sweet scents of roses, grapes, and a touch of dark chocolate. The aroma is very attractive.

20170912_082347_Richtone(HDR)
Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Pellet Closeup

9 grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce cast-iron tetsubin teapot. The leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

20170912_083034_Richtone(HDR)
Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, reddish-bronze color. The aroma is dominated by scents of roses and grapes, with lighter scents of toasted grains and dark chocolate. The body is full, with a rich, layered texture. The taste has strong notes of roses and grapes, along with notes of raw cacao beans, and a lighter note of toasted grains. There is an excellent balance of astringency, bitterness, and sweetness. The aftertaste is sweet and has a touch of the rose and grape flavors. The tea leaves a slight dry feeling in the mouth.

20170912_102034_Richtone(HDR)
Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves, as expected, are mostly unbroken or large fragments. Some of the leaves are standalone, not attached to a stem, while others show the two leaf and bud pluck. Some have two leaves, a mature bud, and a younger bud included on the pluck with a longer shoot, which explains how they could be rolled into the pellet shape. Some of the leaves are quite large, like the one shown in the photo above. The aroma continues the sweet scents of grapes and roses, and light touch of dark chocolate.

The Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea is one of the most interesting teas to play with and observe that I have reviewed in a long time. The appearance of the dry leaf pellets and unfurled infused leaves is very unique, especially for a Darjeeling tea. The aroma in all phases is very attractive and characteristic of a high quality Darjeeling second flush tea, as well as the taste of the liquid. Having experienced this tea, it is unfortunate to remember that this product will probably not be available to purchase for the rest of this production year. I hope the Rohini Tea Estate continues to produce this unique and interesting tea in future production years.

To be honest, if I had to pick one Darjeeling second flush tea to have in my collection, I would choose this Rohini Summer Euphoria. The aroma and taste are very high quality, and it is simply a more interesting product than the vast majority of its Darjeeling second flush counterparts.

Thank you to Lochan Tea for providing this sample of Rohini Summer Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea. Cheers!

Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today’s review focuses on the Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea. You can check out Lochan Tea on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, among other social media platforms.

As noted in the product name, this tea was sourced from Goomtee Tea Estate, located in the famous Darjeeling area of northern India. This tea came from the organic certified section of the estate, known as Muscatel Valley. The estate lays next to other respected tea estates, such as Giddapahar and Jungpana, and the world famous Castleton Estate. The Goomtee estate consists of a total of 225 hectares of land, 110 hectares of which are under tea cultivation. The Chinese clonal tea bushes are grown at altitudes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. The map below shows the location of Goomtee Tea Estate, and its relative position to other well known tea estates in the Darjeeling area.

You can follow Goomtee Tea Estate on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s not forget to send another prayer for a peaceful resolution to the persisting political situation in the Darjeeling area. As of now, there has been very little progress.

Let’s get to the review…

20170823_115946_Richtone(HDR)
Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal grey color, with a few fuzzy, golden tips. The leaves are more uniformly dark in color than most other second flush Darjeeling teas that I have reviewed this season. The other products have had some touches of red or brown or even a little green, but this sample is entirely dark in color (aside from the golden tips, of course). The leaves are mostly medium to large sized fragments, with the possibility of some smaller unbroken leaves and buds in the mix. There are a few bare stems, but they are quite small. The leaves are machine rolled. The aroma has scents of dried red muscat grapes, raw cocoa, dried roses, and anise.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin teapot and infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

20170823_121143_Richtone(HDR)
Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a golden-red color. The aroma has scents of roses, red muscat grapes, raw cocoa, and anise. The body is full, with a juicy, lush feel, and lightly brisk character. The taste has notes of red muscat grapes, roses, anise, and raw cocoa. The aftertaste carries the grape and rose notes.

20170823_144626_Richtone(HDR)
Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The mix consists mostly of medium and large sized fragments, and a few small, young, unbroken leaves and tips. There are a few bare stems and shoots in the mix. The leaves have a soft, tender feel. The aroma has scents of muscat grapes, roses, cocoa, and anise.

The Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea delivers that which its name suggests, a clean, muscat grape flavor, along with the floral notes that I have come to expect from second flush Darjeeling teas. The notes of cocoa and anise nicely balance out the aroma and flavor, while the light briskness adds some depth. Overall, this tea is another fine example of the high quality aroma and flavor profiles that consumers demand from the better Darjeeling estates. I expect nothing less from a tea that is offered by Lochan Tea.

Another thank you to the Lochan family for providing this sample of Organic Goomtee Muscatel Delight 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea. Cheers!

Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea from Halmari Tea Estate

Today, I will reviewing the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea from Halmari Tea Estate. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea for USD $26 plus shipping costs from the Halmari Tea website.

I posted detailed information on Halmari Tea Estate in a previous review of the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea. However, here is an article from last year from the Telegraph India publication announcing another record breaking price for Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea at the auctions. Halmari Tea definitely does not shy away from competing with itself year after year to produce better quality products and fetch higher prices.

The Assam region of India is not known (yet) for its oolong teas, but Halmari Tea Estate does not let that stop them from experimenting. Certainly, in order to compete with the quality of more established oolong products, management at Halmari knew to use the hand plucked, hand rolled manufacturing process despite the more labor intensive and time consuming work required for it. This generally gives the tea a more high-end, attractive appearance to discerning tea professionals and consumers alike.

Let’s get to the review…

20170822_105214_Richtone(HDR)
Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark charcoal grey color, with a generous portion of fuzzy gold tips (buds). The blend consists of medium to large fragments of leaves and buds.There are no bare stems in the mix. Based on the size of some of the gold tips, I expect to find some unbroken. The leaves are long and wiry. The oxidation level is on the high end, as evidenced by the uniform dark color of the leaves. The aroma has scents of malt, toasted grains, dark chocolate, and daisies.

The dry leaves were placed in a cast iron tetsubin pot and infused in 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

20170822_110004_Richtone(HDR)
Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a gold-amber color. The aroma has scents of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and dark chocolate. The body is full, with a clean, layered feel. There is a complexity to this tea, having a brisk character, and layers of sweetness and balanced bitterness. The flavor really seems to hit all parts of the tongue. The taste has notes of malt, fresh grains, light honey, daisies, and the bitterness of dark chocolate. The aftertaste is sweet with a light floral touch.

20170822_123245_Richtone(HDR)
Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform bronze-brown color. The blend consists of mostly medium and large fragments of leaves and tips, with a respectable amount of unbroken tips, a few leafs that are nearly unbroken, and no totally bare stems or shoots. The shoots show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have the heartier, more robust feel of the Assamica tea bushes. The dark color of the infused leaves reflects the higher level of oxidation applied during the manufacturing process. The aroma carries the scents of malt, fresh grains, daisies, and dark chocolate. As they cool, the floral scents become stronger, and a hint of honey comes out.

From dry leaves to liquid to infused leaves, the Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea was very consistent in its aromas of malt, grains, dark chocolate, and daisies. The most remarkable part of this tea, in my opinion, was the complexity of the liquid character, delivering briskness, sweetness, and bitterness in nicely balanced layers. This oolong style tea was notably different than the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea and the Halmari Gold CTC Black Tea that I have tasted previously. This oolong tea was more delicate, and not as bold and robust as the black teas, making it perfect for the tea drinker who wants the malty taste of an Assam tea without the strong astringency of the typical Assam black tea.

Thank you to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of Halmari Gold Hand Rolled Oolong Tea. Cheers!

Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today, I will be reviewing a tea sample that I have been holding on to, waiting for the right day and time to properly appreciate a truly high-end Darjeeling tea. Thankfully, that day has come.

This sample is of the Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 from the Avongrove Tea Estate in the famed Darjeeling region of northern India. As many of you have heard, the political situation in Darjeeling has deteriorated over the past couple of months. Here is a link to one of the best articles that I have found on the subject, written by the knowledgeable team at World of Tea.

Due to this political situation, there is quite a bit of uncertainty on the short term (and potentially long term) outlook on the Darjeeling tea industry. The current second flush harvests that make up a significant percentage of the regions revenues are sadly going to waste. As a tea lover, I hope the situation is resolved peacefully and quickly, and production can resume. As a human, I hope that a solution is found that respects the rights and dignity of the locals. The last update I read is that the locals are without telephone and internet service at the moment, which the government has shut down. Again, let’s all hope and encourage a quick, peaceful, and respectful solution in Darjeeling.

Now, back to Avongrove Tea Estate. The estate consists of about 184 hectares of land dedicated to tea bushes. The altitude ranges from 2,200 feet to 5,700 feet above sea level. The estate is located on the banks of the Balason River, in the Rangbhang Valley. This is a certified organic estate by the USDA and JAS. The factory produces between 60,000 and 70,000 kilograms of tea per year. The estate employs about 500 workers, who all live with their families on the estate lands. There are a number of photos provided on the Avongrove Tea Estate website. Below is a Google map showing the area in which Avongrove Tea Estate is located.

Let’s get to the review…

20170727_100050_Richtone(HDR)
Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from reddish brown to dark charcoal brown, with silver-yellow buds. The mixture consists of large leaf fragments, some unbroken leaves, and a generous portion of unbroken buds covered in downy-like fuzz. The stems show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are hand plucked and machine rolled. The overall appearance is very impressive and high-end. The aroma has beautiful scents of roses, grapes, raw cocoa, leather, and a touch of vanilla.

Dry leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

20170727_100807_Richtone(HDR)
Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, honey-like golden yellow color. The aroma is luxurious, and carries fresh scents of roses, daisies, grapes, and lighter touches of cocoa and vanilla. The body is medium, with a velvety, incredibly smooth texture. The taste has dominant floral notes of roses and daisies, a less dominant note of grapes, and much lighter notes of cocoa, vanilla, and leather. The aftertaste carries the floral character and a touch of sweetness.

20170727_111851_Richtone(HDR)
Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper brown color, with the largest fragments having a green tint. The mixture consists of large leaf fragments and unbroken leaves and buds.  There are very few bare stems in the mix, and the few that are here are rather young. This sample actually had one of the largest unbroken leaves that I have ever found in a Darjeeling tea, measuring about 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) in length. The leaves are smooth, silky, yet fairly durable after two infusions. The aroma carries the scents of roses, daisies, grape, and lighter scents of leather.

I can easily summarize the Avongrove Euphoria Darjeeling tea in one word: Luxurious. Every aspect of this review lived up to that word, the observation of the dry leaves, the liquid, and the infused leaves. I cannot easily find any aspect of this tea that can be described in any other light than highly positive. And yes, even the descriptions of leather in the aroma and taste add to the luxurious overall experience of this tea! This tea is on the more expensive side of the current second flush Darjeeling teas available, but it is definitely worthy of that price tag.

Speaking of price tags, you can purchase 50 grams of this tea for USD $10.00 plus applicable shipping charges from the Lochan Tea website.

Another thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this excellent sample of Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea! Cheers!

Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

This week brought an exciting moment for me. I received a package of second flush Darjeeling teas from Lochan Tea. Again, just like the first flush samples I received a few months ago, it had been a while since I had enjoyed a fresh second flush Darjeeling tea.

Considering the political problems that the Darjeeling area is facing, I am especially grateful for the hard work of the Darjeeling laborers and estate managers who continue to do their jobs despite the uncertainty that they are living through. I am also especially thankful to the Lochan family for sending samples. Their generosity never waivers, despite harder times in the Darjeeling tea industry.

This particular sample is sourced from the Rohini Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong valley of the Darjeeling region of northern India. Click the link above for more information on the Rohini Tea Estate.

Let’s get to the review.

20170629_094355_Richtone(HDR)
Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a very fresh, attractive appearance, with leaves varying from reddish-brown to dark brown, and a very generous portion of silver-yellow, fuzzy tips. The leaves have a two leaf and bud pluck, are machine rolled, and consists of large sized fragments to fully intact leaves and buds. The aroma has scents of roses, raw cocoa, dried apricot, and a slight earthy scent that does not seem to be an intended characteristic. Overall, the aroma is very welcoming, but the earthy scent does not add a positive note.

Dry leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.

20170629_095154_Richtone(HDR)
Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, pale gold color. The aroma has scents of roses, apricot jam, cocoa, and licorice. Luckily, the earthy scents from the dry leaves do not show up in the aroma of the liquid. The body is medium, with a lush, juicy feel. The taste has notes of roses, apricot, licorice, and very light raw cocoa. The aftertaste is fruity and a little spicy.

20170629_112358_Richtone(HDR)
Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea Wet Leaves

The wet leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The pluck is two leaves and bud. There is a generous portion of fully intact leaves and buds. The leaves have a soft, smooth leathery texture. The aroma has scents of roses, apricot, and licorice.

The Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea is a very good quality second flush Darjeeling tea. I was very excited to open the sample packet and see the quality of the dry leaves. The earthy scent (slight mildew) of the dry leaves was a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent tasting experience. The tea liquid had a phenomenal mouth feel. The juicy, lush character was something that I have not experienced recently, so it was a nice reminder that such a texture exists. Considering all of the first flush Darjeeling teas that I had been reviewing over the past two months, the Rohini Enigma Gold was an excellent introduction to this year’s second flush Darjeeling teas. It is certainly a night and day difference from the Rohini Jethi Kupi 1st Flush that I reviewed in April.

At the moment, I am not able to find a retailer with shipping to the U.S. that is offering this product. I will update this post with pricing and a retailer once I find one.

Thank you to the Lochan family for providing this sample of Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea, and thank you to my readers who take their time to read this site!

Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today’s review is taking me back to my favorite tea estate in the Darjeeling district of India, the Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong North Valley. This sample of FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 was provided by Lochan Tea. I have covered the basic details of Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate in several previous posts, so I will spare you all the redundancy of repeating those details here.

The sample packet has been opened, and a dominantly floral and woody smell is escaping the packet. Let the journey begin…

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from yellowish-green to reddish-brown to black. There are some light brown, small and bare stems in the mix, as well as a few silver bud fragments. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and are machine rolled. There is some inconsistency with the size and shape of the leaves. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of wood, toasted seeds, dried grapes, roses, caramel, honey, and hay.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be significantly lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time.

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infusion
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a warm golden orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma consists of scents of roses, geraniums, grapes, honey, toasted seeds, caramel, and light hay. The body is medium, with a gentle and velvety texture. There is a mild astringency. The taste is dominantly floral, with notes of roses, geraniums, grapes, honey, toasted grains, hay, caramel, light wood, and light spice. The liquor leaves a honey like coating on the tongue. The aftertaste carries the grape and floral notes, and a lingering sweet essence is left on the breath.

Margaret's Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves
Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves range in color from pale forest green to copper to purplish-brown. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and there some small bare stems and bud fragments in the mix. Stems display a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have a soft, delicate texture. The smell has scents of wood, roses, geraniums, grapes, hay, and honey.

The FTGFOP1 HS 2nd Flush 2014 Tea from Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate did not disappoint. With a dominantly floral aroma and taste, this tea gave the tongue and olfactory glands a stroll through a field of summer flowers, a welcome detour from the 20°F temperatures awaiting outside my office. The floral character is complimented very nicely by the sweet and toasty tones. The texture and honey-like coating on the tongue completes an overall phenomenal experience, as I have come to expect from the teas from Margaret’s Hope.

Thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this sample. Cheers!

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

Today’s review will focus on the FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea from the Jungpana Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong South Valley of the Darjeeling region of India. This sample was provided by Lochan Tea.

There is plenty of good information on the homepage of Jungpana Tea Estate, but it was the information about the Mahalderam Tea Estate, which is the high altitude division of Jungpana, that really caught my attention. As if altitudes of over 6,000 feet is not enough to please a tea enthusiast, Mahalderam and Jungpana have developed an interesting technique to getting the fresh leaves from the Mahalderam Estate to the Jungpana factory. The Mahalderam Estate is a three hour journey by road from the Jungpana factory. Needless to say that the fresh picked tea leaves from Mahalderam would lose some freshness and quality during that three hour ride. Considering the high quality of the leaves growing at such high altitudes, it is definitely a sad thought that the leaves would lose some quality before processing could even begin. The solution to this problem is a cost efficient, simple, and practical zip line! This zip line starts in the Mahalderam Estate, at an altitude of 6,000 feet, and descends 3,000 feet down the hillside where the zip line ends near the Jungpana factory. The leaves are now transported from Mahalderam to Jungpana in six minutes! Cheers to the person who came up with that plan.

The sample packet has been opened, and the highly attractive scent that I have come to expect from Jungpana teas is easily recognizable. Let the journey begin…

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush Organic Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves
Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a fairly uniform dark reddish brown to dark brown color, with some silver bud fragments. The leaves and buds are all medium sized fragments. There are some bare stems in the mix. The leaves are machine rolled, and have a fairly consistent size and shape. The leaves are quite dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of roses, dried grapes, dark cocoa, sweet wood, honey, and a light spice.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 to 4:00 minutes. Expect two infusions out of the same serving of leaves, and expect the second infusion to be significantly lighter than the first, but still worth drinking. Add 1:00 minute to the second infusion steep time.

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush Organic Darjeeling Tea Infusion
Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful reddish-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of roses, grapes, honey, caramel, fresh cut wood, cinnamon, cardamom, and a touch of stewed apricot. The body is medium-full, with a brisk character, and a lively and clean mouth feel. The taste has notes of roses, grapes, honey, cinnamon, stewed apricot, caramel, fresh cut wood, and black pepper. The spicy and floral notes are carried into the aftertaste, and a sweet, slightly floral essence is left on the breath.

Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush Organic Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves
Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a fairly uniform greenish-brown to light copper brown color. The leaves and buds are all medium sized fragments. The leaves are a fairly uniform shape and size, and certainly come from a Chinese clonal tea bush. The leaves have a soft, smooth, delicate texture. The smell carries scents of roses, grapes, cardamom, honey, and fresh cut wood.

I am quite impressed by the number of flavor notes that could be identified in the FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea from the Jungpana Tea Estate. In addition to the aroma and flavors, the color of the liquor was very inviting, and the liquor had a brisk character that gave a spark of energy and enthusiasm from the first sip. The flavor had a great balance of sweet, floral, and spicy notes. This tea definitely lives up to the high quality experience that I have come to expect from the Jungpana Tea Estate. The fact that the estate is organic simply makes this tea, and others from Jungpana, all the more attractive.

Thank you again to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this sample of Jungpana FTGFOP1 Clonal 2nd Flush 2014 Organic Darjeeling Tea! Cheers!