Sunday, December 14, 2014

What-Cha, Assam 2nd Flush 2014 Green Tea

What-Cha Description:
A brilliant green tea with a wonderful mango aroma, fruity taste and citrus finish. Perfect as an 'everyday' green tea.

Assam Tea is world famous for the strong malty character of its black teas, however the green and white tea produced in Assam is virtually unheard of. The reason for this is the distinct lack of investment into tea in the Assam region which has meant tea producers have lacked the knowledge and tools required to produce good quality loose leaf tea in particular non-black teas. Recently founded Heritage Tea, have sought to redress these problems by providing by setting up a modern factory for tea processing combined with the knowledge and expertise of Rajen Baruah, who has been a professional tea planter for the past 30 years. The end result is great quality loose leaf tea, the likes of which have not been found in Assam previously.

Assam 2nd Flush Green Tea is a really unique green tea as it has been produced from Camellia sinensis var. assamica, the tea varietal which is native to Assam and is known for its larger sized leaves as can be seen by the brewed leaves above. The tea very much delivers on all fronts with an unbelievable aroma combined with fruit hints and a lemon citrus finish.

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
Assam. The mention of it makes me shudder from my early years of poor quality bagged breakfast teas. I know better quality tea, especially loose leaf, is nothing like my memory, but I can't quite relax just yet.

This one is a green tea. Did you catch that? A GREEN Assam. Seriously? Is that even possible? Most Assam tea is destined for the big tea machine that grinds it in to dust and bags it for sale in grocery stores across the globe. It is usually black tea and almost entirely CTC. This one is different.

This one excites me the moment I open the sample bag. Oh, and I realized why I love the labels on What-Cha's resealable aluminum bags - the print is large and simply laid out enough so that I can see it without my glasses. Thank you! I can't tell you the number of samples I hold under a light trying to decipher the label. So back to this one, the leaf scent in the bag is malt and oat cereal. I love the dry scent.

Removing a scoop for picture time only increases my interest. This isn't dust! It isn't even small broken pieces. This is real tea leaf. The color is dark olive green with some lighter highlights. Some of it is lightly twisted and some of it appears simply dried. It's beautiful. Assam Green, I love you already.

The press was used with 175 F filtered water for a 2 1/2 minute steep. The leaf stayed pretty much on the bottom. I thought I could faintly hear it singing, "I won't dance, don't ask me."

After pouring, the white grape juice colored brew (it turns more golden upon cooling), the wet leaf had a vegetal aroma along with a freshness that reminded me of what I imagine the ocean air smells like. Later I decided I was catching citrus notes. Very clean and satisfying.

The wet leaf has become much lighter green in color reminding me of snap peas. I still can't get over whole leaves from an Assam. What will they think of next?

After letting the tea cool, I finally get to taste. I have used this description before and I fear it fails miserably to describe my experience. When I was a kid, we camped. At one park the gang of kids would ride our bikes and stop at this one water fountain. The water from it had magic properties. The water tasted like it was drawn straight from a mountain stream where the waters poured over the rocks. I am not saying this tastes like water. I am saying it takes me back to that refreshing moment when I was 12. Tea that evokes strong memories is the best I think.

Moving back to present time, there is a neat light astringency and a mild bitterness that really add to the sip. I am also catching notes of citrus. It is kind lemony but only slightly so. Beyond this, the aftertaste is really long lingering with a grassy taste.

Cup two, using the same leaf and temperature, was steeped for 3 minutes.  It appears more yellow than before. I don't notice much aroma from the cup itself. The flavor is more prominent than with the first mug. If I had time I feel certain my spoon of leaf would make a third western mug. The taste is much more vegetal along with a touch of cave or sort of mushroom. The aftertaste is again lingering and grassy.

I'm very impressed by this tea. Unlike my early bagged black tea experience, this loose green tea delivers a wonderful amount of flavor without hurting my stomach. There is no need to flinch with this one. This would make a great everyday green, and it is an Assam. Brilliant!

You can find Assam 2nd Flush 2014 Green Tea here.


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