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Canton Assam Black Tea from Canton Tea Co.

canton_assamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Tea Description:

We have waited a long time to bring in our own house Assam. Now we have one to shout about and have made it a Canton signature tea. It is a blend of two, high grade, Khongea Estate teas – one of which has just won the North American Tea Championships in the Assam category. That’s how good it is. The family-owned estate is known to us and we are delighted to be working closely with them. Do what Assam is made to do and steep the leaves for several minutes to get a really good, strong, dark liquor that is smooth and rich with notes of fruit. Not heavily malty, but brisk and full-bodied making it a classic breakfast tea which works well with milk. As with all of our teas, it can also be brewed light and quick and enjoyed it without milk. The golden tips you can see in the dry leaf is the higher grade CL.GFBOP: Clonal Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I don’t think that Assam teas are actually my favorite type of black tea but I can’t deny that when I find an Assam tea in my stash of teas to try, I’m a happy sipper.  Assam teas may not be my favorite, but a good Assam tea is certainly always welcome in my teacup – I love that rich, robust, malty flavor that it provides.

And this Canton Assam Black Tea from Canton Tea Co. has what I typically look for in an Assam tea, although it is a little different than what I would normally expect.

This Assam is a bit smoother than I’m typically used to in an Assam – it isn’t quite as astringent.  But the trade-in for that is that it does lack a little bit of the strong, hefty body that I usually expect from an Assam.  It’s not quite as strong or sturdy as a typical Assam – although this would still make a great breakfast tea.  It’s still a robust, bold tea – but it’s a little lighter and smoother than what you might be expecting from an Assam.

It’s also not quite as malty as I usually expect.  There is still malty notes here and hints of caramel.  It’s still pleasantly sweet.  But, I’m getting more sweetness from a stone fruit (plum) note than I am from caramel or malt.  I also taste hints of raisin that are quite nice.

It’s still a full-bodied tea – it’s just not quite as rugged as I usually experience with an Assam.  But that’s OK – it’s still really good and it reaffirms for me just why I get excited when I am offered a new-to-me Assam to try.

I like that I can try a tea and have an idea of what to expect and get something a little different than I expected.  That’s one of the great things about tea and why I encourage people to try different teas!  Even if you’ve tried Assam teas in the past (and this applies to any other type of tea as well) – and even if that experience wasn’t all of what you wanted, you shouldn’t give up on Assam.  Try new teas and you might just find one that you not only like, but LOVE!  It’s a journey well worth taking when you find that tea that becomes your new favorite.

So if you’re looking for a new Assam to try – you should consider this one!  It’s lovely!

Rohini Supreme Breakfast First Flush Tea from Darjeeling Tea Lovers

ROHINI SUPREMETea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Darjeeling Tea Lovers

Tea Description:

This Breakfast Tea comes from ROHINI – The Youngest Tea Garden of Darjeeling. This is the only estate which claims to be 100% Clonal.

This tea has a woodsy kind of flavour to it which can be felt in the dry leaves also. The liquor along with woodsy flavour has prominent floral tone which becomes more prominent as the tea cools. The tea has a pleasant mouth feel and the flavour is uplifting.

Learn more about Darjeeling Tea Lovers here.

Taster’s Review:

This Rohini Supreme Breakfast First Flush Tea isn’t yet available this year from Darjeeling Tea Lovers.  I was privileged enough to get some from last year’s harvest.  I had written this review some months ago, when this tea was still available on the Darjeeling Tea Lovers website, but my review was somehow misplaced.  Hopefully this tea will be available again this year and perhaps my review of last year’s harvest will convince you that you should try this year’s harvest!

My apologies to Darjeeling Tea Lovers for the delay in getting this review posted!

When I opened the pouch of this “Breakfast Tea,” I noticed the green leaves.  This is not uncommon with a Darjeeling “black” as Darjeeling teas generally undergo less oxidation than other black tea leaves.

I brewed this tea in my Breville One-Touch, measuring 2 bamboo scoops of the tea into the basket and adding 500ml of freshly filtered water into the kettle.  Then I set the timer for 2 1/2 minutes and the temperature for 195°F.

The tea brewed up to a very light amber-coppery color.  It has a pleasant fragrance that is somewhat floral with hints of fruit.

The flavor is LOVELY.  While the tea is still quite hot, I picked up on very light floral notes with prominent woodsy notes and notes of fruit.  As the tea cooled, the floral notes began to develop.  Usually with a Darjeeling, I notice grape-like flavors.  This is particularly true of a second flush Darjeeling.  This is a first flush so I wasn’t expecting a strong grape-y presence, but, I was a little surprised when the fruit I was tasting was more like melon.  This flavor morphs into more of a grape-like flavor as I continue to sip, but those first few sips were quite honeydew-ish!

When it comes to the layers of flavor in teas, “woodsy” is not one of those flavors that I often celebrate.  It’s more or less one of those flavor profiles that I can take or leave.  It’s not something I usually get excited about.  I’m not usually like “Wow!  I love the woodsy flavors of this tea!”  Then again, I’m not usually like “Gah, I really don’t like that woodsy note.”  For me it’s something that I don’t really mind one way or another if it’s there or not.

But, I really am enjoying the woodsy tones of this.  It’s not a bitter wood or sour wood note.  It’s smooth and beautiful.  It melds beautifully with the fruit and the flower.  It’s a warm, slightly earthy note that is quite appealing.

Since I typically think of a breakfast tea as something that I might add milk and honey to, I don’t know that I’d consider this a breakfast tea.  It’s a brisk, bright flavored tea so I can understand why Darjeeling Tea Lovers might call this a breakfast blend – but I wouldn’t advise adding milk and/or sweetener to this.  It would really overwhelm the beautiful balance of flavors!

Instead, enjoy the gently nuanced flavors of the cup as they are.

Organic Singbulli Darjeeling Black Tea First Flush 2014 from Happy Earth Tea

singbulliTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Happy Earth Tea

Tea Description:

A well-crafted Darjeeling first flush tea, with refreshing floral and lime notes, from a garden famous for its high quality clonal teas. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:  

If you were to peek into my teacup at this moment, you wouldn’t think that the tea that I’m drinking is a ‘black’ tea.  This Darjeeling is one of the lighter “black” Darjeeling teas I’ve encountered, so much so that it looks like a green … veering on the edge of almost looking like a white tea with it’s silvery tips and snowy down covering the dry leaves.

I’ve tried many different first flush Darjeeling and while I do maintain that the second flush is my preference, this Singbulli Darjeeling first flush is so good that I could change my mind as I sip this!  It’s a beautiful tea experience!

As the above description suggests, I am experiencing notes of flower and bright lime notes.  This is not as “wine-like” as some Darjeeling teas.  This is very light and crisp, again, reminiscent of a green tea.  It has a vibrant, fresh taste.  (And why shouldn’t it?  This tea was harvested in 2014!)

The first 1/3 of the cup, I tasted mostly the floral and lime notes, and as I approached the mid-cup point, I could taste more fruit notes start to emerge.  Notes of sweet grape and a slight vegetal tone.  The texture softens and becomes more silken.  I notice less astringency now than I did at the start of this cup.   The aftertaste has a tangy (almost tart!) citrus-y flavor.

This tea is a very clean and refreshing hot beverage.  I drank about half of the pot that I prepared of this tea while it was hot, and then I allowed the rest to cool to see how it tastes as an iced tea.  I have to say that while I do prefer this one hot, it makes a tasty iced tea too.

Another win from Happy Earth Tea!  If you’re serious about your first flush Darjeeling teas, you really should check out their selection!  They’re organic and absolutely FABULOUS!

Malabar Estate Java OP Clonal Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports

MalabarEstateJavaOPClonalTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

This selection was harvested at the peak of the summer flavory season. Dark, crepy leaves, combined with gold and silver downy tips produce a dark, clear liquor. The cup has interesting flavor notes and a hint of mahogany wood in the aroma. This is one of the best high-grown Java teas we have seen in years. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Learn more about Steepster Select here.

Taster’s Review:

This Malabar Estate Java OP Clonal Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports is the first of the five teas that I’ll be sampling as part of this month’s Steepster Select box.  Every month, I receive two individually packaged single serving size of high quality, loose leaf tea of FIVE different teas.

The dry leaf of this tea is beautiful with its dark chocolate-y brown leaves with golden tips.  The tea brews up dark in color and rich in flavor.

The tea has a sweet undertone of caramel.  I detect notes of malt.  It’s a strong, robust sort of tea, one that would make a good first cup of the day.  I find that as I sip this tea, I am invigorated.  An excellent pick-me-up sort of tea.

Beyond that first impression, I am noticing some complexity.  I can taste fruit notes.  There are some grape flavors in there, evoking thoughts of wine.  And there is a sort of dry, astringent note toward the end of the sip which is similar to what I’d experience with a glass of wine too.

Mid-sip, I notice a slight orange-y note, as if this might be a “blend” with orange rind in it.  I can even taste the slight bitterness from the pith of the orange.  The orange notes seem to intensify as I continue to sip.  Others who have tasted this tea have mentioned a cinnamon note to this, and I get a very subtle, warm cinnamon note that seems to weave its way in and out of the sip.

Overall, a very good cuppa.  I’d happily drink this again.