16 Tasting Notes

75

The Castleton was a bit of a surprise as the first two Darjeelings I tried from Golden Tips were not all that good. I enjoyed drinking the Castleton. Although it may lack some of the complexity and depth when compared to top tier premium Darjeelings, this tea had all the basic characteristics of a good Darjeeling along with a slightly nutty taste enhancing the flavor. For a sunny Sunday afternoon in Southern California, it was a good tea to have. Very easy to drink and very easy to like with a slight astringency to balance out the overall Darjeeling flavor of this tea. I would like to have given this a slightly higher rating but since the tea is going up against Darjeelings from Mariage Freres, I can only rank this at 75 but I will mark this tea as recommended with reservations.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 360 ML
SFTGFOP

I’ve never been overly impressed with Castleton Estate, but perhaps I need to give this one a try!

Excelsior

It ddepends on what your expectations are. I would recommend this tea for those that are new to Darjeeling and for those that are on the fence about the taste of Darjeeling teas.

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85

Change of pace ad reviewing a high mountain Taiwanese Oolong tea rather than the Darjeelings I’ve been tasting and reviewing.

What I like about Oolongs is it’s more forgiving than the temperamental Darjeelings. Meaning, I eyeball the amount of tea and the amount of water. I really don’t have to measure carefully like I do with the Darjeelings

I flash rinse the Oolong tea for 5 seconds.
1st steep 20 seconds-moderate aroma very light, vegetal and fruity taste.
2nd steep 20 seconds-very grassy and vegetal taste. The fruity taste is still there but slightly overshadowed by the above two tastes.
3rd steep 20 second- very good aroma and the fruity sweet taste is really coming out. The leaves have unfurled and the sronger fuller taste and aroma of the Oolong is very very good.
4th steep 25 seconds-The tea is becoming smoother yet still retains the fruity taste

I can probably get 6 very good steeps from this Oolong with the taste giving out and becoming thinner on the 7th, 8th, and 9th steep. This is avery good tea from Taiwan Tea crafts and I have to thank them for this sample. I am always amazed at how much change the Taiwanese High Mountain teas go through between steeps and I enjoy every steep for different reasons.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 6 OZ / 175 ML

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20

It does not have the aroma of a first flush Darjeeling. It does not look like a first flush Darjeeling. When steeped, it does not exhibit a golden yellow of a first flush Darjeeling. So the question I have is, is this a first flush Darjeeling?

The color of the unsteeped leaves is dark brown with a few tips sprinkled in. The photo on their website does not resemble the tea leaves I received. I steeped the leaves first with a full tablespoon of tea leaves per 360ml of water. the tea took on a dark brown/black color. For the next pot, I used two teaspoons of tea, and still the color was a dark/brow.

Upon tasting the tea, it definitely did not taste like a Darjeeling. Not even like a second flush Darjeeling which the color of the leaves and the color of the tea slightly resembled.

This tea falls far short of what I was expecting with it’s higher price tag compared to the other first flush Darjeelings listed on their site. Sorry Golden Tips. I really wanted to like the two teas I’ve tasted so far, and I have tried several different parameters but to no avail.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 360 ML
Golden Tips Teas India

Dear Excelsior. This has been a very surprising review for us and we are sure of the fact that a wrong tea has been sent to you.(A very rare mistake form our shipping team) Our Singell Darjeeling is one of our good sellers and we get repeat orders from across the world on a daily basis. It makes a bright golden liquor with a light green infusion. We understand that the Longview which is just priced at $55 per kg. will not be the best Darjeeling you will have. It is a good tea at a good price. But this tea is definitely something you as a First Flush Darjeeling lover will appreciate. We are getting a new package shipped to you immediately today to compensate for the inconvenience. We are sure you wil like Singell Darjeeling. Thank You :)

Excelsior

I was thinking there was a mistake in the tea you sent so I opened both of the 25g packages I ordered and found the same dark tea in both of them.

Golden Tips Teas India

It is definitely a mistake from our end and we have recieved such a complain for the very first time. We have dispatched your the Singell once again and I am sure you will like them. Also, we are hopeful you will like the other teas :)

Excelsior

Thank you.

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35

As always, i preheat the pot before brewing any tea. I approached this tea with optimism which only lasted until I opened the package. The tea leaves had no scent. I could not detect any type of aroma from the unsteeped leaves.

The first brewing I tried was 1 TBS of tea leaves for 360ml of hot water at 195F for 3 minutes. The prepared tea had no taste except for a slight floral note. The tea had almost no flavor and it was like drinking hot water with a faint floral flavor.

For the second pot, I tried increasing the tea to 1TBS and 1TSP and steeped for 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Again, no taste. So for the third pot I tried 2 full TBS for 4 minutes. Finally, very faint taste came out but in no way resembled a Darjeeling tea.

So there is not much to write about as this tea had almost no aroma, even when steeped, a very very light taste, and no character.

Flavors: Floral

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 6 tsp 12 OZ / 360 ML
SFTGFOP

Which ever of Golden Tips you like the most, I have to try for myself.

I had the MF Namring Poomong, absolutely amazing. The best FF I’ve had this year. (still too green for me, but I severely lowered the brewing times and treated it almost like a White tea, and got some delicious notes on it)

Excelsior

I had 50 grams of the Darjeeling Poomong aand it was good but I could not extract that great taste you are describing. Changed up the paramters around MF suggestions of 95C for 4 minutes. Never lowered the steep times past 3 minutes. Perhaps when I order the purchase from MF.

SFTGFOP

Unfortunately I don’t know the complete parameters of what I brewed mine at as I was at work. All I know was that the kettle had boiled a good period of time before I got around to making the tea!

Really it had the sweetness of a peach, with a slight tropical muscatel taste. Darjeelings can be so persnickety; its one of the reasons I love them.

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80

360ml of water at 195F
1 heaping tablespoon of tea
Steep for 4 minutes
1/4 teaspoon of highly refined sugar

It’s described as a Namring Poomong Upper, but with the DJ2 designation, and an SFTGFOP1 ranking, it is classified as a different Spring Flush Namring tea at Mariage Freres. Yet the similarities are there coming from the same estate, same flush, same year. However, this tea is not as good as the Spring Flush Namring was last year.

The taste is very light and I tried bringing out more of the flavor by adding more tea leaves. The taste became sronger but did not necessarily heighten the flavor of the tea. The Namring last year had a refreshing floral note while retaining all of the flavor of an exceptional Darjeeling. It had great body as well. The 2013 Namring has less flavor, does not have the floral notes, has more of an earthly quality to it, and is flat in taste.

I really wanted to like this tea and it is still a good Darjeeling, but it misses the mark of the stellar Darjeelings Mariage has released in previous years.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
sherapop

Thanks for posting about this company in the forum. I’ll have to try some of their offerings!

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53

400ml of water at 195F
1 level tablespoon of tea
Steep for 4 minutes
1/4 teaspoon of highly refined sugar

As a Spring Flush tea, this Jungpana represents a difficult tea to judge. In 2011, the First Flush Jungpana was among my favorites, highlighting all the tastes a fine Spring Darjeeling has to offer. In 2012, the Jungpana lost some of its flavor and was a very light tasting Darjeeling.

This 2013 Spring Flush Darjeeling is more similar to a Summer Flush than a Spring Flush. It has the bold, brisk, astringent taste of a Summer Tea. It retains some if it’s fruity flavor of years past but this is all together different when mixed in the the astringency and the bold taste.

As a Spring Flush Tea, it fails to please. It has none of the complex, light tasting, multitude, of floral and fruity notes. The stringency is strong, harsh, overbearing and does not accentuate the overall taste. Gone is the very slight, not at all sour stringency which brings together and heightens the taste of all the complex flavors.

Hopefully all the other teas of my purchase, will live up to the gold standard of a Mariage Freres Spring Flush tea.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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82

400ml of water at 195F
1 generous table spoon of tea
Steep for 4 minutes
1/4 teaspoon of highly refinded suger

Teapot warmed and rinsed with hot water. Tea leaves placed into the teapot and left standing for 30 seconds to build up the aroma.

This was quite unexpected. A first flush Darjeeling to arrive in JANUARY of 2013. Mariage Freres always provides a wide spectrum of Darjeelings always pushing the boundaries of what a Darjeeling should taste like. The Namring Poomong is no exception.

Very large green leaves with silver tips mixed throughout the tea. The scent of the leaves is light. The leaves yield a very yellow tea after being steeped for 4 minutes. Yet even at 4 minutes, the tea does not exhibit any atringency which gives way to the delicate flowery/fruity flavor and aroma, with a hint of nuttiness.

This is not a Darjeeling having a bite to its taste. This is a delicate and smooth tasting Darjeeling where all of the individual light flavors can be enjoyed. This tea is a worthy addition to first flush line up of Mariage Freres Darjeelings.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
CharlotteZero

I added that tea a few days ago here: http://steepster.com/teas/mariage-freres/35451-2013-namring-poomong-upper-ftgfop1-darjeeling-first-flush-ex1-2013. I wish Steepster had an option to combine two pages.

Excelsior

Hmmm. Searched for this tea last night and I did not find it on the tea list. Searched again after you comment and found it. Don’t know if they can combine the two pages.

CharlotteZero

Well, I’m glad I was following you and saw this review. I’m going to try this one tonight!

Excelsior

Hope you like it. I’m interested in reading your thoughts on the Brumes D’Himalaya and the White Tea from Beyond the Skies. Enjoy!

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70

400ml of water at 205F
1 heaping tablespoon of tea
Steep for 3 minutes
1/4 teaspoon of highly refined sugar

Rating Darjeeling teas from Mariage Freres is a difficult proposition. Why? Because the benchmark is so much higher which is reflected in the price of their teas. USD48 for this Spring Flush Arya. Would it be fair to compare this tea to other retailers selling their Spring Flush Darjeelings for half or even a third of this price? Maybe not, but I will say this. The Arya from Mariage Freres is a fine Darjeeling when compared to offerings from other retailers, yet when compared to its Mariage Freres peers like Namring, Castleton and Margaret’s Hope, it falls ever so slightly short.

The color of the leaves is a mix of green and brown. The scent of the leaves is surprisingly strong and alluring when compared to other Mariage Freres FF Darjeelings. However even when properly brewed, the taste lacks the depth I expect from FF Darjeelings. It also lacks complexity in its taste.

I have tried most of the FF Darjeelings from Mariage this year. Some are exceptional (FF Margaret’s Hope, FF Namring, FF Castleton, FF Ambootia), some are very good (FF Jungpana and FF Sivitar). Others are just satisfactory (FF Moondakotee, FF Nurbong, FF Chamling, FF Happy Valley, FF Bloomfield, FF Turzum).

For those not accustomed to the taste of Darjeelings, or for those disliking the grassy nature fo the taste, I would recommend the neutral taste of FF Sivitar and FF Jungpana Upper. For those accustomed to the tase of Darjeelings, then the FF Castleton, FF Namring, and FF Margaret’s Hope are the best teas for 2012. For a tea with a complex taste and very different from other traditional Darjeelings, then try the FF Ambootia. Arya just floats in the middle somewhere. Lacking taste, depth, complexity, and flavor to justify the 37 euro price tag.

This is he last review for the FF 2012 Mariage Freres Darjeelings. Next year, I’ll rate the teas again because the taste changes dramatically year to year, from the same estate, from the same harvest season, and even with the same rating.
Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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94

400ml of water at 195F
1 heaping tablespoon of tea
Steep for 2 minutes
1/4 teaspoon of highly refined sugar

Darjeelings are extremely temperamental. Over extend one or more parameters (tea leave volume, water temperature, steeping time) and the tea becomes mediocre. Darjeeling also has the disadvantage of only offering one good steep and if manage to get a second or third steep, it does not compare to the flavor and taste of the first.

This year’s Castleton, by Mariage Freres, surprised me. The recommended steeping time for the 2011 FF was 5 minutes. The recommended steeping time for this year’s Castleton is 2 minutes. Same estate, same flush, same grade, different year and the time changes considerably. Could this be correct? Based on my memory, it took a full 5 minutes to bring out the full complex flavor of the 2011 FF Castleton. It only takes two for this year. Steep the 2012 for a longer time and the astringency will assert itself often masking the other delicate flavors exhibited in this tea.

So how is the taste of the 2012 First Flush Castleton? Excellent. A complex mixture of floral notes, full body with the classic “muscatel” taste, and little to no stringency. This flagship Darjeeling tea from Mariage is always good. Consistent in high quality, full flavor and great taste year after year after year. I asked the question of why the Darjeelings from Mariage are so different in taste from other retailers and their answer is this: “most of our Darjeeling premium flushes are exclusively grown and kept for us by the owners of the gardens from one flush to the other. That also is the reason why we can on some very rare occasions refuse a whole flush from one garden due the incapacity to meet our standards.”

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I’ve always had an interest in tea and it became a passion when I moved to work and live in Japan. There was a Mariage Tea Salon just three subway stations away from where I lived.

I tried the Darjeeling Princeton blend. It was fabulous. In the course of twenty three years, I tried all sorts of teas from Lupicia, Marine de Bourbon, Fortnum and Mason, Shiseido Tea Salon, Brooke Bond Tea Salon and countless others. Now, I primarily order Premium Spring/First Flush Darjeelings direct from Mariage Frères, France. Others teas I drink are Oolong Teas from Taiwan, Green and Red Rooibos from South Africa, and the Japanese Green Teas my wife always brings back from Japan.

Location

Irvine, CA

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