Saturday, December 5, 2009
Tea Tasting Saturdays #50, 51, 52 - Ceylon Black Teas
It's hard to believe I'm entering my last month of Tea Tastings for the year, but here we are. This week it just made sense to taste all three Ceylons at once, so that's what I did. And it was quite a happy tasting experience, I'm pleased to report. In the photo above, the teas are, left to right, Uva Highlands Pekoe, New Vithanakande and Kenilworth BOP.
Uva Highlands Pekoe
Category: Ceylon Black Teas
Purveyor: Uva Highlands Pekoe from Tea Gschwendner; New Vithanakande and Kenilworth from Harney and Sons
Dry leaf appearance: The Uva Highlands tea looked very tiny and choppy, almost like coffee grounds. The New Vithanakande looked like small, wiry bits of leaf, and the Kenilworth appeared to be larger bits of leaf.
Wet leaf appearance: The size distinctions so evident in the dry tea leaves were equally evident in the leaves once they had been steeped. If you had shown me just the three samples of dry tea leaf, I could easily have matched them with their wet counterparts. (I know this isn't exactly rocket science, it's just another observation I enjoyed.)
Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 212 degrees, 5 minutes. And I did steep all three of these for a full five minutes.
Scent: Dry: The Uva Highlands Pekoe had a strong woodsy scent reminiscent of that freshly-cut-wood-and-fresh-paint scent I experienced a few weeks ago. The New Vithanakande definitely had some strong malty notes, and the Kenilworth was woodsy but not as strong as the Uva Highlands Pekoe. Steeped: All three had woodsy scents, but the Uva Highlands Pekoe also seemed to have a sweet finish and a little extra something I couldn't quite distinguish.
Color: The New Vithanakande was the darkest brew, a deep coppery brown, with the Kenilworth and the Uva Highlands Pekoe a good bit lighter.
Flavor: I enjoyed all three of these teas. The New Vithanakande had a nice brisk taste and only slight astringency. The Kenilworth was my favorite because it had a nice rich flavor, a good mouth feel, and an almost sweet finish. I also detected sweetness with the Uva Highlands Pekoe, but it seemed the most astringent of the three. Still, I would be perfectly happy to drink any of these teas again.
Additional notes: Since Ceylon is now known as Sri Lanka, the country's teas are still called "Ceylons" purely for marketing reasons. Michael Harney notes that "the tropical island is smaller than the state of Indiana yet produces a quantity and variety of black teas to rival China."
Next week's tea: Kenyan Black Tea