Today, I will be reviewing a tea sample that I have been holding on to, waiting for the right day and time to properly appreciate a truly high-end Darjeeling tea. Thankfully, that day has come.
This sample is of the Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 from the Avongrove Tea Estate in the famed Darjeeling region of northern India. As many of you have heard, the political situation in Darjeeling has deteriorated over the past couple of months. Here is a link to one of the best articles that I have found on the subject, written by the knowledgeable team at World of Tea.
Due to this political situation, there is quite a bit of uncertainty on the short term (and potentially long term) outlook on the Darjeeling tea industry. The current second flush harvests that make up a significant percentage of the regions revenues are sadly going to waste. As a tea lover, I hope the situation is resolved peacefully and quickly, and production can resume. As a human, I hope that a solution is found that respects the rights and dignity of the locals. The last update I read is that the locals are without telephone and internet service at the moment, which the government has shut down. Again, let’s all hope and encourage a quick, peaceful, and respectful solution in Darjeeling.
Now, back to Avongrove Tea Estate. The estate consists of about 184 hectares of land dedicated to tea bushes. The altitude ranges from 2,200 feet to 5,700 feet above sea level. The estate is located on the banks of the Balason River, in the Rangbhang Valley. This is a certified organic estate by the USDA and JAS. The factory produces between 60,000 and 70,000 kilograms of tea per year. The estate employs about 500 workers, who all live with their families on the estate lands. There are a number of photos provided on the Avongrove Tea Estate website. Below is a Google map showing the area in which Avongrove Tea Estate is located.
Let’s get to the review…
The dry leaves range in color from reddish brown to dark charcoal brown, with silver-yellow buds. The mixture consists of large leaf fragments, some unbroken leaves, and a generous portion of unbroken buds covered in downy-like fuzz. The stems show a two leaf and bud pluck. The leaves are hand plucked and machine rolled. The overall appearance is very impressive and high-end. The aroma has beautiful scents of roses, grapes, raw cocoa, leather, and a touch of vanilla.
Dry leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.
The liquid has a bright, honey-like golden yellow color. The aroma is luxurious, and carries fresh scents of roses, daisies, grapes, and lighter touches of cocoa and vanilla. The body is medium, with a velvety, incredibly smooth texture. The taste has dominant floral notes of roses and daisies, a less dominant note of grapes, and much lighter notes of cocoa, vanilla, and leather. The aftertaste carries the floral character and a touch of sweetness.
The infused leaves have a fairly uniform copper brown color, with the largest fragments having a green tint. The mixture consists of large leaf fragments and unbroken leaves and buds. There are very few bare stems in the mix, and the few that are here are rather young. This sample actually had one of the largest unbroken leaves that I have ever found in a Darjeeling tea, measuring about 2.25 inches (5.7 cm) in length. The leaves are smooth, silky, yet fairly durable after two infusions. The aroma carries the scents of roses, daisies, grape, and lighter scents of leather.
I can easily summarize the Avongrove Euphoria Darjeeling tea in one word: Luxurious. Every aspect of this review lived up to that word, the observation of the dry leaves, the liquid, and the infused leaves. I cannot easily find any aspect of this tea that can be described in any other light than highly positive. And yes, even the descriptions of leather in the aroma and taste add to the luxurious overall experience of this tea! This tea is on the more expensive side of the current second flush Darjeeling teas available, but it is definitely worthy of that price tag.
Speaking of price tags, you can purchase 50 grams of this tea for USD $10.00 plus applicable shipping charges from the Lochan Tea website.
Another thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea for providing this excellent sample of Avongrove Euphoria 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea! Cheers!