On the morning of October 15th, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate, located in the Darjeeling area of India. This sample was provided by the Lochan Tea Limited company.
As I learned from the Lochan Tea website, this world famous tea estate was not always known as Margaret’s Hope. The original estate name was Bara Ringtong. The estate kept this name from the year of it’s founding in 1830 until 1927. The owner of the Bara Ringtong Tea Estate in 1927 was Mr. Cruikshank, who’s daughter, Margaret, loved the beautiful landscapes of the Bara Ringtong Tea Estate. After beginning a journey from India to her home in England, Margaret died suddenly, never being able to return to the estate that she adored. In Margaret’s memory, Mr. Cruikshank changed the name of the estate to Margaret’s Hope Tea Estate. Now, this estate is known as one of the premier Darjeeling tea estates.
The sample pack has been opened, and along with the sweet smell I see some larger fully intact leaves, and an abundance of color. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this Margaret’s Hope Golden Delight 2nd Flush 2013 have a wide range of color from bright lively green to dark brown, and a generous amount of silver tips. The leaves are gently rolled and curled. There appears to be some fully intact, larger leaves, but the majority are leaf fragments, and some nice buds. A few bare stalks are present. The aroma is fruity and sweet.
The standard preparation method was used for this sample. As directed by Lochan Tea, purified spring water was heated to a boil. Nine grams of dry tea leaves were placed in a 21 ounce (600 ml) cast iron Tetsubin. The tea leaves were infused for 3 minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright orange-red color, clear and transparent. The aroma is delicate, yet sweet (honey) and floral. The body is medium-full, with a mouthfilling texture and taste. The taste is floral (jasmine), with an aftertaste that is floral with touches of vegetal notes. I don’t know if I have ever had a tea with such a pure floral taste as this. I am interested to see how this tea can maintain this flavor, or mature into other flavors.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter shade of bright orange-red color. The aroma remains delicately sweet and floral. The taste and body lightened some, but maintains a mouthfilling taste of jasmine flowers with a lightly vegetal finish. I expect the third infusion to be quite light, but still provide an acceptable flavor.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of orange, much lighter color than the first and second infusions. The aroma is lighter, but still sweet and slightly floral. The body and taste have lightened significantly. The taste is very lightly floral, with a very light vegetal aftertaste. The taste is borderline acceptable, but getting an acceptable taste out of a fourth infusion is doubtful.
The infused leaves of this tea are mostly uniform copper-brown, with an occasional green or red leaf mixed in. The majority of the leaves are fragments, with an occasional fully intact leaf and occasional bud being found. The aroma is lightly sweet and lightly floral. The leaves appear nearly exhausted of flavor.
As I mentioned earlier, this tea was very unique in the purity of the floral flavor. Aside from the lightly vegetal finish, all I could taste was a mouthful of delicate jasmine flowers. It is easy to understand why this tea is sought after by tea aficionados the world over. The first infusion was incredible in the aroma and flavor, with both trailing off with additional infusions. This tea would be an excellent choice for those who prefer a tea with more body and a gentle flavor. It has the body of a black tea, with the flavor that only a Darjeeling tea can provide. This tea has been etched in my memory as the tea that tastes like pure natural jasmine. There is no need whatsoever for any blending or additives to make this tea a pleasure to experience.