June 07, 2016
Plum Deluxe Tea Blends
Tea blends with an orthodox, loose leaf base, are often aesthetically pleasing. Case in point are the two tea blends I sampled from Plum Deluxe. The Royale Black Tea is the company's signature offering made with Assam, Ceylon, Malva flowers, and safflower. The Royale Green Tea is also made with Malva and safflowers but contains two types of Chinese green teas, gunpowder and "Sleeping Dragon". I am familiar with the former but not with the latter. Gunpowder was one of the first Chinese green teas I drank. You may recognize it as the base tea in Moroccan mint tea. Internet research on "Sleeping Giant" yielded the following information: this tea is from Fujian and its liquor is not grassy, rather it is fruity and smokey.
I prepared both teas in a tasting cup set using 2 grams of tea and steeping each for 3 minutes in the appropriate water temperature (175 for the green and 212F for the black).
The dry leaves of the green blend were loosely rolled and smelled earthy. The infused leaves also smelled earthy. The liquor was a light honey color and slightly cloudy. The liquor was slightly bitter and had an underlying mushroom essence. Since I steeped this green tea according to a cupping protocol, I may have extracted smells and tastes that are atypical of what you would experience if you used a teapot or gaiwan method. When I prepared the tea using the vendor instructions of 1.5 teaspoons in 16 ounces of 180F water for 2-3 minutes, I found that the liquor had lost most if not all of the flavors I previously noted. Instead the liquor was too light The recommended leaf to water ratio is not optimal. It would make sense to try 1.5 teaspoons in 6-8 ounces of water.
The Royale Black tea is my favorite of the two blends. It tastes like a classic breakfast blend. The dry leaves were mostly dark in color and smelled of malt and fruit. The infused leaves smelled malty. The liquor was red copper and clear. The liquor tasted brisk and dry but was smooth and slightly sweet. I did not and would not add milk. As I did with the green tea blend, I also prepared the black blend according to Plum Deluxe's instructions of 1.5 teaspoons in 16 ounces of boring water for 3-4 minutes. The liquor produced from the recommended leaf:water ratio was lighter in color but also in taste and smell. I did not observe any sweet or fruity notes. It was slightly brisk.
I've become fascinated with the dry and infused state of tea leaves. What do you think of these teas' leaves in their infused state? Check out my Instagram feed for a photo of the infused green leaves which was taken after following the vendor's brewing protocol.
Tea samples provided by Plum Deluxe.