Sunday, January 14, 2018

Tealyra: Assam "Black Beauty" #8, A Tea Review

Name: Assam "Black Beauty" #8

Company: Tealyra

Type of Tea: Taiwanese Black tea/ Hongcha

Description of Dry Leaf: Long wiry leaves, dark in color. Once steeped they take on other tones like dark reds and a bit of green here and there.

Aroma of Leaf: Oh man is that ever sweet and potent! Full of beloved notes of sassafras and teaberry with undertones of chocolate, hazelnuts, apricots, and guava. It has a bit of a resinous quality too, reminiscent of amber, as finisher, which I am rather fond of. Once it is steeped things get unusual, it picks up floral notes of plumeria and orchid along with the woody sassafras and cocoa and the much more delicate now guava.

Aroma of Tea: Sassafras and cocoa, malt and plumeria, with a finish of dried apricots and a bit of a muscatel raisin note. Very sweet smelling with a woodsy undertone.

Preparation Style: Gongfu'd it up using my Taiwanese black tea only yixing teapot, used 195 degree water and 30-30-60-60-90s and so forth timing.

Taste:  It is well known my obsession with Taiwanese black teas, especially the ones with that strong sassafras note (I am addicted to Ruby #18 after all) and this one does not disappoint. It is very similar Ruby 18, its main difference is its smoothness and sweetness. Usually Ruby #18 has a bit of an astringency to it (one of the reasons I am less cavalier with my brewing and actually pay really close attention when I am steeping it gongfu style) where this one you can do pretty much anything to and it never gets an astringent edge. It is also immensely sweet and fruity, with strong notes of apricot shortbread and golden raisins with just a hint of papaya and guava. It lasts for several steeps and also steeps really well bowl style, which I always appreciate when I am doing something away from the tea desk. I really like how mellow it is in profile while still having a distinct character.

Oddball Notes: This tea is cultivar TTES #8, an assamica transplant from Jaipur that, like my beloved #18 has a lot of names. Black Beauty, Ruby 8 (that isn't at all confusing) Yu Chi, Taiwanese Assam...And like the #18, this tea is grown around Sun Moon Lake and has a very similar taste profile. Hilariously Tealyra's #18 doesn't really taste like the classic Ruby #18 I love, where this one really does. I ended up getting all of Tealyra's Taiwanese black teas and this one was definitely my favorite.

How I Acquired The Tea: I bought it for myself for my birthday

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