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Assam Tea - Comins Tea - 1

Golden Tip Assam Tea

£2.00

Simply Put...

Our Golden Tip Assam is a rich, strong, malty black tea from the family run Khongea estate in Northern India with whom we have a long standing relationship

This tea will be delivered in our new compostable packaging >> read more  here

In more depth...

Tea Name : Golden Tip Assam

Tea Maker : Sanjay Rawat [Michelle is seen below with the previous manager and tea maker [now retired Diwakar Thapliyal] 

Origin : Khongea Tea Estate, Hiloidari, Upper Assam, India 
In the upper reaches of the Assam region, on the S Bank of the Brahmaputra River.

Size : 470 hectares with three factories.

Harvest Time : June

Cultivar : Clonal P-126

GradeTippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (TGFOP) [meaning that there is a high content of the young, golden tips or buds. Tips are particularly rich in the substances that create the aroma, taste and flavour of the tea]

Plucking standard : Two leaves and a bud or three leaves and a bud

Processing : Withered, rolled, oxidised and fired.

Experience : Rich, strong and malty

Last visited by Comins : June 2017, Michelle Comins

How to prepare tea [Western Style]...

Amount of tea per bowl (200 ml): 2.5 g (1 teaspoon)

Water temperature: 100℃ / 212℉

Infusion / brewing time: 3-5 minutes as desired

Number of infusions: 1

How to enjoy: No sugar, add milk if desired.

Tales of the Tea Trade : Khongea

Established in the late 19th century Khongea passed into the Prakash family over 50 years ago and under their management has set standards for many other large estates in the area.  You can see Michelle with Husna in the picture below tasting tea at the main office in Kolkata back in 2017

Michelle : Extract from our our book Tales of the tea trade :  In 2017 I finally got the chance to visit and stay at this garden under the care of Diwakar Thapliyal, the wonderfully kind garden manager. [pictured below with Michelle]

[.....] Diwakar has a long history in the Indian tea industry, having grown up in Mussoorie, an Indian hill station where he had seen tea growing and gained his basic knowledge. Two topics dominated our discussions: people and quality. Diwakar explained how an estate like Khongea [.....] is a democracy of over 2,000 people working together towards a common goal [....] 

Not all estates think or work like this, which is why you need to know where your tea comes from and support those, like Khongea, that do.

Further insight from our time at Khongea
[not in the book!]

'The Seed Barie' Michelle : 'Travelling the garden in the Jeep Diwakar took a detour up a very narrow path in front of an area that looked like an orchard.  It was in fact a “seed barie", an area [similar to an orchard] separated from main tea fields where the parents of approved stock are established.  This is where tea seeds are produced and like standard tea plants these trees ideally grow on well drained, fertile sandy loam soil.  Tea seeds are produced over the entire surface of a seed tree so they are planted far enough apart so that when at full size the branches do not overlap.   When ready the seeds simply fall off and are collected.  At Khongea the team plant just two kinds of tea trees in the Barie we visited - Tv1 and Tv19.  These have different characteristics, one good quality, one vigorous, one sensitive to water and pests, one not.  The bi-clonal seeds produced in the seed barie mean you don't need grafting as the seeds have already come from cross pollination of two plants existing in the same area.  Away from the Barie the team here have their own nursery where they propagate from both seeds and cuttings.  Across the whole estate a variety of cultivars are planted.  TV1 , S3A3, Tinalli 17 are all good for CTC as they have a fullness and deliver a brisk bright cup.  For orthodox teas they mainly plant P126 [which delivers a high number of golden tips] Betjan and Tinallu 17.  Many of these clones were propagated around 50 years ago by the TOCKLAI tea research Institute.   On the way back to the factory we passed areas under ‘regeneration’ - during this process trees are cut to 18 to 20 inches in order to give them a longer life potential'

'In the factory : Orthodox vs CTC' : Michelle : 'Back at the factory, looking over the large withering beds, Diwakar explained how once 8 percent withered the leaves would be removed.  Those destined for CTC will simply pass into the machinery that will eventually deliver the fine particles used in tea bags.  The Orthodox leaves pass to the rolling tables where cell breakage will takes place - stimulating enzymes from the nucleus and cytoplasm to react in the presence of oxygen.  The sap concentrated in the leaf from the withering process is released coating the tips and giving them a golden hue - ask to see the leaf next time you are in a tea store - you should see the sheen on the top of a good quality leaf  While all this is happening the leaves are also shaped - the style is determined by the pressure which is controlled by the large wheel to the side of the roller.  Every ten minutes pressure is applied before being released getting heavier with each cycle.  How much pressure is applied throughout will be determined by the leaf type.  The leaves then pass to the fermenting room where they are left, on the floor, for two hours - this is an extremely important part of the process where the chemical changes in the leaf develop and lots of external factors must be considered including the weather and the conditions in the room.  The final parts of the process involve removing dust, getting rid of stalks, fibre and flaky leaf and then of course tasting.   Diwakar and his team taste the teas twice a day at a space in the heart of the factory - something we were allowed to partake in on our visit - quite an experience!  Early samples are tasted to see if any improvements can be made and packing samples are tasted to ensure quality before the teas are packed to ship.  Diwakar explained how they always taste the CTC first followed by the orthodox looking at the appearance, infusion and the cup.  On the dry leaf they are looking for tips, the glow in tea, leaf size and the presence of stalks . For the CTC teas they are looking for fullness - how thick the tea is in the mouth, briskness and the  astringent qualities in the tea.  The brightness in the cup is confirmed when you add milk so we always taste all teas with and without! 


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