I received a decent 200 grams of this wonder awhile back (maybe a year) from Nothing But Tea from England. This tea was wonderfully homegrown by Natasha, a villager of Luri who learned her skills in tea making in the Soviet era and refined her crafts in China. A job well done indeed that it does not take for a machine, many hands, and marketing to produced tea than a full devotion, talents, and love for tea!Like Natasha, Georgia has been producing black tea for more than a century starting back in the late Nineteen century when tea seeds from China were actually smuggled from China. In the Soviet era, the height of the tea production reached its zenith that are actually the cream of Soviet products that rivaled Western contemporaries!
Here we see Natasha's own homemade tea, composed mainly of fuller and whole leaves, mainly black with a brownish tinge, with a healthy sprinkling of golden tips. The aroma of these leaves imparts a semi grassy-floral scent, it has characteristics of slight smokiness akin to a Keemun . The tea is promising, though the colors might be too exciting, the smell already hints and promises of what can be described as a cross of a flowery tea and a familiar black tea in the Keemun sorts. If the scent and texture of the leaves has not given enough promise the actual brew will!
And...here it is! Georgian Old Gentleman of the first brew at one minute with 190 degree plus water! Its really much like drinking gold, the scent can be described of Keemun and Darjeeling (without the muscatel scent). The taste however matches that of Darjeeling with its floral and grassy character ( much to a taste of a meadow), has a slight malty and starchiness associated with Assam, and slight smokiness of Keemun. A nice combination of all three teas with some uniqueness such as notes of berries and fruity that are quite prominent in the first brew.
I started with a lower water temperature this around in the second brew at 2 minutes at a lower water temperature of 180 degrees was quite fruity, with as much berries and grassy notes, hints of Assam and Keemun still prominent though it dulls out. An orange blossom taste can also be found mid way in the palate, the resultant brew is smooth, non tannin, and non astringent. Same colour but different taste. A lower temperature can bring out most of the flavors out but still quite watery, a higher temperature in this can have more Keemun and Assam qualities dulling its floral and fruity character.
Into the third brew however became dull and watery, the fruitiness mainly in the berry department and the Assam flavors came out much more. It now has a slightly astringent, slightly tannin but non bitter taste. Still has a golden color but much less aromatic than the first and second brew. Substantially much more grassy than ever and still quite malty .
Here is the end result of over a hundred years of experience, the finest crafts made from Natasha who shares a heritage of Soviet and Chinese tea making along with her wonderful skills who makes the finest tea of all of Georgia! Herein lies more young leaves. mostly young but not the very tips of a newly emerging plant, it accounts for the most of the fruity and crisp liquor. I really enjoyed the tea well. but the flavors become a bit too watery and mute, all in all a great tea .
Versatility: 6.0: nice to be blended but otherwise enjoyed naturally! There not a whole lot of boldness which any flavorings might be too prominent when it has additions. It is often recommended to accent this tea with lite fruity flavor that wont be empowering, I found that an addition of mint can be quite pleasant.
Taste: 85: Its quite a tea to have or at least have samples of! One can easily get an Assam, Darjeeling, or even Oolong traits out of this tea which gives a fresh yet aged and semi savory sensation. Starchy, yet subtly fruity, fresh and crisp, to a mellow smoky, almost woody with hints of orange blossoms.
Palate: slightly fruity, non astringent and bitter, non tannic, mellow and medium bodied smoky, with a prominent starchy profile.
Drinker Friendliness : 7.5: a tea definitely to have around friends, and to be appreciated not only of its aspects but being made in Georgia, by a skilled craftswomen in a small village that was previously a tea growing region in Soviet times. Its quite a conversation piece on the topic of Georgia itself, and who knows what other gems to be found that was made in soviet times. Surely this tea is a much favored relic many would enjoy!
Out of the many teas made by small and big companies, this by far is an exception! Who says that its only companies that has an ability to make darn good teas?! Certainly not me...nor any one who knows full well that has been enjoying tea or better yet;growing those darn plants! Its a shame though that this tea and the Georgian tea boom has been overshadowed by larger tea producers...yet just with this tea can give a world a taste of a Soviet legacy, a Georgian legacy full of expertise that would rival any tea producing giant if only it could get back up! By any means people,to those reading this blog I recommend this tea to anyone and do help yourselves to the finest Georgian tea and to those struggling to keep indie teas alive and prospering!