400ml of water at 205F
1 heaping tablespoon of tea
Steep for 3 minutes
1/4 teaspoon of highly refined sugar
Rating Darjeeling teas from Mariage Freres is a difficult proposition. Why? Because the benchmark is so much higher which is reflected in the price of their teas. USD48 for this Spring Flush Arya. Would it be fair to compare this tea to other retailers selling their Spring Flush Darjeelings for half or even a third of this price? Maybe not, but I will say this. The Arya from Mariage Freres is a fine Darjeeling when compared to offerings from other retailers, yet when compared to its Mariage Freres peers like Namring, Castleton and Margaret’s Hope, it falls ever so slightly short.
The color of the leaves is a mix of green and brown. The scent of the leaves is surprisingly strong and alluring when compared to other Mariage Freres FF Darjeelings. However even when properly brewed, the taste lacks the depth I expect from FF Darjeelings. It also lacks complexity in its taste.
I have tried most of the FF Darjeelings from Mariage this year. Some are exceptional (FF Margaret’s Hope, FF Namring, FF Castleton, FF Ambootia), some are very good (FF Jungpana and FF Sivitar). Others are just satisfactory (FF Moondakotee, FF Nurbong, FF Chamling, FF Happy Valley, FF Bloomfield, FF Turzum).
For those not accustomed to the taste of Darjeelings, or for those disliking the grassy nature fo the taste, I would recommend the neutral taste of FF Sivitar and FF Jungpana Upper. For those accustomed to the tase of Darjeelings, then the FF Castleton, FF Namring, and FF Margaret’s Hope are the best teas for 2012. For a tea with a complex taste and very different from other traditional Darjeelings, then try the FF Ambootia. Arya just floats in the middle somewhere. Lacking taste, depth, complexity, and flavor to justify the 37 euro price tag.
This is he last review for the FF 2012 Mariage Freres Darjeelings. Next year, I’ll rate the teas again because the taste changes dramatically year to year, from the same estate, from the same harvest season, and even with the same rating.