This stands apart from other black teas, and I think it’s the terroir & teamaster, being Hawaii-grown and handmade. The first thing I notice about the dry tea is the marvelous fresh scent. These long, thick whole leaves with gold tips have the freshness of a green meadow in their aroma — and this is a black, substantially oxidized tea! The freshness carries over into the flavor of it’s “soup,” which is rich and sweet, with notes of biscuit, caramel and wood. And there’s lots of umami, the savory-meaty taste, in these Tea Hawaii teas, which (like the freshness) is true of all three representations of their teacraft that I’ve been so fortunate to receive (thanks to my sister). The leaves are perfect and full of life, truly artisan teas which have been carefully grown and hand-processed. Handmade tea, from the ground up. I’m becoming a bit of a connoisseur of the pure leaf, and it’s teas like this which make it rewarding.
And then there is the absolute freshness. I am sure I have never had camellia sinensis tea this fresh. Which means that it hasn’t had time to absorb the ambient aromas from months of travel, packed in various containers which are opened and closed all over the world. Some of what we taste in tea from China, for instance, is travel-acquired. We may have come to think of it as the taste of tea. Now, having tried three extremely fresh teas from Hawaii, I think perhaps not.
As to how my sister got these Hawaii-grown teas, which are not available anywhere online at this time, to send me for my birthday (thank you, Chrissy!): she reports that she went to teahawaii.com and emailed them, then mailed a check. I don’t know what she paid, but if you want to find out how fresh tea tastes (or perhaps how tea really tastes) it may be worth it.