Cha Yuan

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Recent Tasting Notes


So this is the other single-estate darjeeling that started it all. A few years ago, my wife was studying in Grenoble, France and brought back this tea, and a Darjeeling FF 2007 Makaibari FTGFOP that I also have a note for. I can’t really give you much more info on Cha Yuan, (maybe a fellow Steepster knows more?) other than they seem to be based out of Lyon.

I’ll mention that Darjeelings aren’t really my niche (at least not this month), but before I started getting into high quality Chinese, and Japanese teas, these were the best teas that I owned (hence my irresponsible urge to save them as long as I could).

Anyways, the problem with these teas today (March 25th, 2010) is that they are 3 years old and with delicate single-estate teas like these, freshness is a factor. When I first had this tea, the very pleasing flavor was unlike any tea I had tried before. It was almost sweet in a way but it had that “tea” flavor that I liked about black teas, except without astringency and it was a much more focused, consistent flavor. Compared with the other Darjeeling (Makaibari), I think I preferred this one a little bit, but they were both incredible.

Unfortunately, both of these are past their prime due to negligence and hoarding on my part. I was able to share them a few times with friends while they were still great. Once, we compared 3 different single-estate darjeelings and then a few “lesser” ones like a Twining’s Darjeeling teabag, and some very generic bag labeled “Darjeeling”. It was a fun taste-testing experiment that left my non-tea-drinking friends amazed with the range of flavors.

If you ever come across Cha Yuan, based on these two teas, I would recommend you check out some of the tea they offer.

I would also recommend getting something current… and not keeping it locked up “safe”…
…inside a cupboard…

… for three years…

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One of the great things about Steepster is that it helps me keep track of my tea and encourages me to drink up those teas that I have been hoarding for years. It’s not good for the tea (with a few exceptions), and it’s not good for life. The sooner I finish this tea, the sooner I can order new stuff, right? :-D

So this was one of the first single-estate Darjeeling teas I ever tried and it was one of those teas that changed the future of tea for me. Before trying this (and comparing it with the Darjeeling 2007 FF from the Tumsong estate), I thought the only thing that changed how teas taste was what kinds of things you added to the leaves. While I am not a Darjeeling connoisseur by any means, this tea opened up a door for me into a whole new world of teas.

Okay, with all that said, this tea is but a shadow of what it used to be. The brew comes out with a tinge of astringency and and inconsistent flavor that doesn’t stick around long. I remember this tea having a fuller, rounder flavor that you just want to savor (and it actually lingers on the taste-buds for a while so you can!) and no astringency.

I guess this is a cautionary tale with a lesson to be learned: Promise me, my fellow Steeps, don’t hoard tea… Drink it and enjoy it while it’s good!

The rating I’ve provided is from when the tea was fresh (stellar!).


Thanks for the warning! With my newfound appreciation for tea, I’ve been on a tea buying frenzy—wanting to try more and more teas! I have to make sure I finish what I have (and fast) before getting more.


Cautionary tale duly noted … tea does tend to fade away, but I think it depends some on storage and the original strength/flavor. Then again, I wear clothing that’s older than my teenager - evidently, freshness in ANYTHING isn’t an issue with me :o)


Agreed. At some point I will have to put the breaks on, as I did with shoes. I’ve now determined that I have enough shoes to last me until I’m dead, even if I live to be 100. Style? Bah, keep em long enough and everything comes back. I have my platforms from high school and they look just like the ones people were wearing last year. ;-)


Agreed. That’s why I share all my teas with my fellow steeps so that they don’t get old and I can continue to order more!

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