Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tasting a CTC Malaysian Tea from BOH

BOH Cameronian Gold Blend 

Chances are you've had a CTC tea at some point. CTC stands for crush, tear, curl, which is the way the leaves are processed. This method was invented in the 1930s as a quick and consistent way to process lower grade leaves destined to become black tea. It's an easy way to get a product that creates a uniform brew, since consistency is key with large tea producers. You can't have your brand name tea change in flavor from batch to batch. The leaves are cut, crushed, bruised, and rolled to speed up oxidation process. Because of the processing and size, this tea steeps up quickly and quite strong. CTC teas are usually consumed with the addition of milk, which tames the astringency. You'll most often find CTC teas in tea bags from Sri Lanka, Kenya, and parts of India.

CTC can often be found in tea bags and breakfast blends. The small surface area allows the brew to infuse quickly and with a strong flavor. It infuses quickly, and is often used in blends where milk is added (to tame the bitterness and strength). Many tea aficionados turn their noses up at CTC tea. The quality is usually lower than orthodox teas (whole leaf teas), and the flavor is usually fairly flat. As with any teas, if you start with higher quality leaves, even the CTC leaves will have a better flavor, although they still do not have the depth of a whole leaf brew. I've actually had a few CTC teas that were quite enjoyable as a morning blend, and I keep one in particular around for the mornings when I really need a wake-up punch.

The tea I'm reviewing today comes from the Cameron highlands of Malaysia, which is a fertile area perfect for growing tea. The BOH plantation was the first in Malaysia, and remains the largest tea producer in the country. To be honest, I didn't know anything at all about Malaysian grown teas before I was contacted by BOH to review some samples. Doing a bit of research I found an interesting 2013 article from World Tea News, which mentions the BOH plantation:
Over the years, BOH Plantations grew to become the largest highland tea producer in Malaysia. BOH remains the largest tea producer in Malaysia, with nearly 47 percent of the landmass in the country dedicated to tea production. This translates to approximately 1,200 hectares out of a total 2,533 hectares of land.
Today's tea is the Cameronian Gold Blend. A look at the leaves shows the CTC production. The dry leaves smell like dry fall leaves- slightly earthy. There is also a hint of sweetness and a bit of something floral. The aroma is stronger than I would have expected.

The brew smells slightly sweet. The flavor is subtle, without much depth. It has that sweetness and earthiness with a whisper of tobacco. It is reminiscent of a fairly strong tea bag. It's quite smooth which is surprising, since CTC tea infuses super quickly and usually gets astringent. This has no astringency whatsoever. It's not flavorful enough for me, but it would be fine as a breakfast tea, especially if you are partial to adding milk and sugar. I think it would be a suitable iced tea as well, made super strong and perhaps adding in some simple syrup and mint.

Thank you to BOH for the sample. I have a few flavored blends to also try. To learn more about this tea, you can visit the company's website here. Or check out their offerings on Amazon.

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