Earlier this week, I was greeted by a surprise delivery with my usual mail: an envelope from Lochan Tea containing a sample of the FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush tea from Rohini Tea Estates, in the Darjeeling district of India. This is the first year of my tea experience where I am able to taste truly fresh first flush teas from Darjeeling.
The sample packet has been opened, and an uplifting scent of spring flowers is hitting me. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves vary in color from bright green, to reddish brown, to light and dark brown. There are a few silver tips, covered in downy-like hairs. The leaves are mostly small to medium fragments. The leaves are rolled. There are a few small bare stems in the mix. The aroma is fresh, with scents of light roses, very light lilac, and light cocoa.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) ceramic infusion cup. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for three minutes.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of fresh flowers, light honey, light cocoa, and light sweet wood. The body is medium-full, with a lively, almost sharp texture. The taste has strong notes of hyacinth, lilac, and sweet wood. The aftertaste is very floral, with a flowery essence being left on the breath. This infusion tastes like a mouthful of fresh spring flowers, just as I was hoping for. The taste is actually stronger than I expected after feeling the aroma.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a noticeably lighter shade of golden yellow color. The aroma lightened some, but retained the floral, light cocoa, and sweet wood scents. The body lightened to medium, and the texture softened some. The taste also lightened significantly, but retained the notes of hyacinth, lilac, and sweet wood. The aftertaste and essence were lighter, as well.
Due to time constraints and the strong possibility that the third infusion would be quite light in all respects, I decided to forego an analysis on the third infusion.
The infused leaves varied in color from fresh light green to pinkish-red to light brown. The leaves are mostly small to medium fragments. There are a few small whole leaves in the mix, and a few small bare stems. The leaves seem quite young and tender. The aroma is very fresh, with scents of wet spring flowers and light sweet wood.
This FTGFOP 1 CL 1st Flush from Rohini Tea Estates was a pleasant introduction to this years first flush teas from Darjeeling. I just received notification of a follow up package of first flush samples from other Darjeeling estates, so I look forward to comparing them all. With this sample, the wood aroma and taste note is something that I do not remember feeling in last years Darjeeling first flush teas. I follow Rohini Tea Estates, as well as Gopaldhara, and other Darjeeling estates through social media, and read that some areas were experiencing droughts this spring. I wonder if the woody notes can be attributed to these draughts. Regardless, the tastes of hyacinth and lilac were exactly what I look for in a first flush tea. These same flowers are finally blooming in my area. As a quick tangent, there is one family of deer who live in my part of the city of Pittsburgh, and they eat all of my spring flowers (crocuses, tulips) every year. This year, they even ate my white hyacinths! The daffodils are the only survivors this year.
Anyway… thank you very much to Lochan Tea for surprising me with this introductory sample of first flush teas. I will be keeping a close eye on the tracking information for the next round of samples to arrive. Cheers to Lochan Tea and Rohini Tea Estates!