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The Green Mountains of Sri Lanka in a Cup

March 15, 2009

Today’s tea: Kenilworth Estate OP Ceylon by Upton Tea Imports

Indulged in by: goodtea

Sri Lanka is the third largest tea-producing country in the world, so I thought it was time for me to start exploring the world of Ceylon tea.

The Kenilworth Estate apparently is a vast tea plantation in the mountains of Sri Lanka. Its tea is grown at high elevations, close to 3,000 feet.  The estate benefits from the rains of both the southwest and the northeast monsoons. Kenilworth seems to be known for consistently producing high-quality teas.

The long, wiry leaves of this particular orange pekoe Ceylon are black with hints of copper and have a surprisingly robust aroma.  Infused, the leaves unfold to look more like red-brown seaweed, and the liquid takes on a beautiful red-gold color. The steam carries with it a mild, fruity scent.

The tea itself is very smooth and light, even after steeping for 5-6 minutes. It has a very light astringency (though perhaps that was due to my leaning more towards the longer end of the recommended steeping time). Some have described the taste of this tea as creamy, though I found it tasted more like plum–dark, fruity, sweet with a tiny hint of tartness. I didn’t know such a taste was possibly in a pure, unflavored tea.

It was too mellow to be a breakfast tea for me, but it is probably excellent in the afternoon or after a meal. The leaves didn’t seem to hold up well for a second infusion,  which is a shame, but I think I will try to use more than a teaspoon per cup to see if I can make it a bit stronger all around.

Still, the Kenilworth Estate Orange Pekoe is truly a mouthwateringly delicious whole-leaf black tea. It’s one of those rare samples I’ve had that reveals a whole new flavor direction to me, and it tastes like it should cost much more than it does. I’ll probably buy a larger package of this tea to add to my permanent collection, as it seems like the kind of black tea I can serve to anyone without fearing they won’t like it.

Conclusion: A mild, amber-colored tea with a note of plum. An unforgettable delight.

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