Review: KTeas Hawaii Makai Black Tea

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Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I actually had to re-examine the leaves I steeped to make sure I hadn't steeped a raw pu-erh by mistake."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.9/10
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This marks the fourth Hawaiian tea I've tried. (How many people get to say something like that?) Of those, this was only the second black tea. This one was produced by the "Johnny's Garden" tea estate run by John and Kathryn Cross. The estate rests at an elevation of 900ft. Indian cultivar "assamica" leaves were used in the blending.

Said leaves were unlike the Hawaii-Grown Black I had from Samovar. They were twistier, less tippy, more thinly-rolled; they had a lot in common with A Georgian-grown black tea I tried. And the aroma really differed. Instead of just a general presence of chocolate, the ones for this batch of Makai reeked of mocha and molasses. I could've easily left my nose in the bag all day; it was that much of a treat.

Brewing instructions on the bag recommended 3g of leaves (roughly 1 tsp.) steeped in 1 cup (8oz.-ish?) of 208F water and a steep of up-to-four minutes. I had no qualm with the time and temp but went with about a tablespoon of leaves and a 12oz. cup. It was what I had access to at the time of brewing. I also went for the full four-minute infusion. If this was anything like the Samovar Hawaiian, it needed it.

The liquor brewed a mid-to-dark amber with a dry, root-like aroma. Surprisingly, it didn't remind me of black tea at all. I likened it, rather, to a Western-style-brewed sheng pu-erh. (I should know, I've been drinking a LOT of those lately.) The flavor profile also supported this - in sharp contrast to the burly scent of the dry batch - with a gentle (if woody) forefront that transitioned to a creamy top note. As for aftertaste, it leveled off with a bit of a wine-like lean.

I actually had to re-examine the leaves I steeped to make sure I hadn't steeped a raw pu-erh by mistake. It was a much gentler black tea than I expected, and even more so than the other Hawaiian-grown I tried a year or so back. Given my prediliction toward lighter black teas, I'd say that's more than a pass.

— To purchase KTeas Hawaii Makai 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.

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