I’ve decided that, moving forward, I’m no longer going to put numeric ratings on my reviews.
a) Everyone has their own sliding scale that they then can’t really apply to someone else’s numbers
b) I don’t want to have to read everyone’s profile to know what the numbers mean
c) I don’t taste a lot of tea that I’m not highly confident is quality leaf and that I’ll enjoy drinking, which jams up my ratings almost all well above 75, most even above 85, which becomes fairly useless
d) On the rare occasion I get something I don’t like, that’s my personal taste, my preference, it is rarely a reflection on the quality of the tea, itself
So. No more numbers. Let’s talk about tea, and use words to “rate” the tea.
My recent experience with the golden fleece has me focusing on the non-flavor aspects of tea.
I’m on about my 10th steep of this first flush and the liqueur is still strong, mellow and soft with near instantaneous steeping.
The brew is thick and soft in the mouth, no bite on the tongue and no astringency at the finish. I’m sure I already knew this, unconsciously, but this fullness on the palate is a huge part of what makes me truly enjoy premium tea in a way that I don’t enjoy a bag of Lipton in a hotel room. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the Lipton “tasting bad”. With a splash of lemon or sugar Lipton is just fine. And you can’t really say that it is “thin” either. You can get a brew almost as black as coffee even with a cheap tea bag.
But what you can’t get is that full, thick mouth feel. It is what I think makes most people enjoy coffee but not enjoy tea if they’ve never had truly good tea. Bad tea is … for lack of a better word, watery.
Ten steeps in, this darjeeling starts to taste a whole lot like a peony white tea. Sunshine and hay and dusty old books. What’s interesting is just how different this is from a late season darjeeling which will be much more like an oolong or even an assam. But in this first flush there are no amber, toasted or black notes at all. There aren’t even really any green notes. This is really much more like a fine white tea than anything else.
Am I totally blanking or is the whole first flush, second flush, late flush thing not nearly as emphasized in any other tea beside darjeeling?