I got this unnamed black tea from Mandragora Turku tea, coffee and chocolate shop in Turku, Finland. This is a new tea and brand to both the shop and to me. More information about the shop in Turku can also be found on facebook.
This unnamed black tea is from the island of Ceylon (modern day Sri Lanka). Further information about the location is not given except that this tea is high grown. Also there are no instructions for preparing it on the pouch. Just a description that it is picked by hand. And apparently only the bud and two freshest leaves are used for this high quality tea. So you have to be a little experimental while preparing the tea.
The full description from the pouch says that this is “High quality Ceylon tea. High grown and hand picked. Ceylon tea is made by gathering only the buds and two freshest leaves. This way we ensure a pleasant and good taste.” This is a (almost) direct translation from the finnish text which in turn is most likely a direct translation from the original english text.
This tea has a wiry shape, a truly pleasant odor and full and complex taste. Preparing it is quite easy but it does get astrigent easily. For a morning tea or to enjoy with a good book this is a great tea. You should definitely try it out.
Pouch and instructions
OraTea pouches are made of double layered paper. Outer layer is made of brown paper and inner layer of white butter paper. As a side note my tea lost its odor and most of its flavor in two months after I opened it.
As instructions go these are non existing. Literally there are no instructions. But hey! Everybody knows how to prepare a black tea, right?
And the pouch gives it’s own papery note to the tea. Still you can smell that the tea is slightly sweet and malty. Which is always a good and promising combination in Sri Lankan teas.
Leaves are small, wiry and about a centimeter long. Their color is dark brown and black. The color is mostly uniform. After steeping they change color to brown and grow to look like a little brown twigs.
My first infusion was about two tea spoons of leaves in 80 degree water for two minutes. The odor is soft, slightly sweet and has multiple facets that are common to the Sri Lankan teas. The slightly sweet maltiness is also typical to most Sri Lankan teas.
I used my little flower tea mug for this review. It has an open basket sieve that can be easily lifted from the mug. And it is cute! A robust tea pot/cup is a natural choice for Sri Lankan teas but you could also experiment with a lighter pot/cup like a porcelain gaiwan.
The color of the infusion is warm reddish brown and clear.
In two minutes the first infusion is ready to be sipped. The odor is pleasantly malty and sweet. Also the taste is very pleasant. It is light but has that little fullness common to high grade teas. There is also a slightly astrigent aftertaste much later. After two steepings the aroma starts to diminish and you need to lengthen the steeping time. I doubled the time for third and fourth steepings but they remained a little flat to my taste.
Next I tried hotter water (90 degrees) with the same steeping time and amount of leaves. The color is much darker brown and so is the taste. Sweetness is almost non existent in this steeping. Although the astrigency is much more potent the aroma stays full bodied and gives a fast and pleasant aftertaste. Sipping this temperature by slurping is advised since it also oxidizes the liquid thus enriching the aroma.
I also tried freshly boiled water but the tea get easily too astrigent ruining the balance of the tea. Even then the tea is full bodied but harder to enjoy. And impossible for me. With a large amount of sugar and milk it could be made palatable but who would do that to a fine tea?
This is a multifaceted tea with a full body. You can try different temperatures, times and amounts of leaves to find the compination best suited for you. Tea is rich with upper notes of aroma but not overly sweet and neither is it defined. This is definitely a high grade tea.
Trying different steeping parameters can be really rewarding but this tea is great for just a good morning brew. Even the aftertaste is pleasant and this is one of the rare teas from which I have experienced a bodily feel. Even after drinking this tea you get a pleasant taste and feel in your mouth and a bit later you get a warm feeling in your belly too! For me this is the second time I have experienced anything like this from tea.
Don’t let it age in the pouch!
Try different temperatures, times and amounts of leaves. Start low and fast and keep trying!
Pouch and instructions: 2/5 ok pouch but no instructions.
Tea – fresh: 5/5 sweet and malty, great shape.
Tea – infusion – color n feel: 4/5 warm and clear bronze infusion with a full feel.
Tea – infusion – taste n progression: 4/5 very similar to the odor, easy to play with, two great steeps.
Bonus: Has a warming aftertaste!
Overall: 3,5 / 5