I am currently visiting the tea growing regions in the Eastern Black Sea region in Turkey. Now, I am in Rize, and I managed to identify a handful of tea artisans who hand-craft their teas. I am not saying I am disappointed. On the contrary, I am happy to see a spark in an industry that predominantly produces high-quantity CTC black tea. I am not expecting that the spark will turn into a fire immediately. However, the fact that I could see a change is enough to make me happy for now.
This tea was particularly impressive. Firstly, it is hand-crafted by a young woman who is passionate about tea making and has used a formula which does not exist by the Turkish standards. This tea consists of one bud and one leave. You might be surprised that I find this fascinated. But believe me, it is. Hand-processing hand-plucked tea is already rare in Turkey let alone keeping the standard so high with 1:1 ratio for the bud and leave. Except for the Turkish white tea which is, in my opinion, is the highest grade ever possible, the picking standard for artisanal tea is two leaves one bud. I have not found yet another tea maker who have experimented with something different from this.
The smell of the dry leaves was so rich that I was bought immediately. Tasting the tea was also very satisfying. In terms of the notes, it was way too complex for a good old green tea. Firstly, it had a beautiful roasty tone which reminded me of a charcoal roasted oolong. However, it was also fresh, sweet with an interesting cocoa note. It was not vegetal or astringent at all. The tea master achieved significantly, and I think she deserves a big round of applause. In my view, this tea is the testimony that Turkey can produce world-class fine teas.
Origin: Salarha, Rize, Turkey
Harvest time: May 2020
Leave colour: Tones of green
Liquor colour: Light yellow
Tea aroma: Smoky and floral
Tea taste: Mellow with fresh sweetness and roasty notes
Steeping/brewing: You can use around 80°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 24 months (fresher the better)