Pardon my play on words. Obviously there are various meanings to the words heart and hearty but with Valentine’s Day falling in this month it seemed as good a time as any to look at some hearty teas. Even if Valentine’s Day wasn’t nigh, it’s still winter in the Northern Hemisphere (a relative concept here in southern Arizona), which always seems like a great time to turn to the sturdier types of tea. Here are a few of them.
I probably overdo it with my never ending praise for Assam tea, one of my all-time favorites. But it’s almost become a cliché to refer to this Indian black tea as malty or robust. So when it comes time to choose a hearty tea this one should be considered.
Real Lapsang Souchong is Chinese black tea that’s been “flavored” by curing it over the smoke from a pinewood fire. It’s something of an acquired taste and one that I have yet to acquire. But the hearty smoky flavor makes it a rather logical choice for when the cold is nipping at your ears and there are actually fires burning in fireplaces all around.
Keemun is another Chinese black tea with a somewhat robust flavor. But while many varieties of this tea have also have a smoky flavor, the ones I’ve sampled have been much more understated – and palatable – than the aforementioned Lapsang Souchong.
You could almost say that the puerh tea is a world unto itself, with fanatical connoisseurs of the stuff who gather to discuss it in great detail. It’s a type of tea I’ve had limited experience with but I can say that I’ve yet to meet one that I like. Which might just mean that I’ve never met the right one. It’s seems that I rarely read any commentary about puerh that doesn’t mention the word earthy and the ones I’ve tasted certainly fit the bill. You could just as easily substitute hearty for earthy.
Oolong tea runs the gamut from lightly processed varieties that have a subtle taste that’s not that far removed from green tea to heavily processed ones that are closer to black tea. If you’re looking for something hearty, an oolong in the latter vein might do the trick.
When I think about hearty teas, green tea is not the first thing that comes to mind. But there are a few varieties that probably fit the bill and I’d nominate gunpowder as one of them. Distinguished by its shape – small round pellets – gunpowder is one of the stronger green teas I’ve sampled and might not be for everyone.
A curious form of Japanese green tea, kukicha is unusual for the fact that it is made from pretty everything else but the leaves of the tea plant. It has a strong flavor that not quite like any of the other Japanese green teas I’ve sampled.
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