Friday, July 24, 2009

Review: ITI's Assam Cabernet

During a recent visit to LA, I checked out Chado Tea Room in Pasadena. It was cute and fun, but what I'm here to talk about today is the TEA (more specifically, the "wine inspired" Assam Cabernet).

International Tea Importers (ITI) carry six new "wine inspired" teas. I avoid many "trend teas," but I bought Assam Cabernet and Golden Monkey Marsala on the recommendation of a staff person, and I'm glad that I did.

The Leaves

The leaves of Assam Cabernet are small and mostly black, with dark, cinnamon-colored pellets (which I can only assume are the wine flavor EDIT -- THESE ARE CINNAMON BITS.). They have an intense bouquet with notes of dark cherry compote, a big, round California Cabernet, tannins and lots of vanilla.

The Brew

The brew is a bright, coppery color. Its aroma is very full, with notes of stewed cherries, orange rind, malt and ground mace.

The Flavor

Given the bold aroma of this tea, the flavor is very mellow. It's less fruity and sweet than the smell, and is dominated by flavors characteristic of a malty, somewhat tannic second-flush Assam.

The Aftertaste

If the flavor description leaves you saying, "Meh," read on my friend. The lingering aftertaste gets exciting again with floral, fruity, vanilla and tannin flavors.

Had the aftertaste been mediocre, I would not have recommended this tea, but it pulled through and left me a fan. It's not my new favorite, but it's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in both tea and wine. Have you tried it? What do you think?


Steph said...

Interesting! I'll be on the lookout.

Jason Witt said...

Yes, this is interesting. It's nice to know that so many flavors can be found in a cup of tea, like in a wine, yet not be intoxicating. I do kind of wonder what's in "flavor pellets" though. That's a bit of an issue. Just what is the stuff? --Jason

VeeTea said...

So... Chado doesn't have real labels for their teas and their website didn't have a listing for this tea when I wrote the review. I requested a catalog and found out after writing this that the pellets are, in fact, cinnamon bits. Sorry for the confusion!