Darjeeling 2nd Flush, Margaret's Hope Estate 2019
Darjeelings are standouts in the black tea category, renown for their complex aromas and nuanced flavors. The flushes refer to the harvest: second flushes are the second picking of the plants, usually in late April or early May, and are processed to maximize oxidation of the leaves.
This lot, from Margaret’s Hope Estate, was produced entirely from the older china cultivar (Camellia sinensis var. sinensis) plants at around 4,500 feet elevation. An earthy aroma, redolent of taro and cassava root, yields to a deep, nutty flavor of cocoa powder and toasted walnuts.
Region: West Bengal
Tasting Notes: roasted walnut, cocoa powder, taro root
Harvest Season: Spring 2019
Great tea. Full-bodied and balanced. I can usually get two great brews and one weaker brew out of each 4g serving. Would recommend.
After receiving feedback from the IPoT folks on how to brew this tea, we did another session and brewed western style, about 3g and 250ml of water for about 3 minutes. The result was quite different than the original, and the tea was delicious. None of the bitterness from when we brewed gong fu style. This was a very smooth tea with a slightly fruity note and some mineral notes too. We steeped it 3 times and found that it still had a nice mellow flavor the third time around. It’s a great tea that I can drink daily.
I brewed this tea in Gong fu style in a 120 ml gaiwan with 5 grams of tea and 97C to 100C filtered water. After one rinse, the first infusion -10 seconds - started with a roasted flavor that then turned somewhat bitter. The second infusion - 12 seconds - was super, super bitter throughout the whole mouth, overwhelmingly so., with also a strong astringency. The third infusion - about 20 sec - started to mellow out, still somewhat bitter and astringent.
I typically drink Chinese teas, and this was my first Darjeeling, which I bought for a friend who likes Indian teas, so it's possible that this is to be expected from Darjeeling or perhaps if it is brewed gong fu style with high leaf to water ratio - I don't really know. Nevertheless, I did not like how bitterness and strong astringency, which I do not encounter often in the Chinese teas I drink. I left the tea with my friend, who will probably drink it with milk and sugar to cut the bitterness.
I'll have to try some other Indian black teas to see if this is a common experience or just this particular tea. Not my favorite.
Thank you for your review and your detailed description of how you made it. While I prepare most of the tea I drink in a gaiwan or small pot gongfu cha style, this is one tea I usually do not- the results that you found are exactly what I would guess with that leaf to water ratio.
I find that Darjeeling teas do better in a larger, Western-style pot with a couple of minutes brewing time.
You could also try quicker infusions with less leaf in your gaiwan: try two grams into a hot gaiwan, and without a rinse, infuse it for 10-15 seconds- see how that is for starters.
Properly infused, Darjeeling teas should have a pleasant (and balanced) astringency, with a lot of character and fragrance. We hope you enjoy it if you try it again.
It has a wonderful taste when I brew it the right way and at the right temperature. But I do look forward to trying some of your other Darjeeling as well as other black teas.
A beautiful and very tasty tea!
Fabulous tea! The best in the Western world!