Review: Mellow Monk Crimson Grove

Black Tea, Japanese Tea, Mellow Monk Add comments
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!" It would be a mistake to describe the tea as spicy, but there is a bit of cinnamon to the taste as well...quite delicious, very unique and well worth sampling soon. "
Jamie’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 9.5/10, Vanessa gave it 9/10, Sophie gave it 8.7/10, Dan gave it 7.8/10, Katie gave it 8.1/10
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I don't think I've ever thought of Japanese tea and thought of a black tea. In fact, I am quite sure that when it comes to associations with Japanese teas, it's always green for me, and probably for just about everyone else, too. So it was with great interest that I read about this tea and realized that this is a black tea, from Japan. Something very new to me! I am generally very fond of Japanese green teas. I like that they are sweet overwhelmingly but have bitter aspects in the taste as well. I like the color of the tea liquor. I like just about everything about all the Japanese green teas that I have tried, but most of my experience of these teas comes from sampling senchas (my favorite) and occasional matcha (delicious!). In my college years I enjoyed kukicha (twig tea) and genmaicha (popcorn teas) occasionally with friends, as well. But in general, my education in green teas from Japan is quite limited. I was eager to try something new.

Mellow Monk writes the following about Crimson Grove: "Crimson Grove™ is black tea (kocha, or "crimson tea" in Japanese) made from the leaves of green tea varietals grown in the pristine foothills of Mt. Aso. Gently harvested leaves are lightly fermented, for a smooth, smokey taste uniquely combined with a mild sweetness not found in ordinary black teas."

The little black leaves require a two minute steep with boiling water using a teaspoon of leaf to 8 ounces of water. Overcoming the sense that I was doing something wrong boiling water for a Japanese tea took a minute or two. Subsequent infusions are recommended at between 30 seconds and one minute.

After two minutes, the tea has brewed to a dark orange the color of cooked pumpkin. Crimson Grove has a light to medium body but with a fairly full taste. The tea is sweet with a faint astringency at the close. The tastes of this tea are multilayered. Sweet is predominant but there is also a vaguely vegetal solidity to it that reminds me of the flavor that certain winter squashes have - especially hubbard squashes eaten before fully cured. The taste is neither all deep and sweet nor all vegetal. In this tea, vegetal notes are quite subtle and taste quite well wrapped with sweetness. I enjoy the clean taste left in the mouth. I must admit that I never noted any smokey flavor in this tea at all.

I try a second steep at 30 seconds and this is lighter in color and flavor but still with a full taste. There is a wholesome, reflection inspiring quality to this infusion. It's very sweet with less to no astringency. This cup tastes as though it had been sweetened to perfection in the sense that you drink it and get the sense of sweetness and fullness without being acutely aware that those flavors have been augmented in some outside way. The goodness is just part and parcel of the leaf. While the flavor is not at all grainy, the sweetness of this steeping is natural and substantial in a way that reminds me of a light, nourishing bowl of plain, soupy oatmeal. Super smooth and sweet, I think this is my favorite infusion.

As a side note, I also tried brewing this tea using a bit more leaf than strictly recommended. I used a heaped teaspoon and kept all other parameters the same. This treatment really impressed me. The color is a little darker and the first infusion still has the sweet and vaguely vaguely vegetal (as in winter squash-y) qualities with an interesting, notable spice flavor as well. It would be a mistake to describe the tea as like a spice flavored tea at all, but there is a bit of "sort of cinnamon" to the taste as well. Checking Mellow Monk's notes, they mention a nutmeg flavor. My tastes are at least in the right spice ballpark! It tastes vaguely cinnamon-y to me, but regardless of which spice it tastes precisely of, it's quite delicious, very unique and well worth sampling soon.

I very much enjoyed my first taste of kocha, Japan's Crimson Tea!!

— To purchase Mellow Monk Crimson Grove, 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.

Teaviews Member: Jamie Jamie
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