Hand-Rolled Black Tea Gems from Amba Estate in Uva Province, Sri Lanka
Over the years, I have received a few samples that came in rather unique packaging, which I would consider as a collectible. I look at the packaging, and want to try its contents so badly, yet do not want to open it. That was certainly the case with this Gift Box from Amba Estate.
For additional information on Amba Estate, click here to visit the informational page on The Tea Journeyman Shop website. At the moment, I do have a very little supply left of the GF OP1 Black Tea from Amba Estate available for purchase. Click Here to view this product at The Tea Journeyman Shop. Finally, click here for a very in depth and personal review of the Amba Estate and the experience that the author of the Honestly Foodie blog had while visiting the estate.
Before I continue, I have to apologize for the blurry and low quality photos of these tea gems. In general, I have not been overly impressed with the LG G2 phone that I picked up earlier this year. The quality of the camera is not as impressive as the number of megapixels may suggest. Yes, I know megapixels does not necessarily translate into overall image quality. Anyway, this is a tea review blog, not a consumer electronics review blog, so I will get back on topic.
Today’s review will focus on the Hand-Rolled Black Tea Gems from Amba Estate. The package of four tea gems has been opened, and the scent is light, yet floral and sweet. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a uniform black color. The leaves are mostly small fragments, with a few medium fragments in the mix. I am thinking the grade of leaves is BOP or FBOP. The leaves are hand compressed into tightly rolled balls. Each gem is about the size of an average raspberry, and weigh 1.6 grams. The gems have a rough texture. The smell has light scents (possibly due to the length of time that it took me to finally open the packet) of flowers, citrus, and raw cacao.
Two tea gems (3.2 grams of dry leaves) were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use two tea gems with every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the gems for 3:00 minutes. Expect two quality infusions from each serving of gems. Add one minute to the second infusion, for a total of 4:00 minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a beautiful and bright orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma is very impressive and complex, with rich scents of black licorice, papaya, toffee, mint, lemon, honey, light clove, and a touch of honey. The body is full, with a lively, mouth-filling texture, and an eye-opening, refreshing briskness. The taste is also complex and nicely layered, with notes of black licorice, lemon, mint, papaya, clove, pepper, and touches of honey and flowers. The aftertaste carries the black licorice, honey, and floral notes, and a mentholated, flowery, and sweet essence lingers on the breath. There is a medium astringency that blends nicely into the sweet, fruity, and spicy tastes of this tea. If this tea smells and tastes this good even after months of sitting in the gift box, then I would love to taste a fresh batch.
The infused leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The leaves are all small fragments, with a few medium fragments in the mix. There are no stems. The leaves have a soft, smooth, delicate texture. The smell carries scents of flowers, toffee, mint, papaya, black licorice, and light honey. The leaves appearance may not be very special, but the smell is sweet, spicy, and impressive.
These Hand-Rolled Black Tea Gems are a very simple and practical way of enjoying the best quality tea that I have tasted from Sri Lanka, those that are produced at Amba Estate. You can drop a few of these gems in a typical tea strainer ball without overcrowding the leaves, and yet still enjoy all of the incredible aromas and tastes that the black teas from Amba Estate are recognized for. If you enjoy Ceylon black tea, get ready to have your olfactory glands and taste buds be transported to sensual bliss, because the Amba black teas are the very best black teas that the beautiful island of Sri Lanka has to offer. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a retailer in North America that offers the tea gems. There are a few in the U.K., such as the Monsoon Mountains Tea Company. I still have one package of four gems left in the gift box. Lucky me!
Thanks to Beverly Wainwright at Amba Estate for providing me with this awesome gift box. Keep up the great work, Amba Estate! Cheers!