Hi Tea Friends!
Recently I received two wonderful teas from Edgcumbes Coffee & Tea shop to review for you guys. I have a bag of Rusper and a bag of Blend No.45. Both are black tea based blends from different regions to achieve a desired flavour. I’m going to be reviewing Rusper today so keep your eyes peeled for the Blend No.45 review.
What is Rusper? “Top quality Assam and Kenyan teas have been expertly blended by Edgcumbes to produce a rich, full and malty brew. Our most popular House blend”. This was the information from the front of the packet.
Here is a little information about the company that coincides with this tea.
Back in 1981, Frank Edgcumbes Rendle retired from his job as a jute and tea trader in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and moved back to the UK.
He was distraught to discover he couldn’t find any decent loose leaf tea. So he sat at the kitchen table with a set of scales, and blended some high-quality Assam and Kenyan tea leaves.
He called the blend Rusper after the West Sussex village where he grew up, decided to sell a few bags, and named the newly formed company Edgcumbes – our traditional family name.
We still believe that locally, fresh-roasted coffees and hand-blended loose-leaf teas ALWAYS taste better than commercially packaged products.
The packet by the way is a brown paper food style bag with bendy wire clips on the top to keep it sealed. It also has air holes for the tea to breathe. I would recommend moving the tea to a canister/caddy to make the freshness last which is also stated on the front of this packaging on the label.. Otherwise it’s good, basic packaging with the following details on the front:
Origin – Assam, India. Kericho, Kenya. Grown 1000-7200 ft above sea level.
Ingredients – Premium black teas.
Flavour – Rich Assam Malty notes with the characteristic brightness of top quality Kenyan teas.
Brew Guide – 2-4 mins, 1 cup, 100C.
Opening the packet I can see very finely chopped leaf remnants in brown and red colours. It bares a dry, sour wood scent.
I will be using the steeping parameters as recommended above. Once steeped a drop of milk will be added.
The resulting tea liquid is mahogany in colour (before milk) and bares a rich, malt and wood scent.
This tea is hearty and heavy, filled with rich flavour and strong enough to call itself a true British cuppa. Malt and wood tones dominate the strong yet dry tea and it has a slight sour after taste.
Adding sweetener reduced the sour after taste though ti is still present. It also smooths and blends the malt and wood a little better. Meaning that milk and sweetener make this a very nice builders cuppa.
As a fan of strong tea in general I like the strength and classic quality that this blend offers. Simple yet tasty and sure to win the heart of any tea lover, Brit or otherwise!
Until next time,
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Edgcumbes Coffee & Tea
Rusper tea is our original house blend of tea and it is perfect for your everyday cup of tea! It is a blend of Assam and Kenyan teas and makes a very easy to drink cup of tea which still has a great taste!
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Hello Tea Friends,
Today I will be reviewing an interesting and somewhat traditional Tibetan tea called Holy Flame. This tea is intended to be used as the base for Tibetan Yak Butter Tea (Po Cha) which is consumed daily in Tibet. I have tried some instant mixes for Yak Butter Tea in the past and honestly found them disgusting, though saying that I am not a buttermilk fan in general. I found it to be far too salty and sickly that I couldn’t drink it. Perhaps having it fresh would make a difference but I may never find out. Either way when I saw Holy Flame for sale and the intention for the tea I was immediately interested to try it. I may not have liked Yak Butter Tea but I may like the Sheng base. I also like the idea of drinking something that is common in Tibet and actually what they would drink themselves. Though I have never visited, Tibet has always been a wondrous place in my mind
Opening the packet (which has awesome wrapper art by the way) I can note the Chinese characters for Xiaguan which is a district in China as well as being a town near the Southern end of Yunnan. Primarily speaking this region is very well known for their tea production and have some wonderful teas to boast. The brick is rather dark in colour with a hue of brown, dark brown and dark green colours. I can also note some stems/sticks are present and the leaves are a mixture of sizes as though they were loosely chopped before processing. It smells musty and wooden though subtle with a hint of smoke.
The tea has some steeping instructions on the website.
Use 5-10 grams of leaves and brew with 75-150ml ( 2.5-5oz ) of water at or near boiling. Rinse once for a few seconds. Start with quick steeps under 10s. With each re-steep adjust the steep time to your taste.
My steeping parameters: 100ml gaiwan, 7g leaf, boiling water. I will also rinse the leaf as suggested.
First Steep – 7 seconds
The tea soup is light brown in colour and bares a dry earth and smoke scent.
The flavour is mild in comparison to it’s pungent aroma. There is a smoky taste with some astringency in the after taste that leads to some dryness. Further bowls show an increase of depth and it becomes stronger though not by much.
Second Steep – 7 seconds
The astringency is stronger and now bares a wooden must that somewhat matches the scent. It’s certainly strong and powerful considering such short steeps. The smoke still lingers in the aftertaste.
Third Steep – 10 seconds
This is a more balanced steep in terms of astringency and smoke, either that or my pallet is used to it. However, the dryness has increased in the aftertaste and leaves my tongue almost dry.
Fourth Steep – 15 seconds
The first sip comes across as astringent but it quickly softens into a smoky melody that envelopes my tongue and dances on the taste buds. Also the dryness is still present though not much of an issue.
Fifth Steep – 20 seconds
Even on this steep it’s strong with ever pressing smoke and astringency. Also some sweetness coming through in the after taste.
Sixth Steep – 25 seconds
This is starting to relax in strength but it’s still at a nice level. Smoke and wood with astringency still hang in the aftertaste.
Seventh Steep – 30 seconds
It’s certainly starting to calm down but still has each flavour present.
Eighth Steep – 40 seconds
And the flame burns out. There is little left in this steep apart from subtle smoke, a distance memory of a once lively Holy Flame that burnt bright.
Conclusion: This Sheng packs a pleasant punch with a lot of mouth feel that makes you wonder what each steep will bring. Like the flame of a candle; it burnt brighter and intensified until it inevitably burnt itself out to leave a smoky finish. Alright that is enough fire talk, I will extinguish any more fire based puns before I get on someone’s wick.
On a more serious note, it promised to be a strong tea and it delivered. Not only that but considering I used average leaf weight for minimum steep time it produced eight successful steeps. While this may be cheap and intended to be used as a base tea I like it as it is. It’s very suited for an everyday tea and I know I will end up taking this to work to drink so I can close my eyes with each sip and pretend I’m in Tibet.
Until next time, Happy Steeping!
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Raw/Sheng Puer
Where to Buy: Crimson Lotus Tea
This tea is a literal staple of the Tibetan diet. Xiaguan is the largest supplier of tea to the people of Tibet. This brick is cheap and affordable and a great source of energy. It is primarily used to make Tibetan Yak Butter Tea. It is consumed daily with barley powder. These bricks are called “Baoyan” (宝焰) which means “Holy Flame”.
We found these bricks without wrappers being stored in Tibet while traveling there this Spring. We bought what we could and created our own wrappers. This isn’t a fancy tea. It is however unique and cheap. It is meant as a daily drinker for people living in the highlands of the Himalayas. This is a very strong tea. It will be smoky with hay and alfalfa notes. It brews smooth but with bitterness and astringency. It pairs perfectly with yak butter.
These bricks were Tibetan stored since early 2013. The Chinese characters stamped into the face of the brick say Xiaguan (下关).
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Hello Tea Friends,
I got a sample pack of Dong Ding Oolong to try from my last order with Siam Tea and today is the day to try it. Think of it as a random cupboard sample that has been chosen for the potential of greatness.
Opening the packet reveals large brown leaf balls complete with stem that appear whole. They truly are an impressive size! Also though dark they have a nice glossy shine. On sniff-spection I can smell toasted wood with soft, dry smoke.
Steeping Parameters: 5g Leaf, 320ml vessel, 85C water temperature, 3 minute steep.
The resulting tea is golden in colour with a toasted malt scent.
The first few sips reveal a soft sweetness amidst a sour, toasted wood note that lightens to an almost malt finish in the after taste. There is also a slight dryness. The sweetness carries on half way down the cup with a floral quality and lightness. I close my eyes and imagine I’m drinking flowers that were wood roasted. The sourness remains consistent which leaves a mature, sour wood note to dance on my tongue.
This Oolong was very easy to drink and tasted pure, a very nice example of a lightly toasted Oolong. Even at the end of the cup I could taste each flavour individually with just as much character as the first sip. This would make a nice everyday Oolong.
Until next time,
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Siam Tea
DMS Dong Ding Blue Pearls Oolong Tea from Doi Mae Salong, north Thailand,rolled, handpicked. Strongly reminiscent of Chinese Wuyi rock Oolong teas, in particular Da Hong Pao Oolong tea.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here.
Leaf Type: Shu (ripe) Pu Erh
Where to Buy: Dragon Tea House
Lao Cha Tou is formed during the fermentation process. The leaves under heat and pressure will clump together at the bottom of the pile and form nuggets. Cha Tou are little tea nuggets that are a wonderful byproduct of the fermentation process of Pu-Erh tea. This tea can be infused over 15 times easily.
Learn more about this tea here.
This was a random purchase from a recent order that arrived today. The pictures show a Pu Erh in little nuggets and the difference in fermentation sounded interesting enough to persuade me into a purchase. Aged tea always interests me; as I think of years gone by and what has happened in that space of time and what the tea must have seen. Though this states aged it does not say a year per say but on the back of the packaging label it say’s that it’s from the 90’s.
Opening the packet I am now face to face with small Pu Erh nuggets, they are highly reflective with a lot of golden tips present. A cluster of earthy brown tones in one little nugget. They are compressed quite tightly, similar to a cake. Each nugget is unique in size and shape but they all contain the same level of golden tips.
On sniff-spection I can detect damp wood, earth, smoke and musk tones. Truthfully it’s also perhaps a little fishy but I think that is down to the age of the tea.
I will be using 3 tea pieces (roughly 4-5g) in a 200ml glass gongfu teapot vessel with boiling water. Usually I like to dedicate a lot of time for Pu Erh but I only have a couple of hours before I have to help my parents with something, so for that reason this will be across six steeps.
Rinse time of 10 seconds due to the size of the nuggets.
First Steep – 1 minute
The nuggets have not broken apart but after the rinse they are soft and giving off more colour. The tea liquid is cloudy red brown with a sweet and earthy scent. Similar to it’s raw scent but much sweeter and thankfully not fishy.
The first few sips reveal a soft and creamy base with delicate wood and earth notes. There is some dryness but not much. As subtle as it is the creamy effect is a wonderful surprise and very easy to drink. The after taste was earthy and dry clay like.
Second Steep – 2 minutes
The nuggets are still rather firm but they are softening up, I could easily pull them apart if I desired to. The scent is smokier but still rather soft.
Flavour is still soft but stronger than the first steep. The sweetness has toned down but the cream persists through the light wood, earth and smoke elements. The after taste is dry with a wood flavour. Also an element of malt that reminds me of golden tips.
Third Steep – 3 minutes
The nuggets are now breaking apart slowly but surely.
This steep is still creamy but the musky earth tone is peaking through a little more than the previous steeps. It’s now a more traditional style Pu Erh but it’s aged very nicely.
Towards the end of this steep it had some sourness coming through toward the after taste which lingered with the musk.
Fourth Steep – 4 minutes
The sweetness has come forward again among the cream, it’s almost honeyed. But the musky earth is still dry and slightly sour in contrast. It still reminds me of golden tip black tea but much more subtle.
Fifth Steep – 5 minutes
The sourness has softened and again the tea is losing the slight thickness that it began to get around the third steep. The cream is still the main flavour at this point.
Sixth Steep – 6 minutes
This final steep resembles the first, expect there is an edge of bitterness in the after taste at this point. The cream is the only notable flavour that is left.
Conclusion: It’s subtle in strength but the cream and sweet wood notes carry this into an easy to drink Shu. I prefer Sheng usually for the creamy taste but this equals a very creamy Sheng but without the grass and floral notes on the side. Also the smoothness of this worked in it’s favour for me.
Given that this tea boasts it can be steeped over 15 times I think they must mean via gaiwan as it started to lose colour and flavour around the fifth steep.
Next time I may try and add another nugget and see if it changes once it’s slightly stronger, but the colour of the tea was dark enough and I believe it’s just one that needs to be experimented with. Perhaps a gaiwan steep would bring out more flavour, but it could be even softer. I will try and experiment another time.
For now it was a nice aged Shu and I’m glad I tried it. Also I think the steeping method was probably the best thing for my first try given that it’s so mild. If you are new to aged Pu Erh then I recommend this one as a starting point.