My stash is quite modest compared to some folks – I guess that on average I have about 20-something teas in at any given time – and yet sometimes teas still get bought, sampled, and then quietly forgotten about.
This is one such tea. I originally ran across it whilst browsing over at House of Tea in the middle of August last year. A late summer heatwave had put me in the mood for Darjeeling, but somehow the caddy containing it had crept ever further towards the back of the cupboard.
I rediscovered the caddy only this week, when I was doing another round of that old dance routine the teaware shuffle, trying to make room for a teapot and two cups that I had received earlier in the week as a birthday present. Seeing that we’re currently in the middle of another bout of unseasonably hot weather I thought it was as good a time as any to give these leaves another whirl.
I remembered that at the time of purchase it had piqued my interest on two fronts. Firstly, the idea of a Nepalese black tea with Darjeeling like qualities was by itself enough to get my attention, but then I read that a large percentage of the purchase price goes directly to the family producing the tea, in order to assist them in their recovery from the earthquake of 2015. Sold!
The tea itself was hand plucked and processed in the spring of 2015 by a family in Dhankuta, Nepal, and is described as of a similar type as the cultivars used over the border in Darjeeling.
|Weight of dry leaf:||6 grams|
|Steeping vessel:||400 ml glass teapot|
|No. & duration:||2 infusions @ 2 minutes|
The first infusion was interesting – soft stone fruit, possibly apricots, and a hard to pin down floral thing that may or may not have been roses, or even orchids. Sorry. As I’ve said before, I’m not particularly good at flowers. Suffice to say it was terribly pleasant, and would no doubt entrance bees to the point of rapture.
This tea ain’t no wallflower, though – there’s an assertive quality to it, with enough body behind the pretty things for you to sit up and take notice. Very little astringency, though, just a warming, refreshing quality.
The second infusion was surprisingly “there” for a Western style session with such fine, delicate looking leaves. Naturally enough the aromatics and flavours were a little dialled down, but it was still well worth the effort, and perfectly drinkable. Not a trace of bitterness either.
The brewing tips suggested a 3rd steeping at 3 minutes duration, but I have to say that this didn’t work for me. There was nothing unpleasant to report per se, just that this round was so weak compared to even the previous one that I personally wouldn’t recommend trying it.
In common with the Yunnan I recently wrote about, to be fair to this tea you have to step back a bit and look at the bigger picture.
From a terroir perspective it would be interesting to do a side-by-side comparison with this tea and a “real” Darjeeling from over the border. It would also be interesting to look a little deeper at the plucking and processing, to see how it relates to the action in India.
There’s also the fact that in buying this tea you’re helping out people in need, which, when all’s said and done can only be a good thing.