Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Shan Valley
This is a first flush black tea, and is processed as is local tradition in Myanmar, the tea leaves are a little more uneven and have a balanced flavor. This tea is similar to the Kyaukme Black Tea.
Learn more about this tea here.
Similar to the Kyaukme Black Tea from Shan Valley that I reviewed previously (as well as their 2013 Shan Black Tea), this black tea leaf has a very fine grind to the leaf that resembles a finely ground coffee bean. But as I said with the Kyaukme Black Tea, I will say with this tea, don’ t let the fine chop on these leaves dissuade you from trying it. It really is a splendid tea!
I recall the Kyaukme Black tea having an aroma to the dry leaf that reminded me very much of coffee. I don’t experience that scent with this tea. This smells a little more earthy. There are notes of leather and fruit and even the slightest floral note to this. This smells much more like black tea than coffee.
To brew this CTC tea, I used my Breville One Touch and measured 1 1/2 bamboo scoops into the basket of the tea maker. Then I poured 500ml of freshly filtered water into the kettle and set the timer for 2 1/2 minutes and the temperature for 212°F and let the tea maker get to work!
I would recommend that you experiment with this tea (or any other tea that has a fine CTC cut to it) to find what time works best for your palate. 2 1/2 minutes is cutting it pretty close for me, but I really wanted some edge to the cup when I brewed this tea. I am addicted to caffeine, you see, and I was experiencing a withdrawal headache.
Anyway, if you find that a CTC tea is too bitter for your liking when you’ve brewed it, try reducing the brew time by 30 seconds or 1 minute. You may find that you love that CTC! Sure, whole leaf is awesome … but just because the chop is fine on a tea doesn’t mean that it’s anything like that horrible dust and fannings that you’ll find in those tea bags from the grocery store.
The tea brews to a dark brown, almost black color. It brews so dark that it almost looks like a cup of black coffee. The aroma is rich and sweet with notes of molasses and hints of earth and leather. The fragrance here is much softer than that of the dry leaf, and I’m experiencing none of the aforementioned fruit or floral notes in the aroma.
But that’s OK because really, when it comes right down to it, it’s the flavor that counts and the flavor here is so rewarding. It’s a rich, robust cup of tea that has the vigor to get you going. This would make a really good breakfast tea and would take the additions of milk and honey quite well if you like to add those to your breakfast cuppa.
This is a very flavorful cup. It isn’t bitter but I suspect that if I had brewed it for another 30 seconds it would be. It’s right at that edge that I was looking for to deliver me a cup full of gusto but not so much that I can’t enjoy it. I AM enjoying this! Immensely!
It has a deep flavor to it. As I mentioned before, the aroma of the dry leaf is earthy with notes of leather and I do taste subtle notes of both earth and leather here, but they are much more subtle than the aroma suggests. Malt! A malty note that would rival your favorite Assam! I taste a deep molasses-y sort of flavor, like caramel that has been made from molasses (if there is such a thing.) I can taste a “burnt sugar” sort of flavor.
Last year’s Black Tea from Shan Valley had a very prominent cacao sort of flavor and I’m not experiencing that quite as much with this tea. I’m also experiencing less of a roasted sort of flavor. I still taste these notes, but they are less obvious to me than the malt and burnt-sugar/molasses notes that I mentioned before. There is a fair amount of astringency, I would classify it as medium astringency. As I continue to sip, I start to notice a sort of bake-y type of flavor that is reminiscent of freshly baked bread and I’m picking up on notes that are somewhat fruit like, hinting at notes of black currant, grapes, and plums.
I find that this flush is a little bit different from last year’s tea, and that’s why you want to try each flush, to experience all the flavors that each flush offers! This one is much more rugged than last year’s Shan Black, but both are really wonderful teas and well worth experiencing!