KEYHUNG - Assam - 2nd Flush
(Estate Black Tea)
Country of Origin: India
Region: Assam - Tingri
Grade: BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe)
Altitude: 1500 feet above sea level
Manufacture Type: BOP (Broken Orange Pekoe) CTC (Cut, Torn and Curled)
Cup Characteristics: Strong, full bodied with excellent maltiness and rich color. A good self-drinker in the early morning for a pick-me-up.
Infusion: Bright and tending coppery
Ingredients: Luxury black tea
If you’re looking to really get away from it all and wouldn’t mind a cup or two of some of the best black tea on the planet while you’re at it, a voyage to Keyhung estate might be just what the Tea Master ordered. Located on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River, Keyhung is one of the more remote outposts of Assam, itself one of the more far-flung corners of the planet. Keyhung lies in the state’s northeast corner, sandwiched between the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the country of Burma. Just how far away is that from the Western world? Consider the fact that the border between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh has seen but a handful of foreign visitors since British WWII soldiers left the area after building the Burma road – we’re talking remote. Despite its location, Assam produces an incredible amount of tea. Some 473,000 metric tons of fresh Camellia assamica (Assam has its own indigenous variety of Camellia sinensis) is harvested annually from more than 271,768 hectares of gardens on 43,293 individual estates. What makes Assam teas unique is that unlike the high-grown teas of the world such as Ceylons or Darjeelings, fresh leaf is grown near sea level. Due to centuries of flooding and associated silt deposits along the banks of the Brahmaputra, the low-lying fields are exceptionally nutrient rich and produce hearty teas with deep malty notes and a sweetish earthy character.
Among the many thousands of Assamese estates, Keyhung stands out as one of the best year after year. The estate is massive, covering nearly 3 square miles, 2 of which are under tea. To put that size in perspective, over 3000 workers are needed to harvest and produce that much tea. (Note: Keyhung functions as a small town. Including all workers and their families, nearly 10,000 people call the estate home. The community includes schools, hospitals and community centers all provided free by estate management. Open fields are left for children to play in and a portion of unused land is dedicated to growing fresh produce for estate families.)
And how’s the cup? As mentioned off the top, Keyhung is widely regarded as some of Assam’s finest tea. When you brew a pot of Keyhung you can expect the characteristic Assam malt balanced by sweet creamy undertones - excellent tea from an excellent estate.
ETP certified. The Ethical Tea Partnership is a tea industry initiative that audits living and working conditions on tea estates around the world.
Hot tea brewing method: Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 teaspoon of tea for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea). Even though milk and a dash of sugar help capture the malty character of this tea, it is perfectly acceptable to consume this tea ‘straight-up’
Iced tea-brewing method: (to make 1 liter/quart): Place 6 teaspoons of tea into a teapot or heat resistant pitcher. Pour 1 1/4 cups of freshly boiled water over the tea. Steep for 5 minutes. Quarter fill a serving pitcher with cold water. Pour the tea into your serving pitcher straining the leaves. Add ice and top-up the pitcher with cold water. Garnish and sweeten to taste. [A rule of thumb when preparing fresh brewed iced tea is to double the strength of hot tea since it will be poured over ice and diluted with cold water]. Please note that this tea may tend to go cloudy or ‘milky’ when poured over ice; a perfectly normal characteristic of some high quality black teas and nothing to worry about!