102 Tasting Notes
Every year I look forward to the second flush season with eagerness and trepidation. I’ve always found it a challenge to find that full-bodied, fruity tea that distinguishes itself from the more flowery, delicate first flushes. I’ve had some luck with Thurbo and Castleton, but in the middle price range I don’t think I’ll do better than this selection from the Goomtee Estate. This is definitely not a shy tea or a late bloomer; from the first sip you’re hit with classic Darjeeling flavor in the old school manner. It can turn a tad bitter if it sits too long, but the tea is so delicious, it usually doesn’t sit around too long!
Let me add my encomiums to the list of postive reviews of this “affordable luxury.” Even with a lower tea to water ratio than Den’s suggests (I want to make this 2 oz. last a bit!), this is a green tea you can really sink your teeth into—a vibrant brothy soup that (especially on the second infusion) tastes like the briny ocean. If you are not scared away by a bold, sweet, fishy spume of a tea, you’ll love this. As a black tea lover first and foremost, this is one green that really satisfies my soul, especially on a foggy day like yesterday, when the southeast wind blanketed my house in salty ocean air.
How can this tea be so good at such a young age? It’s like when you meet a young person who is mature beyond her years—an old soul. The first 30-second infusion blew me away with its sweetness and depth. After that the camphor and earthiness emerged to create a truly heady elixir. I probably could have steeped this tea 20 times with little reduction in flavor. I actually saved the leaves over night and started up again in the morning. I’ll most likely buy a brick to drink now and one to age because I doubt I’ll be able to resist chipping away at it.
After sampling a new medium roast Oolong that I found only so-so, I turned to this sumptuous and complex tea. The orchid is not overwhelming or even fundamental to my enjoyment. What captivates me is the lingering sweetness and a fine anise seed taste mixed with a lemony tang. A singular tea-drinking experience!
TeaGschwender makes great claims for this tea, which I am still trying to validate. It is light, and the lack of bitterness allows the fruity/nutty flavors to come through, but I’m still partial to the Mangalam Estate teas, maybe because I feel they have a greater foundation. I’m not sure Iike the direction toward which many Assams and Darjeelings are moving—striving for delicacy on the top notes, while sacrificing body in the process. Still, in the scheme of things, this is a satisfying Assam.
Wild, young, bold, and beautiful to look at, after drinking this, I felt like had been given a transfusion of blood from a sixteen year old (or V, for you True Blood fans). This tea is like an incredibly talented young left-handed pitcher who throws 100 mph and only sometimes gets it over the plate. There’s so much flavor and sharpness in this tea and I can’t wait to see how it ages and becomes more disciplined and focused. It will be hard not to chip away at this tea. Early infusions are surely on the bitter side, but that fades in later steepings.
What a well-balanced Keemun! Just the right amount of smokey/leathery richness balanced by a bright sparkle that keeps the tea from becoming too burdensome. If you had a stable of motorcyles, this would be your go-to ride, the bike that gives you a lot of riding pleasure and is always reliable. Maybe not the fastest and most exotic, but also not a heavy cruiser that you have to wrestle around. An exemplary Keemun, that (along with Upton’s Keemun Mao Feng) would be the perfect addition to anyone’s cupboard.
A recent business trip to Chicago allowed me to make my first trip to a Teavana store, a small, quiet place with no hard-selling employees, contrary to my expectations. I was drawn to this selection because of my love for golden-tipped Chinese teas and after the first sip, I knew I had made a good choice. Much of the flavor profile echoes the Yunnan rare grades I love so much, but with an alluring orange flavor that is missing from the more chocolatey, creamy, malty Yunnans. I was pleasantly surprised that a chain tea store could provide me and others with such a satisfying tea that has its own special niche among the Chinese black teas I own.