Alistair of What-Cha sent me a sample of his Darjeeling First Flush 2014 Rohini Emerald Green Tea with my recent order knowing of my last disastrous attempt at Indian green teas this year. Generally I don’t care for Indian green teas, I feel they overbrew to easily and become bitter; drinking Indian greens makes me feel like that particular type of tea novice who likes all teas except greens because they had a bad experience with them. I like to think that I am not prejudiced against Indian greens, but I do know that I can be overly critical of them. So take anything I say about this with a grain of salt.
The dry leaves are not particularly interesting; there is a lot of variation in the shapes, size and color of the leaves although this is fairly common in Indian greens. Generally I prefer tea that has a uniform shape and size so I always cringe a little when I see Indian greens.
For my first infusion I brewed at 176°F for two minutes. Even before it was done, I could smell the hay aroma. It had a very pure grassy taste, there was a little fruit notes, something like unripened apricot. It almost had an umami taste, but not exactly.For my second infusion I brewed at 180°F for two and half minutes. This time it had a stronger wet straw scent, although I could still get whiffs of hay. As for taste, it still was grassy, but not as pure; this time it had a slightly ripper (but still unripe) apricot taste.
I decided against doing a third infusion, I didn’t feel it had much more to offer and in my experience Indian greens don’t make it past the second stepping. It wasn’t a bad green tea, but it definitely benefits of adding some form of sweetener to it. While I didn’t use anything in my tea, this teapot easily serves two, so I served the extra cup to my guest who happened to add a little honey to hers, and hers tasted considerably better.
I don’t think I would try this again, I much prefer second flush Indian greens, the muscatel taste in later harvests make Indian greens so much more interesting than first flushes. I don’t think this is a bad tea, just not one for me. I am not a fan of ratings, but if I had to give it a score I’d probably place it somewhere between seven and eight (out of ten).