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…

20180329_100435
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.

20180329_101342
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.

20180329_125243
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.

20180329_125354
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!

Advertisements

Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea from Giri and Lumbini Tea Valley

There are dozens of fascinating samples in the generous box of samples sent from Lumbini Tea Valley, but I have to say that the most eye catching and tempting are the three different varieties of honey coated black teas. The reason is simple, I have never seen tea leaves soaked in honey before. I prefer my teas unaltered, but who doesn’t love honey (aside from the people who are unfortunately allergic to it)? Throw in the common and tasteful blend of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and this product gives the impression of being a very well rounded tea, blending spiciness with sweetness, and a brisk character. It sounds rather amazing to me.

There are two other varieties of these honey coated black teas offered by the Giri brand name from Lumbini Tea Estate. In addition to this Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea, there is also Kitul Honey Treacle Coated Ceylon Cinnamon Black Tea, and Honey Treacle Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea. I do not plan on doing full reviews of all three varieties, but will post photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, as I try them.

I also posted my Company Spotlight of Lumbini Tea Valley yesterday, so read more about this innovative company in that post.

Let’s get to the review…

20180313_101630
Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea – Dry Leaves

First of all, the dry leaves are not so dry. In fact, they are quite moist, dense, and sticky, as is expected since they are soaked in bee honey. The tea leaves do have a consistent black color, with a glossy, wet sheen. The tea leaves are all small to medium size fragments, and there are some apparently bare stems in the mix, and no apparent buds. There are also fragments of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in the mix. The tea leaves are rolled, and appear to be of or similar to BOP grade. The leaves are fully oxidized. The aroma fills my office room with strong scents of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. Obviously, with such strong scents in the other ingredients, the scent of the black tea is lost.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a 3.4 ounce (100 ml) professional style ceramic tea tasting cup, and infused with 205°F (96°C) water for 3:00 minutes. Considering the wet, fresh honey coated on these leaves, I definitely do not recommend using any teapot that cannot be put in the dishwasher or washed with dish soap, such as yixing, cast-iron, bizen-ware, or ceramic. I would recommend using only porcelain or glass.

20180313_102614
Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a dark honey, orange-light brown color. It lacks the bright, lively color of a pure, unblended Ceylon black tea. The aroma is intoxicating, with strong scents of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. The body is medium, with a smooth, honey-like texture (imagine that!) that coats the mouth and throat. There is no bitterness or astringency. The taste has strong notes of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger. The aftertaste carries the sweet honey and spicy characters. Again, with all of the strong qualities of the honey and spices, the scent and taste of the black tea is mostly unnoticeable.

20180313_112406
Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused tea leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The leaves are all small to medium fragments, with some bare stems, and no identifiable buds in the mix. Of course, the spice fragments of cardamom, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon are present. The ingredients are still slightly sticky, so the honey has not been totally washed away after two infusions. The aroma continues the scents of bee honey, cloves, cardamom, ginger, and cinnamon. The black tea scent was drowned out by the stronger honey and spice scents.

There used to be a time when I would take a tea sample and brew enough to share with everyone in my office. Basically, all I wanted to do was perform some very low level market research to see what uninitiated tea consumers thought of the better quality teas I had access to. That practice lasted a fairly short time because no one really understood or appreciated what they were tasting. Although they would say “Yeah, this is good”, I would find most of the tea left in their cups at the end of the day.

The purpose of that story? With this Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea, I reopened the experiment, making enough for everyone in the office. The result, all cups were empty, and I had to do a second infusion to provide everyone with a second cup. They loved it. They loved the combination of honey and spices. They loved that they did not “feel like something was missing”, i.e. the sugar or sweetness of honey. My conclusion, this product is something that could easily catch on in the U.S. market. This makes me wonder why the U.S. distributor for Lumbini Tea Valley does not offer the honey coated black tea products. What am I missing here?

My feelings on the product, it’s easy to see why anyone (not allergic to honey or the other ingredients) could fall in love with this product. Certainly, I prefer a tea that allows the tea aroma and taste to be felt, but I cannot deny that this product is full of incredible aromas and tastes. The visual appearance of the soaked leaves is definitely unique and inspires interest and excitement about what awaits in the infusion itself. My advice, if you can find this product, then try it. Additionally, buy it in bulk, because you will probably love it, be you a tea enthusiast or not.

Many thanks to the management at Lumbini Tea Valley for providing this sample of Bee Honey Coated Ceylon Spice Black Tea. I love the innovative ideas behind these honey coated teas. Keep up the good work!

20180313_101356
Yes, there’s plenty of honey in the sample bag.

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.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0043.JPG
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.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0016.JPG
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!

_A3A1323
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.

20180313_101356

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.

_A3A1338
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.