Orange You Glad I Broke My Pekoe in Portugal?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I looked out the window today and thought to myself, I need a f**king vacation. Okay, everyone thinks that at one time or another, and I guess my long spat of unemployment last year was “kind of” a vacation. What I mean, though, is an actual break from it all in another place other than my house…in my room…at my computer. The Internet is not a vacation

Over the last couple of years, I have been “seeeecretly” planning my dream vacation. If I ever won the lottery, or came into some mysterious form of capital, or ended up at the beckon call of a pudgy-geek-loving sugarmomma…no one would see me for at least a year. Funny thing is (but not entirely unexpected), all my vacation stops would focus on tea, or more to the point, tea-growing regions.

My first stops would be the growers in the U.S., because – well – it’s A-MURR-ican tea gash-durrrnit! First, Skagit Valley for a jaunt to the Sakuma Bros. farm. It’s close-ish to my stomping grounds, and I tried their white tea and loved it. Second, Charleston, South Carolina, and a stop off at the Bigelow-owned tea plantation there. Then it’s across the pond to Cornwall, Great Britain for a tour of the Tregothnan estate. After that, my next phase was to hit the Rize region of Turkey before trekking to Georgia…but that notion has changed a tad.

Blame Portugal.

I first learned of the Gorreana Estate through my contributions to the review blog – It’s All About the Leaf. It’s my third (or fourth?) home for all things leaf-related. They received several offerings from the Azores-located estate – both bagged and loose. A new growing region?! SOLD! I put in a request for their loose-leaf green and loose orange pekoe. Alas, I was tied with another reviewer for the request. The site administrator – great guy – divvied up the spoils. I got the bagged OP and the loose green – a Hysson. The other got the pekoe. In short, both were wonderful.

Yet my palate and curiosity were not quite sated. I still had it in mind to one day track down the loose-leaf version of their flagship pekoe. By a stroke of luck, fate, or just plain randomness, I didn’t have to wait that long. The reason?

If there’s something unique I haven’t tried yet – be it food or drink – I have a tendency to whine about it. Not just vocally in real life, I also take to social media and let my lament be known. In my Twitter whining (Twhining?), Gorreana caught wind of my desire and offered to send me some. Not just their regular Orange Pekoe, but their Broken Leaf black tea as well. My glee was most apparent.

My thoughts were thus:

Orange Pekoe

First off, I can say that this was one beautiful looking tea – just on the dry presentation. The leaves were long, rolled, and ranging from tippy gold to dark brown. It looked like an autumn flush Darjeeling, only more even. That and it had the most wonderful aroma – both sweet, slightly malty, and earthy. I treated it like a normal OP and brewed 1 tsp. in 8oz. of boiled water, steeped for two-and-a-half minutes.

The liquor brewed to a light crimson color – a tad darker than most spring pekoes, but just right for summer. The aroma was sweet, honey-like, with a vague woodiness on the back-whiff. On taste, there’s not much to say other than, “Wow!” It was creamy on the forefront, sweet and vaguely citrusy in the middle, and it tapered off with earthiness like a Yunnan Dian Hong. A second steep was a bit more astringent than the first, but still well beyond drinkable – maintaining that sweet sensation throughout.

Broken Leaf

Color-wise, the dry leaves looked just like the OP – gold, beige, brown, crimson (?) – but they were…well…broken. The only long pieces in the fray were the stems. I didn’t mind one bit because the aromatic character had also changed. Instead of a likeness to an autumn flush Darjeeling, the cut leaves imparted a Ceylon-ish experience. I whiffed a bit of malt, flowers, and citrus. Very spry and sharp.

Regardless of the smaller cut of the leaves, the liquor brewed much lighter than the regular OP – more amber, less crimson. That and the aroma was all sweetness and citrus. The taste echoed the citrus comparison even further with a hint of grapefruit and mandarin on the forefront, followed by a floral top note reminiscent of lemon verbena. Flavor tapered off eventually with a hint of dryness. Still, it was a very summery cup and made me think “Viva Portugal” more so than the flagship OP.

The result? My imaginary vacation has been detoured. After Tregothnan, I’m heading straight for the Azores. The real problem is whether or not I’d ever leave. I mean, it’s gorgeous, the tea is good, and…well…Turkey is really far. And I’m the sleepy sort. Which reminds me, it’s back to dreaming about my tea vacation again. Don’t wake me unless the house is on fire…or a Lotto girl is at the door.

To buy the Gorreana Estate Orange Pekoe, go HERE.

To buy the Gorreana Estate Broken Leaf, go HERE.

20 Comments

  1. Katrina says:

    I always say that my vacation plans have been hijacked by tea. My past vacation dreams have been replaced by China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka… The latest “Tea Magazine” has a lengthy piece about tea travel to the Azores. I was editing it and decided that it was now very, very high on my travel list. Maybe we’ll see each other there.

    1. Got a link to said article? Or is it only in print?

      Yep, people look at me rather peculiarly when I say that I only want to go to Hawaii for the tea.

  2. Avatar of jackie jackie says:

    What do you mean, no one will see you for a year, once the lotto lady rings twice?
    You’ll see all of us, we wouldn’t miss your tea tour if you paid us – to stay home I mean. I think it’s wonderful how you’re working out the itinerary for everyone. @teapages will then write about it in the magazine, and we will all do the drinking.
    However if you’d like to meet some Azoreans, you needn’t go far. They keep on leaving their islands! In the 70s California counted 83,000 Azoreans. I’m sure some of them have had beautiful daughters, just waiting for you to ask for their hand in marriage. It goes without saying, where your honeymoon’s going to be…

    1. A friend of mine once said that my dream gig would be to do a Rick Steves-ish tea tour with a media bend. Talk about ideal! And, yes, visiting folks along the way would be included on said tour. I just mean immediate family wouldn’t see me for a year.

      As for marrying the locals…my Portuguese is a wee bit rusty.

  3. vsopfables says:

    My ignorance is such that I didn’t even know there was a tea estate in the Azores. Every time I used to stop in Santa Maria to refuel on the way to the Caribbean (yes, itte was in olden tymes) there was always a force 9 gale blowing.

    1. I didn’t know there was a tea estate there until six months ago, or that it has over a hundred years of history.

  4. Avatar of xavier xavier says:

    If I ever win the Lotto, I will make a world tea trip.
    When you win, you should be ambitious, shouldn’t you?

    1. @Xavier – It IS a world tea trip. That’s just the European leg. ;-P

      1. Avatar of xavier xavier says:

        @lazyliteratus – then we need to read more.

        1. Avatar of xavier xavier says:

          @lazyliteratus I just found out today that Club Med (a company specializing in holidays in camps) is making a 12 days/9 night trip to Sri Lanka called Heritance Tea Factory and there you can follow the whole tea thing (and drink some too).

          1. I know Club Med. I can’t afford Club Med. *heh*

  5. Margo says:

    It would be better to come to Wyoming and cost a whole lot less.

    1. That’s an immediate future thing. We’re talkin’ about pipe dreams here. *heh*

  6. Avatar of thedevotea thedevotea says:

    I’m pretty sure no-one has ever said “It would be better to come to Wyoming” before. Although I might need to check by watching Close Encounters of The Third Kind again.

    Geoff, I’m mystified by this review. No dream sequence? No mysteriously impish Goddesses? No R-Rated language? Looks like you need a holiday. And whilst I only know of one decent sized camellia sinensis bush in Adelaide, it’s worth you dropping by here. I have a LOT of tea.

    1. Avatar of thedevotea thedevotea says:

      Of course, I should add full marks for the title, which is nuttier than a squirrel’s scrotum.

      1. @thedevotea – That was my mother. She and a contingent of my family live in Wyoming. That was her way of saying I need to visit this summer. As to why this was “tamer” than the usual fair? I dunno…I guess I’m slipping.

        Australia is on the list of places to visit, if only for Daintree and Lord Petersham from the source.

        And I think “nuttier than a squirrel’s scrotum” is the best compliment I’ve ever received.

      2. Avatar of jackie jackie says:

        The title didn’t click as much as it should have because I still think of “Pekoe” as “Peeko” – not “Pecko” But yep, point taken.
        Wyoming, seems quite exotic to me. Wild horses, roaming country-side, lone ranger kind of stuff. Wild West galore. Would love to visit there one day.

        1. That’s EXACTLY what it’s like. No exaggeration. It is still very much the novelty of the Wild West personified. Mostly country.

  7. Avatar of scottteaman scottteaman says:

    We were supposed to visit WY on our trek to CA, but had to divert our plans when the night before, tornados had went through the towns we had planned to visit, I think we had plans to visit some of the towns where they had filmed Westerns.

    1. Hrm…towns where they filmed Westerns. In Wyoming. I think that’s ALL of them. ;-P I actually am partial to the state – been going there since I was a kid. Don’t think I could live there long, though.

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