Thursday, February 15, 2018

Review: Congou Black Tea By Oliver Pluff & Co

I love learning about tea history, there is so much information to discover and digest. I've written a bit about colonial American tea drinking in the past, as well as the historic tea blends of Oliver Pluff & Co. Their blends give a peek inside the teapots of colonial America.

Today's review is for Oliver Pluff & Co.'s Congou. Congou is derived from the word gongfu, meaning a skillfully crafted tea. You may recognize the term from the Chinese gongfu preparation style (prepared with skill), and perhaps you've come across it in tea blends such as dian hong congfu, and bai lin congfu. Oliver Pluff's Congou is a full leaf, finely twisted tea. During colonial times, it was considered very high quality tea.

Jumping back to Colonial America, Congou was one of the black teas imported by the British East India company. It's a tea the American colonists would have seen in local shops. Tea was extremely expensive back in colonial times, and often stored under lock and key. In fact, during the Boston Tea Party in 1773, 15 chests of Congou tea were thrown overboard as part of the protest.

The flavor of the colonial teas must have been quite different from what we'd expect today. In the 18th century,  teas took months to ship from China to England, and then could have sat around in London storage warehouses for months or even years before making its way to the New World. Definitely not what we'd expect when purchasing tea today.

But on to today's tea review! As I mentioned, the dry leaves are twisted, and also contain some golden buds. They have an extremely sweet fragrance with a bit of something starchy, reminding me of sugar cookies fresh from the oven. A warm and comforting aroma.

The brewed tea is sweet and quite smooth. There is a mellow toasty flavor to this tea, with barely a hint of astringency. Oliver Pluff's website describes the flavor as unsweetened baked apples, and I think it's spot on. When I was young, my grandmother often served baked apples, and the flavor of this tea definitely brings me back to her kitchen table. The flavor is also reminiscent of baked sweet potato- there is definitely a bit of earthiness lingering within the sweetness. The flavor is strong enough to work as a morning tea, and appropriate for a bit of milk. I've been drinking it as my morning tea for the past week, and I've enjoyed the sweetness and full body. I usually prefer my teas on the slightly oversteeped side, and this one doesn't get astringent with my aggressive steeping. It's a nice tea to prepare during the chilly winter mornings we've had lately.

To learn more about this product you can visit the Oliver Pluff Website. Also, to learn a bit about the company's founder, you can check out my review here. Thank you Oliver Pluff & Co for providing this tea for review!

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