Today we are going to do something a little fun, a little bit of tea science! Instead of doing my usual ‘ok this is a Western tea, so I will have it Western Style, or it is from China so I will go for Gongfu style brewing’ I am going to take a tea and brew it all the ways!! This idea formed when talking to the proprietor of Young Mountain Tea, who suggested I try the tea two ways, Western style and making a Sun Tea, and my brain gears got to turning and voila, this idea was formed!
Presenting Indi’s Gold, a whole leaf, high altitude, black tea from Nilgiri, grown by Indi Khanna a veteran tea grower. According to the description it is the strongest and most unique tea offered, so this sounds like my kind of tea! First off, the basics, how do the dry leaves smell? In a word(s) super rich! It blends roasted peanuts, yams, tobacco, cocoa, and slightly sweet cherries with a powerhouse punch of malt. This will be an excellent experiment me thinks, since it blends notes you would expect from something like a Dian Hong and an Assam.
First off I wanted to start with my gaiwan, brewing it up in there the aroma of the now very thoroughly soaked and steeped leaves is sharp and rich, with notes of cherry, cocoa, yams, and a touch of tobacco at the finish. The liquid has a blend of honey, sweet chocolate, and a surprisingly pleasant floral note, similar to a very distant gardenia.
The first steep is mild and intense all at once, with strong notes of yams, tobacco, cocoa, and cherry. It has a slightly tannic, drying quality, giving the tea a bite at the tip of the tongue, but it mellows out by the time it reaches the back of the throat. It is brisk and rich, and the flavor notes remind me a little of a Yancha, which is pretty fun. The second steep is much lighter, no briskness or tannic notes at all, just smooth cocoa, yams, and a finish of malty and cherry.
And now some leaves travel to my steeping apparatus for a western style brewing session! This time the aroma is super rich and malty, with a hint of cherry at the finish. The taste, wow, that is one killer smooth tea, no bitterness or tannic bite at all, just smooth rich malt with an addition of dried cherry, yams, and a finish of roasted peanuts and chocolate. Once it gets really cool, like bottom of the cup I have been sipping this for about an hour cool, it gets a bit of a metallic taste at the end, not that it bothered me at all, but still worth noting.
My next experiment took a bit more prep time than the others, good old cold steeping! I took my travel infuser and stuffed it with leaves and water and tossed it in the fridge for an overnight cold steeping. The taste was pretty mild, with notes of malt and roasted peanuts with a finish of chocolate. There was a bit of a metallic tinge to it, and it was super mild, so I was not a huge fan, but to be honest I am just not a big fan of chilled black teas anymore, I think I OD’d when I was in the South.
Lastly is the Sun Tea, I have not made Sun Tea in ages, I had to rummage around for a suitable jar and after giving it a massive scrubbing (I used to use it to store a different tea, back when I stored my tea in jars) tossed in some leaves and water and left it in the sunlight for a couple hours. I preferred this because it wasn’t super cold, just a little warmer than room temperature (my tolerance for cold things is really low) so I enjoyed drinking it a lot more than the cold steep. The taste, well, I am glad I was advised to give it a try, because it is super yummy! Rich notes of malt and roasted peanuts with a finish of honey, yam, and a lingering cherry note. There is a tiny, tiny hint of metallic, but it leans more towards mineral. I think my favorite methods were Sun Tea and Western Style, both seemed to really let this excellent tea shine, and I can see this one becoming a favorite!