Bit of a curiosi-tea, this one.
It’s a blended tea, but from a single estate, the Castleton estate, located in the Kurseong district of Darjeeling.
I bought the tea from House of Tea, and paid 79 Swedish Crowns for a 30g packet, which at the time of writing was the equivalent of $9.73 US, £6.79 GB or €8.60.
The blend itself was created from a variety of cultivars, known as “clonals” in the Indian tea trade, that grow on the estate at an altitude of 1500m.
The leaves were from that year’s (2015, I believe) First Flush, and hand plucked.
As you can see from the picture, there’s quite a range of both leaf styles and oxidation levels in the blend, so I was intrigued to see what kind of liquor it would produce.
As always, my first thought with a good quality tea is to steep it Asian / Gong-fu style, but then I also got to thinking that this particular blend was probably put together for tea drinkers more familiar with Western style steeping, and so I should also try that method, too.
Asian style infusions were done in the Samadoyo pot, with 6g of tea to the 150ml capacity of the pot’s infusion chamber. The steepings were of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 seconds duration.
Western style infusions were also done with 6g of tea in 4dl of water in a small glass teapot. Three infusions were done, at 1, 1½, and 2 minutes duration. The tea/water ratio and durations for the Western style infusions were as per the supplier’s instructions on the packaging. I think it’s interesting to note that the ratio of tea/water and infusion times are slightly higher/shorter in this variation of Western infusion than for others you might see, nudging it somewhat in the direction of Asian style.
Water for both styles of infusion was at 100°C.
After trying both infusion methods I think that I’d have to come down on the side of Western style infusion for this tea. Although it was a fairly close run thing, I’d say that Western style infusion coaxed just a little more out of the leaves here, including a nice hint of astringent bite that seemed to be missing from the Asian style steepings.
The dry leaf had a curiously neutral aroma, but the tea liquor itself was totally different, full bodied, with a pronounced rose like fragrance, and a subtle sweetness, fruity but with something like honey or brown sugar components.
The overall effect was wonderful – tasty, refreshing and satisfying, but also subtle and sophisticated, in short everything you would expect a good Darjeeling to deliver.