I was craving black tea and this one smelled lovely! I really liked the dark twisted leaves and sweet earthy aroma.
I came across Adagio Teas’ Master Teas collection when various tea friends posted about it on Instagram. Coincidentally, Adagio reached out to me at the same time and provided me with a gift voucher to choose my own teas. I decided on the Master Teas collection because I liked that the individual tea farmers were highlighted.
This review will be part of a 3 part comparison. I debated making it one post, but I wanted to be able to highlight each farmer. I will be reviewing three Chinese black teas from different regions, all picked in spring 2019: Qimen Caixia (Auhui), Tongmu Jin Jun Mei (Fujian), and Jin Kong Que (Yunnan).
For each tea, I will review them using two methods, gong fu and western style. This is because the website mentions the teas can be infused 3 times, but also provides 2-3 minute infusion recommendations.
With all that information, let’s go!
Description: “Semi wiry leaf, some tips. Dry aroma offers the classic Keemun (Qimen) orchid note. Cup is medium light bodied, delicate but layered notes of orchid, honey and toast. Quite delicate but nuanced with a soft finish.”
Instructions: Steep at 212° for 2-3 minutes
Review: This tea was picked by farmer Zhao Li Li at the end of April 2019 in Anhui, China. It was grown at an elevation of between 800 to 1200 metres above the sea level and was plucked from 60-year old trees. It is locally known as “keemun maofeng” and consists of one bud, two or three 2-3 cm (approximately) leaves.
The leaves were dark, almost black, twisted leaves with some orange tips. It had a sweet toasted and floral aroma.
Gong Fu Style
When the dry leaves were warmed in the gaiwan, it had a very similar smell – toasted and floral but with some honey sweetness.
Infusion 1 (30 seconds): The wet leaves were a chocolate brown colour and had a woodsy roasted smell. The liquor was a golden reddish-orange. It tasted sweet, honey, and roasted with some earth notes at the tail end. When cooled, the liquor was more spiced and earthy.
Infusion 2 (45 seconds): The liquor and taste were similar to Infusion 1. It had the same golden orange colour, toasted woodsy smell. Tastewise, the liquor leaned more earthy and roasted. It coated the mouth and there was some mild astringency. When cooled, there was a hint of more astringency.
Infusion 3 (60 seconds): The liquor was more of a reddish-brown and had an earthy smell. The flavour was much more muted with hints of toasted earthy sweetness. There was dryness at the end of the sip.
I steeped this for 2 minutes using 1 teaspoon of tea and 1 cup of 212° water. The liquor was a reddish-brown and smelled earthy and toasted. Tastewise, it was earthy, sweet, woodsy and cocoa. When cooled, it leaned more earthy. There was a mild cocoa taste and some linger toasted notes. The liquor was drying on the mouth.
I have to say I slightly enjoyed gong fu style version more. Purely because I felt it brought out a wider range of tastes. The western style was nice as well but it leaned more earthy than the honey sweetness that gong fu style brought out. (3.5/5 rating).
- Type: Black tea
- Origin: China, Anhui
- Caffeine: High
- Ingredients: Black tea
- Company: Masters Teas (Masters by Adagiotes)
Interview with Farmer
(Source: Masters Teas)
The Master Teas website also include some Q&A with each of the farmers, I decided to include some of the questions:
How long have you been growing tea and what got your started?
Before working with tea, I was a worker in a bag factory. I had worked there for 5 years, but the business in the factory was very bad and I had to leave there without payment. I had a very hard life until I found a chance to work in the tea garden. It is good that I can work and get reasonable payment to make a living now.
Can you describe a typical day out in the field?
I start very early in the morning at 6 and go out at 7. I will go to the tea mountain to pick the tea leaves. In the afternoon I will bring the tea leaves to the primary factory and get my payment.
What is your favorite part of growing tea?
It is good that I can get payment the same day after plucking. I had bad experience to work in the previous bag factory and got no payment. As a result, I can buy what I want for my home and pay for my kids’ education.
Conversely, what is the hardest part of your job?
I hate rain, because the payment will be lower than sunny days. Sometimes if it is raining hard, I can not go out. My family is very poor and we do need to work as much as possible.
The question of the post: Where is your favourite black tea from?