by ali on March 25th, 2015
Why did we choose it?
Tea buyer Ali explains:
“In the last few months we have begun to expand and improve our offering of Indian teas and are building relationships with some really fantastic gardens in Assam and Darjeeling. After tasting Khongea’s teas it was apparent that these were some special Assams, and we knew we just had to have the Khongea Assam Gold! Khongea is a fantastic estate producing some really interesting teas; we are already planning on buying lots more this year.”
Sudhir Prakash, Chairman of Khongea and the Glenburn Estate in Darjeeling, states:
“If Darjeeling tea is referred to as the Champagne of tea, then a good quality Assam garden such as Khongea produces the finest single malt whisky of tea”.
We already knew good things about the family-run Khongea Estate: Jen had met Husna, and our good friend Jane Pettigrew further endorsed Khongea as one of her favourite Assam gardens. They are certified by the Ethical Tea Partnership, and are genuinely supportive of the community in the surrounding area, reflecting Canton’s own values. Our ceaseless pursuit of the best teas from ethically-minded gardens involves exploring numerous estates and tasting hundreds of samples. In Khongea, we have found a place that not only makes fantastic tea, but also puts great effot into growing and sustaining their wonderful community.
Our new house blend, Canton Assam, combines the forces of the incredible Khongea Assam Gold with another high-grade Khongea Estate Assam, the Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. This provides the traditional rich malty Assam flavour.
The Expert’s Opinion
Renowned tea expert Jane Pettigrew did her own taste test with our two new Assam teas. This is what she thinks:
Khongea Assam Gold
“Khongea’s prize-winning Assam deserves every accolade it receives. It looks gorgeous with its stout black leaves generously scattered with the golden tips, and the sparkling amber liquor has the most wonderful sweet aroma, with hints of cinnamon, and a lightly malty taste that is sweet, clean and so satisfying. I could drink this all day – and often do!”
Canton Assam Blend
“Deeper in flavour and more mouth-filling than the subtle, lightly malty liquor of Khongea Gold, this is my chosen start-the-day brew on mornings when I need a little more encouragement to get going! It has all the strong, sweet, malty notes that really wake up both my palate and my brain.”
The North American Tea Championship™ is an independent tea competition. The awards judging 2014 season teas have been held throughout the last year, and the Fall Hot Tea Class Competition, for second flush teas, was held this February.
We were thrilled to hear that our Khongea Assam Gold, submitted by our suppliers, was the overall winner in the Assam category.
We love looking into the way tea competitions are judged, so we read up on the North American Tea Championship’s ‘Hot Tea Class Methodology’. The judges evaluate the tea through blind taste tests, sensual analysis of the dry leaf, the brewed colour, brewed aroma, brewed flavour, mouthfeel and ‘brewed harmony’.
The teas are awarded points up to 100 for each of these characteristics, their average score calculated, and then they are ranked to determine the winner and two runner-ups. We’re very proud that our Khongea Assam Gold came first in the Assam category with an average score of 84.
The Technical Stuff
Our supplier calls the tea ‘Khongea Assam Golden Tips GFBOP’, or Golden Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe. This is a broken leaf tea. With Assam, unlike Chinese tea, broken leaf doesn’t necessarily mean a lower quality tea. GFBOP is actually the preferred grade for drinkers of Assam as it delivers a deep, smooth flavour.
This tea is also a ‘CL’ or ‘Clonal’ tea. This means that the tea is made only from especially reserved clone plants. These teas are grown from cuttings rather than seeds, which ensures the desirable characteristics from the original plant are held true and effectively each plant is a clone of the original mother plant. Khongea Assam Gold is made with from one particular clone, Panetola126, unlike standard Assams which are usually a blend of many. Panetola126 is particularly sought after for its golden tips.