CTC Assam Exotic Black Tea by Golden Tips

ctc-AssamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Even though Assam produces some exquisite orthodox teas, its CTC (Cut, Tear,Curl) grade of teas are cherished for their extremely bold character. They are known to have relatively bigger round granules which make for a bright red liquoring cup. Strong, robust, full-bodied and rich with a unique malltiness, this tea pairs up with your breakfast like bread does with butter.
It goes perfectly with milk and sugar and can also be enjoyed as a pure black tea when brewed in freshly boiled water for 3-5 minutes. Harvested in the peak second flush tea growing season, this exclusive offering will add a new aspect to your love for Assams. The perfect wake-up tea!

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is the Crush-Tear-Curl (or CTC) version of Golden Tips Tea’s signature blend Exotic Assam. For those unfamiliar, CTC is a method of mechanised tea processing, during which the tea leaves are passed through cylindrical rollers lined with tiny “teeth” which shred and roll the leaf into tiny pellets. The dry leaf smells very strong – malty with an edge of bitterness. It’s a smell I associate with the supermarket tea bags of my childhood. The leaf itself is a uniform black, formed into tiny balls.

I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it a scant 1.5 minutes in boiling water. This one brews FAST, and the resulting liquor darkens to a deep chocolate brown mere seconds after the leaf is added to the water. The scent at this stage is powerful, too – it’s readily identifiable as “tea” in the best builder’s sense of the word. Like the dry leaf, it’s malty with a bitter edge. I added a good splash of milk.

To taste, this one seems a little generic. It’s sweet and malty, as Assam typically is, and it has a thick, almost syrupy mouthfeel because of that. There’s a tiny hit of bitterness right at the end of the sip, although this intensifies as I continue to drink until it’s ultimately a little drying and astringent. My teeth actually feel a little “furry” after about half a cup, assumedly from the high tannin levels. This is definitely a full-bodied tea, but it’s a little one-note, and lacks some depth and complexity. It’s malty, for sure, but that’s about all I can really say.

This is a great convenience tea. It brews up quickly due to the CTC method of production, and it makes a strong, full-bodied cup that would readily assist the morning wake-up process. It’s perhaps a little heavy-handed, but a good slosh of milk smooths its rougher edges for the most part, with the exception of some bitterness. I think it’s fair to say that it lacks some subtlety, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad tea. It’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a strong, everyday tea that’s both convenient and consistent, and sometimes that’s just the thing. There are other teas for other days.

I’m not huge CTC fan personally, but I appreciate that they have their place in the tea world, and they’re certainly well suited to some situations. This one is one of the better ones I’ve tried, and definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for this kind of tea. I like the fact that you can also purchase the full-leaf version of their Exotic Assam, as this affords the opportunity to compare (should you wish to), and ultimately to decide for yourself which option you prefer, or which suits you and your lifestyle best.

Yun Nan Dian Hong Black from Teavivre

Yun Nan Dian Hong BlackTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Teavivre

Tea Description:

Dian Hong black tea, also known as Yunnan black tea, is one of China’s most famous black teas.  This is the highest grade Dian Hong generally available in China – called Golden Tip Dian Hong.  It has lots of orange pekoe in the dried tea, and brews into an absolutely great tasting, golden coloured tea, with very rich taste and aroma.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea really wowed me from start to finish. You begin the cup with such attractive, even dry leaf that has a breath taking proportion of golden tips to it. I would agree that you can see the orange pekoe quite clearly in the leaf and I can’t help but wonder what the grade is – I’d guess at least TGFOP? It’s easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing black teas I’ve gotten to try in a long time.

Of course, the grade really has very little to do with the actual taste of the tea; it only describes physical aspects of the leaf and not the taste of the brew – that said, this brewed up bammin’ slammin’ delicious.

There were a lot of flavors going on but they were all so harmonious; the big one for me was the sweet taste of stonefruit that gave the tea an overall jammy quality. It was very much like overripe dark cherries and it easily stood out the most to me. Cocoa, molasses malt, and honey/light caramel notes were all present too – mostly as top notes, with the exception of the molasses which I thought was a bit stronger near the end of the sip. The body was, in addition to being quite fruity, rather starchy as well but in a sweeter way, like from yams.

This easily stands out among the majority of pure black blends I’ve had in the last month – if not longer. There’s no need for sweetener either; Yun Nan Dian Hong has such a solid and nuanced flavor profile all on its own. I absolutely recommend this tea to just about anyone and I look really forward to revisiting it.

2012 Margarets Hope Muscatel (2nd Flush) from Darjeeling Tea Lovers

2012 Margarets Hope Muscatel
2012 Margarets Hope Muscatel

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Black, Darjeeling

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

Margarets Hope Muscatel comes from one of the best known gardens Margarets Hope Tea Garden. The dry leaves are black and dark chocolate in colour with fresh floral notes to the nose.

When steeped for 3 mins, it gives a brilliant deep golden liquor. It has a full bodied muscatel flavour with a distinct mint ‘twang’ in the nose. A perfect cup to make your evenings delightful.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

2012 Margarets Hope Muscatel (2nd Flush) from Darjeeling Tea Lovers is such an easy tea to drink. It’s light but full bodied, has that wonderful muscatel wine like flavor of fermented grapes, but is accompanied by an almost bubbly mouthfeel.

The tea is also complimented by spiced earth notes and woodsy flavors.

My sample is going on at least 5 to 6 months in age but its flavor is wonderful. I wish I had tried it when it first came out and truly hope I get to experience the 2013 leaf while it is still fresh and full of flavor.

I do love a good darjeeling and this one is slightly different from others I have enjoyed. This has a far more earthy and musk like note to it, which I love, yet a really good balance with its lighter fruity, berry, and red currant notes.

The more the tea cools the more rich and full it becomes. I find it reminding me almost of a pu-erh with notes ranging from peat, oaky, and other aged woods. While the cup begins rather light by the end of the more cooled cup it thickens up and becomes far heavier in the sip.

What an interesting tea! One everyone should try in order to understand a truly wonderful Darjeeling!

Yorkshire Tea from Taylors of Harrogate

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black, Assam, African

Where to Buy: British Isles

Tea Description:

A proper tasting cuppa. Pure and simple.

Founded in 1886, Taylors of Harrogate is an independent family business, dedicated to the pleasures of good tea and coffee. The family business has been buying and blending fine teas for over a century.

In every cup of their tea you can taste the skill, creativity and craftsmanship of Taylors’ tea blenders. Taylors’ employees visit tea estates personally to select only the finest seasonal hand-plucked teas.

By investing in long-term partnerships and paying fair prices, Taylors is able to make a positive difference to the quality of the teas and the lives of the growers. The company is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership and is committed to the ethical sourcing of tea.

Every year Taylors donates at least £100,000 (approx. $190,000) to environmental and community projects overseas. Since 1990 Taylors has planted over 3 million trees across the world with the charity Oxfam.

Learn more about this tea here:  Loose   Bagged

Taster’s Review:

This is quite simply the perfect English tea! 

A very dear friend of mine, from the UK, sent me a huge box of this tea awhile back and I was surprised when I discovered it was not just some regular ol bland black tea! Imagine my shock and horror that a bagged tea could be so rich, malty, and delicious!

This tea also does come in loose leaf so I provided links to both, but if you look around the site a little you will find you can get it in different quantities as well. My b

ox has 160 bags and on those days when I just can’t seem to navigate my tea stash, let alone, proper brewing, I grab a bag of Taylors and Harrogate Yorkshire and all is right with the world!

This tea is rich, complex enough, and has just the right amount of malty flavor to kick me into high gear in the mornings. It has a rich full mouthfeel and the tea itself is quite robust! Yet, it is not bitter whatsoever and the astringency that exists within the cup is the right kind of astringency that should be there in a fine black tea!

Of course being a good bold tea it can take well to cream, milk, sweeteners, anything you may want to add to it.

Now I did link one of many places to purchase this tea, however it can be found in many places both online and in stores. I have seen it in many of my local markets, as well as at our local British Shop.

If you are looking for the perfect English style tea to sever for a tea party, a cream tea, high tea, ANY kind of “tea” situation or celebration, get some of this. Its just as they say, “A proper tasting cuppa. Pure and simple.”

Taiwan Wenshan Pouchong from Nuvola Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Pouchong, Oolong

Where to Buy:  Nuvola Tea

Tea Description:

Wenshan Pouchong Tea has a radiant golden yellow colour and the pleasing fragrance of orchid. Its velvety body creates an exquisitely mellow mouth-feel and a sweet aftertaste which pampers the palate. This lingering flavour coupled with the subtle floral note ensures you an absolutely satisfying and delectable cup of tea.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:


Nuvola Tea brings us a very light delicate golden hued pouchong from Taiwan. The broth of this tea is thick and when I pull my steeping basket from my cup it looks like a thin light honey dripping elegantly downward back into my cup. It is quite pretty.

The aroma of the tea is beautifully floral mixed with the aroma of sugar cane.

My first steep was quite light, and I could detect the delicate floral notes, sugar notes, and the pouchong leaf itself which is delicious! However, the first steep is in fact quite light in color and taste. I could have poured this steep and considered it a rinse but it was too good to pour even though I prefer a heavier flavor in my tea. I continued to enjoy it appreciating the tea for its subtle but sweet nuances.

My second steep was more to my liking and more “robust” although this is far from a robust tea. Now admittedly I am one who likes robust flavors in my tea, and truth be told this tea has more than enough flavor and is really profound in what it offers so I do not want to minimize the depth of flavor this tea offers!

The mouth feel is heavy, creamy, broth-y, and full. There is a buttery and noticeable vegetal note dancing on my taste buds! The after taste is lingering mostly of the floral notes.

I realize that the description says “Orchid” however having little experience with orchid here in Kansas, where I live, I am detecting what I would identify or at least have a connection to, as honeysuckle. Which makes me wonder if the two flowers are somewhat similar perhaps. Regardless, I love the floral note in this tea.

I have to make a confession, when I saw how light this tea steeped up I was skeptical. I now find that I am falling in love with this tea. Between the sugary, honey dew, floral, green, and even fresh lively taste in this cup, I am imagining this being the type of tea you could enjoy in a tender romantic moment. Yet, at the same time this tea is also fitting for a luncheon with your grandmother, sister, or a group of friends. It makes me think of those quite contemplative moments as well. Perhaps another tea to add to my “meditative” tea list! I find this tea very grounding and centering. Yes, I am falling for this tea.

There is a drying sensation at the back of the throat between sips if you wait too long. That is alright, although not a favorite aspect in tea in my opinion. Although as long as I have another sip in my cup, there is nothing to worry about! As soon as I typed that however I realized its just about time for steep three. Which I am sure I will enjoy as the leaves still appear as they have much more to give, more imagery for me to contemplate.

Yes, Nuvola, you do offer a fine tea here. I look forward to trying more of your offerings!