It has been a one complete cycle of tea seasons with Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate this summer. The tea we continue to receive from them, like the one we are reviewing here, and the feedback we have got so far, tell us introducing Jun Chiyabari has been one of the best decisions we have done by our customers.
Himalayan Imperial Black, a 2015 second flush production, is unlike any we have had from the the foothills of the Himalayas. It is majestic in its manufacture, appearance and cup.
The dry leaves appearance recall a wuyi oolong. The wiry leaves are dark grey, almost black, and lightly peppered with golden tips, seldom seen in teas from these hills, including Darjeeling. The leaves are unusually crisp, but thanks to the skill of the tea makers they don't crumble easily. There is hardly any breakage in the entire tea lot that we got.
A rich aroma of red berries, dark chocolate and pepper rise from the leaves. You can expect it to give you a strong, flavorful, full-bodied cup.
Using 2.5 grams of tea we steep the tea for 3 minutes in a tasting cup. Professionals normally steep tea for 5 minutes but we eschew that for what most people would normally do at home. The water temperature is full boil at around 210-220F.
At the first steep the infused leaves smell of malt, molasses, dark chocolate, pepper and some tobacco. It is heady. The leaves themselves have hardly opened.
The first cup is amber with a deep glow, reflecting the vitality in the cup. Aroma has notes of red berries, malt and brown sugar. The rich liquor spreads honey-like sweetness in the front of your palate with a slight tannic quality in the back. All over the middle is a nice nuttiness, almond-like. A bit of smoke and pepper travel up to your nose as an aftertaste. There is a hint of tart the kind that is found in sun ripened red berries. The mouth feels a bit dry.
Since the leaves have hardly opened we take this tea for a second steep at 5 minutes. The berry notes recede a bit, tannins have gotten stronger, but the earthy and sweet caramel notes are still strong in the aroma making it an enjoyable cup.
Seeing that the leaves still have not opened up much, we take the tea for 3rd steep at 5 minutes again. The cup this time has a nice sweetness. No tannins. The liquor has a desirable lightness and feels smooth on the palate. An enjoyable hint of smokiness and tobacco lurk.
This tea would pair well with rich foods, including strong cheese, spicy dishes and dessert.
There is still more left in this tea. We steep it for the 4th round, again for 5 minutes. The strong notes now fade, leaving the cup soft and smooth with a delectable sweetness. It feels like a soft lingering cuddle after the lovemaking is done. We steep it for the 5th time. At 6 minutes the sweetness continues, and there is still a lot of body in the tea. This encourages us for the 6th steep. We find the tea still yields a serviceable cup!
This tea is a wonderful choice for those who like strong teas but which have a nuanced complexity. One of our customers noted perfectly the character of this tea as being "assertive, without being aggressive."
Finally, remember this tea can earn you good merit! 10% of of all our Nepali tea sales go to the awesome Ama Foundation, which schools and houses orphans in a facility just outside the Kathmandu Valley. When you are buying our Nepali tea you are getting much for than just a great cup - you get a cup that makes a difference!