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  • Writer's pictureNadav Biran

Blind Tasting Club #03 – Spring 2022 [Northeast India Special]

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

Club Gathering Log #03 | Online Event: 29.05.2022

This season we decided to do something bold and different by dedicating our third Blind Tasting Club to 1st Flush tea from Northeast India, tea we were still sourcing manually until few weeks before the gathering. Our goal was to find Chinese influences in the local tea making industry, while researching and supporting the growth and development of young small-scaled farms that produces tea that combines the local traditions of Indian tea with advanced practices from China, in terms of knowledge, equipment and whole-leaf grading that is suitable for gong fu cha. It was quite a challenge, since this definition of tea apply to less than 1% of the tea production in India, and honestly, since the tea was so different this time, we didn't know how others will react to it until we receive the feedback from the club members.

tea club

#1: Upper Assam 1st Flush 2022 "Sheng" Green Tea

A Blind Tasting Club exclusive, this tea was made especially for our club, a total of 1.5kg batch. We hosted the tea supplier from Dibrugarh to share the story of his farm in Upper Assam and how they managed to come up with the idea to make this experimental tea especially for us. A great morning tea, it has a thin body of green tea that changes between brews like sheng pu’er, umami finish and sweetness peak on 4th brew. The liquor turns Pink after sitting for few minutes, it’s really cool, try it!

Tasting Notes: Slightly smoky, pumpkin seeds, celery, zucchini

Club's Verdict: lots of vegetables were mentioned in the air to describe this unusual tea 🥦

Meghalaya, the area with the most rainfalls in the world and mostly rock soil, has a one of a kind terroir, unlike any other place in India. The northeastern state is located geographically between the 2 main growing areas of specialty tea in India, Darjeeling and Upper Assam, which in many way, this tea combines the best of both worlds – The delicacy & floral character of Darjeeling tea, along with the roughness and candy sweetness of Assam tea. The tea garden is over 1000m high and overlooking to a stunning lake.

Tasting Notes: candy, tropical fruits, sweet potato

Club's Verdict: Upgrading Darjeeling with a unique terroir

Indian specialty tea

#3: Arunachal Pradesh 1st Flush 2022 Yellow Pekoe Tea

Another tea club exclusive, this exceptional tea was made secretly by request especially for ho yum tea in a total of less than 1kg. A rare collaboration between one of the most renowned tea makers in the area, and a tiny home farm growing tea clones from Darjeeling, which we aren’t allowed to expose its name and location. Full body tea with a distinct aroma that caught everyone by surprise, somewhere between mao cha rock wulong tea and late pick white tea. This unusual experiment was made with 2 tea clones (cultivars): av2, t78.

Tasting Notes: Herbal liquor, beans, raw rice, artichoke

Club's Verdict: Hands down the most complex and rare tea in the menu, and most member's favorite.

תה צהוב

#4: Ilam Qing Xiang Spring 2022 Wulong Tea

Qing Xiang Tie Guan Yin style of tea from east Nepal region named Ilam. It’s an example of well rolled and folded wulong, made by a blend of 2 Darjeeling clones. A respective attempt to process a decent wulong tea, with some interesting high pitch notes when brewed delicately.

Tasting Notes: Grass, Mint, Lemongrass

Club's Verdict: Nice try & respect to the tea folding, but it's too much of a Fujian replica.

nepal tea

#5: Phali Singpho Phalap 2021 Loose Sheng Pu’er Tea

Non-smoked tippy version the Indian answer to Raw Pu’er, crafted by a local Singpho family on the border between Assam & Arunachal Pradesh. Picked last year in May 2021 from wild tea trees in the jungle, these unrolled leaves were supposed to be crushed and compressed into bamboo tubes in what known as the most traditional tea making process in India, in parallel with Yunnan’s sheng pu’er legacy. Due to growing demand of whole-leaf tea suitable for gong fu cha, this version of loose leaves is available, which is an evidence to a direct Chinese influence on the local tea market.

Club's Verdict: No chance this tea is from India, you're lying to us!

indian pu'er

#6: Upper Assam 1st Flush 2022 Black Tea [Tutti Frutti]

Another delicate & floral black tea with a twist character that varies in each brew. Thin-medium body, umami finish and a memorable floral aroma that was described by many as ripen apples. Single bush of the amazing p126 clone that were picked in a renewed organic garden by one of the pioneers of Chinese tea making in northeast India. The leaves were rolled slowly during oxidation into a curly shape with high percentage of golden buds.

Tasting Notes: Tutti-frutti, Apple Strudel, Caramel

Club's Verdict: Tutti-fruitti oh Rootti 🕺🏽

We may still have stock available of some of the teas. You're welcome to contact us for inquiry before the tea goes online to the public. During the month of July 2022 we will be releasing an Indian Basket which will contain the full collection of Indian tea we sourced in India during 1st Flush season, teas from 5 different regions including some of the teas above.