As you have probably noticed, I am really beginning to appreciate the value of doing side-by-side comparisons of different teas. In continuing with this trend of mine, today I will be comparing three Autumn Flush 2013 Darjeeling teas. All of these samples were provided by Lochan Tea Limited. To learn more about Lochan Tea, please visit their website here.
Today’s comparison will focus on the Autumn Flush 2013 teas from the following estates, all located in the Darjeeling district of north India.
Dooteriah SFTGFOP 1 Musk (in left position in all photos), Giddapahar SFTGFOP 1 CH SPL (in center position), and the Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP 1 HS (in right position).
Time to find out how these three seemingly similar teas compare to one another. Let the journey begin…
As you can see from the photos above, these three teas all share a very similar color scheme in the dry leaves, having a range of bright green to red to brown to black. All three teas consisted of rolled, medium sized fragments, with a few bare stems in the mixes. The difference in the dry leaves came in the aroma of each tea. The Dooteriah had a spicy, woody, slightly leathery (musk?) scent. The Giddapahar had sweeter scents of light brown sugar, light dried fruit, and some spice. The Margaret’s Hope had floral scents of rose, as well as light dried fruit, and a very light spice. To summarize: Dooteriah – Spicy, Woody, Bold. Giddapahar – Sweet, Spicy, Mild. Margaret’s Hope – Floral, Sweet, Fairly Delicate.
Each sample was prepared using the following parameters. Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 205°F (96°C). Leaves were infused for two minutes.
The infusion of the Dooteriah had an orange color with a dark gold tint, clear and transparent. The aroma was spicy, woody, and lightly floral. The body was medium-full, with a sharp and mouth filling texture. There was a medium astringency. The taste had notes of wood, animal leather, and spice. Animal leather is a questionable description, but I am not familiar with the “musk” taste description. The aftertaste is spicy and floral. This was a very unique tasting tea that caught me off-guard. It was bold, sharp, and eye-opening.
The infusion of the Giddapahar had a slightly bolder, deeper orange color with a gold tint, clear and transparent. The aroma is spicy, lightly fruity, and lightly floral. The body is medium-full, with a smooth, round feel. The taste is spicy, floral, lightly fruity, with a very light wood note. There is a mild astringency. The aftertaste is lightly sweet and floral.
The infusion of the Margaret’s Hope had the lightest, and most lively, shade of orange with gold tint, clear and transparent. The aroma is floral and sweet, with hints of roses and light honey, and light spice. It lacks the dominantly spicy scent of the other two teas. The body is medium, with a soft, smooth feel. The taste is floral (rose), woody, somewhat spicy, and lightly sweet (light honey). There is a mild astringency. The aftertaste is woody and floral, and lasts longer on the tongue than the other two teas. This was the most delicate of the three teas.
The infused leaves of all three products have the same general appearance, having a range in color from fresh forest green to red to copper. All the products consist of medium sized leaf fragments, with some bare stems in the mixes. The difference among the three products can be felt in the aroma of the infused leaves. The Dooteriah maintains the dominantly spicy, almost leathery (musk?) scent. The Giddapahar has a spicy and lightly sweet (fruity) scent. The Margaret’s Hope has a spicy and floral (rose) scent.
The three teas had many similar characteristics, such as the appearance of the leaves, and the general spicy aromas and tastes of the infusions. The differences were subtle, but certainly strong enough to be noticed. I must admit that this was the most challenging comparison that I have performed so far. The difficulty came in describing the lesser aromas and tastes. The spice and wood were obvious and simple, but the leather (musk?) of the Dooteriah and light fruit of the Giddapahar took the entire sample cup to even begin to understand. The Margaret’s Hope was not as difficult, and the rose scent and taste could be felt rather easily.
It is comparisons like this that provide a constant reminder of how much more I have to learn in the world of tea. It’s also times like this that I wish I had a tea mentor nearby that could help me understand some of what I was smelling and tasting. So please, to anyone reading this post who has much more experience with Autumn Flush Darjeeling teas, if you see a description that you feel is off-target, please comment or email me. I would love to hear a more experienced opinion.
Thanks to Lochan Teas for providing the samples! No company has taught me as much about Darjeeling and Assam teas than Lochan Tea, and I am extremely grateful for their generosity. Cheers!