Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea

As I prepared to write this post, I was reminded that it has been nearly five years since I began reviewing teas. That reminder came when I found that the last time I reviewed a tea from the Giddapahar Estate was back in 2013. It’s amazing to look back, read that review, and notice how my interpretation of smells and tastes have changed, and how the same product from the same estate has evolved.

The Giddapahar Tea Estate is located in the Kurseong Valley of West Bengal, India. The 95 hectares of tea gardens are situated at an altitude ranging from 4,500 to 5,200 feet above sea level, produce an average of 30,000 kilograms of tea per year, and consist primarily of traditional China and clonal tea bushes. The name Giddapahar translated into English means “Eagles Cliff”.

This sample of Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 was provided by Lochan Tea. Many thanks to the Lochan family for their generosity in sending these samples.

Let’s get to the review…

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Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have the typical Darjeeling 1st flush variance in color, ranging from pale green to dark brown. The leaves are all medium to large fragments, with few bare stems, and some silver tips in the mix. The leaves have the standard rolled appearance. The aroma has scents of brown sugar, toasted oats, wild flowers, honey, and light cinnamon. It is a very sweet, enticing aroma.

Dry leaves were infused in 190°F water for 3:00 minutes.

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Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 Liquid

The tea liquid had a bright, pale yellow, honey-like color. The aroma had scents of roses, toasted oats, wild blowers, brown sugar, and light honey. The body was medium, with a silky, mellow texture that seemed to coat the tongue and throat as it passed. The taste had notes of roses, wild flowers, and lighter notes of toasted oats, honey, and brown sugar. The floral character dominated the taste, and the aftertaste maintained a lingering, dominantly floral character. The tea had a noticeable and tangible uplifting energy, which is something that I truly appreciate in a good quality Darjeeling 1st flush tea.

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Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 Wet Leaves

The wet leaves have a fresh, pale green color, with spots of light brown. The leaves are medium to large fragments, with few whole leaves and buds. The leaves have a smooth, delicate feel. The aroma has scents of roses, wild flowers, lighter scents of honey, and what I would describe as black licorice, which was very interesting. I had to keep resetting my sense of smell to make sure that I was properly smelling the black licorice, but that is my conclusion.

In my opinion, Giddapahar Tea Estate continues to produce high quality Darjeeling style teas with an affordable price tag. The classic Darjeeling 1st Flush characters are dominant (floral and lightly sweet), and the uplifting energy is definitely there. The black licorice scent on the wet leaves was very nice, and I wish I had noticed it in the aroma or taste of the liquid itself. Overall, this was an excellent 1st Flush tea!

You can purchase the Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea from Lochan Tea at the price of USD $9.00 for 50 grams of tea.

Thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Giddapahar Spring Gold 1st Flush 2017 Darjeeling Tea!

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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 From Lochan Tea

One of the most difficult parts of my break from publishing tea reviews was the feeling of missing out on some of the best and freshest teas that were produced each season. This was particularly true when I saw the different flushes being produced from the Darjeeling and Nepal areas.

The tea I am reviewing today comes from the Doke Tea Estate, located in Bihar, India. This estate is owned by the Lochan family (Rajiv, Vivek, and Neha), renowned champions of specialty tea production and promotion in northern India and Nepal and beyond. From using organic and sustainable farming practices at the Doke Tea Estate, to experimentation with new production skills and techniques, the Lochan family exemplifies passion for high quality tea and responsibility in the tea industry.

Many thanks to the Lochan family for providing this sample of Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 black tea, and for all of their hard work and efforts in their promotion of specialty tea!

Let’s get to the review…

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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Sample Label
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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brown to black color, with a sprinkling of silver-gold tips. The consistency of the leaf fragments is impressive, given that the tea is hand-rolled. There are very few bare stems, and the ones that are present are quite small. The aroma is incredible, with strong hints of raw cacao powder, dark chocolate, toasted grains, and molasses.

Dry tea leaves were placed in 205°F water for 4:00 minutes.

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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Tea Liquid

The tea liquid has a bright, copper-orange color. The aroma has dominant scents of toasted grains, dark chocolate, roses, and dandelions. The body is medium, with a silky, smooth texture, and a light briskness. The taste has notes of toasted grains, raw cacao, dark chocolate, roses, dandelion, and a touch of molasses. The aftertaste holds on to the toasted grains, dark chocolate, and rose notes.

Two quality infusions were extracted from the same sample of leaves.

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Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Wet Leaves

The wet leaves have a uniform copper-brown color. The pluck appears to be two leaves and a bud. The fragments are fairly uniform in size. The leaves have a soft, silky texture. The aroma has scents of toasted grains, dark chocolate, raw cacao, and a touch of molasses and roses. The sweet scents of dark chocolate, molasses, and roses are intensified as the leaves cool.

It has been over two years since I last sampled and reviewed the Doke Black Fusion tea. I can say with certainty that the experience of this sample was notably better than my experience of the previous sample. Not to take anything away from the previous sample, but the 1st Flush 2017 is proof of the increasing skill and improving technique of the Lochan family in producing teas at the Doke Tea Estate. This 1st Flush 2017 sample was incredible! It was sweet and rich in aroma and taste, from the dry leaves through the wet leaves. The texture and mouthfeel were incredibly smooth and comforting.

I congratulate the Lochan family on their success in producing this extraordinary tea, and look forward to experiencing the sample of Doke Green Diamond that they also graciously provided.

You can purchase the Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 Tea directly from the Lochan Tea website, with 50 grams starting at USD $7.00 plus shipping.

Thank you for taking your time to read my review of the Doke Black Fusion 1st Flush 2017 black tea from Doke Tea Estate! Cheers!

Teuksun 2014 Green Tea from Hankook Tea and Honam Tea Estates

Today’s review will focus on the Teuksun Green Tea from Hankook Tea, sourced from the Honam Tea Estates. The Honam Tea Estates are located on the southern tip of South Korea’s mainland. To view this tea at the Hankook Tea website, please click here.

The leaves used to produce the Teuksun Green Tea are harvested around the first days of summer (Ibha), typically in the first week of May. This harvest consists of both first flush and second flush leaves, which is intended to create a unique blend of delicate and robust tastes. Hankook Tea describes the grade as sejak.

The Honam Tea Estates consist of three separate plantations, being the Haenam, Youngam, and Jangsung. The Jangsung Tea Plantation produces much of the powdered green teas, and is a certified organic plantation. The Youngam Tea Plantation is overall the most productive of the three plantations, and is a symbol of the beauty of South Korean tea gardens. The Haenam Tea Plantation is located near the southern coast, and has an ideal blend of climatic conditions conducive to growing high quality tea bushes. Search Google for the images of these plantations, and get ready to be dumbfounded by the beauty. If I were a rich man, I would be on a plane heading to South Korea right now. Alas, I am not, so I am stuck in bitter cold, but at least sunny (at the moment), western Pennsylvania.

My instincts have been drawing me to green teas lately, mostly of the Japanese and Korean type, so I was excited to find this one last green tea sample from Hankook Tea. I am hoping to get a taste of the 2015 harvests once they are ready.

The sample packet has been opened, and instantly I feel the amazingly sweet fragrance that I have come to expect from the Hankook green teas. Let the journey begin…

Teuksun Green Tea Dry Leaves
Teuksun Green Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are no bare stems or buds in the mix. The leaves are lightly machine rolled, and have a dry, slightly rigid texture. The pluck cannot be determined by the dry leaves. The smell has scents of brown sugar, sweet grass, hay, and a light touch of dry gardenia flowers.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Spring water was heated to 185°F (85°C). The leaves were infused for 3:00 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 175°F (80°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 minutes. Expect three quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves.

Teuksun Green Tea Liquor
Teuksun Green Tea Liquor

The first infusion produced a liquor with a rich, greenish-yellow color. There is a slight haze, making the liquor translucent, but not perfectly transparent. The aroma has scents of fresh grass, brown sugar, steamed asparagus, butter, and gardenia. The body is medium, with a smooth, buttery texture, and a pleasant umami quality. There is a medium level of astringency. The taste has notes of fresh grass, butter, steamed asparagus, sweet corn, brown sugar, and gardenia. The aftertaste carries the grassy notes and a touch of brown sugar, evolving into a satisfying floral essence.

Teuksun Green Tea Infused Leaves
Teuksun Green Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. The leaves are all small to medium sized fragments. There are no bare stems or buds in the mix. The pluck cannot be determined. The leaves have a very soft, smooth texture. The smell has scents of fresh grass, gardenia, and steamed asparagus.

The Teuksun Green Tea from Hankook Tea provided me with the exact green tea experience that I was looking for today. It was satisfying, invigorating, uplifting, and truly fulfilling. Although the dry and infused leaves give little to observe other than fantastic smells and fresh colors, the experience of the liquor is phenomenal from start to finish. The liquor color is beautiful, the aroma is fresh and rich, the texture is deeply satisfying, and the overall taste is exactly as advertised, complex and robust. The second infusion is still very tasteful and fulfilling, and I am confident that the third infusion will be easy to enjoy, however lighter in overall character. My Friday has been fairly calm and pleasant so far, and this Teuksun Green Tea has definitely lifted my mood to a level that I wish I could replicate more often.

Thank you to the management of Hankook Tea for providing this sample of Teuksun Green Tea. Happy weekend everyone! Cheers!