Thursday, September 29, 2011

Assam Month Review: Rishi Golden Assam

Golden Assam
Rishi Tea

I'd rank this one as somewhere near the mid-range of Assam teas but not quite up there with the best that I've sampled thus far. It had a good flavor, was very smooth and had little to no astringency. I'd have no problem drinking a tea like this on a regular basis.

Here's what Rishi has to say about it:

The Assam region of Northeast India is famous for its black tea production. The sub-tropical valleys of Assam in which tea is cultivated yield gutsy, bold infusions with full body and flavor. Our single estate Golden Assam is from orthodox manufacture and has an abundance of even grade leaves and golden buds. Its rich liquor is sweet, robust and malty with notes of fruity raisin and date sugar.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Assam Month Review: Culinary Teas

Assam Gingia - TGFOP Tea
Assam Borengajuli Tea
Assam Bukhial - TGFOP Tea
Assam Tarajulie - FBOP Tea

Culinary Teas

If I was more methodical about the process of sampling and reviewing teas I'd do side by side comparisons when I have multiple items under consideration. Okay, I'll make a note of that for future reference. Since I neglected to do that this time around I'll just go on record of saying that all of these Assam varieties provided by Culinary Teas are ones that I would be happy to drink on a regular basis.

There's virtually no astringency or bitterness - the downfall of so many lesser Assam teas - to be found in this bunch. If I absolutely had to rank them I'd go with Gingia in first place, followed by Borengajuli, Bukhial, and last, but not really least, the Tarajulie. Which is not to say that the Tarajulie was significantly "worse" than the Gingia or any of the others, because there was a very small difference in quality between these four.

Recommended all around.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Assam Month Review: Greenwood Estate

Greenwood Estate STGFOP
Upton Tea Imports

Hello. What went wrong here? I had very high expectations for this one. They were even higher after I opened the package and caught a glimpse of all those golden tips and the great aroma of the dry leaves. And while you can’t always count on a direct correlation between price and quality, at about fifteen dollars per ounce (for the 50g size) you do expect something decent.

So I was rather dismayed to find that this one didn't turn out so well. Not that it was terrible, but it just came across as kind of flavorless. I'm almost inclined to wonder if I might have done something wrong, as far as preparation goes, but the sample size wasn't sufficient to do much additional testing.

With all this in mind I'll refrain from drawing any firm conclusions about this one. I'll chalk it up to a possible case of operator error and will probably try it again the next time I order from Upton.

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Monday, September 19, 2011

UK's 50 Best Tea Rooms

This feature from The Independent goes back a few years but it's still worth a look. Even if you're not going to visit the United Kingdom any time soon it still makes for an interesting slide show.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Assam Month Review: Marangi Estate

Marangi Estate FTGFOP1
Upton Tea Imports

Here's another winner. I'd rank it about one notch above the Nahorhabi Estate that I recently ordered from Upton and perhaps a notch or two below the Malibru Estate, that I reviewed here not long ago. It's going to take a truly fine Assam tea to beat the latter but this one comes close.

Upton describes it thusly and I can find nothing to argue with in their description:

When we cupped this selection we knew we were sampling one of the finest Assam teas of the season. The rich liquor is thick, with pleasing malty notes, the hallmark of a fine Assam. The carefully crafted leaves have an abundance of golden tips. A selection perfectly suited for a bracing morning cup or a rich afternoon treat.

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Friday, September 09, 2011

Assam Month Review: Malibru Estate

Malibru Estate FTGFOP1 Cl
Upton Tea Imports

We have a winner - so far. This is the sixth Assam tea I tried for our Assam month observation and while some of the others were very good, none of them hold a candle to this one. There are a few others I haven't gotten to yet, but they'll have a tough time topping this one. Not that I would mind.

I can't quite put a finger on what it is that makes one Assam tea a little bit better than another (which could apply to any tea, I guess). The best Assams, like this one, are very smooth to the taste, with none of the bitterness and astringency that plague some of the lesser varieties. This one, like most of the other high end ones, has a very full, rich flavor with very faint spice notes, reminiscent perhaps of clove or cinnamon.

Upton describes this as coming "from the peak of the second flush season, this fine tea has an abundance of golden tips, with a fresh and rich Assam aroma." They also note that it "can take milk well." Which makes me cringe but I guess everyone likes what they like.

Highly recommended.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Arty Tea Video

I'm not sure what the point of this clip is. I suspect it's just a filmmaker showing off his skills, which aren't so shabby.

TEA from jeff wood on Vimeo.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Assam Month Review: Joy's Teaspoon

Tea Review 118
Mangalam Estate
Joy's Teaspoon

Mangalam Estate seems to be one of the more popular Assam suppliers out there, so it's surprising to me that in all these years of tea drinking I haven’t tried any. It's an oversight that's now been resolved, thanks to this sample from Joy's Teaspoon.

This is a good Assam tea, bordering on a great Assam tea. I don't normally bother with numerical ratings and whatnot, but if I were to do so, then I'd go with something like an eight on a 1-10 scale. There's very little of the bitterness or astringency that makes some of the lesser Assams so hard to take.

I wouldn't quite rank this one up there with the best Assams I've ever tasted, but I wouldn't have any problems drinking it on a regular basis. For some additional thoughts on this one, take a look at what Lainie at had to say.

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Friday, September 02, 2011

Assam Month Review: Tiesta Royal Breakfast

Tea Review 117
Tiesta Tea
Royal Breakfast

In the process of doing research for an article on breakfast tea a while back I found that there's not a whole lot of consistency in what goes into the various breakfast tea blends. About the only thread that connects all them is that they are mostly (if not always) made up of black tea. Assam is often one of the black teas used, but not necessarily always

I hadn't heard of Royal Breakfast tea before but apparently there are a few other tea merchants besides Tiesta who make such a creature. Tiesta's site didn't list the teas that were used in this blend but when I contacted them they confirmed my suspicion that it was a mix of Assam and Ceylon. I'm not normally a great fan of the latter - with a few notable exceptions - but this was a very good blend. I wouldn't put it at the top of the list for Assam and breakfast teas but I wouldn't have any problem drinking it on a regular basis. Worth a look.

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Thursday, September 01, 2011

Assam Month Starts Today

Update: Our observation of Assam Month gets underway today. Stay tuned for the first review, coming soon. If you have any Assam samples you'd like reviewed, there's still time. Just let us know.

March of 2006 was Assam Month here at Tea Guy Speaks. We devoted much of that month to Assam tea. You can read those articles and reviews here.

Assam is one of my favorite types of tea and it doesn't seem to get the respect it deserves. Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that a lot of the tea coming out of Assam is of so-so quality. But if you're a fan of high-quality black tea, Assam also has plenty of single-estate teas that actually are quite exceptional.

With that in mind we're going to try another Assam Month here at TGS. That will be September. If you know of any great Assam tea we can feature or if you're a merchant who'd like to send samples for review, feel free to leave a comment or contact us on Twitter.

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