Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Greenfield Ceylon

From Vietnam, to India, and now to Sri Lanka...This has been an exciting journey of black tea discovery.
This tea is an organic and Fairtrade certified tea from the selection at Arbor Teas.

The Greenfield estate is in the Uva district, which means that this is a high grown Ceylon tea. I would much rather drink a high grown than a mid or low grown. The characteristics that high grown teas display are enjoyable to my specific palate. The lows and mids can be a bit harsh and overbearing.

The dry leaf has quite the array of scents!
Delicate accents of cherry and grape are noticeable, along with a light malty, wheat type aroma.
After all that, fine floral fumes float to my face.

The aroma is evident right as heated water embraces the dry leaves. The sweet smell of honey and the bold aroma of malt and barley mingle together as they rise from the steaming pot.

I enjoy these smells as I watch the leaves dance amongst themselves and release their potent flavor.

The taste is ever so simple;
Malt, cherry and honey, all pulled together by a mild astringency.

This is a tea to be enjoyed, not pondered upon.

This tea seemed like its purpose was to be a part of a blend. It would provide a wonderful base to a black tea blend, or a flavored blend.
But tasting the traits of a specific estate is a wonderful experience that should be savored.
It is akin to meeting a person for the first time, and there are memorable things about him or her that stand out. When one meets them again, they will remember those traits and characteristics and recognize who that person is.

Tea equates to many aspects of our lives.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Assam Rembeng TGFOP

The generosity of the folks at Arbor Teas is appreciated greatly.
Thank you for providing so many samples.

Again, as with most teas from Arbor, this one is organic and Fairtrade.
It is relevant to me because I am writing yet another research article about Fairtrade, so stay tuned if you would like to spend the time to read a few pages of research.
I am a proponent of Fairtrade and do what I can to promote and defend the organization. They have had to deal with bombardments of scrutiny from critics that is unnecessary and unjust.

This tea is from the Rembeng estate in Assam, and carries the grade of TGFOP...(Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe)
This tea is properly graded, as you can see by the scattered amount of golden (and perhaps a bit of silver) buds within the dry leaf.

As with most Assam teas, this one has quite the malty aroma, along with wood and grain. Some people describe this malty/grain aroma as cereal, but I would not want any readers thinking that this tea smells of Cheerios or Fruity Pebbles.

The liquor is unsurprisingly heavily laden with malt, but maple and buttered toast arrive on the scene.
Any tea that smells of buttered toast should definitely be consumed during breakfast.

The first sip reveals the brisk nature of this tea. A citrus note (more tart) plays on the palate for a short while.
A favorable astringency followed by a cereal flavor follows.
To round this tea out; sweet maple.

This tea is well balanced, bright, clean and quite refreshing.
I wouldn't suggest adding milk, in part because I am a purist, but mostly due to the fact that it would not blend well with the bright citrus (tart) quality of this tea.

Assam teas are not complex and do not call for too much time or description.

They are blunt, arrogant and will treat one well if treated well themselves.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Vietnam Nam Lanh

The wonderful folks at Arbor Teas were generous enough to send me another round of samples. I apologize to them for the late reviews. It is difficult for me to find time and sit down for a long while with a tea anymore. This saddens me, but it must be so. School will take one far.

This is only about the 4th, single estate Vietnamese tea I have had the privilege to spend quality time with. I enjoy different regions and the characteristics that they present.

This is a tea from the Nam Lanh tea estate. I know nothing of estates in Vietnam, so if this means anything to you readers, be kind enough to inform a novice if you so desire.

The dry leaf has malty qualities up front, but inhale deeper and one will find rose, caramel and oak. It is interesting to find even the slightest hint of a floral smell coming off of these heavily oxidized leaves.
Another surprising thing about this tea is the quality of the dry leaf. By looking at it, I would say it is comprised of about 30-40% tea buds, which in my book is fairly high.
I would not have thought that Vietnam was yet producing such high quality (perhaps orthodox) teas.

Coming off of the top of the steaming cup are hints of dark chocolate (cocoa), vanilla and black currants.
Again, the tea throws me a surprise. The fruity aspect is quite enjoyable and leaves me wanting a taste of the supposed sweet liquor.

Wheat and barley are the first tastes to strike my ready palate. As the liquid sits, the malty astringency is felt.
On the exit; black currants dominate.
The liquor is quite sweet and absent of bitterness.

Now mind you, I did say that the tea revealed astringency, but not bitterness. People oft confuse these two descriptors.

From the taste and look of the leaves, I would say that this tea is made mostly from the assamica cultivar.
The sinensis cultivar would not have contained the malty, wheat-like taste.

This tea did solve a mystery for me in the end.
A while back, a trip to France encouraged me to purchase some "French Breakfast" tea.
This tea resembled the taste of that very tea, and for the longest time, I could not figure out where the malty chocolate taste of the "French Breakfast" came from. I can almost guarantee that it was a Vietnamese tea that comprised the base for the blend.

This would make sense, due to the French colonization of Vietnam (1887-1954).

So many conclusions in one single cup.
Just another magical aspect of the tea leaf.


Sunday, February 6, 2011


If any of you follow Leafbox Tea, you are probably aware of the Admin's new project; TeaTra.de.

The concept will be a major benefit to the tea community if more passionate tea lovers are aware of the resources that will be available to them through this platform.

Companies selling tea.

Individuals selling tea.

Everyone selling tea either bulk or in small quantities out of their personal stash.

There will be a vast collection all in one single place.

Another benefit of this is that I can host my blog on a Wordpress format. So all of you who cannot follow my blogger, perhaps this will be of use to you.

Visit TeaTra.de for more details on this revolutionary new concept.