Thursday, April 28, 2016

Review: East Indian Tea & A Little More History

Today's review is the East Indian Tea from Oliver Pluff & Co. Before I gave it a taste, I asked owner Kyle Brown a little more about this tea, and he told me the East Indian tea is grown in Assam from tea gardens containing plants combined from wild-growing tea trees discovered by the British, and the finer Chinese tea tree varieties that they brought over. This is of course a tea that was imported into the American colonies. I enjoyed this little snippet from the package:
When the ship Britannia arrived in Charles Town in November, 1774 with seven chests of East Indian tea, Charles Town tea merchants were “induced” to destroy their own tea by breaking open the chests and dumping them overboard into the Cooper River, an event now known as the Charleston Tea Party.
The Charleston Tea Party was a protest of that infamous British tea tax, perhaps not the most famous protest, but still an important one for the record books. I read a little more about tea drinking in Charleston, and it turns out most of the tea brought into the city was smuggled in so the colonists could avoid the taxes. This smuggled tea was of course illegal. I found an interesting snipped about tea smuggling from my new favorite book A Social History of Tea, quoting a famous tea name I'm sure you will recognize:
In his Observations on the Tea & Window Act and on the Tea Trade, 1784, Richard Twining commented that "The smuggler has become so formidable a rival [to the East India Copmpany] that, upon the most moderate computation, they shared the Tea-trade equally between them; and according to some calculations, the smuggler had two thirds of it."
I could go on about tea smuggling but I'll save it for another post. Time to discuss the East Indian tea!
The dry leaves smell quite sweet with a malty, dry aroma of dried wheat. I also get a little bit of dried apricot. The combination gives me a sunny, bright feeling of relaxing in a meadow of late summer grass.

The wet leaves are again sweet and malty, with a bit of barley, honey. and roasted sweet potatoes.  
The infusion is quite bold, with a slight astringency. It is a little dry, but mellow, malty, and smooth. There is a lingering gentle malty flavor with a bit of astringency. The tea has an unexpected lightness to it.

I was surprised at the roundness of this tea. It is well balanced and smooth. It has a good amount of strength, as Assam does, but I was expecting it to be more astringent and punchy. It's a very pleasing tea, and I've had it almost every morning this week. It strong enough for sleepy-eyed mornings, but has a nice mellow finish that tames my anxious thoughts about the day ahead.  This is a good everyday drinking tea, and I of course love the history behind it.

Thank you to Oliver Pluff & Co for providing this tea for review!

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