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Recent Tasting Notes
Today’s new darjeeling experience chez sherapop is this lovely Arya Ruby second flush from Golden Tips. The harvest date is June 27, 2014, so not very long ago. The dried leaves are mostly quite dark and spindly, but there are also a fair number of lighter silver tip as well.
The liquor is nearly orange, so definitely darker than first flush darjeelings. The dried tea is incredibly fragrant, with a rich floral and woody aroma. Why this tea could be a perfume! It’s definitely more complex than many of the abstract perfumes being produced today. Well, that’s another story.
The flavor is very rich as well. I’m not really sure how to describe it. How about delicious?
I am happy that these sample packets from the excellent Golden Tips subscription program contain a full 10 grams, which means that I’ll be able to try this tea two more times…
Flavors: Floral, Wood
Lewis & Clarke TTB
Yay, a second Darjeeling from Golden Tips! This one is an oolong, whereas the last one was a black tea, so I assume they’ll be quite different from one another. The leaves of this tea remind me of Oriental Beauty – they’re varying shades of brown and grey with silver tips mixed in. Dry scent is pretty similar to the other two Darjeelings, with sweet and slightly musty hay and grain notes. I used the lower end of the steeping time spectrum again, at 4 minutes.
Yum, the brewed aroma is a luscious mix of strong honey, sweet fruit that definitely leans toward grape juice, and bread notes. Wow, I actually really love this one! And it does somewhat remind me of Oriental Beauty in taste as well. There’s a ton of honey sweetness mixed with a lovely grape juice-like deep fruit flavor. I also taste a bit of that nice somewhat roasty autumn leaf note that I associate with oxidized oolongs. This tea screams “Autumn!” to me and I love it.
Thanks so much, Cheri, for including this tea in the box! :D
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Fruity, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Muscatel, Musty, Roasted, Sweet
Lewis & Clarke TTB
Trying another Darjeeling to compare! :D I think Cheri added this one to the box, since I know she has the Golden Tips subscription. Thanks, Cheri! The leaves of this tea look very different from the Giddapahar that I just tried – they look very much like green tea, especially after they’ve steeped and expanded. The dry scent is similar, though – musty sweet hay and grain, similar to a white tea. I used the shorter end of the steeping time range provided, mostly because I was afraid of bitterness.
Brewed, this tea smells pretty floral, but it also has creamy hay and grain notes. I also get a little bit of fruitiness, but it’s similar to fresh grapes instead of dried fruit. Wow, this tastes very similar to a white tea! It’s very creamy and smooth with sweet hay and pastry notes. At the beginning of the sip, I do get an interesting floral flavor that seems to disappear near the middle. It then reappears in the aftertaste and lingers on the tongue long after you’ve finished drinking. Luckily for me, it’s not a super strong or heady floral, so it’s pretty inoffensive. I’m surprised to not find any of the fruit notes that were in the last Darjeeling I tried. I’ve really enjoyed both of them, though! :)
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Grain, Hay, Pastries, Smooth
I had no idea what to expect from this Thurbo Winter Wonder Autumn Flush Darjeeling from Golden Tips, because the leaves look very different from most darjeelings. The color is mainly a sort of sienna brown, with some shades of brownish green dispersed as well, and the shapes are quite variegated, with many open, torn leaves, and fewer compactly twisted longer pieces.
I was a bit surprised, because I’ve been enjoying Margaret’s Hope Autumn Flush (see my mini blog for more on that: http://steepster.com/teas/norbu/47145-margarets-hope-darjeeling-autumn-flush-2012-ftgfop1), but the leaf form is completely different.
I used exactly the same brewing parameters: 3 grams; 10 ounces; 3 minutes at 81C, and to my surprise the liquor turned out bright yellowish orange—much brighter than most amber-colored darjeelings.
The good news is that the cup was delicious! The flavor is definitely different—less nutty than the Margaret’s Hope, but very smooth and enjoyable. Clearly I am a fan of autumn flush, though until recently that was unbeknownst to me. I suspect that many blends include some autumn flush mixed in, but I can now aver ex cathedra that there is nothing third-class about Third Flush Darjeeling! (Well at least not Thurbo or Margaret’s Hope.)
Today, September 3, 2014, was a historic day chez sherapop: her first experience ever of a darjeeling oolong tea!
I had no idea what to expect. First off, the dried leaves are beautifully variegated in color, size, shape, and texture. There are a fair amount of very attractive shiny silken textured tips among some darker, chocolate brown leaves and lighter, grayish-green leaves. The scent of the dried tea is definitely more darjeeling than oolong, but it’s a lighter, less grassy, and less nutty darjeeling.
The brewed tea, was more of a light peachy than a golden amber color, and tasted like … drum roll … darjeeling-scented oolong! Of course the “flavoring” comes from the tea itself, not from anything added. The texture is more like oolong, with the same juicy succulence found in lower oxidation oolongs.
I was very happy with this glass and decided to try a second infusion, since oolongs are always good for multiple steeps. This one was no exception to that rule, so I hereby do fully and truly aver that this darjeeling is an oolong! On the scale of green to black oolongs, I’d say that this is more fully oxidized, but since all darjeeling “black” teas are really oxidized to 90%, I’d guess that this one is more like 60%.
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.
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I had to dig around to find this one, because Nothing is quite listed as I would expect it to be for Golden Tips Teas. That said, I found it. Yay me!
I really liked this one as it cooled. But even hot, it was quite nice. Surprisingly, not quite as nice as the second flush goomtee that I had before it. I will enjoy the rest of this tea that I have.
Now here’s a darjeeling which I would easily identify as a darjeeling in a blind line-up! This second flush tea from Okayti (by way of Golden Tips) looks, smells, and brews up just like the darjeelings familiar to me. The leaves are of variegated shapes and colors, but on the whole they are veering dark matte chocolate brown and look like a lighter black tea.
The liquor is amber, pure and simple. A perfect example of the color of amber. Not red, not orange, not green, but amber. The taste is slightly astringent and grassy but with real depth and complexity as well.
I drank the first half of this batch while eating fresh raspberries sprinkled with sugar then frozen before drizzling half & half on top. This skewed my tasting a bit, since the berries were very tart and my tongue had to readjust to process the flavor of the tea.
By the second glass (when the raspberries were all gone), I recognized the smooth yumminess of this darjeeling. It may be that, at heart, I’m a second-flush kind of gal. Only time will tell, but by the end of this year I should know for sure!
Before I review this tea, permit me a caveat to everybody on the Golden Tips subscription plan (which I love, so that’s not the warning!): Golden Tips has something like five different company profiles at Steepster. I was unable to locate this tea until I did a Google search, which brought up this page. I was doing a Google search because I was unable to locate the page using the search function at Steepster (and I tried several different terms…), so I was preparing to download a photo and tea info, etc. This must be how so many duplicate pages for teas came to be at Steepster.
Now for my first Golden Tips tea experience: Darjeeling Okayti Splendour First Flush, this one picked on March 28, 2014, and identified as Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe 1 Splendour. But is it a black tea? That is the question before us.
To be honest, this has got to be the greenest darjeeling I’ve ever seen. Granted, most of the darjeeling which I’ve imbibed has been from blends, so not first flush, and not single estate. The dried tea in this first flush, single estate darjeeling from Okayti contains mainly green leaves. I am not imagining this: most of the leaves are various shades of green. There are also some silver tips and a few black leaves scattered about, but judging from appearance alone, I would call this a green, not a black tea—and that’s coming from someone who has consumed large volumes of both.
The liquor brews up greenish gold and becomes more gold and less green after a couple of minutes, but the flavor is very light and—here’s another surprise—it reminds me somewhat of green oolong!
I’m not really sure what to make of all this. The cup was quite tasty, but barely intersected with my concept of darjeeling—almost like a second cousin! Now I am all the more excited to sip my way through my first subscription plan box, hopefully before the next one arrives—which is right around the corner, since this one shipped on July 4th, and today is already the 22nd!
Since my generous sample packet still contains another 7 grams, I’ll withhold attaching a number to this tea until I’ve tried a few more of these darjeelings to give me some perspective on this unique experience.
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.
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.
This tea was just picked in June. Isn’t that neat? I really like being able to see the date of picking on the package.
I am having a Darjeeling revelation. I think I might love them! This one is delicious. Round and fruity (I think I am starting to identify the “Muscatel” quality). Slightly astringent but not unpleasantly so.
This tea requires some explanation:
First, I’ve only tried a sample of the Summer Flush Darjeeling in this gift set.
Second, Golden Tips only offers Summer Flush in this gift set.
Third, most Darjeeling tea companies regard 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas as Summer Flush. Golden Tips calls their 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas Spring flush, and it would seem that Golden Tips Summer Flush Darjeeling might actually be Monsoon Flush. Of course, this is just an educated guess because Golden Tips offers little to no information about their Summer Flush Darjeeling tea.
Confusing, right? And why does this even matter? Well, Monsoon Flush Darjeeling teas are far less desirable than 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas that are often prized above all others. Monsoon Flush Darjeeling tea is often used in breakfast blends because it’s stronger than 1st and 2nd Flush Darjeeling teas in flavor and appearance, and Monsoon Flush Darjeeling is not often marketed outside of these breakfast blends.
Golden Tips Summer Flush Darjeeling is a pretty decent tasting overall. Summer Flush tastes very much like good grocery store English Breakfast tea. The leaves in my sample were far more impressive than the dust you often find in tea bags, but the flavor was much the same.
This truly tastes like Fall. I swear I can taste autumn spices in this tea some how, (which I know that’s not why it’s called Autumn Flush, but it surely tastes like Fall some how!), especially on the cool-down. Also noticing tobacco notes. Smooth. Quite an interesting third flush! I’ll be having this again!
A perky first flush with delicate floral and honey notes with quite a bit of smokiness that becomes more apparent on the cool-down. Truly tastes like spring, like new life! Would be a lovely tea to drink as the sun is rising as it tastes like the start of a new day. Lovely.
I’m on an Assam tea kick recently. Sometimes I like to try many of the same types of teas in a short time span to better appreciate their similarities and differences.
This particular Assam tea has no golden buds in it that I can detect. I do see some lighter colored buds in the black tea, but I would describe them more as beige than golden. The leaves have a sweet aroma, and the infusion is a light amber. The liquor has a light, sweet flavor with a bit-o-malt(iness) at the very end.
Overall, this is a not offensive but it’s also in no way what I expect from an Assam.
Edit: This tea really began to frustrate me after my second cup. There’s almost no astringency and it seems very flat to me. I’m lowering my rating.