Tea Tasting Reviews
Welcome to Dani Lieuthier's #tea tasting notes. As Dani travels the globe in search of the best teas known to humanity, she'll be reporting back her finds to Secret Sommelier. When all is done, Dani will be returning to Brasil to open her own tea and pastry shop. Stay tuned!
- Published: 27 January 2019 27 January 2019
Assam tea is a black tea is named after the region where it is grown, Assam, in India. Assam tea is produced only from the tea-plant Camellia sinensis var. assamica. Assam tea is mostly grown at or near sea level on either side of the Brahmaputra river and is known for its body, structure, malty flavours, and rich, vibrant colour.
Sponsor: Niemierko Wedding Planners
Accounting for 55% of India’s total annual tea production, Assam, ’the land of the one-horned rhino’ is rich and fertile with soils delivered by the flowing Brahmaputra river, that sweeps down from the Himalayas. Climate and Climate Change is Assam, North East India
Assam is only 120 miles from Darjeeling but the two regions produce vastly different flavours and styles of tea. Assam rainfall levels are extremely high during the monsoon season reaching 2-3metres per year with extremes reaching 10metres in a single season. It is this tropical climate that gives Assam is trademark malty characteristic.
The temperatures during the rainy season can get up to 36ºC causing vigorous growth until the Autumn. In years where climatic extremes do not impede the harvest, the collected volume of tea from across tea estates reaches 680,500,000.
Tea producers in Assam, as well as the rest of northeast India, are facing increased costs in production due to the impacts of climate change, however, sales prices are controlled by the tea market, meaning the estates have to absorb these increases. Scientists and tea growers state that temperatures are going in Assam, drought periods are getting longer and the rainfall patterns are changing.
Assam Tea - Let's taste it!
Ok, so let’s keep on tasting the basics! On the last post, we tasted a Chinese oolong, Tie Guan Yin. Now, it’s India time.
When we talk about Indian teas, the names of three regions come into our minds: Darjeeling (my fav ever), Assam and – let’s not forget about – Nilgiri Hills. Today, we’re tasting a black tea from Assam. So traditional, so delicious. More of Indian tea coming on in later posts.
On the top, from the first to the fourth brew. On the bottom, dry leaves, wet leaves after one brews and wet leaves after four brews.
If I tell you “What does black tea taste like?” I’m pretty sure it’s something like an Assam black tea. Let’s get to it!
So, for this tasting, I’m using an Assam from this Spring. It’s an Assam Orthodox, grade SFTGFOP1, which means “Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe”
Steeping time: 2 minutes. Steeping temperature: 90C.
BEFORE: Assam Black tea, dry leaves
AFTER: Assam Black tea, wet leaves - after first brew.
Looking: Chocolate brown, with a few green tones.
Smelling: It’s like earth with a hint of mandarine. Strong but slightly fresh in the end. Maybe like a big field with no grass, just soil, and a few mandarine trees in the middle of it. I can smell it by far. You see, by burning out my previous brew, the aroma was completely different!
Looking: The colour could be described as a light and brownish orange. Very bright.
Smelling: The aroma is a little bit less earthy than the previous brew. Now I can smell something sour in the leaves. It makes my eyes tickle.
Tasting: Bitter-sweet, and still a little sour. A very round tea. Thank God and Buddha I’ve given it a second chance. Now it tastes like heaven. It’s a little bit adstringent. Aftertaste is sweet, but just a little bit. I taste caramelized orange zest. I taste a hint of chocolate. It feels like eating a honkongnese sponge cake with brown sugar. Soft and wonderful. So let’s get to our…
Steeping time: 3 minutes. Steeping temperature: 90C.
Smelling: I smell pecan nuts! I smell roasted almonds. I smell a chocolate cake being baked in the kitchen. Oh, Gosh! I wanna drink this tea right now!
Looking: Again, a brownish orange. Bright. And the colour is somehow more vivid.
Smelling: The aroma is very nutty. It relaxes me so much, like entering a hot shower.
Tasting: It is so nutty I can even taste some greasiness even though there is none. The flavor is very still and relaxing. Round. A bit sweet, slightly sour, a light bitterness stays in my tongue. It’s adstringent. My tongue is tickling. I’m loving it!
Steeping time: 3 minutes. Steeping temperature: 90C.
Smelling: They don’t have much smell anymore. But there is still some earth aroma.
Looking: Now it’s a pale yellow, a bit brownish.
Smelling: Now, I smell a sweet strawberry coulis. You see my references are based in pastry and bakery. I can’t help it. I’m a pastry chef afterall!
Tasting: It’s sweet and sour. Like a strawberry and chocolate bombom (Brazilian recipe which is made by fresh strawberries, a cream made of sweet condensed milk and chocolate covering). Very sweet in the beginning, then sour, then, in the aftertaste it sweet again, and very adstringent. I’m getting hungry now.
Steeping time: 4 minutes. Steeping temperature: 90C.
Assam Black tea. Wet leaves after four brews.
Smelling: Doesn’t smell much!
Looking: It’s a pale yellow.
Smelling: Not much smell.
Tasting: Not much taste. So you should stop by the third brew!
Here are some ideas of recipes you can pair this gorgeous tea with: mushroom risotto, potato gratin, crème brulée, cookies with some nuts, chocolate mousse. Bon appétit! I’m getting hungry.
Mrs Bee also likes black tea!
Time to say goodbye, see you in the next post, within two weeks! Best wishes with tea!
by Dani Lieuthier
- Published: 20 November 2018 20 November 2018
Jasmine Pearls Supreme - Green loose tea from Fujian, China
This light but beautifully perfumed tea is ideal to drink after lunch as a pick-up or for a mid-afternoon.
Preparation: 5g or 2tsp per 250ml; temperature of water - 80 C; brewing - 4 mins
- Published: 28 March 2014 28 March 2014
This famous Oolong is one of the most popular teas in China. It is cultivated and manufactured in the Fujian Province. It is known for its calming effect. The loose leaves are rolled unequally. We can distinguish plenty of buds in this tea, as the lighter green leaves. This oolong is approximately 50% oxidized.
Tie Guan Yin - Dry Leaves
The aroma is strong and pungent. It can be infused up to three or four times, till there is no more taste. It should be infused at a temperature of 80-85oC, for 3-4 minutes.
Tie Guan Yin - Wet Leaves
In the first infusion, the high quality of this tea is confirmed: the liquid is very clear. Its color is light yellow. The smell takes place in the whole room: sweet peach. The taste reminds a garden of orchids. Sweet and round. Its light and mild aroma brings refreshment in the first sip, which remains till the aftertaste.
Tie Guan Yin - Infusion
In the second infusion, the taste gets slightly lighter. Drinking it brings me the feeling of walking around a flower field.
In the third infusion, the taste is not as sweet as the first and second infusions. As it gets less sweet, it gets more refreshing. There is some astringency in the aftertaste, tingling the tip of the tongue.
Delicious and highly recommended!
by Dani Lieuthier
An aperitif by the coliseum
As COVID-19 conspires with the grimmest of winds and rain to force a societal retreat behind our own front doors, the word ennui springs to mind. The muddle of displeasure is pierced when Natalia hands me a large bulbous glass of a liquid I do not recognise.
Artichoke pasta and very fine Pigato
Britain’s lamentable exit
On the eve of Britain’s official departure from the EU, my partner and I decided to explore a small town on the Italian Riviera where thewintry cold doesn’t feel so much like cold war bite.
I had warned my significant other that I would be having an inverse departure party, a release of the sanity valve if you like!
Soave: volcanic wines with elegance and longevity
Sitting inside the ancient castle walls inside the town of Soave, a short drive from Verona in northern Italy, the unique slightly almond aroma of the indigenous grape, Garganega, rises gently from my glass. The castle sprawls up the side of an extinct volcano that gives the region its variant soil structures that mark out the better quality of Soave wines.
An American In Paris; Tanisha Townsend (@GirlMeetsGlass) discusses podcasts, Paris wine bars, & what she's drinking at the moment
Tanisha Townsend decided to move to Paris 4 years ago after regularly passing through the city en route to the world’s most famous vineyards. In fact, it was about 2 years ago at the Printemps de Champagne Bouzy Rouge tasting in Reims that I saw (who we shall now refer to as) GirlMeetsGlass chirpily speaking to her web followers on Snapchat.
Wine tasting in Galicia: The pilgrims search for Albarino
The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James, rises out of the landscape, infested with antiquity. The rambling steep streets give way to shafts of dramatic light, emblazoned chapels, and tightly packed tapas bars, dusty, as old novels pressed together in antiquarian bookshops.
Interview: (Re)Defining the Entre-Deux-Mers, climate change & tasting with Stephane Dupuch
Driving into the Entre-Deux-Mers region from the north, the vineyards roll out like a bright green deep-pile carpet across the undulating land. It’s hard not to be excited about tasting wines with so much heritage, as we head to Chateau-Sainte-Marie to meet with 5th generation owner, Stéphane Dupuch.