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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Keshary Handspun Black Tea From Dalu and Lumbini Tea Valley

Let’s try out one of these hand spun specialty teas from the Dalu brand of Lumbini Tea Valley. This is the Keshary Black Tea.

Here is my company spotlight on Lumbini Tea Valley, where you can learn more about this innovative company based in the Ruhuna region of Sri Lanka.

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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Dry Leaves (photo 1)
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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Dry Leaves (Close-up)

The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal black color. The leaves appear to be all whole, unbroken leaves, tightly hand rolled, and expertly tied into a teardrop shape. The leaves are fully oxidized. The teardrop measures about 2 inches (50 mm) high by 1.5 inches (38 mm) wide. The tips of the leaves are rounded up to form the top of the teardrop. The bottoms of the leaves, which may or may not include a short stem, are folded under and inside of the teardrop. The appearance is very high quality, and certainly worthy of the description “artisan”. The aroma is more potent than I expected, with scents of dried rosebuds, malt, and dried papaya. Definitely an exquisite first impression.

One teardrop was placed in a twelve ounce (355 mL) glass infuser cup, and infused in 205°F (96°C) water for 3:00 minutes. One minute of additional time was added to subsequent infusions. Three quality infusions were extracted from the leaves.

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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Liquid

First and foremost, it is always entertaining to watch these “blooming” teas dance to life when swimming in hot water. With each infusion, the leaves become more loose, more free, and more visually impressive.

The liquid has a rich, orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma is very high quality, with scents of malt, fresh oranges, papaya, and roses. The body is medium, with a layered, juicy texture. There is no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. The taste has notes of malt, fresh oranges, papaya, and roses. The aftertaste continues the sweet, juicy flavors, and the sweetness holds on the breath for a noteworthy amount of time. These qualities hold true through the three infusions noted above.

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Keshary Handspun Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color, and are fully oxidized. Upon pulling the teardrop apart, I found that the leaves are unbroken, but do have the stems cut off at the bottom of the leaves, and the leaves are very tightly rolled and folded at the bottom in order to make them fit comfortably inside the teardrop. There are no buds, and the leaves are all of a uniform size. When unrolled and laid out, the leaves measure between 2.5 inches (63 mm) and 3 inches (75 mm) in length, and between 1 inch (25 mm) and 1.5 inches (63 mm) in width. There is only one stem, it is bare, and is used to bind the leaves together at the heart of the teardrop, like a twist-tie. The leaves are smooth, delicate, and carefully handled. The aroma continues the scents of papaya, malt, and roses.

To be honest, I did not expect the actual aroma, taste, and overall quality of the tea liquid to be as high and praise-worthy as it truly was. I expected most of the interest in this product to be produced by the visual observations throughout the experience. To my delight, the Keshary Handspun Black Tea more than delivered, it supremely impressed me at every level. Yes, of course the appearance is fascinating. The level of patience, skill, and care that went in to creating these teardrops is beyond my comprehension. When observing the infused leaves, fully opened up, I truly saw the craftsmanship that went into tying these teardrops. You just have to see it for yourself. But even more surprising, and equally impressive, was the incredible aroma and taste that the liquid held. A clean, beautiful malt taste, combined with fresh oranges, papaya, and a touch of fresh, delicate roses turned my opinion of this product from just “cool to look at” to “unforgettably impressive”! The sweet taste lingers in the mouth, like the floral character of a fine Taiwanese oolong. I am running out of qualifiers for how impressed I am by this product. Again, you just need to experience this for yourself, if you ever get the chance.

I look at the Lumbini Tea Valley USA site, and I do not see this product being offered. Again, I am left scratching my head, I am sorry to say.

On the other hand, many… MANY thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley in Sri Lanka for giving me the once in a lifetime opportunity to try the incredible, unforgettable Keshary Handspun Black Tea. And many thanks to my readers for spending your time with me. Have a great weekend, everyone! Cheers!

Company Spotlight: Lumbini Tea Valley

Today, I am pleased to introduce you to Lumbini Tea Valley, headquarted in Deniyaya, Ruhuna region, Southern province, Sri Lanka. Below is a Google map showing the location of the Lumbini Tea Factory. The estates and factory are neighbors to the Sinharaja Forest Reserve.

Since being founded in 1984 by Mr. Dayapala Jayawardana and continued today by Chaminda Jayawardana, Lumbini Tea Valley has developed a reputation for being among the most innovative tea manufacturers in Sri Lanka, winning multiple awards over the years for most innovative products on their hand-spun black and green teas. Within the first five seconds of looking into the generous box of samples they provided, it is easy to understand how Lumbini earned these awards. There are teas here that I have never seen produced anywhere. More on this later.

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Lumbini Tea Valley Aerial View – Photo Courtesy of Lumbini Tea Valley Management

Lumbini Tea Valley owns about 120 hectares (300 acres) of their own tea gardens, and works with small estate holders who own about 1,600 hectares (3,950 acres) combined. The tea gardens have an average altitude of about 450 to 500 meters (1,450 feet to 1,650 feet) above sea level. At this altitude, these teas would be considered low-grown teas in the Sri Lanka tea industry. The estate propagates two cultivars of tea bushes, including the TRI 2026 for black teas and the TRI 2043 for white teas. Lumbini Tea Valley employs about 250 people. The annual production of made tea currently stands at 600,000 kilograms.

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Lumbini Tea Valley – Photo Courtesy of Lumbini Tea Valley Management

In addition to free factory and estate tours, Lumbini Tea Valley offers tea training where participants pluck their own leaves, process them, taste and take home the finished product. That sounds pretty awesome! They also have tea tasting lessons and events.

Lumbini Tea Valley is separated into two different brands, Dalu and Giri. The Dalu brand appears to focus on offering the pure, unblended and unflavored, artisan style black, green, and white teas from their garden. The Giri brand, although it does offer unblended and unflavored options, seems to focus on a more broad range of teas, including seasonal varieties from the other famous Sri Lankan regions (Uva, Nuwara Eliya, Dimbula, Ruhuna), blended teas with dried fruit, flowers, and/or Ceylon spices, and most interestingly, honey coated black teas!

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Lumbini Tea Valley – Photo Courtesy of Lumbini Tea Valley Management

These honey coated teas are like nothing I have seen coming from any other tea company anywhere. I included a photo of the sample packet below. This tea arrives moist, soaked in honey, with excess honey coating the inside of the sample bag. It is difficult to not get instantly excited about these products. It will probably not surprise you that my first review will highlight the Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea. Look for this review to be posted later today or tomorrow.

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Lumbini Tea Valley and their distributor in the United States can be found on Facebook. Lumbini Tea Valley USA offers many (but not all) of the fascinating teas manufactured at Lumbini Tea Valley. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, the honey coated teas are not offered by Lumbini Tea Valley USA. Considering the artisan quality teas manufactured by this company, I am slightly surprised to not see more social media activity on the other popular platforms. They will be getting plenty of attention from me over the next couple of months, as the sample package will be taking up a large amount of my review slots in the near future.

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Lumbini Tea Valley Bushes – Photo Courtesy of Lumbini Tea Valley Management

Here is a link to the Lumbini Tea Valley company profile on Youtube. This video shows the beautiful estate lands, the factory, the hard working employees picking and processing the tea, and provides plenty of useful information.

In the meantime, I look forward to introducing you to some of the beautiful teas being produced at Lumbini Tea Valley. And many thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley for their generosity in sending samples. I am definitely excited to get started on these reviews.