Himalayan Secret

Himalayan Secret Darjeeling - dry leaf

Note – this post was started at stupid o’clock one midsummer’s morn when my creative juices and decision making processes alike were under the twin influences of sleep deprivation (cause:cat) and an awful lot of sheng Pu-erh, so if it comes across as odder than usual, then, well, y’know…

It was only as I spooned the last few grams of this tea out of its caddy that it dawned on me that I might not have finished the post I started about it 18 months ago.

A quick search and trawling session confirmed my suspicions. Goodness, what an oversight. This must be rectified post-haste!

We first ran across this tea when visiting local tea bar Tea Junkie back in mid-December 2016. Mrs. Teaist enjoyed it so much that I made a secret vow to return early the following year and purchase some for her upcoming birthday, and a few weeks later I did just that.

As you have already probably guessed by the name alone this is a Darjeeling. The information gleaned from the packaging and any other data I gathered when first getting to grips with these leaves has long since gone walkabout, so the following comes from Googling the tea more recently. If I’m not mistaken the nice people at Tea Junkie occasionally read this blog, so if I’m out cycling as we say hereabouts hopefully they’ll spot it and put me right.

The tea is a product of the Seeyok tea garden which is located in Darjeeling close to the border with Nepal.

As this online retailer says, the tea garden…

“…faces the beautiful Rongbong valley and is sheltered by the majestic Kangchenjunga Mountain. This tea estate, established in 1869, covers an area of 406 hectares of which more than a third is under tea cultivation. Seeyok produces unique and innovative teas from this steep garden with elevations of up to 5900 feet.”

The leaves are graded as SFTGFOP1 First Flush, which puts them at the top of the pile when we’re talking about Orthodox production.

Himalayan Secret Darjeeling - a cup of

Well, this tea proved to be as big a success chez nous as it was at the tea bar, so much so that Mrs. Teaist climbed up on the table, and after getting our attention with a rousing battle charge played on a bugle I didn’t know she had, loudly and passionately proclaimed that unless I blogged about these wonderful leaves immédiatement angry letters would be written to the press, our MP, and the Chairperson of our local canoe club.

Hacks and politicos I can deal with, but if I’ve learned one thing in this life it’s not to mess with canoeists, so I earnestly began snapping, supping, and tapping on a keyboard. Fast forward as year and a half, and here I am again, finishing what I started. Still, better late than never, non?

I’ve found this tea to be happiest when steeped at 3 grams / 200 ml pot-size, and with water at 90°C. It should be good for three infusions at 2, 2½, and 3 minutes respectively.

The tea has all the soft stone fruit sweetness (apricot?) and delicate floral aromatic highlights you might reasonably expect to find in a top end Darjeeling, but with a twist – a nice crisp, refreshing astringent slap. Surprisingly, it also turned out to be one of the very few teas outside of a sheng Pu-erh to give me a Qi belt, inducing a good old fashioned neck and behind the ears sweat, and the beginnings of a tea-tipsy feeling.

Himalayan Secret Darjeeling - used leaf

Summing up, then, I’d say that although it’s very nice, given that it retails for about €16-18 / 50g, this tea is probably going to appeal most to Darjeeling specialists wanting to add another tea garden to their “drunk that” list…

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