Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thé du Hammam Black Leaf : Le Palais des Thés

After sampling the original green leaf blend of Thé du Hammam by Le Palais des Thés (my review can be read here), I was kindly offered a chance to sample the black-leaf blend version of the same that I suspected would be fabulous based on the description and with what I've since come to know of Le Palais' 'pur' keemun chinese tea as a base.

My sample arrived yesterday and I've yet to put my mug back down on the table - it's that good! A true, slighty smoky/slightly floral keemun base that works well with the Thé du Hammam recipe. What's different in this version is that the green date of the original recipe has been replaced with rhubarb. There's still a bit of rose and floral in the aroma and ever-so-slight on the finish. The rhubarb is there, but it doesn't overpower, and as you can see from the dry leaf below, it's intended to be subtle (no fruit salad-sized chunks to compete with the leaves).

But the real draw of this for me is the keemun. Smooth, savory, smoky, subtly spicy. There's a chocolate note that comes through, whether intentional or just a pleasant side effect of the ingredient combination, noted by myself and my tea-drinking companions. The fruit sweetness of the rhubarb isn't overdone and doesn't evolve into the typical 'red fruit' acidity to which other fruit blends fall prey. The floral is also not overwhelming and sits more as a background note than it did in the green leaf blend that I tried. Wonderful.

As far as steeping tips - I did the traditional teapot style with water at boiling for roughly 4.5 minutes, with a third cup's worth that was left to steep for an additional two minutes in the same pot. The remainder was stronger, but still not bitter or diminished. The package directions call for a 5 minute steep, which seems appropriate. It's not a tea you'd want to understeep, with the keemun being the focus, you want to give it a chance to work its magic.

Green or black - Thé du Hammam is enjoyable, and I've found a new personal favorite! Both versions are worth a try, and if you're like me and find the green fruit blends in general to be a bit écoeurant, you'll certainly want to give this black leaf version a spin.


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