Review: Samovar Hawaii-Grown Black tea

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Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"It was in the second steep where further Yunnan Gold similarities emerged. However, through it all, it was still entirely its own cup."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9.4/10
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America is known for many things, but true tea appreciation isn't one of them. Our last famous run-in with tea happened in the 1700s...when we tossed it over a perfectly good "harbour". Tea cultivation is next to unheard of. In the US, there are only two known tea growers, and of those, only one working plantation. Part of the reason for the lack of exploration is supply and demand. Tea plants are expensive to cultivate. The manpower needed would far exceed the return on investment, given the minimum wage in the U.S. Well, a few private growers in Hawaii didn't let that stop them.

A collective of Hawaiian farmers formed to promote tea growth on the islands, convinced that it possessed the ideal climate to do so. Hawaii's high altitude environs provided ideal conditions; wet, free of pests, and canopied by trees. Since 2001, the tea plant has been reintroduced to the tropics, cultivated and processed. Such wares were unavailable outside of Hawaii until Samovar struck a deal, even going so far as to say Hawaiian teas were "exclusive" to their company. A little digging turned up other results, but whatever. I was fortunate to acquire some of the black tea in a Steepster tea swap.

The leaves - according to the tea profile - were of a new varietal called Cambodian sinensis, a cross between small-leafed Chinese cultivars and Indian assamica. Method for drying and rolling were Taiwanese in origin according to a Samovar vid. The leaves certainly looked different. On color alone, it was a treat - charcoal blacks, woody golds, and even fuzzy greens. Their scent was lightly Lapsang smoky and mocha-creamy. I had no idea what I was in for.

Brewing instructions were lacking on the Samovar site. Any notes I had regarding this came from online friends; the consensus being that this was a hearty black tea that could take multiple steepings. The first time around, however, I went with a weak-willed three-minute steep in 8oz of boiling water; 1 heaping teaspoon worth.

The liquor colored brilliantly to an amber-brown infusion with a nose that struck me with a comparison to Yunnan Gold. Taste-wise, it had the body and maltiness of an Assam but went down much smoother. There was almost zero bitterness and only mild astringency. Along with a creamy aura all around, there was also a chocolate note and a floral hint. The aftertaste was Keemun sweet.

A second steeping at four minutes turned up even better results. The heartiness doubled but didn't break under the boil. It was in the second steep where further Yunnan Gold similarities emerged. However, through it all, it was still entirely its own cup. I've had splendid blacks before - even some more so than this one - but this was by far one of the best, most delightfully unique cups ever.

— To purchase Samovar Hawaii-Grown Black tea, 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: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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2 Responses to “Review: Samovar Hawaii-Grown Black tea”

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