Darjeeling 2nd Flush Muscatel

Tea type
Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by steepster
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec

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7 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I've said it many times before, so I don't think there's really any huge need for this disclaimer. I'll throw it in anyway for new readers, those who forgot and just for the sake of good order. I...” Read full tasting note
    41
    Angrboda 1311 tasting notes
  • “The best Darjeeling tea I've had to date. I went to Temple Coffee and Tea in Sacramento and wasn't sure if I should try the 1st flush Darjeeling or the 2nd. Sounds like a no brainer; go for the...” Read full tasting note
    83
    tyler 48 tasting notes
  • “First tea I've rated using my new system (see profile page). Ratings will be lower from now on. (i had been rating so high on the scale that there was no elbow room left). This Darjeeling has a...” Read full tasting note
    78
    aeondax 211 tasting notes
  • “I can definitely taste the notes of honey and muscat grapes in this, which to me are much more present in the smell of the tea than in the taste. Those notes are quickly replaced with the typical...” Read full tasting note
    lazer 13 tasting notes

From Rishi Tea

The “2nd Flush” or second harvest of the year provides semi-brisk teas with big, fruity flavors and distinctive floral aromas that are reminiscent of Muscat wine. A favorite of connoisseurs, the black teas of Darjeeling have a unique character with nuances of green and oolong teas. Only top quality 2nd Flush Darjeeling with elegant floral complexity and strong Muscat flavor meets our standard.

About Rishi Tea View company

The majority of our teas are organic and Fair Trade Certified. In 2009, we won 11 First Place Awards for Best Tea, almost double that of any competitor. Tea is our passion, it’s what we do best. We’re honored to share some of our favorite teas with you.

7 Tasting Notes

41
1311 tasting notes

I’ve said it many times before, so I don’t think there’s really any huge need for this disclaimer. I’ll throw it in anyway for new readers, those who forgot and just for the sake of good order.

I don’t care much for Darjeelings. To spicy and grassy and prickly in all the wrong ways with a sour aftertaste and a tendency to get bitter at the drop of a hat. It’s not a case of not liking it at all, it’s merely the fact that I’m not a fan and wouldn’t choose it out of a selection.

That said, it was shared with me, so I will try it. I have never been sent anything that I have simply refused to try at least once. Often against my better judgment and sometimes with surprising results. If people share something with me, I believe I owe it to them to at least give it a go. If then I don’t like it, I have at least tried and not just blindly dismissed it.

So I have in front of me a cup of Darjeeling and I’m not harbouring any great expectations, which makes me wonder if it’s better to go for tea types that one is not generally that fond of. No risk of disappointment. Only lucky chances of pleasure.

The aroma of this cup is very honeyed. Sweet and thick, it almost makes me expect the liquid to be extremely sticky and viscous and it puts images of golden syrup and liquid honey in my head. Equally as strong as the honey note, there’s a whole little meadow of wildflowers in here. It’s not as if it has been scented, it doesn’t have that dusty sort of quality to it. It’s more like living growing flowers visited by bees. And so we have neatly tied it back to the aforementioned honey note. See what I did there? There’s a touch of hay-ish spice to the aroma as well, but it’s very little and drowned out by the honey and the flowers.

Okay, so far so good.

When people talk about muscatel notes and ‘the champagne of teas’ I always end up imaginging it to taste of grapes. I’ve never yet really been able to find a grape note in anything, but I have found strong raisin notes in Assams on several occasions, so I suppose the association is not that far of. That said, muscatel. I’m not sure how to actually truly find this note because I haven’t the foggiest of what it’s supposed to taste like. Don’t tell me ‘Muscat wine’ because I don’t know what that tastes like either. I don’t generally like alcoholic beverages all that much. Red, white, rose and champagne is the extent of alcoholic liquids I can drink. Those I like. Others, not so much. And I definitely can’t tell the various grape types used in the wines I do like apart. I try paying attention when having it, same as I do when I have a cup of tea, but it’s not even remotely as systematic.

Anyway, the tea doesn’t actually taste like grapes that I can tell. It’s extremely spicy though, almost peppered, and that is a long lingering aftertaste even after just one sip. There is, however, also an almost alcoholic note to it, the sort of feeling of heat in the esophagus that you get when drinking alcohol. I don’t like that.

Then there is a more haylike than grassy flavour, which sort of adds to the spicyness of it, and unfortunately also provides that sour note that comes through on the aftertaste.

At least it hasn’t gone bitter, although there is a the hint of vague astringency in it. It could be worse, but it’s not necessarily good either.

It’s not as bad for me as earlier flushes of Darjeeling tends to be, but it’s not really good either. I simply fail to see the appeal in this tea type in general in spite of all the hype about about it. And I still don’t know what the muscatel note is supposed to taste like.

Wayne

I often wonder how many people who use the word “muscatel” have ever actually tasted the real thing.

Angrboda

I think it varies. I believe people use it for a specific note they recognise, but it may not be the exact same note for everybody… Sort of like if you take an average Yunnan, some people will say it has a pepper-y note while others think the same note is more pseudo-smoky.

Wayne

Nice. That’s a great explanation of the whole art of tasting if you ask me. Thanks Angrboda!

cteresa

Hope you do not mind the comment, but muscatel is an interesting comparison. I have had the grapes and muscatel/moscatel wine often. First, I think there is no wine that tastes like fresh grapes though, or like raisins though, all those tastes seem pretty different to me. Grapes are one thing (and even though grape flesh has one taste, grape skin another, grape seeds other), raisins other taste, wine other, and then it varies wildly from grape to grape.

Muscatel grapes are rare in that they are used for wine but can also be eaten normally like table grapes. Wine grapes taste awful usually – they tend to have very thick skins (that is what gives interest to the wine). Muscatel grapes got thicker skins than normal table grapes so I think the muscat comparison might be more sort of a grape skin or raisin ( raisins taste more like skin because obviously the grape flesh has lost a lot of volume) sort of taste. Muscatel wine, hmm that is hard, sort of like Madeira or Sherry maybe :), which OK will not help much.

Angrboda

Wayne, my father is into whiskys, and one of the things he has been taught during tastings and has since passed on to me is that if just one person finds a note, even if it’s really bizarre, then it is there. Because we can’t discuss other people’s smell/taste sensations. It makes a lot of sense, really, but I had never even considered it before he told me.

Cteresa, I know it doesn’t mean grape – grape, but that’s still the association I tend to get. Can’t help it. :)
Madeira or sherry, nope don’t like that if it’s not in food. :)

cteresa

Madeira and sherry, but ah, they can be on food as well :) Depends on how you use it – for example I like to add a splash of Port to a lot of apple cakes and crumbles. And a lot of spirits can be used in other dishes – there is a steak sauce which is supposed to take madeira. It has its own smell, but yeah, you might as well try to smell Muscatel wine – you would not have to drink it.

You are right about the notes. There is one particular tea I like very much but would never be able to describe its tastes till I read blender´s description and they were right, it sort of tastes like roasted chestnuts. I suspect sometimes it is just the power of suggestion, though might be some elusive subtle chemicals. BTW just checked what McGee says about muscat grapes and he calls it flowery and citrusy with terpenes.

About your dislike for wine and alcohol, I read somewhere humans tend to have an instinctive dislike for foods which go through fermentation or similar processes. We tend to overcome that dislike with familiarity with one particular type of fermentation (LOL, tea tea? rooibos?) though we might still dislike other type of fermentations like very ripe cheeses or alcohol fermentation. I like wine, but I am familiar. I just tried a very highly rated melon tea and sort of loathed it because the melon tasted “fermented” to me and fermented melon is out of my comfort zone – fermented grapes taste or even fermented apples would be OK for me probably!

Angrboda

My alcohol tolerance seems to be going down. I’ve never liked beer (ew!) and I’ve been able to take strong spirits straight up, but I have been able to enjoy them when mixed with something fruity and sweet. I can’t really have that anymore. But I’ve had wine since I was in my early teens, gradually learned to drink it under supervision of parentals. Started with a little in a sherry glass and eventually graduated to a proper glass. Just a few years ago I could drink more wine than I can today. These days it’s one or two glasses with a meal and that’s it. After that it just stops tasting good to me. I’m going backwards on this.

Come to think of it, I think I know why. My doctor once prescribed me this absolutely vile cough medicine which had some 34% alcohol in it or something like that. It fits that this should be the turning point for me.

And funny, you should mention cheese. :) I’m picky about cheese as well, mostly like the milder ones. I like those a LOT though. :)

Angrboda

I’ve never been able to take strong spirits straight up.

Gah. Wish I could edit comments.

cteresa

One or two glasses of wine with a meal and after that stopping to taste good sounds absolutely perfect and just good sense and the historical way people drunk in my country (of course, one or two glasses of wine or an appetizer, with every meal, twice a day. But out of that, tsk tsk, frowned upon, though I guess it started changing mid 20th century with whisky becoming popular and so on).

And associating a taste-smell with discomfort can totally kill the joy on it. There is one fruit I dislike eating because of that. Reading tea reviews I find it interesting that so many americans tend to associate cherry flavours as cough medicine, an association I would never make!

And regarding cheeses, I like best the ones with a LOT of character, but then again I like a lot almost all kinds of cheeses.

Angrboda

Yes, that’s true! Where I live cough medicine is typically licorice flavoured. In herbal medicine licorice root is supposed to be good for air ways and throat as well as mildly disinfecting (I think. This is just off the top of my head), and I always thought it probably wasn’t a coincidence that manufacturers used that particular flavour in cough medicine.

My father says the cheeses that I prefer taste like sticking your tongue out of the window… :p

cteresa

LOL at the cheese flavour analogy :)

In the south of Europe liquorice is usually not so popular as a flavouring – I mean aniseed sort of is for a few specific things and drinks. but liquorice itself is probably a northern European thing. Particularly salmiakki, oh my.

Angrboda

Ah salmiakki, that’s om nom nom nommy. Although my boyfriend, who’s english, claims it has nothing to do with sweets. :D It does seem to be a largely scandinavian thing, though. We like stuff that’s salty. Since meeting him I’ve learned to use a LOT less salt in cooking as well.
For us aniseed isn’t the true licorice flavour though. Licorice root is more what we associate with proper licorice. Aniseed is just something with a pseudo-licorice flavour. Like fennel.

wombatgirl

I actually did a little research into licorice flavor recently. (From an upcoming review for It’s All About the Leaf.) Thought this might tie into the conversation a little – hop you don’t mind me butting in. :)

There are a few ways to get licorice-like flavors. There is the traditional licorice root, but anise, star anise, and fennel all contain similar flavoring agents. All these plants contain the chemical compound anethole which provides that signature flavor. And while all are similar, there are subtle differences. Licorice root is sweeter, anise is more aromatic, fennel is milder, and star anise has a bit of a bite.

cteresa

That is so interesting wombatgirl, thank you! I think we do not use liquorice tastes enough to really be able to tell apart too much. I think anise is the ones I like best because it is the one traditionally used here, and I like it in small ammounts on the traditional things it is used.

Angrboda

One of my colleagues like these little pure licorice tablets. They’re 100% raw licorice with no sugar or anything added. Very strong flavour and a little bitter. First time she offered me one I disliked it so much I had to spit it out. But then they sort of grew on me. Strangely addictive, those things. Now I feel like sending you some. :D

It’s been a long time since I had any, come to think about it. Strange, really, how aforementioned vile cough medicine, which was packed with licorice flavouring and licorice extract didn’t turn me off licorice at all, now that we’ve discovered it’s probably at the root of me liking alcohol less and less…

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83
48 tasting notes

The best Darjeeling tea I’ve had to date. I went to Temple Coffee and Tea in Sacramento and wasn’t sure if I should try the 1st flush Darjeeling or the 2nd. Sounds like a no brainer; go for the 1st, right? But I wanted to try to taste the muscatel note that it claims to have. So . . .
The first sip was so good. It was crisp and refreshing, lighter, and not astringent like other Darjeeling teas I’ve had. Now I finally understand why they call Darjeeling tea the champagne of tea. I just had to have a good one to understand it. Super good, I hope to add it to my cupboard.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

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78
211 tasting notes

First tea I’ve rated using my new system (see profile page). Ratings will be lower from now on. (i had been rating so high on the scale that there was no elbow room left). This Darjeeling has a wonderful, flowery, fruity fragrance with a hint of rosemary. Pleasant astringency and clean finish. 1 rounded tsp per 8 oz water, 3 min & 5 min. Second steep has reduced flavor but retains lovely muscat fragrance and is less astringent. Sometimes when I prefer the 2nd steep, such as with this tea, it may be that I used more tea than necessary to start with. A level tsp might have been better. The dry leaf is very prettily black with touches of gold and white. The wet tea reveals all leaves are broken or cut, colored brown with touches of green and caramel.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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13 tasting notes

I can definitely taste the notes of honey and muscat grapes in this, which to me are much more present in the smell of the tea than in the taste. Those notes are quickly replaced with the typical black tea taste (which is nice in this one) but this is even more quickly replaced with a bitter taste which lingers a bit. This tea starts out great but the finish is only so-so.

I’m not sure if there’s anything I can do in my steeping to decrease the bitterness – I’m somewhat of a novice so if someone has any suggestions, let me know. I did, however, steep it according to the instructions on the bag, at 190 degrees for 4 minutes. (The instructions state 4-5). There is also a good chance that my tasting experience was corrupted by not having a neutral palate…. I ate a couple of small clementine oranges, which are very sweet, about 10 or 15 minutes before I had this tea.

This tea seems like it has the potential to be quite good if I can find a way to tone down the bitter finish. Second steep soon forthcoming.

EDIT: Second steep still was at 190 but only for 3:40 this time. Much, much less of the bitter taste, however, the other flavors were also diminished. Next time I make this I’ll have to be sure and try a shorter steep time on the first steep.

EDIT 2: Picked up my cup again (the second steep) after it sat awhile and picked up some spicy notes that I didn’t before. Black pepper and another spice that I can pinpoint but the name escapes me at the moment. (I’m not that good with spice names, I’ll look it up in a bit, I know which container in the cupboard it is but not the name.) Definitely very interesting, if nothing else this seems like a very complex tea.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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42 tasting notes

A very nice Darjeeling. In the first steep, I tasted a flavor and astringency similar to that of grape skins (my wife and friend who were trying it with me made fun of me on this point, but as a kid I would occasionally peel grapes and eat the skins and flesh separately, and it was definitely a grape skin flavor). The second steep was more rounded and mellow, less astringent and tasted slightly spiced. Very good overall.

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70
31 tasting notes

complex tones in this, a bit bitter. nice smell…

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