Review of Sibya Arunachal Summer Organic Factory Black Tea

8 of 105 of 55 of 594 of 100

This was one of the most interesting teas I've tried in a long time; I am struggling to describe it in words. It was called a "black tea" but it tasted more like aged sheng (raw) Pu-erh, especially on the later steeps, and it resteeped much better than a black tea usually does. I recommend this especially to people who like Pu-erh.

I was excited to try this tea, as it was the first tea I've sampled (and it looks like the first tea anyone has reviewed here on RateTea) that was grown in Arunachal Pradesh, the northeasternmost state in India. This was also the strongest-tasting tea among the large-leaf Assam black teas I have been sampling from TEAORB. Thank you TEAORB for the sample; it was quite a surprise and I'm very glad to have tried this particular one.

The dry leaf, wiry and brown with hints of golden-orange tips, has a mild aroma, soft, suggestive of autumn leaves and dried fruit, with some spicy notes, and a hint of camphor. Just smelling it, I would have trouble classifying it as a black or green tea. It reminds me a bit of Pu-erh and a bit of darker white teas like shou mei.

I brewed for 3 minutes and this is on the long side of the steeping time I'd recommend; although the cup is light in color, it tastes very strong. The brewed cup smells a bit dirty, that kind of "barnyard" smell, but there are also notes of vanilla and fruit. Very pleasing to sip, very full-flavored, simultaneously bitter, sweet, and savory, with a hint of sourness as well. Upon sipping, malty and cocoa notes come out, and the cup seems more clean and crisp. Finish is very toasty.

Although this is a black tea, the experience of drinking it, and the lighter color in the cup, reminds me a lot of sheng Pu-erh. The first steep was most black-tea-like, but when I resteeped it, it took on a greener character. The second cup was still quite strong. There were more notes of vanilla, cocoa, toasty notes, and it was more herbaceous. The third steep (yes, it was still going strong) was still full-flavored, clean, herbaceous, with notes of honey. Smells sweet but tastes more savory.

Seems more caffeinated than the other teas TEAORB labels in the "medium" caffeine category, but at the same time doesn't make me feel wired. The first time I brewed it, I got the sense that I brewed it too strongly, and it was oddly overbearing. The bite and the toasty notes in the finish made it seem a bit fiery. I recommend using a little less leaf than you normally would.

Easily steeps three times! I recommend a 1-3 minute first steep, 3-5 min second steep. This tea might be fun to try Gong Fu brewing with but I had already used up too much of the sample experimenting with brewing it Western-style. I'd approach it like a young sheng Pu-erh.

This tea was fascinating to drink. I had no idea how different it would be! Price seems outright cheap for a tea of this complexity, especially given how little leaf is needed to brew multiple flavorful cups!

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