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Assam Exotic Black Tea by Golden Tips

EXOTIC-ASSAMTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: Golden Tips

Tea Description:

A premium Assam tea blend from the peak second flush tea growing season in Assam. Selective sourced by our master blenders from premium Assam plantations, this extremely robust and bold black tea is characteristic of a bright liquor, a typical coppery infusion and a smooth maltiness. The dark black leaves leaves are a visual delight with an abundance of golden tips. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a signature blend second flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in August 2013. The dry leaf smells sweet and malty with an undertone of spice, and the leaves themselves are fairly thin and wiry, mostly black but with some lighter, golden tipped leaves scattered throughout. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright reddish-brown, and I added a splash of milk.

Assam is one of my absolute favourite black tea varieties. It’s one of the first I tried when I was younger, and it’s probably fair to say that my enjoyment of it encouraged my interest in tea generally. It’s always with pleasure that I try a new Assam, and this one is no exception.

What I’m tasting here is fairly typical of the variety, I think. There’s an initial sweetness that becomes intensely malty in the mid-sip, and a hint of woodiness in the aftertaste. There are very mild cocoa notes, but they’re fleeting and by no means a prominent part of the overall flavour. It’s a full bodied tea, with a thickly textured mouthfeel, very smooth and almost creamy. The malt becomes more dominant with successive sips, which only increases this effect.

While this is a fairly straightforward and ordinary Assam, I am enjoying this as my morning cup. It’s deliciously malty and sweet, with enough body to be somehow intensely satisfying. It’s not the most unique or even the most flavourful of black teas, but it’s certainly a solid example of a decent Assam. It’s well worth a try if you’re just beginning to explore black tea, or Assam in particular, or if you’re just looking for a reliable everyday tea. Classic stuff.

Rohini AV2 Exotic Black Tea from Udyan Tea

Rohini AV2 Exotic BlackTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Rohini AV2 Exotic Black Tea is picked from AV2 bushes at high elevations. This First Flush Tea is plucked immediately after the long cold winter months and is bountiful with fresh flavour as the bushes are full of vigour. The infusion has a greenish leaf appearance and the tea tastes fresh and crisp. This tea is produced from the prime sections of the garden with the earliest production beginning from the 1st Week of March up to 15th April depending on the elevation. They brew into light mellow cups with excellent first flush character and floral ascents.

Learn more about this tea here

Taster’s Review:

This Rohini AV2 Exotic Black Tea from Udyan Tea doesn’t look like your typical black tea.  It doesn’t taste quite like your typical black tea either.  Therefore, you shouldn’t brew it quite the same way you’d steep a typical black tea.

I never use boiling water on a Darjeeling black tea because I learned through trial and error that when I do, I get a slightly bitter tasting tea that’s a wee bit too astringent for my liking.  I find that if I lower the temperature to 195°F that a Darjeeling is much better tasting.  Less astringent and not bitter!  Win!

And this tea is SO LOVELY!  It’s deliciously sweet with notes of flower and fruit.  Hints of muscatel – not a strong muscatel note, but then this is the first flush, so a strong muscatel note isn’t expected.

The floral notes are the stars of this show.  I like that they’re not sharp, instead, they’re beautifully sweet and they mingle with a honey-esque flavor.  It’s wonderful and very spring-like!

Overall, the cup is a delightfully mellow tea that I’d recommend for afternoon sipping.  This would make a lovely tea to serve to special guests.  Truly a remarkable first flush Darjeeling.

Kenya Marula Black Tea from McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

McQuarriesLogoTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: McQuarrie’s Tea & Coffee Merchants

Tea Description:

Flavourful African black tea from Kaimosi, an exotic combination of sweet banana with the tart, fresh taste of the yellow-gold African Marula fruit.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

McQuarrie’s is a local loose leaf tea and coffee store; the kind I feel like most larger cities have at least one of – usually privately owned, and not part of a chain of any kind. They source their teas from other companies, such as the Metropolitan Tea Company and are an interesting middle ground between more commercial/branded loose leaf companies such as Teavana or DAVIDsTEA which can act as ‘gateway’ loose leaf shops and less commercial, higher quality stores for more seasoned tea drinkers. If that makes sense at all. This tea in particular is sourced from a larger manufacturer called Wollenhaupt tea, however it doesn’t appear to be currently listed on their website.

According to my Aunt, McQuarrie’s has ‘probably been around longer than she has’. It’s, of course, right in the heart of my cities’ more ‘hipster’ area with all of the other stores that specialize in more obscure hobbies/interests and fancier, offbeat cafes and such. My roommate, coincidentally, happens to work at one of those restaurants!

I picked this one up in person; it’s always kind of nice shopping in person because you don’t have to blindly purchase something just based on the description or other people’s reviews. I got to see and smell this before hand! The smell was definitely very banana and that certainly made me excited because it’s been a while since I’ve had a good banana tea with a black base – right now 52Tea’s Butterscotch Banana is sticking out in memory but it’s been an awfully long time since having it. The marula was very interesting too; other than knowing it’s an exotic fruit I have no experience or familiarity with it so that absolutely caught my attention.

It seemed, overall, like a very interesting find from my local store!

I cold brewed my sample – someone recently called me the ‘Queen of Cold Brew’ and that may be pretty accurate. I will cold brew just about anything, especially at this time of the year.

This had a very interesting flavour! The banana was the dominant note; it was almost sickly sweet and tread a thin  line between realistic, overripe banana and banana candy. It struck up fairly vivid recollections of two things. The first was the banana liquer that I currently have in my fridge, which is very sugary and sweet. The second thing was Khao Tom Mad which is a Thai dessert made of banana, sticky rice and coconut milk served in either a banana or coconut leaf. I’ve only had it once, but it was pretty amazing – maybe even life changing. I definitely think some of the sweetness of the banana comes from the blackberry leaves; my experience with them has been that they tend to made fruit flavours really, really pop.

I don’t have a familiarity with marula, but I’m told by my roommate that it’s supposed to taste a little bit like guava. I don’t know if I necessarily got that with this blend – though I did get a little bit of tartness which the roomie says is probably from the marula. It was quite mild though and didn’t play much into the overall dynamic of the tea. I am a little bit sad the marula didn’t have more of an impact on the taste – I love when I get the chance to experience new flavours in tea.

The rest of the tea was supporting notes for the banana; both mild cinnamon and a bit of drier wood notes were present. The finish was the biggest let down for the tea though; there was a light sudsy/soapy flavour than was unpleasant and slightly lingering. I first thought that the wood was a little weird to have been coming from the rooibos in the blend, which was my initial assumption – but then I remembered that one of the listed ingredients is lapacho. Aha! I’ve had bad experiences with lapacho, including soapy notes and very dry hardly palatable wood notes. I definitely do NOT see the appeal of lapacho. Fortunately, it was quite mild here. It would certainly explain both the soapy notes and the off wood notes, though.

Overall this tea was pretty interesting, and a bit of a rollercoaster. It had an incredible beginning with some of the tastiest banana notes I’ve had in a very, very long time and the middle was pretty solid too but the weird lack of anything Marula, of which the tea is named after, and unfortunate presence of Lapacho made for a bit of a disappointing finish.

Still a worthwhile try though given how unique it is, and something I’ll continue to personally fiddle around with. I’m determined to taste some marula!

Mankota Exotic Assam Second Flush Black Tea from Golden Tips

MankotaAssamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

Mankota produces some excellent second flush black teas every year. This tea in particular boasts of all characters of a premium Assam tea. The tea is robust, bold and extremely malty. The full-body of the tea finishes on a slightly sweet note which makes it an absolute prized possession. Sprinkled with golden tips all over, the dark red liquor shimmers in the cup. 
A fantastic breakfast tea and a must-try if you love Assam tea. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

After taking my first few sips of this Mankota Exotic Assam Second Flush Black Tea from Golden Tips, I found myself in complete agreement with the last sentence of the above description.  This is definitely a fantastic ‘breakfast tea’ – it tastes great straight up, but it would take the additions of milk and honey very well too.  And I would put this on the ‘must try’ list of anyone who enjoys a good Assam.

I brewed this tea in my Kati tumbler, adding 1 bamboo scoop of tea to the basket and pouring 12 ounces of nearly boiling water (205°F) and steeped the tea for 2 1/2 minutes.  The reason I lowered the temperature slightly is because Assam teas tend to be somewhat temperamental and can become bitter.  A little lower temperature and a little less time in the steep can do much to help avoid a bitter cup!  It’s a little extra effort that’s well worth the investment because the payoff is a wonderful, malty cup of Assam!

This tea is indeed delightful!  It’s rich, malty and has a satisfying, thick texture.  It has notes of freshly baked bread, evoking thoughts of a warm loaf of French bread with a crisp, chewy crust.  The caramelized sweetness of the crust of that loaf of bread comes through in the undertones of this tea.

Fruit notes!  I didn’t pick up on them right away but by mid-cup, I started noticing notes of raisin and wine-like grape.  Sweet.  Notes of plum and even a hint of citrus in there too.  I’m not sure how I missed these flavors at the start because they’re so abundant now, I can only think that I was so enchanted by the warm, freshly baked bread notes that my palate was ignoring all else!  But now, I am enjoying the way the sweet, malty notes marry with the fruit tones.  Quite lovely, indeed.

It’s an invigorating tea – it’s got gusto!  It’s a bold cup of tea, but it’s not an overly aggressive cup.  It isn’t bitter and it doesn’t have a lot of astringency to it either.  It’s actually quite smooth.  There is some astringency toward the finish, a slightly tangy effect.  The aftertaste is sweet.

A truly rewarding tea.  I highly recommend this those who love a good Assam!

Pear Green White from Mahamosa

Pear Green White from Mahamosa
Pear Green White from Mahamosa

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:

Where to Buy: Mahamosa

Tea Description:

This noble blend of different green and white teas captivates the senses with the typical, attractive Pai Mu Tan and a Yunnan which is dominated by light, fluffy tips. Yellow rosebuds, pineapple flakes and mango cubes enhance the delicate yet significant freshness of this aromatic variety. The tea leaves dominate the overall taste with their typically delicate, slightly bitter notes. A touch of juicy pear and creamy sweet exotic flavors envelop the characteristic flavor of green tea. Ingredients: China Sencha, Lung Ching, green Yunnan and Pai Mu Tan, flavoring, mango cubes (mango,sugar), pineapple flakes, rosebuds.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

When I opened my bag of Pear Green White from Mahamosa my first impression was peach rather than pear but then again I really was not thinking much about the name of the tea nor that it should smell like pear, so peach was my initial reaction. Then on second sniff I smelled circus peanuts…you know those strange little peanut shaped orange candies (love them).

The tea is pretty with rosebuds in it. When steeped my initial reaction upon first sip was KAPOWZA! This tea is not lacking in the flavor department and is nothing close to subtle. This tea reminds me of a southern lady, full of robust flavors, personality to boot, and not afraid to state its opinions. You can’t say that this tea is lacking in anything here! Another thing about this tea that reminds me of a southern lady is that it is sweet, very sweet, and although the southern ladies I know can be tricky, witty, and even a little sassy deep down they are all quite sweet as well. Yes, this is one that I will be cold steeping just to see if it is what I think it will be for me this summer, a daily sipper!

So we have our floral, we have our pear flavor which yes it does come out shinning bright and strong in the cup, we have a lovely white and green base which you just can’t beat for the health benefits, and we have several other tropical fruit notes playing around in the cup. There is a lot going on in here but it works magically well together.

This is that tea you serve at the tea party, or to the kids who refuse to drink tea – trust me they won’t even know that it is tea and will think it is some fruit juice!

Is this tea for the sake of tea in and of itself? No, it is not – purists may really shun this one, but its so nice to have a tea that packs such a punch of flavor because honestly now and then I do want something different – something more fruity and just all out fun!

The base teas are lovely providing a creamy backdrop for all the fruity playful flavors yet still remains bright and cheery not becoming too heavily laden with creaminess.

Oh I could probably go on and on about this one but its time for me to just sit back and enjoy the cup!

Also be sure to check out Mahamosa’s dedication to our earth here.