This is admittedly not going to be so much a specific tasting note as an exclamation about this whole deal and my surprise at it.
sunshine5150 helpfully mentioned Teabox (formerly darjeelingteaxpress) was having a half off sale on most of their big sampler kits about a week ago. I was really not in the mood to order more tea given my Black Friday sales hangover (har) but I looove me some darjeeling, this is the time of year I crave it most, and when I saw what the darj kit entailed my eyes figuratively popped out of my sockets—over 70 (75 actually, as they threw in 3 extra freebie samples) 10g samples, with a bajillion different estates and styles and seasons represented (I did a breakdown and you get the survey experience of first, second, and/or autumn flushes—and sometimes extra grades of each—for a number of estates/regions, among them Jungpana, Giddahapar, Goomtee, Thurbo, Margaret’s Hope, Avongrove, Sourenee, and Himalayan, along with stuff from Namring, Castleton, Puttabong, Arya, etc., some unusual twists on darjeeling in the form of green teas, whites, oolongs, blends represenative of each flush period, and unusual extra grades or especially muscatel stuff), for $56 with shipping included. Ain’t a pittance granted, but for what you get, the size and scope of the thing, if you’re a darjeeling lover it’s pretty irresistable (I worked it out and it’s like less than 15 cents a cup and less than $2.16 per ounce, which for samples as opposed to bulk ordering is very good).
I had trepidation thinking maybe the reason it was such a good deal is the teas, especially first flush ones, are old/stale, and maybe they skimp on quality and packaging, but no. Arrived in well under a week via FedEx and I am very impressed with the sample packaging—the bags block light completely, not just on one side, are resealable, and include lots of info individually labeled about steep time, date, source, etc. All of the teas I’ve tried so far at random (3 or 4 today) have been from 2013. And I realize I’m some kind of underleafer sometimes (it never feels like it though…I use an accurate measuring teaspoon and round the top of it to start) but I’m getting 4 solid cups (sometimes with a bit leftover even) of tea every time. Awesome!
With SO MANY darjs to try with similar but not quite exactly the same details (I’ve done this kind of “by estate and season survey” sample thing before with other spots, Upton comes to mind, manually) it gets really overwhelming, and since it’s constantly changing a while back I just decided to roll with it and enjoy darj samples each year without worrying too much about specifics, you know, a sort of “just going along for the ride” attitude. That said, so far these Teabox samples are much, much better than Upton’s were—better packaging, fresher, better tasting. And cheaper, man! Steepster makes my life better all the time, I tell ya.
BTW, I painstakingly added all 75 Teabox teas from this package to the DB this afternoon (yes I am that OCD), but I can’t for the life of me find URLs for the tea images that play nice with Steepster’s pic grabber. If anyone knows how to add those pics, let me know or feel free of course to add the images…sad without pictures!