If I had to choose between dark oolong or green oolong, for me it would be green every time. I find them characterful and unique, with more variation in flavour than I’ve typically found (at least so far…) among their roasted counterparts. And that’s coming from a habitual black tea drinker.
Himalayan Shangri-la is a Nepalese Oolong from 2015. It’s a first flush, or spring, oolong comprising highly graded leaves taken from a single estate.
The leaf here is pretty impressive – they’re long and twisty, with a high predominance of downy buds, and vary from a dark khaki to the palest green-silver. The scent is lightly vegetal and just a touch floral, in the way of orchids.
I followed the recommended parameters, and gave 1 tsp of leaf 4 minutes in water cooled to around 85 degrees. The resulting liquor is a pale yellow-green, the scent mineral. The initial flavour is also mineral, with a hint of petrichor and wet rock. There’s a hint of heady floral in the mid-sip, reminiscent of orchid and jasmine. Heavily scented, and very reminiscent of perfume, but thankfully not in the cloying, throat-coating way some floral tea possess. The end of the sip features some cleaner, fresher notes. Tomato flesh, wet grass, and the return of the petrichor.
I really enjoyed this one. It’s a flavourful green oolong, and the tomato note in particularly was a highlight as it’s not something I’ve come across in an oolong before. If you’re looking for a high quality oolong that’s also accessible in flavour terms (there’s nothing to deter the newcomer here…) then this would be a good place to start. If you already love oolong, this one might still have a few surprises…
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: Teabox
If there is one oolong that can compete in the same league as the Taiwanese and the Chinese kind it has to be this Nepalese offering. The rigors of high elevation, mineral-rich terrain, and cool air allow the plants to grow slowly resulting in an immensely flavorful tea. Also interesting is the fact that it’s from the country’s small-scale producers’ cooperative which produces small batches of orthodox teas.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Upton Tea
Eventho this specific tea is not currently on their website below you will read a bit more about the estate in which it came from.
The Putharjhora Estate is just west of the Assam district in northeast India and the Dooars region produces teas that are excellent for breakfast or early afternoon drinking.
Learn more about this company here.
My favorite part about drinking teas from Upton Teas is that I get to learn about the different estates and region and I did just that with this Putharjhora Estate Dooars TGBOP Black Tea from Upton Tea.
Putharjhora Estate Dooars TGBOP Black Tea from Upton Tea has gray-black, tippy, twisty leaves that have a fairly standard, average, stereotypical black tea aroma. The brew – once infused – has a slightly peachy flavor that is almost overpowered by an earthy and woodsy nose. As for the flavor of this year it does pack a powerful punch. It’s not the strongest black tea I have had but it’s more intense than what I would consider medium strength. It’s heavy on the musky, wet woods flavor with hints of peach and maybe a bit of lemon, too. Eventho it’s woodsy it does quench your thirst unlike some of the other woodsy (naturally) flavored teas I have tried. It has a lingering muscatel type aftertaste that slowly morphs into something a little sweeter.
Putharjhora Estate Dooars TGBOP Black Tea from Upton Tea is a goodie! It may not be for everyone but it’s for me! Is it for you?
Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: Lochan Tea Limited
This tea is no longer on their website however I can tell you more about the estate.
About the Tea Estate: Giddapahar is located on a mountain which is just a short drive from Kurseong. The garden is situated at 4864 feet above sea level. The Estate is a small family owned Darjeeling tea estate which is also known as “Eagles Cliff” lying very close to Kurseong town. From the estate, one can view the magnificent site of the mountains which also makes it the perfect site for taking photographs.
Giddapahar is almost 100% covered with pure china tea bushes and has followed the legendary classic grade production of Darjeeling Teas. The tea from Giddapahar Estate is very delicate due to the lower temperatures here and also because the area itself is covered by mist for a good part of the year. Teas are planted and picked by using traditional methods. Due to the temperature, the tea bushes from the estate produce a fine bouquet with great aromatic quality and a delicate floral smell.
Eventho this Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH 2nd Flush 2013, Darjeeling from Lochan Tea Limited is no longer listed on their site or available for purchase I wanted to give it an honorable mention because it really was a fabulous tea! As you can see from the description above the Giddapahar estate is a small family owned Darjeeling tea estate that is situated in a zone with lower temperatures which makes teas from this region very delicate.
This specific Darjeeling is mostly floral on the nose with hints of wet woodsy sniffs, too! The flavor matches the aroma and is first and foremost floral with wet woods on the end sip. I find this to be a good ‘working tea’ which means (to me) that I enjoying while working or writing trying to reach deadlines (such as this).
Have you had a tea recent that you rediscovered from your personal collection that deserves an honorable mention that may no longer be available for purchase? If so tell us in comments!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Lochan Tea
Doke Black Fusion
Invoice Number: DB 001
Season: 1st Flush 2015
Grade: Hand made Black Tea
Cultivar: TV22 plucked from the 4A section
Location: Bihar, India
Size: 6 kilos
This tea comes from a small producer in Bihar, south of Darjeeling. The flat tea garden, next to a river (a power plant outlet), is everything else than the almost eponymous “Darjeeling Himalayan vales” – and yet it can already rival with some of the finest Darjeelings. What is unique however, is that the leaf material is Assamese and indeed embodies their virtues without their climate. Not without reason, the Lochan family have baptized some of their teas with the “Fusion” moniker.
Learn more about this tea here.
It is with thanks to the Lochan Tea family that I have been sent this sample to review. I did not know that the Lochan Tea founder Rajiv Lochan was responsible for starting up Doke Farm, one of my favourite sources for Indian Tea. It was Butiki Teas that got me into Doke through the likes of Doke Rolling Thunder and Doke Silver Needle. Needless to say that makes me rather excited and honoured to be sent this directly from source to review.
In-front of me is a 10g sample which is factory sealed and clearly labelled with tea company name, tea type/name, flush info and growing region and also the date it was packed. A nice little touch and easy to read/see what the packets are. Also the packets are black and non see through which I like as it protects the tea from the sun/light.
In raw form the leaves are: long, thinly rolled and curly. Dark brown colour in appearance. They hare a dry wood and sweet cocoa scent.
Method: Gongfu glass teapot – 200ml
Infusions: Three – 1m, 2m,3m.
First Steep – 1 minute
Tea is light golden brown with a red/orange hue and bares sweet wood and sour malt scent, albeit of a subtle and pure nature.
In flavour this starts with light and soft, sweet wood notes before increasing in strength and becoming sour with malt and cocoa, put together with a sweet fruit after taste of dried fig with honey. A combination that worked very well together and each sip was as good as the first.
Second Steep – 2 minutes
This steep remains mild and pure in flavour but there is a definite increase in the dried fig flavour. Also the difference between the sweet wood and sour malt has now combined as one. Some dryness in the after taste which put together with dried fig and honey has a rather nutty finish. No bitterness at all.
Third Steep – 3 minutes
Wonderful balance of flavours remain despite this being the third steep. It is less sweet and there is some astringency now but still mild on the scale. Thicker malt tones and less wood but the dried fig after taste remains.
Fourth Steep – 4 minutes (A surprise steep)
There is enough flavour left in my opinion for another steep, this doesn’t happen many times which is why this wasn’t planned.
The final steep is lighter than the first but was worth going that bit extra for. All that remains is a dry and delicate wooden flavour.
Mentioning I was a Doke fan from what I had previously tried I’m happy to say this lives up to my expectations. This has such beautiful flavours that were very clean tasting and pure, and it had a wonderful array of different notes that combined together very well. On the mild side for a black tea in strength to begin with which plays with the traditional Indian black tea vibe and makes this rather ‘different’ and ‘special’. I particularly liked the honey and fruit notes in the after taste.
Thank you very much Lochan Tea for this beautiful tea sample, I know I will be keeping an eye on this tea for when my cupboard runs low.
Until next time, Happy Steeping!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Assam 1860
We’ve been growing tea for more than 150 years. That’s right, 150 years of experience and expertise that goes into making a cup of tea with pedigree. And it tastes delicious.
Assam 1860 is a black tea that celebrates tea itself. It is made only from leaves plucked in the picturesque Thowra Estate, a chai bagan set up in 1860. We ensure that the phrase ‘garden fresh’ lives up to its every promise.
The leaves are plucked, processed and packed in the estate itself, ensuring quality and freshness that is unparalleled. So wherever you are, you might as well be drinking your cup of Assam 1860 on the verdant verandah of the Thowra Bungalow, overlooking graceful rolling greens on our lush terraces.
We can’t wait for you to try our new offering. The plucking of tea leaves has begun in earnest!
Learn more about this tea here.
I sometimes wonder how serious tea purveyors take their packaging choices. Tea drinkers are truly an aesthetic bunch of people….the ritual of tea practically begs you to be appreciative of ALL aspects of the tea that will be filling your cup next, including the packaging. What makes us reach for a certain box of unexplored tea is arbitrary….a certain animal on the logo, a color of font… it’s a science somewhere, I’m sure, but for me, it makes a huge difference in where my eye travels to.
I would have bought this tea.
Assam1860 has a very clean visual aesthetic, with it’s white and green on black modern approach to visual marketing, the tag line “Tea As It Should Be” and the catchphrase “Still Plucking”. It looks not like the older packaging from the well-established Assam tea plantations…it looks like something NEW. And we all love to try something new!
The tea bag is also modern looking, with whip-stitching around the edges and a good portion of CTC assam waiting inside. Again, aesthetically pleasing and already making my tea experience enjoyable!
In the cup, Assam1860 is dark amber and smells of malt with a touch of citrus. A 2.5 minute steep brings a lovely malt flavor that Assams are known for. This is not a powdery CTC but a true CTC that gives a well-rounded mouthfeel with a touch of astringency. This tea would be a wonderful “toss in your purse/pocket” to replace the usual suspect teas at your favorite restaurant. Bold, but not overwhelming, Assam1860 is a solid citizen in the Assam world. If you are a fan of hearty black teas, this tea is a good bet. Quite honestly as the packaging says, “Tea As It Should Be”.