Thanks Stacy for providing this VERY generous sample!
She said this tea was not on her website yet, so with her permission, I will be the first one to review it…
I have tried many assams, as I love bold black teas. Before I «met» Stacy and discovered her «TeaWonderLand» , I had only encounter your regular malty slightly astringent black Assam. Very effective morning black tea that I would go to as a «favourite comfy pair of jean» type of tea…
I am excited about this one, cause I never had a golden tippy assam. Not knowing much about Khongea plantation other than it’s location in India, I did a little research and I’m very pleased with what I found out, and the knowledge added to the appreciation of my tasting.
Stacy will correct me if I’m wrong, but from my reading, this would be a second flush (may-june harvest), the period when the finest Assams are produced with chunky golden tips.
Khongea is one of the highest yielding gardens in Assam, and is often referred to as a model by the tea industry to exemplify good practice in field management, where labor workers are treated fairly and environmental issues are carefully considered.
I love the fact that these issues are important to Butiki, so kudos for that!
What comes to mind first as I’m examining the dry leaves is: tobacco! Short, thin, slightly curly with beautiful bright golden tips. I don’t get much smell from it, so I have no clue what to expect…
I’m using quite a bit (about 2tsp for 10oz), I pour the hot water in my favourite clear glass cup and within a few seconds, the colour intensifies to a point where I decide to stop the infusion at only 90 sec. (I usually steep assams for about 4min!)
Wow! The colour is a dark reddish copper, and as the morning sun comes in from my kitchen window and hits the glass, I see it turn to an almost crimson red !
The aroma is powerful and I can’t wait for it to cool down a bit…or shall I burn my tongue just a little?
Thankfully, the taste is as rich as its colour! Very malty, I get undertones of tobacco and spices with a hint of smoke. It has a sweet finish, so the slight astringency and bitterness I detect are toned down into a non harmful way.
It is said that if Darjeeling tea is referred to as “the Champaign of tea”, a good quality Assam such as this one could be referred to as “the Best single malt Whisky of tea” .
I have to agree. Basically, if I was a smoker (and a little less girly) I would (in a very manly way) cut the tip of a very expensive Havana cigar, and instead of washing it down with bourbon and whisky, I’d have this tea!
Another hit from Butiki, and I can’t wait to experiment a little more with it…
Note: I later emailed Stacy for brewing recommendation and will not be afraid next time to let it steep longer. As she was pointing out, even more complexity will emerge. Thanks to the large sample, I’ll be able to just do that!