We discovered this delicious tea when it was suggested to us by one of our trusted sources for Indian tea. We tasted it among a flight of 2018 1st Flush Assam black teas that we were tasting this summer. If you were a fan of the several bright and flavorful contemporary-style Assam black teas that we had last year, then you will enjoy this tea. We think it to be one of the finest examples of a modern-style, hearty but brisk Assam black tea that we have tasted in years!
It is from a small lot of TGFOP1 grade, medium-large length, wiry leaf that we selected from the offerings of the garden this spring. Luckily, we have been able to find a bit more production of this modern style of leaf from Assam recently. The leaf is a fine pluck, but is slightly larger than the leaf for which this term is customarily used. It is perfectly twisted and has an elegant visual appeal. We love the dusty dark-grey coloration of some of our new Assam black tea discoveries, and even though they do not color as darkly in the cup as some other, arguably more traditional Assam black teas that have more thearubigens in their chemistry, these contemporary Assam black teas are deliciously deeply-flavored and offer an array of amber colorations in the cup.
We find this Assam tea to be extremely well-made and the careful handling during manufacture shows in the evenness of the dry leaf and also contributes to its layered and elegant flavor. We think of this as an excellent choice for both those who will drink it ‘neat’ or with the addition of dairy. This Assam black tea from the Suola Tea Estate has a full body, and is balanced by an incredibly wonderful complex and bright, malty flavor. We picked up various slight notes of dark chocolate, dark-roasted coffee, and other hearty elements. When drunk neat these flavors predominate; however, when milk is added they smooth out and meld into a delicious new entity.
Our 2018 1st Flush selection from the Suola Tea Estate in Assam has an appropriate sense of ‘pull’ (the astringency that makes the inside of your mouth feel clean) that is in balance with its deep, full body. The impression one gets from drinking it is more one of a smooth richness and solid, full-bodied heft; layered with the brisk snappiness that is contributed by the malty core flavor of the Assam tea leaf.
There is also a slight cocoa or soft, medium-dark chocolate aroma that reminds us of the large-leafed eastern China black teas that we love.
Overall this is a beautiful and delicious tea for both tea drinkers who drink Assam tea regularly, and also those who only drink complex, malty teas occasionally. As with its eastern China counterparts, the dry leaf is bulky, so the sack of tea is ‘larger’ than the normal size for a chopped leaf Assam, so it is important that the proper measure by weight is used. Please note our steeping suggestions in the accordions group and measure accordingly.
The Suola Tea Estate gardens are located just inside the north-central boundary of Assam, near the Bornadi (and a half dozen other) Wildlife Sanctuaries, below the southeast corner of Bhutan close to the point at which Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh meet the northern border of Assam. With the Himalaya towering ‘above’ the region and being on the north side of the Brahmaputra River that drains the significant watershed of the region, this is wonderful tea-growing territory and also an exotic plant and animal lover’s paradise.