Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Tea Shelf: Halmari Clonal Assam Black, A Tea Review

As a painter of miniatures, I have finally gotten to the point where one wet palette is not enough. I was using stacking plastic cups, you know the kind that sauce comes in at restaurants, I have a big blending project in my actual wet palette, and these work on the short term, they still dry out pretty quickly. So I saw this tutorial for making stacking wet palettes out of bead sorters, sponges, and palette paper...so yeah...so many wet palettes are in the making, in three different sizes! Hooray for being an ex-jeweler!

Today's tea on this most fanciest of Tuesdays (ha! take that holiday, I know what day it is!) is The Tea Shelf's Halmari Clonal Assam Black. This beautiful fuzzy gold tea is from the Halmari Tea Estate in Assam, an old and fairly iconic tea estate, this tea is all about the tippy goodness, which is where all those glorious golden pieces come from. Plucked during the Monsoon Flush, picking the tea during this heavily rainy season gives it an intensity and richness, also making it a much desired flush. The aroma of this tea is intense indeed! With strong malty notes and a nutty sweetness, like peanut butter made from roasted peanuts and added dates, which sounds utterly delicious to me. There are also lesser notes of distant flowers and a hint of orange at the finish which gives the heavy tea a bit of brightness.

Into my beloved steeping apparatus the beautiful little leaves go, farewell glorious gold, I always miss their lovely fuzz which vanishes into the water as the leaves steep. The aroma of the now soggy and much larger leaves is a delicious smelling blend of malt, yams, dates, and roasted peanuts. It is a very intense aroma that has a rich heaviness to it. The amber liquid is a sweet blend of dates and yams with a rich malty finish.

I forget how much I enjoy a really high quality Assam, I have been called away from the richness that Assam gives by the more delicate Darjeelings, so I am glad to have a dance with this tea, for the sake of memories if nothing else. The taste starts out both rich and robust, with notes of malt and oak wood, a touch of molasses as it transitions to the sweeter midtaste. The middle is sweet dates and a bit of roasted peanuts, as the tea finishes off it has a brisk note of citrus that lingers alongside with the malt at the finish. This is a great morning tea, or afternoon tea when you need a boost, it mixes richness with briskness, all good qualities in a morning tea!

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