Ratnapura is easily one of the most obscure tea producing regions. Located in the South interior of Sri Lanka, bordering its more famous tea producing cousins: Matara to the South, Uva to the West, and Nuwara Eliya to the North, Ratnapura could be easily forgotten. Oddly enough, Ratnapura is actually best known for its gem mining. Lying in a lower elevation in a transitional climate zone between hills and plains (usually less than 2,000 ft above sea level), Ratnapura produces rougher, more robust teas. Ratnapura’s best known teas are probably those from the Pilapitiya family’s New Vithanakande Estate.
In aroma, Ceylon FOP Ratnapura is not unlike an Assam or Darjeeling Black in its hints of malt, smoke and orange zest. In flavor though, the difference between Ceylon FOP Ratnapura and an Indian Black is quite stark. Ceylon FOP Ratnapura has a harsher, hickory smoked component with an a slightly more bitter leafy aftertaste. Ceylon FOP Ratnapura’s texture is also highly distinct from other Subcontinental Blacks: an astringent molasses-like grit seems to cling like smoke to the back of the throat. Also, the grit itself is denser and maltier–more tingly on the tongue. Phenotypically, in terms of the appearance of the loose leaf, deep copper-brown liquor and the spent leaves, Ceylon FOP Ratnapura is definitely an FOP. In terms of its overall refinement, as harsh as it is, and as full and aromatic a Black, FOP also feels like the correct fit.
- Aroma – 93
- Taste – 92
- Texture – 94
- Spunk – 95
- Price – 92
- Availability – 100 (I can’t find its compliment online. Nicely done TeaHaus!)
- Appearance – 93
Mean score – 94%
Quite a showing for an FOP! Lisa, you should be very proud. ;)