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.