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Indian

Black Third Flush (Autumn) Single Estate Darjeeling FTGFOP1 from Teabox

The scent of the dry tea leaves is bright and fresh with a richer, perhaps malty tinge. At first I was a little worried that my tea would end up tasting like a bale of orchard grass hay, but fortunately that didn’t turn out to be the case.

I steeped the tea according to the steeping recommendations on the packet, although I may have been a bit generous with the leaves. The leaves are on the small side but not superfine or too small to be good quality. They’re third flush, or autumn harvested, which means the flavor is different because the leaves are growing more slowly in the autumn as opposed to the rapid spring and summer growth of the first two flushes. This may be why this tea seems maltier and less floral than other darjeelings I’ve tried.

There’s a distinct black tea fragrance as soon as the leaves hit the water. The fresh, grass-hay fragrance note doesn’t go away but it melds with the heady floral and malt of the oxidized tea. I can definitely catch the floral scent in this tea, although the grass-hay scent seems to me to be more prominent than the malty scent that’s mentioned in the description.

After steeping, the liquor is a yellow-tinged orange color and rather dark, although it’s not one of the darkest blacks I’ve seen. As for flavor, it’s very floral and sweet, but it’s tangy too, with the astringency pulling at the sides of my tongue, but there’s no bitterness, which is nice. Although I can still catch the orchard-grass scent once the tea is steeped, there’s no grass/hay taste in the tea itself. Also, I know I said floral, but this tea is not strong-flavored; it’s delicately floral as opposed to being overwhelmingly jasmine-y.

This particular tea is just lovely with a bit of sugar. I’d say that’s my favorite way to drink it, with just a bit of sugar and no milk. Yes, it’s good with milk too, and I usually like milk in my tea, but here I find that I don’t like the way the milk cushions and muffles the tea flavors.

It’s a nice, warming, strengthening cup overall, and I’d certainly enjoy keeping this one in my stash! I’ll also have to go and check out some more third flush darjeelings to see whether I can find the characteristics I admired in this tea elsewhere or whether they’re unique to this tea alone.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black Tea
Where to Buy: TeaBox
Description

This tea doesn’t appear to be on the website but click below for their bestselling teas below.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Rohini Emerald Green First Flush Darjeeling from Udyan Tea

Rohini Emerald GreenTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Green

Where to Buy: Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Rohini has been planted with special green tea clones which have very less *tannin content in them. The teas made from these bushes taste smooth and sweet, with pronounced vegetable flavour. They aren’t bitter unlike their counterparts from the district. Rohini Emerald Green Tea is made from single leaf and a bud.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Rohini Emerald Green is a First Flush Darjeeling tea, a variety I’m particularly fond of. I’m intrigued by this one, though (more so than usual!) because the leaf is different from any I’ve seen before. It’s a fairly uniform mid-green in colour, with one or two lighter leaves and some yellow mottling. What’s surprising is that the leaves are large and curly, partially rolled but not tightly. I’ve never seen a first flush Darjeeling that looks quite like this one. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a bright yellow-green, the scent reminiscent of a green tea. After an initial hit of orchid-like floral, there’s a distinctive vegetal scent. The leaves, once unfurled, remind me a little of oak tree leaves.

To taste, this tea is also unlike any Darjeeling I’ve tried before. In some ways, it’s far more like a green tea or an oolong than anything else. The initial flavour is lightly floral, in the sweet, heady way of orchids. It’s not an intensely perfumey floral, but rather like crushing the petals of an orchid or lily flower in your hand and then translating the scent into a taste. It’s difficult to describe, because it’s like the wrong sense is being used, but that’s as close as I can get to identifying the kind of sensation the floral produces. There’s a mild “green” flavour lurking underneath the floral, but it’s more chlorophyll than vegetal – not a flavour I’ve come across very often, but it works well here, continuing the floral theme. The texture reminds me a lot of an unflavoured milk oolong, in that it’s buttery and mildly creamy. It’s not thick tasting, exactly, but it has a sort of dairy cream feel to it that’s pleasant and unusual – almost a little “flat” tasting, but with a richness at the same time. The aftertaste is a little mineral, again reminding me of a green oolong. It’s a little like wet rock; a tiny bit metallic, but also fresh and clean.

This one was an experience for me, and I really savoured every sip. I’ve not come across a Darjeeling like this before, either in terms of taste or appearance, so it really made me think about, and question, my expectations. I enjoyed the flavour, even though floral teas aren’t usually my thing. Clearly I can still surprise myself on occasion! I’d happily recommend this one to most people, whether they’re fans of Darjeeling, green, oolong or floral teas. This tea certainly offers a unique experience, and its placed Udyan Tea more firmly on my personal radar.

Goomtee China Classic First Flush Darjeeling from Udyan Tea

GoomteeChinaClassicTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black (Darjeeling)

Where to Buy: Udyan Tea

Tea Description:

Goomtee is a very well known Darjeeling heritage garden planted with pure china bushes almost a century ago. Picked from special section of the garden called Ghani between 3000-4000 sq.ft. height, this tea is for the strong hearted first flush lovers as it has a strong body with a very slight tinge of muscatel (grape flavour usually associated with second flush Darjeelings). It is a well balanced cup that leaves a stong after taste as well. With repeated steepings, the liquor becomes sweeter and midler. Perfect tea for long winding day with a good book in hand to read.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

First Flush Darjeelings are among my favourite black teas, as I’m sure I’ve intimated several times before. This one – from the Goomtee Estate – is apparently perfect for “strong hearted first flush lovers”. Well, we shall see. The dry leaf is a thing of beauty. There’s a mixture of long and shorter leaves, which have primarily been either rolled or twisted, although there are also some downy silver buds. There’s a variety of colours, from palest white/silver, through creamy green, darker grass green, to the medium brown of tree bark. The scent is fresh and mildly floral. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is golden yellow, the scent reminiscent of rose water with an undertone of freshly shelled peas.

One thing’s for sure, this tea tastes glorious! The initial sip is crisp and fresh-tasting, with a mild floral undertone. It makes me think of dew on rose petals – a clean, sweet freshness. The floral flavour develops in the mid-sip, where it’s more recognisably rose-like, with a strong perfumey aftertaste. There’s a hint of classic muscatel right at the tail end of the sip, richly grapey and a little drying. It’s not exactly astringency at this point, but nearly. I get the impression that this tea may become astringent as it cools, or if oversteeped.

It’s fair to say that I prefer the clean, fresh flavour of the initial sip to the strong, heavily perfume-like aftertaste. I dislike heavily floral tea in general, though, so that’s no surprise to me. I enjoyed my cup immensely for its flavourful nature, and it’s a great example of a first flush Darjeeling. It’s stronger than most I’ve come across, and while I typically appreciate the delicate flavours characteristic of this variety, I also enjoyed the bolder experience here. I’d certainly try another Goomtee Estate Darjeeling if the opportunity arose, and Udyan Tea is now firmly on my radar.

Nilgiri Blue Black Tea from The Tao of Tea

NilgiriBlueTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: The Tao of Tea

Tea Description:

The Nilgiris or Blue Mountains are a range of mountains in the South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Tea culture is eminent in these serene mountains. Tea is grown at elevations of 1000 to 2500 metres. The landscape is quite unlike the rest of India, marked by rolling hills covered with dense vegetation and tea gardens. Many portions of the hills are preserved as natural reserve forests.

High Elevation
Nilgiri Blue is a high elevation tea (Grown at 6500 feet) in Coonoor, South India. High elevation tea plants grow slower and generally provide lighter, more refined flavors.

100% Organic
The tea garden is recognized as one of India’s premier organic tea estates. Established in 1922, it remains firmly committed to sustainable cultivation methods and conservation of the local ecosystems.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

It’s been a while since I tried a Nilgiri tea, so I’m hoping this will be a pleasant re-acquaintance. The dry leaf is light and feathery in appearance, and is the reddish brown colour of polished mahogany. The leaves are fairly small – around 0.5cm or smaller for the most part. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown, the scent sweet and a touch woody. I made no additions for my first cup.

Initially, all I could taste was a fairly generic sweet “black” tea. It reminded me of nothing in particular, except perhaps big-brand bagged tea of the kind that’s sold in supermarkets and cafes. It’s sweet, but in a way that’s woodsy rather than malty, and it seems thin tasting and lacking in depth. With successive sips, I can taste a hint of flavours characteristic of Darjeeling – a mild metallic tang, a very light floral. They’re by no means strong or particularly prominent, though. For the most part, this tea is smooth throughout, although it is a little drying in the aftertaste. Not to the extent that I’d call it astringent, because it lacks bite, but heading in that direction.

I wanted more from this one, and I have to confess I’m a little disappointed with how it turned out. I would have liked to have seen stronger flavours, more body; something to provide a little more definition. As it stands, this comes across as a pretty ordinary, standard black tea. It’s easy to drink and pleasant enough, but it’s not got a great deal of character. There’s nothing here that you couldn’t find elsewhere, and for that reason it wouldn’t find a long term place in my cupboard.

Harmutty Assam by Golden Tips Tea

harmuttyassamTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Golden Tips

Tea Description:

An outstanding strong and bold black tea from the popular Harmutty tea estate in Assam. The finely crafted dark black leaves boast of select golden tips and make for a bright red liquoring cup. The tea brings in an abundance of maltiness and a woody character which are cherished by connoisseurs who love their cup full-bodied. The lingering aftertaste engulfs your mouth. A perfect-start for a long day. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This is a first flush Assam from Golden Tips Tea, picked in March 2014 on the Harmutty Tea Estate. I’ve only tried one first flush Assam in my life before, so I’m interested to see how this one compares. The leaves are fairly small and wiry, mostly a uniform black-brown, but with some lighter (milk chocolate) brown leaves scattered throughout. The scent is heavily malty, with a moderately strong spiciness. I used 1 tsp of leaves for my cup, and gave it 3 minutes in boiling water. I added a splash of milk.

To taste, this is the mildest Assam I’ve tried for a while. It doesn’t lack flavour, but it seems somehow softer and more gentle on the tastebuds, unlike some of the very punchy, tannic Assams I’ve been drinking recently. It’s sweetly malty, and there’s still a bit of a kick lurking there, though. Golden Tips do some of the maltiest Assams I’ve come across yet, and this one is no exception! A wonderful treacle-like flavour emerges in the mid-sip, maybe not quite as deep a flavour as molasses, but along those lines. The aftertaste is remarkably savoury after the intensity of the malt, veering more towards potato or yam like notes. This is a very smooth tea, very easy to drink, and makes for a good mid-morning pick-me-up.

I like the variation it’s possible to find between Assam from one estate and Assam from another. It’s like there’s one for all seasons, and for all times of the day. I’ve been impressed with those I’ve tried so far from Golden Tips – it’s certainly a site worth checking if you’re looking for a new Assam, or for another Indian tea. The 10g sample size is enough for 3 or so cups, and is just perfect for trying something new! I’ll certainly be looking to repurchase a selection of their Assams in the future, and maybe to broaden my horizons still further.