Makaibari Darjoolong Tea from Tea People

daroolongTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Oolong (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Tea People

Tea Description:

A superb creation of Makaibari, this bio-dynamically grown tea walks the world between green and black. The amber liquor produced is not like any other oolong ever made. Naturally sweet tasting and with characteristic flowery undertones it also exhibits lemony, vegetal and earthy qualities. It is perfect for any time of the day and is highly recommended by our tasters at Tea People.

Makaibari tea estate is one of the first organically certified tea gardens of Darjeeling. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the town of Kurseong where the tea is grown at an altitude of around 4500ft.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve been looking forward to trying this Makaibari Darjoolong Tea from Tea People!  Why?  Well, first, I’ve tried and reviewed quite a few different teas from Tea People at this point and I’ve been impressed with what I’ve tried.  Second, I’ve tried a few Darjeeling Oolong teas (but not nearly enough!) and I’ve enjoyed those!  So, I was certain I’d enjoy this tea.

What I find so intriguing about Darjeeling Oolong teas is that they seem to encapsulate what I love most about both teas.  I adore Oolong tea – I love that sweet taste and the thick, luscious texture of an Oolong tea.  And yep … this Darjoolong has that.  I also adore Darjeeling teas – especially a Darjeeling with a delightful muscatel note.  Yep … this Darjoolong has that too.

I approached the brewing of this Oolong tea the same way I’d brew any Oolong:  in my gaiwan.  I administered a quick rinse (15 seconds in hot water) and then steeped the first infusion for 1 minute.  45 seconds would have worked quite nicely too, I think, because this cup is plenty strong.  I add an additional 15 seconds to each subsequent infusion.  I combine the first two infusions together into one cup, and the third and fourth infusion will combine to create my second cup, and the third cup will combine infusions five and six.  And so it goes…

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, this first cup is very flavorful.  More flavorful than the “average” first cup of Oolong.  It is strong with mustcatel notes – beautiful, grape-y, wine-like flavors.  It tastes very Darjeeling-esque, but, with a smoother, softer texture.  The top notes are fruity and wine-like, with an earthier middle note with light woodsy notes.  Overall, it’s sweet, but there is a slight savory note that meets my palate at about mid-sip.  There is a light to medium astringency and a sweet aftertaste.

The second cup was a bit smoother than the first, the flavors were not quite as focused as the first cup.  I could certainly still taste the muscatel, and the notes of wood.  I taste a slight “char” to the wood this time with a slight mineral-y note.  The astringency is milder this time.  Still sweet and crisp, and very much like the love child between a second flush Darjeeling and a Dark Oolong.

My third cup was my favorite cup of the three!  That doesn’t happen often.  Usually, the second cup is my favorite, occasionally the first is the favorite, but very seldom (as in, I can’t remember the last time this has happened!) is the third cup my favorite of the tea experience with an Oolong.  Now, I taste more Oolong and less “Darjeeling” notes, and perhaps that’s why I prefer this cup.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love the Darjeeling notes of this tea!  But, I’m more a fan of Oolong than of Darjeeling, and I love the way the Oolong notes are shining through in this third cup.

I taste peach notes along with a very subtle muscatel.  There is next to no astringency in this cup, and the flavors are soft and buttery.  Less of the woodsy/earthy notes are tasted, and more of a honeyed sweet peach note.  Imagine a bowl of fresh, tree-ripened peach slices that have been cooked down a bit to intensify their sweet flavor, and then this bowl of peach slices is drizzled with honey.  Yeah – it’s OK to drool right now! – that’s what I’m tasting with this cup.  YUM!

A really lovely tea experience from this “Darjoolong!”  I highly recommend this to fans of Darjeeling teas as well as fans of Oolong.  And definitely take the time to go through a few infusions, it’s well worth that effort!

Makaibari Silver Green Tea from Tea People

makaibari_silver_greenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy:  Tea People

Tea Description:

From the famed Makaibari tea estate we bring you the highest grade of green tea. Appearing like streaks of silver on a canvas of green, these leaves when brewed produce a gentle golden liquor. The Silver green liquor transports you into a world full of the symphony created by the jingle of the bangles of beautiful tea pickers and the rustle of the green tea leaves as their hands brush against it. This rare green tea is made exclusively for connoisseurs who are enthralled by a sweet tasting green tea without the overpowering grassy and chlorophyllic overtones. It has a dry finish and no lingering aftertaste. 

Makaibari tea estate is one of the first organically certified tea gardens of Darjeeling. It is located in the foothills of the Himalayas in the town of Kurseong where the tea is grown at an altitude of around 4500ft.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I love the green and white teas that come from the Darjeeling region, and this Makaibari Silver Green Tea from Tea People is an excellent example of why I enjoy these teas so much.  This is lovely!

The flavor is vegetative with a taste that is a little grassy and a little bit like steamed vegetables.  There are even some notes of seaweed to this.  One of the more vegetative green teas that I’ve had in a while.  It’s a very invigorating sort of vegetal taste … it is as if it’s nourishing my very soul.

And I love that even though it does have a strong vegetal tone to it, it’s not a bitter or overpowering “green” taste.  It has a really pleasant sweetness to it too.  I like the balance between sweet and savory to this cup.  It has a slightly dry astringency at the tail with a clean aftertaste.

I like this one served hot, but, it’s also quite nice chilled too – try brewing it with some fresh mint and then chilling it – amazing!  A very refreshing beverage.

Don’t forget to check out Tea People’s indiegogo fundraising campaign to help tea garden workers!  This fundraiser is ending soon, so please consider contributing.

Makaibari Bai Mu Dan White Tea from Tea People

makaibari_bai_mu_danTea Information:

Leaf Type:  White

Where to Buy:  Tea People

Tea Description:

Makaibari tea estate is situated in a town called Kurseong in the district of Darjeeling. Kurseong means the land of the ‘white orchid’ in the local language. From the land of the white orchid is produced the exquisite ‘White Magnolia’. This tea is made from the delicate unopened leaves of the plant and undergoes the least processing among all the teas. This is the reason why the infused leaves seem to come alive again yielding the palest liquor yearning to be sipped. When it touches your lips, your palate comes alive with a light chestnut flavour. The sweet aftertaste lingers on forever. 

Makaibari tea estate located in the foothills of the Himalayas is an organically certified tea estate where the tea is grown at an altitude of around 4500ft.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Bai Mu Dan tea is one of those teas that when I drink it … I think to myself:  it’s been a long time since I’ve had a Bai Mu Dan.  It may not actually have been that long, but, it’s one of those teas that I miss when a day or two has passed and I haven’t had it.

I love the sweet, delicate quality of a good Bai Mu Dan.  And what makes this Makaibari Bai Mu Dan White Tea from Tea People different is that it is grown in the Darjeeling district, so I think that technically makes it a “Darjeeling” white tea, even though the leaves resemble a very high quality Bai Mu Dan.  These aren’t those crumbly, brown leaves that some companies pass off as a Bai Mu Dan.  These leaves are a gorgeous pale green, and if you look closely, you can see the soft, fuzzy down on these leaves.  The leaves are large and beautiful.

My first sip of this tea evoked thoughts of the taste of a dewdrop, like what I might taste if I were to drink the dew off a fresh, new spring leaf.  After that initial sip, I started to notice other flavors developing.

As the above description suggests, there is a light nutty flavor to this white tea, reminiscent of that creamy taste of a freshly roasted chestnut.  There are slight notes of earth to this as well as a hay-like note and a background of delicious melon.

The overall taste is light and refreshing.  It is sweet and relaxing to sip.  A really beautiful white tea!  If I were asked to list my all time favorite Bai Mu Dan teas, this one would land at the top of the list.  It’s one I’d recommend to all the white tea fans out there.

Darjeeling Blend from Harney & Sons

DarjeelingTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Harney & Sons

Tea Description:

High in the mountains, deep in the mists that surround the Himalayas is Darjeeling: “Queen of Teas”. Our Darjeeling tea is a blend of First Flush and Autumnal teas from the best gardens. This mixture yields a light color in the cup – a fragrant “nose”. A great value.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I received a sample sachet of this Darjeeling Blend from Harney & Sons with my most recent order from them – I was very happy to receive not just one but two samples with my order – especially since the last time I placed an order with them, I didn’t get any samples!  I’m glad to see that they’ve resumed their practice of including samples with every order.

And this is a really enjoyable blend of Darjeeling teas.  According to the description (above) this is a combination of first flush and autumnal harvests.  The aroma of the dry leaf was slightly woody with fruity overtures, notes of earth and hints of flower.  All those notes translate in the brewed tea flavor.

The fruity tones are what I notice first, notes that are vaguely reminiscent of grapes and currants.  Sweet and a little tangy.  This is not quite as astringent as some Darjeeling teas that I’ve tasted, this has a much smoother, rounder finish.  Once the sweetness of the fruit subsides on the palate, the notes of earth and wood peek through, and there is just a whisper of floral notes in the distance.

A pleasant, complex cup.  While I generally prefer a second flush Darjeeling, I am enjoying this blend, it is certainly tasty, and is priced right!  A nice, well-rounded cuppa.

Temi 1st Flush from Tea Horse

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy:  Tea Horse

Tea Description:

A beautifully bright fragrant rare tea from the Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

What a lovely single estate Darjeeling!  So crisp and bright tasting; it has a clean, uplifting flavor that is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up … which is just what I need right at this very moment!

The aroma is pleasing with subtle notes of flower and fruit, I also detect notes of wood and gentle spices.  This fragrance tells of what the flavor has in store, as I taste layers of flavor.  The overall cup is so light and refreshing, it almost seems to sparkle on the tongue.  No wonder Darjeeling is often called the “Champagne of Teas.”

This is a tea that benefits from a few moments of cooling off time after the tea has been decanted.  When very hot, the flavors seem almost jumbled together, resulting in an overall taste that is crisp and delicious, but it is difficult to discern all the different facets of flavor within the sip.  After cooling for about three minutes, though, those layers of flavor really begin to come to life, ready to reveal themselves.

Up front, I notice a lovely flowery note – not a sharp floral tone, its more like a soft, sweet note that melds almost seamlessly with a wood-like tones, evoking thoughts of a tree in bloom.  Beneath this flavor I notice a gentle, warm set of ambiguous spices which lends an exotic touch to this cup.

In this Darjeeling, there does not seem to be a strong “muscatel” presence … at least, not at first.  Instead, I detect a cleaner, lighter fruit tone, tasting a bit like a finely filtered apple juice, crisp and sweet.  It is quite faint, really, as if maybe a drop or two of the juice were added to the cup.  However, as I made my way to mid-cup, I began to notice a slight muscatel-esque taste emerging.  These fruit notes never really become distinctly pronounced, though.  Very soft and clean, in keeping with what seems to be the overall theme of this tea.

Also keeping with the clean taste, the astringency seems to cleanse the palate.  The aftertaste is equally as clean, leaving only hints of what was tasted during the sip:  whispers of flowers, slightly woody, insinuations of fruit, and a dash of spice.

This is one of those teas that you want to enjoy on a quiet afternoon.  It is a contemplative cup that restores you as you explore its many layers of flavor.  A truly wonderful experience.