Friday, September 3, 2010


Two Ceylons from Tealish that I haven't tried yet.  Nice way to start the day. I've been enjoying Ceylon for breakfast all summer and really appreciating that thirst-quenching, light lemony briskness they're famous for.

There are six principal tea growing regions in Sri Lanka and the tea is generally classified as low grown (below 2000 feet), mid grown (2000 to to 4000 feet) or high grown (4000 feet and up).  The six districts are Nuwara Eliya (the highest, a plateau at 6000 feet), Dimbula (3500 to 5000 feet), Uva (3000 to 5000 feet)), Kandy (considered low-grown, around 1500 to 2000 feet), and the low-grown districts of Galle and Ratnapura (less than 2000 feet).  One of the reasons to mention all this is that elevation has alot to do with the taste of a tea, with most saying the higher the elevation the better the tea.  In general, I've found the higher elevation teas are lighter bodied and the lower elevation ones, fuller bodied with bolder flavours.  Think high-grown Ceylon versus a typical Assam.  Of course, in the end "best" is all in your taste buds.

Both these teas were brewed just off the boil for 2 minutes.

I've ended up spending way too much time tripping about the internet searching for info about this estate -- specifically what altitude the tea is grown at.  So far the Serendipitea site says their Venture Estate tea is grown in the Nuwara Eliya district (which is the highest altitude area), the Leafspa site says their Venture Estate FBOP comes from the Uva district and the Sereni-tea site says their Venture Estate OP1 is from Dimbula district.  (The Tea Drinker's Handbook says all three of these districts produce what is know as "highgrown" tea.)   However, in this 2007 article on Sri Lankan organic tea gardens, including local sentiment both pro and con, I finally found that Venture Estate is situated in the Bogowanthalawa Valley in Sri Lanka's Dimbulla region at an elevation of 1,100 to 1,300 meters (3600 to 4300 feet) which would be considered high grown.  Phew.

The reason I was curious about the elevation is because the liquor of this tea and it's flavour and mouth feel suggest it's highgrown, particularly in relation to the Golden Garden Estate tea.

But starting with the dry leaves -- they are a very dark grey/black with the chunky appearance of a fairly large-sized broken leaf done in a medium twist.  An attractive, even dry leaf as you can see in the photo below, and very different from the other Ceylon I'm trying this morning.

Venture on the left is lighter and more orangey
than the Golden Garden.  Both look great in the
morning sun.

The liquor colour is a beautiful, bright orangey-red -- compared to the deeper slightly browny-red of the Golden Garden.  In the mouth it's a refreshing, light-bodied, medium brisk tea that leaves a clean, light lemony tang at the back of tongue.  The wet leaves give me a light honey, warm woody scent.  Overall, for me, this tea is more about the mouth-feel than any single strong flavour.  Although when I took the last sip from the now-cooled and milked (I always add milk to finish the cup) tea I got a wonderful, distinct lime marmalade hit.

I can't find any info on the net about this tea estate except from seller's website which just aren't very informative.  I mean, they have info, bless them, just not the kind of details that I want -- elevation, exact location, ownership, etc etc.  I'm a nosey girl.

(Note: later discovered the estate's in the Uva district, 2000 to 3500 feet ie: low to mid grown)

Venture Estate wet and dry on left, Golden Garden on right. 
Not sure if you can see in this photo but the Venture's wet
leaves are a maroonish colour, like seaweed.

So -- on to the tea itself, then.  The tea leaves are very small, fine, thin and wiry speckled with a few silvery-gold tips.  Very distinct from the much larger-leafed, chunky looking Venture Estate.  As I mentioned above the liquor is a rich amber-red.  The wet leaves are full of soft flavour notes: spicy, nutty (almond?), cinnamon, orange peel.  On the mouth its a big, full-bodied tea giving my tongue a furry feel and it has a tang to it, abit of bitterness.  This tea is very flavourful.  Given it's full-bodied-ness I'm wondering if this is a low-grown tea.  Hmmm.

I think I prefer the Venture for my morning tea -- I really do like that light lemony pucker first thing in the morning.  And will reserve the Golden Garden for my afternoon tea when I'm looking for good full flavour to tickle my taste buds.

I can't believe it.  It's 2:45pm and I started brewing the tea and these notes at 9:30 this morning.  You see?  That's why this blog will never live up to its name.  There's simply not enough hours in the day to write a tasting a day and keep up with the gardening.

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