If you’re one of those tea drinkers looking to move away from bagged teas, then this is just the kind of thing that would make a good first step.
I found it in a supermarket specializing in what I suppose you might broadly call Turkish/Balkan/Middle-Eastern produce. Given the ubiquity of Sri Lankan tea, it shouldn’t prove particularly hard to find wherever you happen to reside.
Two things mark this tea out as worth a punt. Firstly, it has the Lion logo mark from the Sri Lankan Tea Board.
Secondly, the packaging states that the leaf inside is OP1, which translates to Orange Pekoe grade 1, which although not the tip is still a fairly fine grade of whole leaf, that should give, if treated with a little TLC and a bit of respect, a nice cup. The price (50 Swedish Crowns, £4.60, US$6.22, €5.24) of a 500 gram packet shouldn’t exactly scare off too many people, either.
As you might expect, this tea performs best when steeped Western style. For my own taste I achieved the best results with these parameters – boiling water, and 7 grams in a 400 ml vessel for 1½ minutes. Given the infusion style, the fine-ish nature of the leaves, and the price of the tea itself, I don’t attempt follow-on steepings. I’m quite content to settle for one nice, tasty infusion, considering that a good enough return from the leaves.
The resulting liquor has a pleasant, malty aroma, and that familiar sweet with a hint of bitter taste you get from a good quality, high cacao content chocolate. Think of it in terms of a Yunnan Gold with the sweetness turned down a notch, and the astringency raised a tiny bit. Although I myself am not of that persuasion, I dare say that if you’re so inclined it might even respond favourably to a splash of cow juice and even (cringes, but smiles politely nonetheless) a spoonful of something sweet.
It works well as a casual, throughout the day drinker, but especially during those breakfast and mid-afternoon tea breaks. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m also intending to use this tea as a base for Chai Masala.
In conclusion, then, if you want to cast off from the shores of the land of tea bags and set sail for the uncharted waters of loose leaf teas then this tea is a sensible choice for first port of call.
It will show that loose leaf tea doesn’t have to be fussy or complicated, and at the same time admirably demonstrate that even a humble loose leaf tea represents a major step up in terms of value for money and taste.
More experienced tea heads might also find a place for this tea as a no frills daily chugger and stash preserver.
Good stuff. Great price. Result.