This is a sample that was sent to me by Russel Allyn of Harney and Sons. What an amazing and generous box of goodness he chose for me! Thank you!
This is the third time I have made this tea today because that is what it took for me to be able to review it. My first steep this morning was intended for review, but oops! I had rescheduled a student who missed their lesson last week for this morning, and I had forgotten. I sipped the tea while teaching but didn’t get to do it justice. I made a resteep, but honestly this was so different from what I expected that I really felt I had to make another fresh batch to review.
First let me say that I used to maintain that Assams and Darjeelings are (were) my least favorite types of tea, though I do like some of them well enough. Most of that is my fault. My first Darjeeling was not a high quality one and as a newbie I made it badly indeed, treating it like any standard black tea. Wow, was it ever astringent! When I pulled back a little on temp and a lot on time, it was much better. Then I tried a really good Margaret’s Hope second flush that was quite good, but still a little astringent for my tastes.
My daughter brought a Darjeeling home from Budapest and I liked it a lot, but it is earthy, earthy, earthy. So when I tried this one, I said, “Whaaaaaaaat….?” it was so different!
The picture does not do justice to the leaf appearance. These leaves are much greener in person, highlighted with some beautiful leaves that are such a pale green they are nearly white.
The liquor is yellow, while the Luis one is brown. This is…..a bit buttery, a bit floral, a bit nutty, and a little astringent. Yet the muscat grape flavor is there, but hiding, then peeking. The Luis tea is dark, fruity, and very earthy. I am amazed at how different these Darjeelings are! I even had to brew a cup of the Luis tea to see if my memory was playing tricks on me. No, it is brown and earthy!
I see that Amy Oh noted a slight astringency at two minutes, while I did a four minute steep. I am not usually a fan of astringency, having once believed it to be undesirable and needing to be smoothed with milk and/ or sugar. Now that I have had a few of the Chinese palate-clearing greens I have begun to appreciate a little astringency.
The second steep still has a lot of flavor. I did try my tiny two ounce cup with about an eighth of a teaspoon of White Gold Raw Clover Honey and it was very nice. This is in interesting and complex tea. I just might get lured into stocking my cupboard with lots of Darjeelings after all.