Tea Company: TeaFrog (website)
Ingredients: Black Tea
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Boiling Water, 3-5 minute steep
The Rani Tea Estate was once a picturesque garden known for distributing orthodox Assam teas to many parts of Europe. The estate adhered to biodynamic farming practices, meaning an emphasis on the symbiotic relationship between soil, plant, and animal. I have often sneered at the biodynamic label as nothing more than quasi-religious, Gaia Theory-borne mumbo-jumbo – a tacked-on label for upping the price of tea. Yet all teas I’ve tasted from biodynamic gardens were of high quality. This was my first Assam from Rani…and unfortunately, it was my last.
How TeaFrog was able to get a hold of this wonderful smelling Assam is a mystery. On first impression, the leaves looked like normal, small-cut black tea pieces with some golden tips strewn about. The smell, though…where to begin?! There seems to be an underlying similarity between some Assams of a higher quality. The aroma reminds me of tiramisu, dark chocolate, and blueberry syrup. I know, it’s an odd combination. I guess that’s what one gets from a SUPER Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. I just wish I knew what seasonal flush the tea was, but there was no mention of it on the TeaFrog profile.
Brewing instructions on the sample bag called for 1 tsp. of leaves per cup, a water temperature of 100C (212F), and an infusion time of three-to-four minutes. I generally steeped on the light side, which meant I was going for my usual three-minute wait. I measured out 1 tsp. and prepped 8oz-worth of water.
Even on the lighter side of steeping times, the liquor brewed to somewhere between amber and crimson – a lovely yet clear red-gold. The aroma was smoky-sweet with a floral after-scent more in line with a high-altitude Ceylon than an Assam. As for the flavor, to say that I was in awe would be the greatest of all understatements. Most Assams have an underlying profile of “MALT!”. That initial impression has become as much an Assam staple as muscatel notes have for Darjeelings. While some of that was indeed present, it took a far backseat to a fruit/floral lean I sensed in the dry leaves. A bit of dryness did perk up in the aftertaste, but it was mild. What a delightful morning cup.
This was as close to perfect as I’ve seen an Assam come. I find it a bit tragic, however, that there is only a finite supply. In March of 2010, the Rani Tea Estate was burnt to ashes by an angry mob. I won’t go into detail regarding what sparked the altercation, or my thoughts on who was in the right. Point is, a tea legacy has all but vanished. There are efforts to rebuild the infrastructure of the original garden, but a grand reopening is a distant possibility. Quite a loss, considering how perfect a cup the estate created.
You can purchase the Assam Rani SFTGFOP directly from the TeaFrog website.
Written by Geoff
Its All About the Leaf Reviewer
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