Cacao Kisses Black Tea From Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea

Although I am not much of a sweet tooth, I do love raw cacao (nibs, full beans, powder) and very dark chocolate. So when I opened the box of samples generously provided by Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea, and saw one sample named Cacao Kisses, I was intrigued.

Want to learn more about Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea? check out my Company Spotlight post.

The Cacao Kisses Black Tea blends cacao husk and cacao nibs with Bitaco black tea leaves. The cacao also is sourced from the Tumaco region of Colombia. This product won the top prize at the Global Tea Championships in 2017 in the flavored hot tea competition. Congratulations to Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea on this success!

Let’s get to the review…

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Cacao Kisses Black Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark charcoal gray color, with a few golden buds in the mix, and a few mostly bare stems. There are also several cacao husks and nibs. The tea leaves are fully oxidized, and rather tightly rolled. The tea leaves appear to be large fragments and some unbroken leaves, some detached and others attached to the stem. The overall appearance is very attractive and high quality. But the aroma is the highlight of the dry leaves, with incredible scents of raw cacao, dark chocolate, and a touch of dry cherries.

Six grams of dry leaves were placed in a twelve ounce (350 mL) glass infusion mug, and infused with 200°F (93°C) water for 4:00 minutes.

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Cacao Kisses Black Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, copper orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma is again simply amazing, with potent scents of raw cacao, dark chocolate, malt, and light cherry. The body is full, with a plush, pillowy texture. There is a slight touch of bitterness from the cacao, and a slight touch of astringency. The taste carries the delicious notes of raw cacao, dark chocolate, tart cherries, and malt. The aftertaste continues the sweet, chocolatey notes.

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Cacao Kisses Black Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform chocolate brown color (to stick with the theme here). The blend consists of mostly large tea leaf fragments, a few unbroken tea leaves, a few tea buds, a few mostly bare stems, cacao husks, and a few cacao nibs. The tea leaves attached to a stem show a two leaf and bud pluck. After two infusions, the leaves are very soft, smooth, and tender. The aroma of the infused leaves is more malty than chocolatey, but still very sweet and attractive.

I have absolutely zero wonders as to how this Cacao Kisses Black Tea won the top prize for flavored hot tea at the Global Tea Championship. This product is seriously delicious, exciting, and unforgettable. If you happen to be a fan of black tea and dark chocolate, prepare yourself for a new addiction. The aromas of this tea at all stages is just packed with cacao and dark chocolate. The slight touches of cherry adds a whole new level to this experience. The texture is also perfect and comforting. This could definitely be considered a “dessert tea”. Although I think it is an excellent choice at any and every time of day. I have nothing but praise for this tea.

Cheers to Bitaco Unique Colombian Tea for developing this incredible product! Thanks to the management at Bitaco for providing this with the samples. I am very happy to have experienced this tea, and hope to experience it many more times in the future.

 

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Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea From Nepal Tea

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea – Tea Liquid

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

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

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Kumari Gold Organic Black Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

Organic Green Tea From Zealong Tea Estate

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

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

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

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

Let’s get to the review…

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Zealong Organic Green Tea – Dry Leaves

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

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

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Zealong Organic Green Tea – Liquid

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

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Zealong Organic Green Tea – Infused Leaves

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

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

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

Company Spotlight: Zealong Tea Estate in New Zealand

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Zealong Tea Estate, the only commercial tea estate operated in the entire country of New Zealand.

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Zealong Sculpture – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

This beautiful, organic tea estate is located in Hamilton, Waikato region, New Zealand. It currently consists of about 1.2 million tea bushes spread over 40 hectares (about 100 acres) of land. The Google map below shows the approximate location of Zealong Tea Estate.

The estate grounds were used as a dairy farm before being purchased and repurposed around 1996. Only about 130 tea plants were originally planted, and now the number has grown to about 1.2 million, as noted above. The leaves are hand-picked by estate workers, then produced into green, black, and oolong styles of finished tea. About 20 tonnes of finished tea are produced each year, all from three short harvest seasons. Information is forthcoming regarding the cultivar types being propagated at the estate.

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Zealong Tea Estate – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

In addition to the classic, unblended, and all organic Green, Black, and Aromatic (or Oolong) styles of tea offered by Zealong Tea Estate, unique blends of Zealong tea leaves and herbs sourced elsewhere are created, with names such as Ice Breaker, Fire and Ice, Lady Gatsby, and Green Heart. They also offer more well-known, famous blends such as Earl Grey and Chai. All of these products can be found at the Zealong Shop website, or at the beautiful brick and mortar tea shop at the Zealong Tea Estate (photo below). The Green Tea, Black Tea, and Aromatic Tea will all be reviewed on this blog in the near future.

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Retail Tea Shop at Zealong Tea Estate – Photo Courtesy of Zealong.Com Website

Growing and producing high quality organic tea is not the only operation that Zealong Tea Estate excels at. The estate offers a fine dining experience with tea infused menu options, beautiful meetings rooms for private events, as well as a tea ceremony and tea tasting with each guided tour. Looking at the Zealong.com gallery, I can imagine spending a lot of time creating some unforgettable memories at this place. It looks amazing!

Zealong’s tea products can be found in places other than New Zealand, of course, with distributors located in United Kingdom, Germany, Czech Republic, China, and New Caledonia. If these are not convenient options for you, do not let that stop you from trying these teas! Check out their online shop on the Zealong website.

All photos used on this page were found at the Zealong.com website, in the gallery, and are property thereof.

Virgin White Tea From Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate

Today, I will be reviewing the flagship product of Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate. This is the Virgin White Tea. At this time, this product is offered in the pyramid teabag format or loose form for USD $36.50. Check it out here.

According to the Herman Teas website, the tea buds used in this product are not touched by human hand during production. The pickers wear gloves, and cut the buds from the tea bushes using scissors, which are gold in color to conform with tradition. The buds are then dried using filtered sunlight. That is all there is to production of this Virgin White Tea.

Herman Teas had a lab analysis at SGS in Switzerland completed on this tea, and the lab results show that this product has an antioxidant content of 10.11%. This tea is offered only at one tea salon, the Mariage Freres in central Paris.

Generally speaking, I find Sri Lankan silver needle (silver tips) teas to be notably lighter and more delicate than their better known Chinese counterparts. However, since Handunugoda is in the lower elevation Ruhuna region (Southern Province) of Sri Lanka, known for the stronger, bolder teas coming from the island, I am interested to see how this product will compare to those I have had from the Uva region, which is a mid elevation region with a vastly different climatic system, and produces more aromatic Ceylon teas.

Let’s get to the review…

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Virgin White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry buds have a pale yellow color, and are covered in fine downy-like silver fuzz, with the areas nearing the stems having a charcoal gray-black color. The buds are very smooth, long, and of a medium plumpness, coming to a point at the tip. These buds are fairly similar in appearance to others I have seen from Sri Lanka and India, and still not as thick as the high quality silver needle teas from Fujian Province, China. There are no leaves or bare stems whatsoever in the mix, just whole, unbroken buds with some bud fragments. The buds are cleanly cut at the stem, evidence of the use of scissors to detach the buds from the bush, rather than hand plucking. The size of the buds is relatively uniform, with an average length of about 1.25 inches (32 mm). The aroma is interesting and light, and I find it unusually earthy, with scents of fresh white button mushrooms, hay, and touches of vanilla and coconut flesh.

Five grams of dry buds were placed in a six ounce (180 mL) porcelain gaiwan, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. An additional minute was added to each subsequent infusion, and a total of five infusions were prepared. The color changed rather dramatically between the first and fifth infusion, as you can see in the photos below.

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Virgin White Tea – First Infusion
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Virgin White Tea – Fifth Infusion

The first infusion has a pale, light yellow color, clear and transparent. The later infusions become darker, having a deep gold-yellow color. The aroma has scents of honey, hay, delicate flowers, and vanilla. The body is medium, with a velvety, delicate texture to the first infusion, which becomes richer in later infusions. There is no bitterness or astringency to this tea. The taste has notes of honey, vanilla, delicate flowers, and hay. The earthy hay aroma and taste dissipate with each infusion, leaving the honey, vanilla, and delicate flowers as the dominant qualities. The aftertaste carries a delicate honey and flowers character, with a clean, refreshing finish.

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Virgin White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused buds have a pale, dark forest green color, with darker brown areas near the pluck site. The buds have a soft, smooth texture. The majority appear to consist of a mature bud enveloping a younger bud. There are no leaves or bare stems in the mix. Most of the buds are whole and unbroken, but there are some bud fragments in the mix. The buds are long and fairly slender when compared to plumper Chinese silver needle teas. The aroma carries the scents of honey, vanilla, and delicate flowers.

The Virgin White Tea from Herman Teas is certainly a high quality white tea, with impressive aroma and taste. Offering a wonderful balance of honey, vanilla, and delicate floral qualities wrapped in a velvety texture, it’s difficult to imagine a tea enthusiast not loving this product. Although difficult to say with 100% certainty when not physically tasting this tea next to a silver tips tea from Uva, I do believe that this tea from Handunugoda Tea Estate does have a slightly stronger, fuller character than that of the Uva white teas, especially in the later infusions. When compared to a Fujian Chinese silver needle white tea, this Virgin White Tea is still quite delicate. I need a few fresh silver needle samples from China, India, Kenya, and Uva (Sri Lanka) to do a side by side comparison. Any vendors offering fresh white teas from those areas care to be featured in a future post? Email me, if yes.

Thank you to the management of Herman Teas and Handunugoda Tea Estate for providing this sample of Virgin White Tea! Cheers!

White Prakash Organic White Tea From Nepal Tea

Today, I will be focusing my attention to the White Prakash Organic White Tea from Nepal Tea, sourced from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate in Nepal. You can purchase 50 grams of this tea for $12.99 USD from the Nepal Tea website.

I have provided many details of Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Nepal Tea in my previous reviews of the Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea and the Silver Yeti White Tea. Check out those reviews to learn more about the estate, and the good works being done in that community.

Let’s get to the review…

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White Prakash Organic White Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color widely, from pale, light green to red-brown to nearly black. There is a generous portion of fuzzy, silver-white buds in the mix. The leaves appear to consist of unbroken leaves and buds still attached to the stem, as well as some detached whole leaves and buds, and some large sized leaf and bud fragments. The pluck appears to be mostly one leaf and a fairly mature bud, or a single mature bud with no leaf. The leaves are lightly rolled, and are rather light and fluffy. The leaves have gone through the standard white tea processing method of being naturally withered, then dried, with no roasting or firing of any kind. The aroma has fresh scents of vanilla, raw pastry dough, cream, and a touch of dried wild flowers. The aroma has a luxurious character.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 185°F (85°C) water for 3:00 minutes. an additional minute was added to the time on the second infusion.

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White Prakash Organic White Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a bright, gold-yellow color. The aroma has scents of spring flowers, vanilla, and lighter touches of hay and cream or butter. The body is medium, with a smooth, layered texture, and a calming, revitalizing energy. There is no bitterness or astringency whatsoever. The taste has notes of spring flowers, vanilla, and touches of sweet hay and butter. The aftertaste carries a light floral and vanilla character. This light floral and sweet aftertaste has a very nice linger time on the breath.

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White Prakash Organic White Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves vary in color from pale forest green dark forest green to copper-brown. The copper brown areas of the leaves reflect the natural oxidation that occurs in the leaves during withering. The leaves are fairly young and tender, with the larger leaves measuring just over one inch (25 mm) in length. There is a generous amount of fairly mature buds, mostly unbroken and whole, but some large fragments. There are no bare stems. The leaves are about half unbroken and whole, and half medium to large fragments. Again, the pluck shows a one leaf and bud pluck, or bud only pluck, and some leaves are detached from stems. After two infusions, the leaves are rather delicate, and very smooth to the touch. The aroma has scents of spring flowers and vanilla.

The White Prakash Organic White Tea is a beautiful example of this style of tea. The presence of leaves and buds, rather than the silver needle (silver tips) styles of white tea, gives this style of white tea a more rounded, fuller taste than the fairly mild and delicate character of the silver needle style. I really enjoyed the dominant scents and flavors of spring flowers and vanilla in the liquid. The aroma of the dry leaves was also incredible, with a unique scent of raw pastry dough, which gave it a nicely balanced sweetness, and complimented the vanilla scent very effectively. Although the leaves felt rather delicate after two infusions, there was much aroma and taste in the second infusion. I am confident that they could easily give a good quality third infusion, and perhaps a decent fourth infusion. The number of infusions always has a direct relationship with perceiving  how worthy of the price tag a tea is. This tea is worth the price tag.

Thanks again to the management at Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for providing this sample of White Prakash Organic White Tea. Cheers!

Organic Light Oolong Tea From Harendong Organic Tea Estate

Today, the focus of this review will be the Organic Light Oolong Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate. I provided more information on this estate in my previous review of their Rolled Organic Black Tea.

This oolong tea differs from the Organic Medium Oolong Tea from Harendong in that the level of oxidation is lighter, and this light oolong tea has also been given a lighter roast (if any, at all) than the medium oolong tea. The intent of this production method is to keep this light oolong tea on the greener side of the tea spectrum, allowing the more floral, herbal qualities to shine through.

Let’s get to the review…

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Harendong Organic Light Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves vary in color from pale light forest green to pale dark forest green. The leaves appear to be unbroken, whole leaves, some attached to the stem, others detached. I do expect to find some large fragments in the mix. There does not appear to be any totally bare stems present. The leaves appear to be rolled into a semi-ball shape, similar to oolongs from Taiwan, but not as tightly packed. The plucking standard appears to be a two to three leaf pluck. The aroma has sweet scents of light brown sugar, caramel, toasted oats, vanilla, and a touch of light cinnamon.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an eight ounce (240 mL) bizen ware kyusu teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Harendong Organic Light Oolong Tea – Infusion

The liquid has a light green-yellow color, turning more gold-yellow with the second and third infusions. The aroma has scents of light brown sugar, vanilla, oats, orange, and orchid. The body is medium, with a velvety, smooth texture. There is no astringency or bitterness. The taste has notes of light brown sugar, vanilla, orange, oats, orchid, and a light touch of sweet cream. The aftertaste is dominated by the orchid floral character, and has an impressively long hang time on the breath.

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Harendong Organic Light Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves are mostly uniform dark forest green color, with some minor signs of red oxidized edges. The leaves are mostly whole, unbroken leaves, about half still attached to stems, and half detached. There are some large fragments, but the majority of leaves are unbroken. The stems show a two leaf pluck, and a few even have a tender bud attached. The leaves have a hearty, rich, leathery feel that reminds me of Tie Guan Yin leaves. Many of the leaves measure around 2 inches (50 mm) of length. The aroma has scents of wet orchid, light orange, vanilla, and a touch of wet oats.

The Organic Light Oolong Tea from Harendong Organic Tea Estate offers a classic green oolong character, and is a proud representation of the quality teas being produced at Harendong. With sweet, floral, and fruity character, and a lasting floral aftertaste that is most remarkable, this product is an excellent daily drinking quality oolong tea. Adding to the qualities of the tea itself is the healthy reputation of organic farming practices, which Harendong Organic Tea Estate has been adhering to for over a decade. Healthy, delicious, and coming from a part of the world that is newer to the specialty tea industry. All good reasons to give the Organic Light Oolong Tea a try.

Thanks again to the management team at Harendong Organic Tea Estate for providing this sample of Organic Light Oolong Tea! Happy Monday!

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!

Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea From Nepal Tea

Circling back around to the samples from Nepal Tea, the packet of Shangri-La Oolong Tea caught my attention. A few years have passed since I last reviewed an oolong from Nepal, so it’s time to get reacquainted.

You can get acquainted with the Shangri-La Oolong Tea for USD $11.99. At the time, this is only available in pyramid teabags. The loose leaf form should be back in stock soon. Who says you can’t tear open that pyramid bag and drop the leaves in your preferred brewing vessel?

I have covered quite a bit of information on Nepal Tea in my previous reviews of the Organic Silver Yeti White Tea and the Kanchanjangha Noir Black Tea. Check out those reviews for information on Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate, and the good they do for their local tea growing communities in Nepal.

Let’s get to the review…

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Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea – Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform pale charcoal grey color, with a few small golden tips in the mix, and no obvious bare stems. The leaves also have a uniform shape and size, appearing to consist mostly of detached whole leaves and large fragments. I am having trouble deciding if I think these leaves are twisted, rolled, or a combination of both. Not that this observation takes away from the overall high quality of the appearance. Generally speaking, the teas from Nepal that I have come across are usually machine rolled, and look similar to Darjeeling teas. But this tea definitely has a unique appearance. The leaves and buds still attached to stems show a superfine plucking standard of one leaf and bud. The color of the leaves indicates a heavier oxidation level, but not full oxidation. The aroma has scents of dark chocolate, malt, dry wood, and dry cherries.

Eight grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (530 mL) cast-iron tetsubin teapot, and infused with 190°F (88°C) water for 3:00 minutes.

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Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea – Liquid

The liquid has a beautiful, rich gold-red-orange color. The aroma has scents of malt, grapes, and lighter scents of black pepper, licorice, and pine wood. The body is full, with a fluffy, biscuit-like texture. There is a light briskness, a very light and smooth bitterness, and very little astringency. The taste reflects the aroma very closely, with notes of malt, grapes, black pepper, and lighter notes of licorice and pine wood. The aftertaste is lightly sweet and spicy, and a peppery feeling is left on the tongue.

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Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea – Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper brown color. Again, some of the leaves look twisted, while others look machine rolled. The leaves are mostly detached whole leaves and large fragments. There are a few detached bud fragments, and a few pickings showing a superfine one leaf and bud plucking standard. There are no totally bare stems. The leaves have a soft, smooth, leathery texture, but also have a rather durable feel, like they can stand up to several rounds of infusion. This photo was taken after the second use of the leaves. The leaves are long and fairly narrow, evidence of the use of Chinese clonal tea bushes, also found commonly growing in Darjeeling. The scent has notes of malt, grapes. and a touch of licorice.

The Shangri-La Organic Oolong Tea from Nepal Tea is not your typical oolong tea. Although having more similarities to a Darjeeling second flush tea than some of the more well known oolongs of China, this tea has a very distinct set of qualities. Namely, the mouth feel of this tea is remarkable. From the fluffy, biscuity texture to the peppery feel that lingers on the tongue, these are not qualities that I experience often. The nicely balanced sweet and spicy tastes blend beautifully with the light brisk quality, and smooth bitterness. Combine the interesting physical characteristics of this tea with the fact that it is organically produced, and you have a product that deserves to be experienced by any level of tea enthusiast (including those who prefer the convenience of teabags!)

Thanks again to Nepal Tea and Kanchanjangha Tea Estate for their generosity in offering this sample of Shangri-La Oolong Tea. Cheers!

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!