Saturday, December 19, 2015

What-Cha's Russia Solohaul Tea Estate 'Keemun' Black Tea

What-Cha's Description
A premium hand-picked Russian black tea possessing a full and sweet malty fudge taste.

My thoughts
Alistair posted a slew of new Russian teas literally moments before I placed my last order at What-Cha. I'd been running low on one-steep-and-done morning teas to take to work, so I went only slightly overboard and ordered at least a sample of each the new Russian black teas. I'll eventually get all of them reviewed here, but this is the first of the group.

Dry leaves - The flat black and variously sized leaves look fairly typical for a Ceylon tea. For a Russian tea? Not as much. I'm used to seeing smaller and fairly uniformly-sized leaves coming out of Russia. These new teas from Solohaul Tea Estate break the typical Russian mold in just about every way. Another example: the aroma, which is a deep, rich chocolate fudge smell with just hints of malt beneath. Again, not typical for a Russian tea. And I'm seriously excited to give this one a taste.

Brewing parameters - 212F, 3.5m. Russian teas fall into the same category as Georgian teas. That category would be "slow to impart flavor and virtually impossible to make bitter". Long steep times make me twitchy, but they work here.

Tasting notes - Smooth, sweet, chocolate fudge, malt

Mmmmmm. Seriously, do I need to write more than that? This tea is extremely smooth, certainly the smoothest Russian tea I've ever had, and carries a wonderful sweet taste of rich chocolate fudge. A mild dark malt follows close behind the fudge taste, but never overwhelms the chocolatey flavor. The typical Russian terroir of smooth tannic smokiness isn't even remotely present here. I'm really going to have to try this one gong fu style sometime and see how it performs that way.

I have to keep reminding myself that this isn't from Fujian, because it would fit better there than from the more northern latitude of Krasnodar. If you handed me this tea and asked me where it was from, I'd likely guess Fujian first, Yunnan second, and Ceylon third. Russia would likely never even cross my mind. I'm not sure if "Keemun" was the most accurate name for this tea, as Anhui black teas have more of a smoky/cocoa/stonefruity taste, and this one has none of those. Regardless of the naming, this is an excellent tea and a great example of the tea coming from southwestern Russia.

You can buy this tea from What-Cha here:

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