Part of what Camellia’s Treaty is about, is exploring and experiencing teas from around the world. Although every tea lover knows that tea’s birth place is China, it has spread to many countries and people everywhere are sharing their take on this coveted infusion. It never ceases to amaze me how one plant can produce such different results depending on the environment it grows in and how the people tending it decide to process it. A countries favored tea, processing style and preparation style reflects the culture and it’s so exciting to learn what each has to offer. This is the first of many World Tours we will take to learn as much as we can. We will begin with exploring black tea- the favored tea of the “west”. Black tea often gets pushed aside and overlooked in the world of tea aficionados because it is stereotypically what is found in low quality tea bags and used to prepare commercial drinks that have a lot of added sugar or other ingredients to better the taste of its low quality. However when done right, black tea (known as red tea in other countries such as China and Japan) can be delicious and comforting. Today I’ll be giving a general overview of comparing 5 teas coming from South India, Colombia, Rwanda, Japan, and the USA (Hawaii).
South Indian Organic: Dry leaf- small/ broken twisted leaves, smelled citrusy and tart, wet leaf released more mineral notes with a bit of fruit. The flavor to be honest was that of a standard tea bag tea. Not the best but definitely not the worst, it has a more acceptable astringency because it wasn’t powdered like tea bag tea. It has the tartness and astringency that I can see would be used to make iced tea in the south with a few wheels of lemon added. The tartness of the tea lingered in the back of my throat for a while even after swallowing.
Colombian: The dry leaf smelled a lot sweeter and syrupier than the south Indian one, I could make out dried fruits and prunes. Appearance wise, the leaves were also twisted straight leaves but these much longer and seemingly more whole than the south Indian tea. The wet leaf revealed more malty, chocolaty aromas. Flavor wise it was on the malty side of black teas, with sweet baked goods and bitter chocolate present in each sip. Would go great with a sweet treat, this is the type of tea I can see people being inclined to add milk and sugar to in order to accentuatethe chocolatey and roasted notes.
Rwandan: Dry leaf smell was closest to the south Indian tea, citrusy and tart. The wet leaf smelled fruity yet a bit malty as well as well as some added earthiness that kind of surprised me. This by far was the strongest of all of the teas. It stood out rather boldly with a strong, assertive astringency and an untamed bitterness that may not be for everyone. This could partly be due to the fact that the leaves were very cut up, probably a bit more than the south Indian leaves. It has a tinge of mintiness, and an almost medicinal strength and herbaceousness. I’d describe it like a tea expresso.
Japanese: The dry leaf is shaped into a much looser twists but appear much fuller and less broken than the others. The smell is sweet but a little woodier than the rest (I did a full review of this and other Japanese black teas in my previous post Waukoucha World). This woodiness was also present in the smell of the wet leaf and in the flavor of the tea. Even though I didn’t notice it much in this particular tea when I tasted it compared with other Japanese black teas, I definitely picked it out more during this session. There was a slight presence of spices along with the woody, sweetness. I would judge this one the most balanced and delicate of all the teas in this session.
USA (Hawaii): This tea stood out in appearance, it reminded me of how white peony (Bai Mudan) tea is styled. Full, almost open leaves, with some broken pieces here and there. Dry leaf smelled like figs and sweet dry fruits- the wet leaf gave off a malty and fruity yet also spicy aroma that reminded me of tamarind candy. I was over all surprised at how much I liked this tea, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of North American tea since there isn’t much history or experience in the field here but it was very delightful. It had a bit of woodiness and tasted a bit like an herbed fruit punch, it was smooth with little astringency.
These are abbreviated descriptions, each tea deserves an in depth review but since today’s goal is to pick out main differences, I decided to keep it short. My overall conclusion are as follows: The Rwandan tea stood out the mostwith its loud, in your face character, if you want something to wake up you and keep you awake for a long time this would be your tea. Not necessarily because it’s caffeine content might be higher- but simply because having a session with such a bold tea will leave you stimulated and alert whether you want it to or you. I’d recommend the Japanese tea if you’re craving black tea but are looking to relax and destress after a long day. It’s everything you want in a malty black tea but a smooth balance and delicacythat is just the right amount of what you’re seeking. The Colombian tea is a social tea for sure, it calls for the warmth of friends and family and the accompaniment of a sweet treat. A midday to evening session is sure to leave you feeling full and happy. If you’re looking for anall-day type of teathat you can just keep sipping at while you work or get chores done, I can see the Hawaiian tea doing a good job. It’s sweet, smooth but also a little spicy giving you a little bit of everything to keep your day interesting and motivated. Lastly, if you want the comfort of the familiar-the South Indian tea would be a good choice. If you’re simply craving a cup of tea to have at your desk while you get a task done or during a break this will do the job. I actually can see this tea being a good fit for western style brewing and a good choice for making homemade tea drinks that include other spices and fruits it is a good base tea.
Looking forward to more world tours soon!
Camellia’s Treaty (art. 3)Try new things freely and without fear because the familiar is always there when you need it.