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First Darjeeling I ever tried, limited to Equal Trade Gift Set, we opened one over the summer, when Teavana didn’t have a Darjeeling on the wall due to flooding in the region.  Leaves are mostly olive, brown and grey, fine and short.  They didn’t smell pleasing in the bag, something artificial but was probably smelling the packaging more than the tea.  Brewed leaves resemble shredded mush (wonder how much the Special grading improves this) looks like there may be many stems.  

Leaves smell of grape leaves again, weird.  The aroma of the cup is my favorite, it’s comforting and somehow feminine.  It reminds me of mothballs, books, a muddy spring and my mother’s jewelry boxes.  

The mouthfeel is astringent like an IPA and unfortunately I’m more of porter, lager and stout kinda gal.  It makes me wonder if the soil is more acid in this region/altitude.  I get the muscatel notes on the first steep, the second is all crisp and spicy and is like drinking a citronella candle.  I upped the temp by five degrees and even that makes this tea intolerable for me.  Bleh.  

I can’t help but wonder if this tea is too old.  I got it on sale online last month (really just for the copper tins) and only opened the vacuum sealed pouch today but I notice a freshness difference between spring and autumn 2011 teas, so Spring 2009 when it’s not aged… very possibly stale, no preservatives and what not.  I thought I liked this more than the de Triomphe, but definitely not now.  Dump.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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Bio

Druid, artist, poet, mum, lover of tea, ritual and myth. I grew up on Celestial Seasons herbals but fell in love with straight loose leaf tea working at my local Teavana for a year. I am grateful for the introduction and the experience, but have moved on.

I see tea as an experience for the senses, I like to imagine tasting the land and the weather as well as the effect of sun, air, fire and the human hand. I have a soft spot for shu pu’er, yabao, scented oolongs, wuyi oolongs, taiwanese tea as well as smooth naturally sweet blacks, creamy greens and surprisingly complex whites.

I began ordering lots of samples from Upton to educate myself on different varieties of tea we didn’t have at work and have fallen head over heels for the unique offerings from Verdant Tea. I am learning things I like: buttery mouthfeel, surprising sweet or spice notes, woodiness, mineral notes, depth and complexity and things I don’t: astringency, dry and sour notes.

I collect tea tins and am in danger of collecting pots, though I am trying to restrain the urge due to current lack of space. I brew mostly in a glass infuser mug or a tea maker, only using cast-iron for company now (still need to get a gaiwan) and tend not to sweeten my teas unless they are British or fruity and iced, which is not often.

As far as ratings, I lack a definite system and haven’t been assigning numbers lately, wanting to spend multiple sessions with a tea first. I usually only log a tea once, unless it is a new harvest or I have significantly different observations, but will go back and edit or comment if I find something interesting or new.

Location

Baker Street, Berea, Ohio

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