Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Shan Valley
This is a first flush black tea, and is the highest quality black tea that Shan Valley offers. It is from the Kyaukme Northern Shan state. The tea leaves are evenly grinded and have a strong flavor. It has a coffee-like look.
Learn more about this tea here.
When I opened the pouch of this Kyaukme Black Tea from Shan Valley (a 2014 Spring Flush!), the first thing I noticed was the grind to the black tea leaves. This CTC tea has a very fine chop, resembling some of the finest ground coffee I’ve ever seen. But don’t let that dissuade you! I find that with fine CTC teas like this, the flavor is more robust – like a good kick in the pants for the days when you need that sort of thing!
But one thing to be aware of when you have a finely chopped tea leaf like this one is that the brew time should be adjusted. There is more surface area that is exposed to the boiling water, and therefore it releases more of it’s flavor quicker than a whole tea leaf would. It also releases more tannins into the liquid, which means that if you steep this tea too long, you could wind up with a bitter tasting cuppa. So, cut the brew time here, I wouldn’t recommend a longer brew time than 2 1/2 minutes, especially to start out. After you’ve tried it, you can adjust the time to your own particular tastes.
The aroma of the dry leaf reminds me a little bit of coffee – like the earthy background notes of coffee. There are notes of earth, wood, and even hints of grass and flower to the dry leaf. The fragrance of the brewed tea is very similar to the dry leaf, except that it smells more unified. I smell fewer distinct ‘earthy’ or ‘grassy’ notes to the brewed liquid, and more of a melded scent that is composed of many less distinguished notes. It is a very satisfying aroma, though, like the kind of scent that you want to experience first thing in the morning: like a wake up call in the morning.
The flavor is strong! Like I said in a previous paragraph, the fine CTC chop means a good, strong brew, and this tea proves that statement. This is a BOLD tasting tea. This tea will give you that much needed kick to help shake the sleep that you’re still feeling when you first wake up.
It’s rich and satisfying with a very pleasing flavor. Robust and earthy, with notes of fruit (reminds me of something between plums and raisins), with a nice, molasses-y sweetness. It’s not bitter (although, as I said before, if I had oversteeped this, it would definitely be bitter … so watch your steep time with this one!)
The sip starts out with a sweet note that builds into an earthy note. There are wisps of smoke and tones of wood in the distance. I taste notes of grass to this too, but not in a green tea sort of way. It tastes more like what I’d imagine some fresh grass that had been roasted might taste. Still barely insinuating a vegetal note without actually admitting it outright. It has sweet undertones with dry fruit notes.
As I near mid-sip, these flavors I’ve mention develop. I taste very distant floral notes, most of which are hidden behind the more forward earthy notes. As the sip approaches the finish, a dryness is introduced, similar to what you might experience with a dry wine. The finish is dry and the aftertaste is clean. The astringency here is dry, clean and I feel a slight puckery sensation across my palate well into the aftertaste. It’s not unpleasant … it feels very clean and refreshing, actually.
A really rewarding cup of tea. It’s quite unlike any other black tea that I can remember, but at the same time, it has similar qualities to those familiar favorites. I’m enjoying this.