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

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

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

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Kilmelfort – Panchura Estates – Coonoor, Tamil Nadu, India

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Liquid

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

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Kilmelfort Paradise Green Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

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

 

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

Queen of Assam Black Tea From Assamica Agro

Today’s review will focus on the Queen of Assam Black Tea from Assamica Agro. You can purchase 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of the Queen of Assam Black Tea for USD $6.90 from the Assamica Agro website. For this price, you will want to make a purchase! A kilogram (2.2 pounds) is only USD $39.50! Add another $11.00 of purchases and you even get free shipping. That’s a lot of seriously high quality Assam teas for $50. And no, I am not accidentally looking at the wholesale pricing!

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. This Queen of Assam Black Tea is graded as TGFOP, short for Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (sounds pretty good, right?). This is from the second flush harvest of the 2017 year, hand harvested by the Prithivi Small Tea Growers cooperative, located in the Dibrugarh area of Assam, northern India. Currently, the Prithivi Small Tea Growers cooperate consists of six small tea farms, all of which are Certified Organic by OneCert Asia. In total, the six farms consist of 16 hectares (about 40 acres) of land under tea cultivation.

I have several teas from Assamica Agro that I intend to post reviews of, so let’s save some information about Assamica Agro for those posts.

Let’s get to the review…

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Queen of Assam Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal grey-black color, with a few slightly fuzzy, golden tips in the mix. The mix consists of almost all unbroken leaves and buds, with maybe a few large fragments, maybe not! The pluck appears to be one leaf, some of which include a bud. There are no totally bare stems in the mix. The leaves are hand plucked and twisted, giving them a long, “leggy” appearance. Full, 100% oxidation has been allowed. The appearance in general is very high end, giving it a true “artisan” look. The aroma is also very attractive, with scents of dried Turkish figs, touches of malt and chocolate, and a sweet acidity that I compare to the smell of fresh brewed kombucha. All very good first impressions!

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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Queen of Assam Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a beautiful, rich orange-red color. The aroma is very attractive, with scents of fresh cut figs, light malt and chocolate, delicate flowers, and a touch of licorice. The body is full, with a deep, layered texture. There is a mild, pleasant astringency, and no bitterness. The taste has notes of fresh figs, malt, chocolate, licorice, and a touch of lemon. The aftertaste carries the sweet malty notes with a touch of licorice. A sweet taste lingers on the breath.

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Queen of Assam Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The blend consists largely of unbroken leaves and buds, most of which are still attached to the shoot. There are a few large leaf and bud fragments, but no bare stems. It is interesting to observe these leaves because they appear to be rather young, yet they are fairly large. This, of course, points to the character of Camellia Sinensis Assamica tea bushes, having larger, broader leaves. The leaves also have a more hearty, leathery feel than their Camellia Sinensis Sinensis cousins. The aroma continues the attractive scents of figs, malt, chocolate, and a light touch of licorice. All very good last impressions!

Seriously, when I tell you to buy a kilogram of this Queen of Assam Black Tea and you will thank me at this time next year, that is not an exaggeration. I even looked up the shipping cost for the kilo alone, and it is only USD $6.00 to Pittsburgh! The total cost being $45.50. Doing some quick math, that comes to less than $0.05 per gram. The amount used in my pot today (8 grams) costs less than $0.40, and I got three good infusions out of these 8 grams. To wrap this math lesson up, I basically can get 375 eighteen ounce pots of this tea for $45.50. Did I mention this is really excellent Assam black tea? Again, you can thank me next year, assuming 2.2 pounds lasts you that long.

This tea was truly a pleasure to experience from the first to last impressions. The appearance and aroma of the dry leaves was high end and luxurious. The appearance, aroma, and taste of the liquid was seriously incredible, and observing the infused leaves was quite entertaining. Consider this post as an expression of sincere gratitude and congratulations to the farmers of Prithivi Small Tea Growers and Assamica Agro for producing such a high quality Assam black tea. Take a bow, if any of you are reading this!

Many thanks again to Assamica Agro for providing this sample of Queen of Assam Black Tea. Keep up the excellent work! 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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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!

Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate

Assam, India, home of some of the worlds best known breakfast teas. Recognized for the intense, bold black tea flavors and full bodied brews, Assam teas are generally recommended to be served with a splash of milk and/or a sweetener such as honey or sugar. But to those who are a little more adventurous, I recommend giving the better quality Assam black teas a try without any additives, and truly experience the tea for what it is, an explosion of flavor and texture.  After you experience it pure and naked, then do as you will with the additives. There is certainly a reason that the typical breakfast tea with milk and honey are an international favorite!

I was welcomed back to my office from vacation with a package from Halmari Tea, an estate and factory located in the Moran district of Dibrugarh, a city in the Assam region of north-east India. The package included a variety of orthodox and CTC style Assam black teas, and one Assam oolong. Although generally I do not review the CTC style teas, I have to admit that I tried one yesterday, and was blown away by how good it was, so I will definitely be posting a review on one of the CTC products also. In fact, this particular CTC was so good that it actually has me convinced for the moment that boycotting CTC teas may be doing myself more of a disservice than it’s worth.

Halmari Tea Estate consists of 374 hectares of land under tea cultivation. This estate boasts being ranked in the top nine on the entire planet, a quite impressive accolade. It has been owned by the Daga family for over one hundred years (since 1913), and even today the family members continue to be heavily involved in the day to day operations. Halmari provides a labor welfare program to its 700 plus laborers. Halmari claims to hold the record for the highest price ever commanded at auction for a CTC Assam tea. Overall, it appears to be a very well run, successful estate with a reputation for highest quality Assam teas. The Halmari Tea Estate website offers additional information and a number of excellent photos of the estate. You can also purchase the teas direct from this website, and the prices are quite reasonable. Below is a Google map showing the general location of Dibrugarh, India.

Today I will be reviewing the Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate. This tea was harvested in the second flush of the season, in June of 2017. You can purchase 250 grams of this tea from the Halmari Tea website for USD $18 plus shipping fees. This product is offered in loose leaf, or tea bags. Shipping is worldwide, and free with a purchase over USD $50.

Halmari Tea Estate is also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Let’s get to the review…

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Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform charcoal grey- black color, with a very generous blend of fuzzy, golden tips. The leaves and tips are all medium sized fragments. There are no bare stems visible. The leaves appear to be machine rolled. The leaves crumble easily into crumbs, while the golden tips are a little more pliable. The aroma is truly incredible and fresh, reminding me of one of my favorite breakfast cereals growing up. It has scents of brown sugar, cinnamon, toasted oats, dry roses, and a touch of orange.

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

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Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea – Tea Liquid

The liquid has a beautiful reddish-gold color, bright and clean. The aroma has scents of toasted oats, malt, raw cocoa, and roses. The body is full, with a rich texture, and a brisk character. The taste has notes of toasted oats, malt, roses, raw cocoa, and bitter orange. The aftertaste continues the sweet, softly floral notes. The brisk character leaves the mouth feeling dry, and the rich texture seems to coat the tongue and throat. This tea provides an instant punch of energy and alertness, making it a perfect breakfast beverage.

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Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The aroma carries the scents of oats, roses, and light malt. The leaves and tips fragments are fairly uniform in size and shape.

The Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea from Halmari Tea Estate is a perfect example of why Assam teas are so commonly used in breakfast blend teas, and an excellent specimen of high quality Assam orthodox teas. The aroma of the dry leaves is very welcoming and comforting. The color of the tea liquid is a visual pleasure. The taste of the tea liquid commands immediate attention, and provides an instant boost of energy. The depth of flavor and body is remarkable, and in my opinion requires no additives whatsoever to be enjoyed to its fullest potential. After trying this Orthodox style, and the CTC style from yesterday, it is not difficult to imagine why Halmari has the reputation that it does, and commands the prices that it does at auction. Very impressive!

Thank you to Halmari Tea Estate for providing this sample of Halmari Gold Orthodox Black Tea! It was an excellent reminder of the unique, flavorful character that only Assam teas can deliver. Cheers!

Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea from Lochan Tea and Doke Tea Estate

There are many instances in life that leave you wishing that each day held more hours. If given an extra four hours a day, I am not one of those people who would allocate any of that additional time to my insurance career. Rather, I would spend that time with my son and wife. If that was not possible, then a good portion of those four hours would likely be spent slowly enjoying a good tea session. Few things in my life are as unfortunate as having to rush through the tea making and drinking experience, especially when I realize that I rushed through a sample of a type of tea that I really wanted to quietly focus on and appreciate.

Luckily, today is not going to be one of those days. I have my work completed, the phones are fairly quiet, and I have some time to appreciate a tea worthy of my full attention. The Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea not only deserves such time and attention, but demands it because of the subtlety of the character that this style of tea generally embodies. To rush through a silver needle white tea session is to essentially miss out on the best parts of these teas, the subtle aromas and tastes. To rush through a tea session that involves any product from Doke Tea Estate is to rob yourself of a rare and uncommon treat, and that to me is incredibly foolish.

You can purchase 50 grams of this Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea for USD $10.00 plus shipping from the Lochan Tea website.

Let’s get to the review…

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry buds have the standard brownish color, and are covered in fine, silver, downy-like fuzz. The mixture contains mostly large bud fragments and unbroken buds, with a few shoot stems also. The buds are smooth and fuzzy to the touch, and crack easily into larger fragments. The buds are quite long and slender, as opposed to some better known Chinese silver needle teas that consist of plump, thicker buds. The aroma has scents of sweet hay, daisies, vanilla, sweet cream, and dried apricot. The aroma is very potent for a white tea, indicating how fresh it is.

The dry leaves were placed in a porcelain gaiwan, then infused in 185°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, pale yellow-gold color. The aroma has scents of hay, daisies, apricot, light vanilla, and even a touch of honey and peach. The body is surprisingly fuller, with a silky, incredibly smooth texture. The taste has notes of hay, daisies, apricot, and a touch of vanilla, honey, and peach. The aftertaste is very refreshing, and carries the notes of hay, daisies, and vanilla.

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Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform light forest green on the buds, and brownish shoot stems. The mixture consists of large bud fragments, unbroken buds, and shoot stems. Some shoots show a one leaf and bud pluck, while others show a two leaf and bud pluck. There are no leaves in the mixture, only buds and shoot stems. The buds have a very smooth, soft texture, and are quite durable even after five infusions. The aroma has scents of hay, daisies, peach, and a light touch of vanilla and honey.

Although quite different than the better known silver needle teas of the Fujian Province of China, the Doke Silver Needle 2nd Flush 2017 White Tea is incredibly refreshing and satisfying, and is of the same higher quality as it’s Chinese counterparts. This is a perfect summer time tea when served hot. The light and refreshing character seems to regulate the body temperature efficiently (it is hot in Pittsburgh today, so I can feel this effect quite clearly). These buds have survived through five or six infusions so far, and there is still plenty of taste in the cup. I expect this portion of leaves to get me through my work day.

Thank you to the Lochan family for their time and efforts in creating this excellent white tea, and for their generosity in providing the sample. Cheers!