|"What a curious taste! This tea brews up with a strong earthiness, and the taste of the tea is at once sweet, and somewhat salty in a seaweedy sense, with a distinct smokiness to it."|
From appearance alone, I wouldn't have guessed this to be a black tea variety, particularly as my knowledge of black teas is virtually non existent. The leaves were large and open, green and brown predominantly, with an earthy smell that was strongly reminiscent of a green tea, to my nose. I knew from my first smell of the leaf, even dried, that it would be a cup with distinct flavor. This tea is grown at relatively high altitude, despite being of "Valley" origin. The Valley in question is located, Denver style, at an altitude of about a mile up. According to TeaGchwendner's website, the particular plantation producing this tea was planted by the British over a century ago.
My own impressions of the tea were that it was very "green" in nature. What a curious taste! This tea brews up with a strong earthiness, and the taste of the tea is at once sweet, and somewhat salty in a seaweedy sense, with a distinct smokiness to it. The flavor is very strong, slightly bitter, vaguely astringent, but with a nice clarity that makes the bite compelling. I limited my steeping time of this tea based on the smell alone. I had four very strong infusions from a single serving of this tea, each well flavored.
TeaGschwendner's website likens this tea to a darjeeling, which is outside my scope of reference, not being well versed in black teas. Based on my tasting of this tea, I would like to try some Darjeelings and learn more about them. Perhaps someone familiar with Darjeelings but not with green teas will find this brew opens up a previously unexplored interest in green tea. The earthy and somehow vegetal and salty overtones of this interesting, stand alone first flush were really reminiscent of a unique green to me.
I enjoyed this tea, but would note that its flavors are intense and bold. My only critique is that the tea tips a little too far in the bitter direction to me. I found the blend compelling enough to continue trying through four infusions, though, so I'll let the reader be the judge of my overall opinion.
— To purchase TeaGschwendner North India Manjhee Valley First Flush, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.
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