When I drink black tea, it is almost exclusively Chinese black tea. I drank more Indian black tea back in the days when I added milk and sugar, but since cutting out additions, I found that many teas from outside of China gave me a stomach ache or heartburn if I hadn’t smoothed it with milk, neutralizing some of the components that were cramping my style…and my tummy.
Golden Tip tea and finer Assams are another matter, and when I saw the photo of these leaves and read the description, my mouth started watering. It was an expensive tea, but I had been building up my Loyalty Points for just such an occasion.
The lid and inside edges at the very top of the tin are coated with a fine golden powder. This is the lovely dusting of the golden hairs from these leaf tips. And the tea is indeed comprised of almost exclusively leaf tips, tan and gold and pale brown in the tin.
The leaves are so light and fluffy. As soft and light as they are, I added a little extra to my initial teaspoon to try to hit the 2.25 gram mark for my six ounce serving.
I steeped for four minutes since it is a golden tip tea. A full leaf or broken Assam would have only stayed in for three minutes for me maximum. I am surprised at the rich color from what I thought might still be too little leaf.
Moment of truth – is this tea worth the plump price tag?
If you love high quality Assams, I would say it is.
The Harney website estimates the price per cup at $1.33. That’s right – PER CUP. That is more than most tea lovers pay for a daily drinker, but competition oolong teas and fine aged puerh tea can run much higher. I did my own figuring on my two ounce tin and came up with a price of $1.10 per cup….if I don’t resteep the leaves! Fact is, I have just made three very good steeps with around 2 grams of tea.
The aroma, first of all, was just as mouthwatering as I had hoped it would be. The dry leaf smells like candy. No kidding, I lifted the tin and was very surprised at how sweet it smells.
Once steeped, it is lightly malty with some of the same dark honey scent I find in Golden Monkey teas. Though the description didn’t mention it at all, I detected walnut. In fact, I found it to be in the forefront for the first steep. After drinking it for a bit, I notice my tongue is feeling dry. Harney puts this at a two on the briskness scale, but I would possibly give it a little more.
It has medium body for mouthfeel, but the aroma is thick and lush, giving a sense of it being a creamy tea, fooling you into thinking the body is even heavier. For you milk-in-tea folks, I would think this bodes well. It does not coat the mouth like a creamy tea, however, due to the briskness.
I tried it with a bit of food next, as I find that briskness can almost disappear with a meal. And so it does, becoming far less noticeable. So this would be hreat for pairing with breakfast or afternoon cookies! After eating, I keep drinking this tea and there it is again – drying!
The third steep is lighter with a lovely golden-orange clarity. Still brisk but less so, still sweet. Enough flavor that I don’t consider it a washout and would definitely want to go three steeps each time I make it, but I think no further than three.
If I use Harney’s estimate per cup but allow for three steeps per teaspoon, I am now paying only 44 cents a cup for a fine tea. I can live with that.
Want to Know More About This Tea?
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Harney and Sons
A rare treat from Assam, comprised of nearly 100% golden tips. The Jalan family are the producers of this Mokalbari East, and they made the best Assams in 2021.