Review of New Vithanakande

7 of 104 of 54 of 577 of 100
Very GoodGoodGood Value

I liked this tea and found it very interesting, it wasn't a favorite at first but it made me write and think a lot, and I found it grew on me. I especially liked this tea's ability to evoke interesting imagery and memories from my childhood with its aromas. Many of the Ceylon teas I've tried over the years have been straightforward, tending towards boring, but Harney seems to be establishing a pattern of interesting and complex Ceylons. I was recently impressed with how interesting their Kenilworth and Uva Highlands teas were, and this continued the trend.

Dry leaf has a strong and somewhat strange aroma, hard to describe, almost like burned caramel or fermenting fruit. It's a smell that is pleasant but has a strong "off" character too, and I was curious to see what it would taste like. The leaf does look beautiful, it is very dark but with silvery streaks, and wiry with a very regular round curvature to the leaves.

Brews up a dark but rather thin-bodied cup with a complex and unusual aroma.

There is this faint off quality in the aroma just like I described from the dry leaf. It honestly reminds me of when my mom and grandma would make jam, it's like the smell of overripe fruit cooking and I imagine that one of the pots boiled over and a little bit of the cooked overripe fruit spilled into the burner and is now burning. THAT SMELL almost exactly. And I don't like it, even if I appreciate the memories it brings up. But it's just a hint of it...

...and I like the rest of this tea's aroma. There's a lot going on, it's quite smoky, fruity, and also floral. Somehow it all seems to blend together too.

Flavor is odd, but I like it. It's very subdued and clean up front but there's a very pleasant bitterness that comes late in the sip and lingers in the finish. Little astringency but more in the finish as well. The finish tastes cold and clean, and for some reason reminds me of stone outcroppings in a forest on a cool day in spring.

Resteeps excellently, this is the best-resteeping Ceylon black tea I've ever had, among the best-resteeping of any black teas. The second cup was really excellent, bold, potent, flavorful, and complex in aroma, still both fruity and smoky. I prefer a 3 minute first steep, which makes the second cup exceptional, but I was still able to brew a flavorful second cup even when I steeped the first for five minutes. The extra steep honestly didn't seem to change the character of the first cup much, which is why I prefer a briefer first steep.

In the end I liked this tea a lot, although it took a bit to appreciate it--I did not enjoy the first few sips. Interestingly, years back I tried a Ceylon from this same estate, from Upton Tea Imports, and it was totally different; there was nothing about this tea that reminded me of that one. Upton's has long since been discontinued from their catalogue though, so I couldn't try them side-by-side again.

Lastly, the price on this tea is high for a Ceylon but I think it's worth it, although I recommend buying a smaller quantity to start because this is a peculiar tea and I'm not sure everyone would like it.

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