These are my notes for the day before yesterday:
I used a well-heaped teaspoon steeped for two minutes, boiling water. The tea hadn’t completely waterlogged and sunk at the end: the instructions are for one infusion; but, I suspect there’s another one there.
In the mug it’s a moderately intense brown, with a slightly yellowish tinge.
In the nose I get a faint combination of the smells of nettles and of straw, plus a little basic tea and a slight hint of uncooked pastry-dough.
In the mouth I get good basic tea and the straw and nettles smells elements again. It hasn’t got that grass or hay sweetness, but it’s not particularly bitter or astringent – it’s clean and firm without being that. There’s something else in there that’s difficult to pin down: it’s a hint of a bite, but not so much a peppery bite as nearer to dried raisins or currants – it’s just a tiny hint in the background, noticeable as the tea cools.
Bearing in mind what I said about thinking there was another infusion in there, I made one – steeping for two and three-quarter minutes. The tea was surprisingly good and not noticeably weaker, similar to the last cup but with the addition, perhaps, of the tiniest hint of vanilla. I’m now thinking that, if the sellers are only recommending one infusion, I might have given the original infusion a bit longer than their recommended two minutes.
Just for an experiment, I tried another infusion. It’s still good. It’s less intense in colour and in flavour, but it’s a little more buttery, and, I think, a little more grassy.
These are yesterday’s notes:
I made a mug today with a well-heaped teaspoon, boiling water, and this time, bearing in mind all the infusions I was able to get yesterday, I brewed for three minutes.
It was the same intense but clear brown in the mug.
I’m not sure I get the same straw and nettles in the nose; there’s the pastry dough – or, perhaps, pizza base – and, now, a metallic touch.
In the mouth it’s harder and firmer and less sweet and I think three minutes was probably too long. This surprises me a little after all yesterday’s infusions without that happening. I must try two and a half minutes for next time’s first infusion. I’m sort of getting the straw and grass thing but it’s varied a little towards something like the flavour of digestive biscuits but without the sweetness.. As the level is falling and the tea cooling, I think the flavour is getting a little more intense and a little less firm and hard – or, perhaps, my taste buds are just getting used to it.
I made a second infusion but forgot it and let it steep for twenty-four minutes. It wasn’t anything like as bad as one might suspect, but not really to be recommended.
I made a fresh mug with a well-heaped teaspoon, this time brewing for two and a half minutes.
I think I hit this one spot on.
It has a good, noticeable aroma to it, the straw and nettles and pizza base, plus, perhaps, the tiniest touch of grassiness.
In the mouth it has the straw and nettles and the digestive biscuits, plus the tiniest hint of cut grass and that tiny bite – I described it above as ‘not so much a peppery bite as nearer to dried raisins or currants’, but now I’m thinking there’s a hint of sage to it.
The whole thing adds up to a refreshing and characterful tea, nearer to the ‘delicate’ side than the ‘robust’, but a little more robust than the typical tea of this type, I think.
I made a second infusion, two and a half minutes again, and I really can’t spot much difference – it’s the equal to the first, I think.
These are today’s notes:
I made a brew today with a well-heaped teaspoon and steeped for three minutes – I’d intended two and a half, but let it run over while I was checking through my (mostly junk) mail.
So it should have been a little too ‘hard’, like yesterday. It wasn’t; it was pretty good – but different to yesterday.
It has a doughy aroma with a hint of grass.
In the mouth it has good basic tea and, this time, has more than a hint of butter – it’s a definite element, giving a mellow smoothness and I’m not sure if it hasn’t the tiniest hint of chocolate to it – I mean a smooth milk chocolate, not one with any bitterness. There’s the tiniest hint of sage and thyme underneath. The flavour definitely gets a little stronger as the tea cools.
I’ve made a second infusion, this time managing to hit the two and a half minutes. It’s no weaker but slightly different in that, this time, there’s the addition of that ‘smell of nettles’ hint, both in the nose and the mouth.
This business of a tea altering from day to day makes me wonder if it’s my taste buds are altering; but it’s only with Darjeelings that I’m really aware of it happening – don’t know what to make of that. I’m fairly sure it’s the teas that are altering, not me, but I wouldn’t want to swear to it.
Anyway, as is evident from all the woffle above, I’m finding this a fascinating tea. It’s quite seductive – you start off being cool and objective, then you’ve fallen under the spell and find yourself cajoled and forced into giving a high rating – a Theda Bara of teas.
ETA – Since I posted the level in the cup has got half-way down and the tea cooled noticeably, and the aroma and flavour have most definitely got more intense – it’s well-worth having the patience to let it cool a little.
ETA, again – I made a third infusion – it may have been fraction weaker but it was still a delightful cup of tea. This one will definitely stand a second and third infusion.