Assam Tippy Reserve from Herbs & Kettles
Hello friends! I'm back with another post. This time, I'll be doing a series of posts diving into some very special teas sent to me from Herbs & Kettles, a purveyor of high-quality Indian teas. Having never tried teas from India before, Poorvi very kindly offered to send me a few teas from their lineup to taste (with no promise for review), alongside a sample of a very unique tea, a tea that deserves a post of its own- Naga Khalap. I'll cover that one in a separate review, but for now, let's get into the first of these teas, the beautiful Assam tippy reserve.
Assam Tippy Reserve comes from Sivasagar in Assam and is grown at an altitude of 300ft. It's one of their several whole-leaf black teas and the box features their Chaiwala Rhino and a fact about rhinos. The fact listed on the box states that the bulk of one-horned rhinos live in Kaziranga, Assam- quite a cool thing to have fun facts on the tea packaging.
For this tea, I went with 5g of leaf in a 100ml gaiwan, 100°C/212°F water, and no rinse.
Dry leaf: These leaves are absolutely gorgeous- beautiful, hairy golden buds with a nice depth to their aroma. It smells like a mix of cocoa, honey, and clover, with a hint of hay and orchids. It's quite nice.
Warmed gaiwan: I'm getting a heavy malty aroma coupled with chocolate. There's a slight muscat aroma with a layer of subtle smokiness. It's quite pleasant to smell.
1st steep 10s: The fairness pitcher smells like dried fruits and honey. The leaves in the gaiwan smell like muscatel (slightly smokey and slightly sour with a bit of hay) and fresh mango. For the taste, it's got a very pleasant malty flavor followed by raisins. It's very fruity and has a strong honey sweetness with a nice cocoay note.
2nd steep 15s: The taste is slightly woodier and more raisiny- it's similar to a nice, dark brandy; it's got a very heavy flavor of dried peaches in the back of mouth/throat. There is some astringency present on the tongue and a feelint of dryness on the roof of my mouth. The best way to describe how it tastes is that it feels like I'm eating a peach and raisin honey pie. It's quite nice- definitely a potent black tea, but still very sweet and not as astringent as others I've had before.
3rd steep 20s: It's a bit smokier but that flavor is immediately followed by one of raisins and peaches; it's got a nice floral note that is slightly perfume-y. It's now very drying on the tongue (to be expected with punchier black teas- and it's an enjoyable astringency) with a heavy cherry aftertaste, though it's really quite a punchy black tea and one I could see going well for a morning tea.
4th steep 30s: It's now a darker red color; more malty now- it's fruity with a slightly punchier bitterness, but still quite subdued. I'd say if anything, it's a very mild astringency with a very subtle bitterness.
5th steep 45s: Very dark reddish-orange tea now. It's definitely more drying now with a slightly stronger bitterness but a nice malty note. There is a heavy aftertaste of dried fruits.
6th steep 1min: It's starting to die- its still flavorful but the main note here would be malt and hay. It's still delicious, but it's definitely time for a kill-steep.
7th steep 3mins: It's practically dead now, but it's still got a nice maltiness to it and a lovely color. This is honestly one of the best black teas I've ever had.
This is a phenomenal tea. It's got a nice, strong flavor with a fruity punch. It lasted longer than I expect black teas to- so it did really well. At the price of about $0.43/g ($13 for 30g), it performs quite well and packs a great punch. It's a strong, malty black tea that would be great as a breakfast or afternoon tea. It's my first experience with an Assam black tea and I'm quite impressed- it's got everything I want in a black tea: maltiness, stone fruits, and a nice energy. I definitely recommend giving this a try!