Aso Black from Mellow Monk is technically a black tea but it is processed a little differently that most black teas. If I understood their description correctly, Aso Black tea is made from the tea leaves that would normally go into making sencha green tea. Picked in the mountains of Japan, these leaves are less processed and less fermented than traditional black tea. Aso Black is also called “kocha” or “crimson tea”, perhaps due to its medium level of oxidation. But I digress.
The leaves in my sample were small and flat, though very dark in color. As it brewed, the tea smelled distinctly starchy like oats or bread. It had none of the citrus brightness I associate with other black teas.
Mellow Monk recommends letting this tea cool slightly before drinking to let the flavors come forward, so I stepped away from my cup to let it cool down.
When I took my first sip of the tea, I was once again hit with the starchiness of the flavors, though this time it also had quite a bit of sweetness. In an abstract way, the tea reminded me of oatmeal raisin cookies if they could be turned into a breakfast tea.
In the aftertaste there is a vegetal note that I expect more often from green teas. It reminds me of the sweet and sour fermented green tea note that I often taste in kukicha green. With all the sweetness and smooth mouthfeel of the rest of the blend, the green tea aftertaste is less grassy and more fruity, complimenting the sweet oat flavors in the overall smell and taste.
This is a unique tea, worth a taste by black tea and green tea lovers alike. If you are tired of ceylon’s sharpness, or assam’s full fuzziness, try Aso Black for your next breakfast blend and maybe you’ll find it makes for a sweeter morning.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black and Green
Where to Buy: Mellow Monk
How about a nice change of pace? Aso Black™ is black tea (kocha, or “crimson tea” in Japanese) made from the leaves of green tea varietals grown in the pristine foothills of Mt. Aso. Gently harvested leaves are only lightly fermented compared to conventional black tea, for a sweetness not found in ordinary black teas.