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Churachandpur valley, Manipur
Wild Assamica trees
Loose leaf black tea
This tea is intriguing as it is absolutely wild! The tea bushes in the forests of Manipur have grown in the wild and naturally for centuries. The galangal in this black tea also grows wild in the forest. Galangal is a rhizome belonging to the same family as ginger and is a culinary spice in south-east Asian cooking. Based on Ayurveda, galangal also has medicinal properties and helps with digestion. The wild galangal used in this tea, is of the lesser galangal variety and has a fennel flavor instead of the usual ginger and pepper flavors. When it mingles with the woody forest notes of the wild tea leaves, the combination is sublime and gives an immense sense of satisfaction.
The method of infusing the galangal rhizome flavors in the black tea is rigorous and meticulous. Unlike most blending, which is done by mixing dried tea leaves with dried herbs and spices, the blending of the wild galangal black tea is adopted from the method used to infuse flavors of jasmine in Chinese jasmine teas. Fresh galangal rhizomes are blended overnight with fresh wild tea leaves in a basket, separated in the morning, and then the tea leaves alone are sun-dried. The process is then repeated several times to achieve the right flavors and aromas. It has been thought that this method of blending gives a lovely aromatic infusion of flavors.
Number of infusions per 2.5 g serving: 3
2.5 gms of tea (use a digital scale)
120-150 ml (4-5 fl-oz) or 1/2 - 2/3rd cup of water at 90°C - 99°C (or 195°F - 210°F)
This tea works great for the gongfu method of steeping as it helps coax out all the subtle flavors.
We recommend 5 gm of tea
100 ml water (approximate 10-20 ml of water per 1 gm of tea) at 85°C - 90°C (or 185°F - 195°F).
Surrounded by small hills and narrow valleys, Churachandpur, locally called Lamka, is the second largest town in Manipur after Imphal. Misty and cloudy with rainfall throughout the year, the hills surrounding the valley make for an ideal setting for the growth of quality tea. Tea has grown wild and thrived in these forests for centuries. Wild tea bushes have deeper root systems and, therefore, can absorb higher nutrients from the soil and develop complex flavors. In addition, the surrounding flora helps add further unique flavors and aromas to the tea. The tea leaves are foraged from these wild tea bushes and then handcrafted by mountain artisans. The tea leaves are harvested from wild tea bushes, no chemicals or fertilizers are used, and the forest's natural ecosystem is preserved.
The sangai is an endangered subspecies of Elds deer found only in Manipur, India. According to Manipur folklore the animal has a deep cultural significance and is symbolized as the connecting soul between humans and nature.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this tea, but it's become one of my favorites. The deep, smoky flavor of the tea pairs with the sweet fennel-like wild galangal to make a cup that is unique and almost otherworldly. This will be a staple of my tea pantry.