After an extremely busy three weeks of tea package labeling, canister filling, performing training sessions, and a week of cupping exercises for my most recent World Tea Academy course, I finally have a moment on a Monday morning to do a tea review. Today felt like a Darjeeling day, and what better package of samples to choose out of than that from Lochan Tea?
On November 4th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me to the Giddapahar Tea Garden, near Kurseong in the Darjeeling area of India. This sample of Giddapahar SFTGFOP1 1st Flush 2013 was provided by Lochan Tea.
According to the Lochan Tea website, Giddapahar is a garden in Darjeeling with an elevation above 4,800 feet above sea level. Also known as “Eagle’s Cliff”, the small tea estate is family owned. The estate grows nothing but Chinese tea bushes. Like other Darjeeling teas, this tea is processed using the very hard wither, which gives it the large variation in dry leaf colors.
The sample packet has been opened, and the familiar and inviting smells of fruit and honey are emanating from the colorful dry leaves. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves of this tea have a wide variety of colors, ranging from fresh green to red to dark brown and black. The leaves also vary in their size and shape. The leaves appear to very lightly curled and twisted. The leaves are mostly large fragments, with an occasional full leaf being present. There are no crumbs. The aroma of the dry leaves is very sweet, with notes of honey, fruit (muscatel grapes), and a touch of cocoa or chocolate. The aroma is complex, layered, and truly amazing.
The standard method of preparation was used for this sample. Purified water was heated to 200°F (96°C). The entire sample packet (15 grams) was placed into a 24 ounce (700 ml) ceramic teapot. The leaves were infused for 2 minutes, then strained into a separate decanter.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma was floral, sweet of honey, and fruity of muscatel grapes. The body is medium, with a juicy and lush mouthfeel. The taste is floral (jasmine), sweet (honey), fruity (muscatel grape), with a slight note of wood or earth. The aftertaste is light and refreshing, with a jasmine taste. The last time I had a first flush that I enjoyed this much was the Gopaldhara Wonder Tea 1st Flush EX SPL 2013. These teas are absolutely exquisite.
As with every Darjeeling that I have had, the second infusion was lighter in every way than the first infusion. That being said, the aroma and flavor remained rich and tasteful. The notes of muscatel grapes dominated the taste of this second infusion. I had no problem finishing this pot of tea.
The third infusion was lighter than the second infusion in all aspects, but surprisingly fuller overall than I expected. A fourth infusion seems highly unlikely, as expected from this style of tea. The taste of jasmine dominated the taste of this third infusion.
The infused leaves displayed the usual variation in green to brown colors that are characteristic of Darjeeling first flush teas. The leaves varied in size and shape, with more leaves being fulled intact than I originally expected. The size of the fully intact leaves confirmed that these leaves are from the pure China tea bush. The majority of leaves were fragments, with an occasional stem. The leaves were fairly delicate, indicating that they are nearly exhausted of taste. The aroma is slightly floral and sweet, with the obvious smell being fresh wet leaves.
This Giddapahar SFTGFOP1 CH SPL EX1 1st Flush 2013 was in the top three Darjeeling first flush teas that I have had so far. The taste was complex and layered, yet delicate. This tea was beautiful in every aspect, from the dry leaves to the bright liquor, the aroma, the taste, everything was truly exquisite. It is a perfect example of what Darjeeling first flush teas are meant to be. There is no question as to why these teas are sought by connoisseurs all over the world. As always, thank you to the Lochan family and Lochan Tea Limited for giving me the opportunity to sample this amazing tea. I always know that a good review is coming when I choose one of Lochan’s sample packets.