Yes, I know it is Autumn Flush season in Darjeeling, but I still have a few of the better quality second flush samples to review. Today’s review will focus on the Wonder Muscatel 2nd Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea from the Gopaldhara Tea Estate. The Gopaldhara Tea Estate is located in the Mirik Valley. Gopaldhara Tea Estate boasts average elevations of 6,000 feet above sea level for sixty hectares of land, with the highest points reaching 7,000 feet. The total land managed by Gopaldhara is 320 hectares, with 172 consisting of tea bushes. Gopaldhara Tea Estate, along with the Rohini Tea Estate, produces a variety of tea types and qualities, with some very interesting specialty and handcrafted teas to compliment the more traditional lines of Darjeeling products.
This sample, as is usually the case with Darjeeling teas, was provided by Lochan Tea. For their generosity in always sending samples, I would like to express a sincere “Thank You” to all of the Lochans.
The sample packet has been opened, and the welcoming scents of the Gopaldhara Wonder Teas is immediately recognizable. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves range in color from light brown to reddish brown to black. There is a generous portion of silver tips in the mix, which are covered in soft downy-like hairs. The leaves are hand-plucked, machine rolled, and consist of mostly medium fragments, with some larger fragments also. There may be some unbroken leaves in the mix. The leaves are very dry, and crack easily into coarse crumbs. The smell has scents of cacao, dried muscat grapes, sweet wood, roses, and light clove.
Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.
My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 205°F (96°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect two quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Add a minute of steep time to the second infusion. The second infusion will be notably lighter than the first, regardless of steep time.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-orange color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of muscat grapes, citrus, rose, sweet wood, and lighter scents of clove and honey. The body is full, with a silky texture. There is a moderate astringency that compliments the sweet and floral tastes quite nicely. The taste has notes of muscat grapes, citrus, roses, wood, light raisins light honey, light clove, and a very light touch of squash. There is also a pleasant briskness to this tea. The aftertaste carries the taste of raisins, spice, and wood.
The infused leaves have a brown-copper color, with a slight variation in the tone of color. The leaves are mostly medium and large fragments, but there are some occasional unbroken leaves. There are some younger buds in the mix, as well as some bare stems. The stems show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, but seem to be slightly thicker and heartier than many other Darjeeling teas. The smell of the infused leaves is truly impressive, with rich scents of muscat grapes, honey, roses, raisins, and wood. When steaming hot, the leaves also have a citrus scent that dissipates as the leaves cool.
I will say that the Gopaldhara Wonder Muscatel 2nd Flush 2014 is among my favorite teas from this years second flush samples sent by Lochan Tea. The full body and wide array of sweet scents and tastes made the liquor very pleasurable to sip. There was a nice balance of sweet, floral, fruity, and spicy character complimented by a moderate astringency and briskness. The smell of the infused leaves was simply incredible. Gopaldhara Wonder tea was the first Darjeeling tea that I ever tried years ago. It was a favorite of mine then, and continues to impress me today. For the price, I think Gopaldhara creates very competitive Darjeeling teas that will certainly not disappoint.
Thanks again to the Lochan family and Lochan Tea for providing this sample. Cheers!