This week brought an exciting moment for me. I received a package of second flush Darjeeling teas from Lochan Tea. Again, just like the first flush samples I received a few months ago, it had been a while since I had enjoyed a fresh second flush Darjeeling tea.
Considering the political problems that the Darjeeling area is facing, I am especially grateful for the hard work of the Darjeeling laborers and estate managers who continue to do their jobs despite the uncertainty that they are living through. I am also especially thankful to the Lochan family for sending samples. Their generosity never waivers, despite harder times in the Darjeeling tea industry.
This particular sample is sourced from the Rohini Tea Estate, located in the Kurseong valley of the Darjeeling region of northern India. Click the link above for more information on the Rohini Tea Estate.
Let’s get to the review.
The dry leaves have a very fresh, attractive appearance, with leaves varying from reddish-brown to dark brown, and a very generous portion of silver-yellow, fuzzy tips. The leaves have a two leaf and bud pluck, are machine rolled, and consists of large sized fragments to fully intact leaves and buds. The aroma has scents of roses, raw cocoa, dried apricot, and a slight earthy scent that does not seem to be an intended characteristic. Overall, the aroma is very welcoming, but the earthy scent does not add a positive note.
Dry leaves were infused in 200°F water for 3:00 minutes.
The tea liquid has a bright, pale gold color. The aroma has scents of roses, apricot jam, cocoa, and licorice. Luckily, the earthy scents from the dry leaves do not show up in the aroma of the liquid. The body is medium, with a lush, juicy feel. The taste has notes of roses, apricot, licorice, and very light raw cocoa. The aftertaste is fruity and a little spicy.
The wet leaves have a uniform copper brown color. The pluck is two leaves and bud. There is a generous portion of fully intact leaves and buds. The leaves have a soft, smooth leathery texture. The aroma has scents of roses, apricot, and licorice.
The Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea is a very good quality second flush Darjeeling tea. I was very excited to open the sample packet and see the quality of the dry leaves. The earthy scent (slight mildew) of the dry leaves was a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent tasting experience. The tea liquid had a phenomenal mouth feel. The juicy, lush character was something that I have not experienced recently, so it was a nice reminder that such a texture exists. Considering all of the first flush Darjeeling teas that I had been reviewing over the past two months, the Rohini Enigma Gold was an excellent introduction to this year’s second flush Darjeeling teas. It is certainly a night and day difference from the Rohini Jethi Kupi 1st Flush that I reviewed in April.
At the moment, I am not able to find a retailer with shipping to the U.S. that is offering this product. I will update this post with pricing and a retailer once I find one.
Thank you to the Lochan family for providing this sample of Rohini Enigma Gold 2nd Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea, and thank you to my readers who take their time to read this site!
It was difficult holding on to this sample for so long, but I do prefer to mix up the various types of samples that I have so I do not lose my appreciate for one type by doing a marathon of reviews on teas of the same classification. Today’s review focuses on the Jungpana FTGFOP 1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling tea from the Jungpana Organic Tea Estate, and another thank you for the generosity of Lochan Tea Limited for providing the sample.
As a quick tangent, I have decided for the time being to stop referring to these teas from Darjeeling as black or oolong in the titles of the reviews. I generally believe these teas to be oolongs, since there is obviously only partial oxidation in the leaves, most easily observed in the first flush products. However, these teas are not marketed as oolongs, nor are they necessarily marketed as blacks. In my opinion, Darjeeling teas certainly deserve the distinction that they already have garnered from the tea world. Thus, I am going to simply refer to these teas as “Darjeeling Tea” in the review titles.
Jungpana Organic Tea Estate is located in the Kurseong South Valley of the Darjeeling district of north India. The altitude of the gardens ranges from 400 meters (1,200 feet) to 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) above sea level. The total estate covers about 100 hectares of land, with tea gardens covering about 73 hectares of that land.
The sample packet has been opened, and the silver hairs on the tips and fresh green appearance are very attractive. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a fresh green to dark green color, with very few leaves showing a reddish-brown to black color. There is a generous portion of tips, all covered in very fresh appearing silver hairs. The leaves are lightly rolled, and appear to be mostly medium to large leaf fragments, with the possibility of a few whole leaves, and some of the tips appear to be quite mature. Some pieces have a leaf and bud with the young stem intact. The appearance generally is very fresh and bright, more so than any other first flush product from 2014 that I have reviewed thus far. The aroma is very fresh and floral, having scents of a spring bouquet of flowers, sweet wood, and light molasses. The aroma has an uplifting effect.
Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds with thirty seconds being added to subsequent infusions.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a light, pale golden-yellow color, clear and transparent, with some very fine particles accumulating at the bottom of the cup. The aroma is very fresh, with scents of fresh spring flowers, light grass, light wood, and light honey. The body is medium, with a clean, rounded texture, and a fresh, uplifting energy. The taste has dominant floral notes of fresh spring flowers, and light wood. The aftertaste is floral and lightly woody, with a potent floral essence being left on the breath.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter shade of pale golden-yellow color. Some very fine particles are present in the cup. The aroma is still quite potent, with dominant scents of spring flowers and light wood. The honey and grass scents have dissipated. The body remains medium, and the texture clean. The taste has lightened some, but remains dominantly floral, with light wood notes. The aftertaste remains floral, and the essence has lightened some. There is plenty of character in this second infusion, so I will attempt a third infusion.
A photo is not available of the third infusion. The third infusion produced a liquor with a similar shade of light golden-yellow color as the second infusion. The aroma, body, and taste all lightened significantly, but had enough character to enjoy. The third infusion was a nice light bodied, and modestly floral, making perfect for a post-meal beverage.
The infused leaves had a fresh and light forest green to forest green color, with few leaves having reddish-brown coloring. There are quite a few whole leaves, and the rest of the leaves are medium to large fragments. There is a generous amount of tips, measuring 18 to 25 mm (.75″ to 1″). The leaves and tips appear very fresh, and have a soft yet durable feel. The aroma has scents of flowers, light green cooked vegetable, and sweet grass.
The Jungpana FTGFOP 1 CL First Flush 2014 Darjeeling Tea is a perfect representation of first flush Darjeeling teas. It looks, smells, and tastes incredibly fresh, and has clean, uplifting energy. The floral taste is potent, but not overwhelming. The tea provided two very good infusions, and the third had enough character to be easy to sip if you do not mind a very light taste. I was impressed with this tea from the moment I opened the sample packet, and I am not surprised! Jungpana has been toward the top of my favorite Darjeeling tea estates since I first tried one of their products.
Cheers to Lochan Tea Limited for providing another incredible sample!
Today’s review will focus on the Rohini Esquire 1st Flush 2014 Black Tea from Rohini Tea Estate. Gopaldhara and Rohini Tea Estates were two of the first estates in the Darjeeling area to generously send me samples of their products to try. If you have not tried a Wonder Tea from Gopaldhara, look for it, because they are amazing teas. However, I do not recall seeing this Esquire product in last year’s catalog, so I was excited to see it in the package of samples from Lochan Tea.
Rohini Tea Estate is located in the Kurseong South Valley of the Darjeeling district of India. To learn more about the Gopaldhara and Rohini Tea Estates, visit the website here.
The sample packet has been opened, and the rolled leaves appear quite different than other first flush Darjeeling teas. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have the typical first flush Darjeeling tea colors of light to dark green, reddish-brown to dark brown, and black. The leaves are lightly rolled, but the rolled leaves are certainly larger than other first flush Darjeeling teas. These leaves appear to be medium and large fragments, and there is a good chance that there are a few whole leaves in the mix. There are a few silver tips, and very few bare stems. The aroma is very attractive, with scents of brown sugar, molasses, sweet wood, spice, and light flowers.
Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds, with an additional thirty seconds being added to subsequent infusion.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma has scents of fresh spring flowers, wood, light honey, and very light grape. The body is medium-full, with a smooth, velvety texture. The taste is very fresh, and has dominant notes of hyacinth and wood, with a lighter note of honey. The aftertaste and essence are both flowery, and there is a honey-like feel left in the mouth.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a lighter shade of golden-yellow color. The aroma has lightened, but retains the floral dominance, and a light honey scent. The body and texture have thinned. The taste has also lightened, and retains the floral character, although significantly less intense. This second infusion had enough taste to be enjoyable, but a third infusion will not be attempted.
The infused leaves varied in color from light to dark forest green, and light brown to reddish-brown. There are some medium sized fragments, but most of the leaves are large fragments, and there are a few whole leaves. There are more tips than expected. There are few bare stems in the mix. The leaves have a soft, smooth texture, and tear rather easily. The aroma has scents of wet spring flowers, wood, and a light spice.
This Rohini Esquire was unique in it’s appearance, and the presence of larger leaf fragments than some other Darjeeling teas, but other than that it was a fairly typical Darjeeling tea with regard to the general characteristics of the tea. By no means is that a negative comment on the tea, just to clarify. The aroma and taste were very fresh and floral. The honey-like feel that this tea left in the mouth was also unique. The color of the first infusion was very bright and attractive. The aroma of the liquor filled the room with a very pleasant scent. This was a very nice product, which I have come to expect from the Rohini Tea Estate.
Cheers to Lochan Tea Limited, as always, for their generosity in providing this sample.
The next stop through the samples of first flush 2014 Darjeeling teas, sent by the always generous Lochan family or Lochan Tea Limited, is the package from my favorite Darjeeling estate, Margaret’s Hope Estate. Margaret’s Hope is located in the Kurseong North Valley of the Darjeeling district of India.
This review will focus on the fresh first flush harvest of 2014. This is the Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (FTGFOP) 1 HS. The sample packet has been opened, and already my preference for the teas of Margaret’s Hope is being reaffirmed.
Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves vary in color from light to dark green, reddish-brown, light to dark brown, and black. There are some silver tips and bare stems in the mix. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments, and are lightly rolled. The aroma has scents of sweet wood, caramel, honey, and very light spring flowers (hyacinth, lilac).
Ten grams of dry leaves were placed in an eighteen ounce (530 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes thirty seconds, with thirty seconds being added to subsequent infusions.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, golden yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is simply incredible, with dominant scents of hyacinth and lilac, as well as very light honey, and very light wood. The body is medium, with a lively, yet velvety texture. The taste is very fresh and floral, with perfect notes of hyacinth, lilac, very light wood, and perhaps a very light caramel hint. The aftertaste is remarkably floral, and the essence left on the breath is potent and persistent. Finishing the last sip of this pot was a sad moment for me. Thankfully, I have enough left in the sample packet to adequately supply my Tokoname kyusu tonight.
The second infusion produced a liquor with a less bright, but overall similar color to the first infusion. The aroma, body, taste, and aftertaste all lightened some, but retain all of the same general notes. Despite the overall lighter characteristics, this second infusion was still very enjoyable, and held its properties better than many other first flush Darjeeling teas do.
The third infusion ended up being very light in all respects, as expected. However, I had no trouble drinking the entire pot. If you do not mind a light tasting tea, then the third infusion may keep you satisfied.
The infused leaves varied in color from light forest green to a light brown and reddish-brown color. All leaves were small and medium fragments. There were some medium sized tips and a few bare stems in the mix. The leaves had soft, delicate texture. The aroma had scents of wet spring flowers and wet wood.
I have quite a few samples from Lochan Tea to get through, but perhaps I should have left the Margaret’s Hope sample for last, because now all of the other samples may not excite me as much as this one did. This tea was incredible in all respects, and the first infusion was seriously an awesome collection of moments. The bright, lively color of the first infusion was beautiful, but sadly my appreciation of it was short-lived, as the aroma was among the best that I have experienced. This aroma was so freshly floral, and it could honestly transport one to a field of freshly opened spring flowers. The taste had the same effect, as well as the aftertaste. This tea had a very strong uplifting energy to it. I have used this descriptive word a number of times in this review, and it sums this tea up perfectly, incredible.
Thank you to the Lochan family, and to all of the people who make this phenomenal tea possible. Cheers!
The first stop I am making on my tea tasting journey through the Darjeeling 2014 first flush teas is at the Dooteriah Tea Estate. This sample was provided by Lochan Tea Limited, and thank you to the Lochan family for your generosity.
The Dooteriah Tea Estate is located in the Darjeeling East Valley. Dooteriah was established in 1859, and ranges in altitude from 3,000 feet to 5,400 feet (1,000 to 1,800 meters) above sea level. This sample is from the first flush (harvest) of the 2014 growing year.
The sample packet has been opened, and the freshness of this sample is already evident. Let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have a lively green to reddish-brown to dark brown color, with some silver tips in the mix. The leaves appear to be small to large fragments, with some bare stems present. The leaves are rolled. The aroma is very fresh, and has scents of light brown sugar, fresh wood, and fresh spring flowers.
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 two minutes thirty seconds.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a dark golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is room filling and fresh, with scents of fresh spring flowers (lilac, light hyacinth), light honey, and light fresh wood. The body is medium, with a lively, mouth-filling texture. The taste is dominantly floral, with notes of hyacinth, lilac, and jasmine, with lighter notes of fresh wood and light honey. The aftertaste is floral, and an impressive floral aftertaste is left on the breath.
The second infusion has a slightly different color, adding a slight reddish-orange tint to the golden-yellow color. The aroma is lighter, and remains fresh and floral. The floral scent has more of a rose character than the first infusion had, perhaps the result of the overall lighter aroma. The body has lightened some, but is still medium. The taste has lightened, and retains the dominant floral notes. The notes include more of rose and light jasmine, and less hyacinth and lilac. A light wood note is also there. The aftertaste and essence remain floral.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a color more similar to the first infusion than the second, but is not as bright as the first infusion. The aroma has lightened more, and remains floral. The body, texture, and taste have all lightened significantly from the second infusion. The taste notes are light floral (rose, jasmine) and very light wood. The aftertaste and essence are quite light.
The infused leaves range in color from fresh forest green to reddish brown. All leaves are small to medium fragments, with a few larger fragments. There are few tips in the mix, as well as bare stems. The aroma is fresh and floral, with dominant scents of hyacinth, wood, and light grapes.
The Dooteriah FTGFOP 1 CH SPL First Flush 2014 tea was an excellent reminder of the fresh flowery character of first flush Darjeeling teas. The aromas of the dry leaves, first infusion, and infused leaves were all very impressive and attractive. The taste of the first and second infusions were very fresh and refreshing, while the third infusion was very light, but still easy to drink. This tea gave me the taste for first flush Darjeelings, and I am definitely looking forward to trying the 2014 products from other estates around the Darjeeling District.
Cheers once again to Lochan Tea Limited for providing this incredibly fresh sample of Dooteriah FTGFOP 1 CH SPL 2014 first flush tea.
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.
This sample was provided by Lochan Tea Limited. To read more about Lochan Tea, visit their website here. To learn more about Rohini Tea Estates, visit their website here.
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!
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!
It is not always easy to combine two, arguably three, occupations worth of work in to a nine hour work day. Yesterday, I completed nine straight hours of insurance work just to free up enough time today to do a tea related project that I have been waiting months to have an opportunity to perform. Finally, I can do a side-by-side-by-side comparison of the three flushes from one estate in the Darjeeling district of India, the Jungpana Estate. Another heart-filled thank you to the Lochan family at Lochan Tea Limited for providing these samples.
As I had mentioned in my previous side-by-side comparison, the difference in these three teas seems simple at face value, but quite complex as you get into the details. Simply put, the difference is the time of year in which the tea leaves are picked. However, the chemistry of the leaves is vastly different in each of these flushes due to the different environmental conditions of the land in between harvests. This difference in chemistry is very obviously felt in the cups.
When doing a side-by-side comparison, another aspect of the tea is felt at a much more obvious level than when tasting one tea at a time. That aspect is the energy of the tea. Each flush has a very distinct energy and effect that it gives to the drinker, if the drinker is able to grasp it. Honestly, this aspect of the comparison tastings is the most exciting part to me. Yes, the varying aromas and tastes are interesting, but the effect of the energy is truly fascinating.
The tasting cups are ready, teas are measured, and the water has reached the desired temperature, so let the journey begin…
For this comparison, three grams of each flush of dry leaves were placed in separate standard four ounce (100 ml) infusion cups. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). The leaves were infused for two minutes. In the interest of time, I will only be performing an official review on the first infusion of each of these teas.
The dry leaves of the first flush had the typical range of colors from bright, lively green to reddish brown to black. The leaves are rolled fragments with some stems being present. The aroma is strongly floral (roses, light jasmine) with a light grape scent.
The dry leaves of the second flush are mostly uniform light to dark brown color with some golden tips. These leaves are also rolled, but are much larger than the first flush. In fact, these leaves appear larger than any other Darjeeling second flush tea that I have seen from other estates, except for the Doke Rolling Thunder Oolong. I believe there may be some unbroken, fully intact leaves in this product. The aroma has strong scents of muscat grapes and roses.
The dry leaves of Autumn flush have similarities to the other two flushes in that they have a wide range of colors from light green (in a lower quantity) to reddish-brown to black, but also has the golden tips like the second flush. The leaves are rolled, with some larger fragments and some smaller fragments, and a few stems. There may be a few fully intact and unbroken leaves, but not as many as the second flush. The aroma suggests the more mature leaves used in this flush, and has scents of roses, light spice, and light grape. I would describe the aroma as being brighter or more lively than the other two flushes.
The first flush produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma is decidedly floral, with scents of roses, jasmine, and lilies. The aroma seriously smells like a bouquet of flowers. The body is medium, with a delicate feel. The taste is complex and very floral, with strong notes of roses, jasmine, and maybe even lilac. There is a moderate astringency that blends nicely with the floral tastes. The aftertaste is persistent and floral. The infused leaves have a fresh forest green color with some reddish-brown leaves. The leaves are all fragments, and have a strong floral aroma with some light grape scents.
The second flush produced a liquor with a darker shade of golden-yellow with an orange tint, clear and transparent. The aroma is sweeter than the first flush, with scents of muscat grapes and roses. The body is medium-full, with a round, smooth feel. The taste has notes of roses, jasmine, and muscat grapes, with a milder astringency than the first flush. The aftertaste is persistent, floral and lightly juicy (grape). The infused leaves are mostly light to dark brown, with a few forest green leaves. Quite a few of the leaves are almost fully intact, with a few being unbroken. Some leaves are still attached to the stem, displaying a bud and one leaf pluck. Most leaves are large fragments. The infused leaves have a sweet aroma with scents of grapes and light floral.
The Autumn flush produced a liquor with an orange color and a gold tint, clear and transparent. This was the darkest liquor of the three in regard to color. The aroma is floral and has a light spice scent also. The body is full, with a mellow and smooth feel. The taste is lively, having notes of jasmine and light spice, with a mild astringency. The aftertaste is persistent, with a floral taste and slight spiciness. The infused leaves vary in color from fresh forest green, but mostly copper to reddish brown. The size of leaf fragments varies from small fragments to a few nearly unbroken leaves, but are mostly larger fragments. The aroma is floral with a light spice.
To summarize my conclusions, all three of the flushes have a strong floral character in the aromas and tastes. The difference comes in the strength of the floral character, which flowers can be identified, and the presence of other aromas and tastes, such as the stronger grape notes in the second flush, and the slight spiciness of the Autumn flush. The first flush had a purely floral aroma and taste, in my opinion, which made it different than the second and Autumn flushes. If one cannot distinguish one flush from another by taste or smell, the look of the leaves can be observed. The first flush leaves are usually greener and brighter in color with smaller leaf fragments, while the second and Autumn flushes are darker and may have some golden tips and larger leaf fragments. These characteristics apply to both the dry and infused leaves. The color of the liquors can also be telling, with the first flush being lightest, the second flush being slightly darker, and the Autumn flush being the darkest color of the three. After this comparison, I am very confident that I will be able to properly identify each flush should I ever be put to the test.
One characteristic that really caught my eye was the appearance of the dry leaves of the second flush. As mentioned earlier, these leaves were quite large and some were unbroken. This fact gave the tea a hand-crafted and high quality appearance. After the comparison tasting, I brewed a pot of the second flush because I enjoyed it so much.
The energy of each tea was quite different from flush to flush. I get a cold, quiet, serene, and fresh feel from the first flush. It was as if I could feel the cool, dormant weather conditions that were stored in the plant and transferred to the fresh leaves of the first harvest. The second flush had a more lively and invigorating feel to it, as if the late spring and early summer warmth had given the plants higher levels of energy and vigor. The Autumn harvest had a bright, warming effect to it, as if the energy of the summer sun and heat can be felt in the cup. It’s a perfect energy to help someone living in a cooler climate to stay warm during the winter. Even the slight spiciness of the Autumn flush seems to fit the mood of the autumn and winter months. Again, feeling the energy is the best part of these side-by-side comparisons.
So, was there an obvious favorite in these three flushes? Not at all. Each tea had great aromas and tastes. Different seasons will give a different preference for the tea. Since it is very cold in Pittsburgh today, I found the Autumn flush to fit my mood more perfectly since it gives me a warm and bright feeling. As the winter trails off and spring begins appearing, certainly the strong floral characteristics of a first flush will more perfectly fit the mood. In the late spring, early summer, the vigor and liveliness of the second flush will provide the energy to get through days with longer sunlight periods. Each tea has it’s perfect time.
As the time approaches for the first flush harvests of 2014, I wish the best of weather and environmental conditions to all the farmers of Darjeeling. I look forward to experiencing the difference in this years products. Thanks again to the Lochan family, who are always graciously providing these excellent samples. Cheers!
Alright, I am going to make this review brief, because it is Friday at 4:15 PM, and I want to get out of my office to start the weekend. Any reader of this blog knows that I am always happy to review the excellent quality teas provided by Lochan Teas Limited. Today’s Sourenee FTGFOP 1 First Flush is one of those excellent products, and I would once again like to thank the Lochan family for providing the samples. Check our the Lochan’s website here.
The amazingly floral and fruity sweet aroma of first flush Darjeeling tea is beckoning to me, so let the journey begin…
The dry leaves have quite a variation in colors, typical of a Darjeeling first flush, ranging from bright green to reddish-brown to black. The leaves have a uniform size and shape. All leaf fragments, no unbroken leaves, some stems. The aroma is phenomenal, with very floral (rose) and sweet (dried fruit) scents.
Nine grams of dry leaves were placed in an 18 ounce (500 ml) cast-iron teapot. Purified spring water was heated to 195°F (90°C). Leaves were infused for one minute on the first infusion, one minute thirty seconds on the second infusion, and two minutes on the third infusion.
The first infusion produced a liquor with a golden-yellow color, clear and transparent. The aroma had a nice floral bouquet or jasmine and roses, with a slight honey scent. The body was medium, with a supple and balanced feel. The taste was almost purely floral, with strong notes of jasmine and rose, and a light fruity (grape) note. The aftertaste was floral and had a pleasant longevity.
The second infusion produced a liquor with an identical golden-yellow color to the first infusion. The aroma remained floral, sweet, and amazing. The body and mouth feel lightened very slightly. The taste had a better balance, and remained floral (jasmine, rose) with a touch of grape. This was one of the best second infusions that I have obtained from a first flush Darjeeling tea. It lost very little character from the first to second infusion.
The third infusion produced a liquor with a slightly lighter shade of golden-yellow color. The aroma lightened some, but was still enjoyably floral and sweet. The body and mouth feel lightened some, but not as much as I expected. The taste was lighter, but retained dominant jasmine and rose notes, and a very slight touch of grape. The aftertaste remains floral, as well. Overall, I was impressed with the strength of the third infusion.
The infused leaves had the typical variation in color, ranging from a fresh light green to copper. The leaves are all fragments and some stems. The leaves are quite delicate, suggesting that they are close to being exhausted of taste. The aroma remains floral, and lightly sweet. This is a very pleasant smell to the infused leaves.
To best describe my overall experience with this tea, my senses of smell and taste took a trip through a fresh field of jasmine and roses. Very refreshing, very uplifting. First flush teas have a very specific energy that can easily be felt, even if one cannot feel energy in other teas. This Sourenee First Flush definitely had that special energy. From the first sniff of the initial infusion through the last sip of the third infusion, I was very pleased with this tea. For the organic tea drinkers out there, this product is also labeled as organic. I am certainly looking forward to the fresh first flushes of 2014. Thanks again to Lochan Teas Limited for giving me the opportunity to try this excellent first flush organic Darjeeling tea. Cheers!
Today, I decided to take a slightly different angle on reviews. Rather than focus on the characteristics of one tea over multiple infusions, I decided to focus on the difference between a Darjeeling First Flush tea and an Autumn Flush tea. Both of these teas are from the same estate in Darjeeling, India, the Makaibari Estate.
As far as I know, these two teas are from the same bushes, same altitudes, and receive the same general processing techniques (please email me and correct me if I am wrong on this). Therefore, the primary difference between these two teas is one thing, the season in which they are harvested. The first flush is harvested in the Spring after the hibernation period has ended, and the Autumn flush is harvested in the Autumn before the next hibernation period sets in.
In a future post, when I have a little more time to focus, I intend on doing a side-by-side-by-side comparison that will include all three flushes, First, Second, and Autumn, from the same estate in the Darjeeling area of India, the Jungpana Estate. For now, let’s get back to the comparison at hand, the Makaibari Estate First Flush versus Autumn Flush. Let the journey begin…
As you can see in the comparison photos, there is very little difference between the first and autumn flush teas in the appearance of the dry leaves. Both have leaves with a variety of colors ranging from green to red to dark brown. If anything, the Autumn flush leaves look a little brighter in color, perhaps an indication of it’s freshness compared to the Spring Flush which is about six months old. Both teas have leaves with a high level of variation in size and shape, with some stems visible. All leaves are fragments, none are fully intact.
The difference in the aromas, on the other hand, is profound! The First Flush is very floral and sweet (dried fruit, grape). The Autumn Flush is sweet also, but more like molasses and brown sugar. I found the Autumn Flush to also have a spicy scent to it, almost like cinnamon. I was truly intrigued by the difference in the aromas. Two opposing forms of sweetness. What’s most interesting to me is that the aromas seem to represent the familiar aromas of their respective seasons. The first flush had strong floral notes, representing the smell of flowers in the spring. The autumn flush was sweet and spicy, representing the food and drinks that come with the Autumn and winter holidays.
Both of these samples were prepared using the same parameters. Purified water was heated to 200°F (96°C). Nine grams of each tea were placed in separate twenty ounce (570 ml) teapots. The leaves were infused for two minutes and thirty seconds, then strained into separate decanters.
Before preparing these teas, I expected the Autumn Flush to have a darker color than the First Flush. To my surprise, it was quite the opposite result. The First Flush had a dark gold color with a reddish tint. The Autumn Flush had a lighter shade of golden-yellow with a bronze tint. Both liquors were clear and transparent. The aromas were very different again. The First Flush had a strongly floral (roses?), and delicate with a light scent of fruit (grape). The Autumn Flush had a spicy, sweet, and floral aroma. The dynamics of the aromas were completely different. I was also surprised by the fact that I found the First Flush to have a fuller body and feel than the Autumn Flush. Both had medium bodies, but the Autumn Flush felt slightly lighter overall. The tastes were also quite different, but did share one character, a floral (jasmine) note. The First Flush had a very strong jasmine floral flavor and aftertaste. The Autumn Flush also had a jasmine floral note (not nearly as strong as First Flush), but also had a slight spice (cinnamon) note. The Autumn Flush had a sweet (molasses and brown sugar) aftertaste that did not linger as long as the First Flush aftertaste.
We read and hear about how some people can feel the energy of the tea. Honestly, until this session, I had a hard time feeling and understanding this concept. I can tell you, with pure sincerity, that I was able to feel the difference in the energies between these two teas. It was an amazing realization for me. The First Flush had a cool, delicate, and almost quiet energy to it. It felt like an energy that would exist in cool weather months (the hibernation period). As the first harvest of the new year, the First Flush teas have been storing energy during the cold hibernation months, and I could feel that energy in the tea. The Autumn Flush had a warm, bright, and loud energy to it. This energy felt like that which exists in warmer months, when nature is lively, enjoying the sun and warmth before the cold sets in. This experience has me truly excited to do the next comparison that will include a second flush, just to feel and compare the energy of that flush as well.
The infused leaves of these teas were again very similar in appearance, with a wide range of colors, and little uniformity in size and shape of the leaf fragments, with some stems. The Autumn Flush leaves appeared slightly brighter and fresher in color. The aromas were quite different, with the First Flush having a fragrant scent of jasmine and a light scent of grape. The Autumn Flush also had a floral scent, but I would not identify it as jasmine, and also had a touch of spice to it. Again, these two aromas were surprisingly different.
In the end, I cannot say that I have developed a clear preference for one flush over the other in this case. I am slightly overwhelmed by my experience with the differing energies of these teas, and it has made it difficult to say that one is better than the other. What is amazing to me is how much of a difference is caused simply by the season of the year that the tea is harvested during. It seems so insignificant of a variable, and yet it is, in reality, so powerful of a factor. I can honestly say that this was among the most impressive learning experiences with tea that I have had to this point, and it has certainly opened the doors of opportunity for much more interesting review and comparison posts.
Another thank you to the Lochan Family from Lochan Teas Limited for providing these samples to me, and always keeping me updated on their fresh products. I really enjoy working with and learning from them. They have been excellent guides to me in my tea tasting journey through the world of Darjeeling (and some Assam) teas. Thanks again, Lochans! Cheers!