Saturday, November 21, 2009
Tea Tasting Saturdays #47 and #48 - Mangalam Assam
When you're trying to sample 58 teas in the course of 52 weeks, there comes a point when you simply have to double up, and this week seemed like a good time to compare two teas in the same family. The two teas were Mangalam FTGFOP (fancy tippy golden FLOWERY orange pekoe) and Mangalam FTGBOP (fancy tippy golden BROKEN orange pekoe). According to Michael Harney's book, "flowery" means the tea consists mostly of the largest particles of tea, while "broken" means (sensibly enough) the smaller, broken pieces of tea leaf. I ended up being quite glad I tasted them this way!
Category: Assam Black Tea
Purveyor: Harney & Sons
Dry leaf appearance: Dark, almost black bits of tea leaf with many lighter brown pieces scattered throughout. Even a non-tea drinker would be able to look at these and tell which one is broken and which one is flowery.
Wet leaf appearance: The broken tea was very choppy looking; the flowery tea's leaves were noticeably larger and more uniform. The flowery tea is the one shown in the last photo above.
Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 212 degrees, 4 minutes.
Scent: Dry, I thought the broken tea smelled like traditional black tea while the flowery tea had more of the malty scent. Once steeped, I found the scent of the two teas indistinguishable, both smelling like a nice strong roasted tea, and I really tried to detect a difference!
Color: Dark bronze for both.
Flavor: Now this was interesting. The broken tea is the one I actually sampled first. It was a nice, strong tea, but about halfway through it seemed a bit *too* strong and I added milk hoping to cut the astringency I was detecting. Perfect! I loved it. But then I tried the flowery tea. The taste was richer, fuller, almost a sweet taste, and I didn't detect any astringency and didn't need milk. So I actually enjoyed both these teas very much, but I would probably have milk with the broken tea again.
Additional notes: Well what do you know, I accidentally did something right! Michael Harney says, "Tasting the two next to each other helps illustrate how much leaf size helps determine a tea's characteristics." I thoroughly agree! I also like the way he says the broken orange pekoe tea "emphasizes strength while the (flowery) shows off its sophistication."
Next week's tea: Boisahabi CTC