Many of my fellow tea bloggers have been covering teas from Nepal this past week as a way to bring attention to the recent tragedy that struck the region on April 25th. The rising death toll, the complications with bringing in aide, and the many aftershocks which are making people terrified to sleep in their houses is, for lack of a better way to put it, staggering. I learned about it when I checked my phone that morning and saw that my friends in that region were checking in safe, half asleep I had no idea what was going on, and when I found out my heart broke, I knew it was going to get a lot worse before it was going to get better. The one positive thing about any disaster is the rallying together of people to lend aide to those suffering, and this is no exception, one of those restoring faith in humanity things
So, it is with a heavy heart that I review today’s tea. First a bit of info about Jun Chiyabari First Flush from Curious Tea, grown on the Jun Chiyabari Tea Estate at an altitude of 1,800 meters, this tea is classified as a SFTGFOP1 (or Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe top grade, quite the mouthful.) This tea is similar to its cousin Darjeeling grown right across the border, though like all the other teas from Nepal I have tried, it has its own distinct quality that makes it different, my theory is the proximity to the Himalayas which makes them special. I will not lie, if you took this tea and a first flush Darjeeling and put them next to each other, on looks alone I doubt I could tell the difference, until I sniff it. The aroma is both sweet and green, like fresh golden grapes and honey, with a note of orange blossom, and a distinct lettuce and celery note. At the finish there is a gentle note of sage and a hint of spring rain.
Into my fancy steeping apparatus the leaves go, ok maybe I can tell a difference (I totally did do a side by side comparison) and these leaves are smaller than the first flush Darjeeling of the same grade that I have. The aroma of the now steeped and soggy leaves is quite fragrant, with distinct floral notes of orange blossom and a bit of a pansy note. Alongside these floral notes are notes of celery, celery seeds, and a finish of grapes. The liquid, freed from its leafy creator, is very sweet, with strong notes of honey, orange blossom, clover flower, and an almost heady note of scuppernongs at the finish.
Tasting time! Finally decided to break out the new (to me) vintage German cup I found at the thrift store a week ago. The taste is a bit brisk while also being pleasantly mild, not a kick you in the face briskness that you can get with black teas, it is a gentle briskness not unlike biting into a crisp vegetable. The first note that pops up is orange blossom, this moves into golden raisins and honey, lastly into a unique blend of celery and thyme. That herbaceous note at the finish is quite enjoyable, it lingers into the aftertaste, which I rather like, it is not everyday you run into thyme as a note in tea.