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.