A distinctive flavor profile and elegant styling mark this hard-to-find Assam tea. We discovered this delicious tea among a grouping of 2nd Flush Assam teas that we were tasting back during the 2016 harvest. It was from a small lot of TGFOP1 grade, which is a mid-size leaf that is rarely produced in Assam this century. It seems that orthodox Assam leaf tends to be either quite small, in the classic manner, or huge in the modern reactive fashion. As with so many things these days, many ‘middle range’ entities are just not as highly regarded as they should be. Anyway, we were able to source this fine tea for two years, and then it became unavailable. Someone somewhere had taken a liking to it and had spoken for it with a multi-year, significant contract. It had developed quite a following with Tea Trekker enthusiasts, so we were sad to see it go, but these things happen with agricultural products such as tea, coffee, olive oil, etc. So we have kept an eye out for it ever since, in the hopes that whoever was purchasing all of it would move on to something else, and this year they must have, because it is available again to us, at least for now!
We are still impressed with the clarity and excellent color of its steeped liquor, and the deep, full-bodied flavor that this tea shows. It continues to be extremely well-made and the careful handling during manufacture shows in the evenness of the dry leaf and also contributes to its clean and elegant flavor.
Our Panitolla Estate 2nd Flush Assam has minimal ‘pull’ (the astringency that makes the inside of your mouth feel clean). Rather, the impression one gets from drinking it is more one of smooth richness and solid, full-bodied mouth-feel with a snappiness that is primarily the result of significant malt in the core flavor. We particularly like the flavors we tasted of a smooth nuttiness, and it has a ‘biscuit’-y finish. The aroma has a slight suggestion of ripe pear or amaretto (apricot pips) – both very lightly astringent, but noticeable astringency does not develop in the steeped liquor. There is also a slight cocoa or soft, medium-dark chocolate aroma that reminds us of the large-leafed eastern China black teas that we love.
Panitolla Tea Estate is located in the Tinsukia district of upper Assam in northeastern India. It is one of the older tea gardens in Assam and manufactures mainly specialized orthodox leaf for the premium tea trade. The remote situation of this garden shows in the depth of flavor that the leaf contains. Being a landmark garden in the history of the Assam tea industry, and not just a simple regional tea garden, Panitolla Tea Estate is responsible for developing several cultivars that have greatly increased the quality of contemporary orthodox tea manufacture in Assam.
Overall this is a beautiful and delicious tea for both tea drinkers who drink Assam tea regularly, and also those who only drink malty teas occasionally.