I have a lot to say about this tea. I can start with saying I’m impressed.
I have poor knowledge of grading systems and these acronyms do not mean much to me. It does feel a little overwhelming, so I researched a bit and happy to share with you what I found interesting.
First of all, we should start with ‘flowery’. According to my source (indicated below), flowery was used by the British when they thought that the buds came from the flowers of the tea plant and before they found out that they were the incipient leaves. That’s why they called ‘buds’ flowers. Yes, confusing isn’t it? Nowadays, flowery mostly refers to a tea which is made up of the largest available leaves and buds. Together with the Broken teas (I’m yet to review those), they made up “Orthodox” teas which are a different category than market sold ‘CTC’ (crush, tear and curl) teas. Within this challenge, I do not aim to review any CTCs since I do not think they do justice to the divine plant.
Fannings is one of the four-leaf grades and placed between broken leaves and dust. Hence, fannings are very small, broken leaves. I do think that unbroken leaves offer a better drinking experience, however, grading does not necessarily refer to the quality of the tea although I agreed with the Harney and Sons’ guide that “the larger the leaf particles, the mellower and more sophisticated the tea”.
I could not find much about EXP which means extra special which sounds good but I am yet to discover what it means.
Anyway, back to this tea. As you can see from the first photo, this tea has beautiful golden tips. It comes from a low country plantation in New Vithanakanda. This region did not have a very good reputation, being only 300 feet above sea level and in the tropical heat and humidity, the teas become dark and sold for negligible prices. Therefore, the growers in this area had to innovate and come up with a way to keep the buds white and the district has become famous for its silver tip black teas and the estate where this tea comes from won various awards.
This tea had a great balance of honey sweetness and cocoa notes. It almost reminded me of a good old Keemun. Pretty impressive and I am so excited to have discovered the world of Ceylon teas!
Source: Michael Harney, “The Harney & Sons Guide to Tea.”
Type: Black tea
Origin: Sri Lanka
Harvest time: 2020
Leave colour: Dark brown with about 25% golden tips
Liquor colour: Amber red
Tea aroma: Chocolate with fruity notes
Tea taste: Mellow and sweet with honey and chocolate notes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 90°C water temperature and brew for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 3 years (to improve shelf life store the sealed tea leaves in a dry, dark place with low temperatures)