Sunday, April 15, 2012

Darjeeling Showdown

from left to right: 2nd Flush Darjeeling, 1st Flush Darjeeling

Recently, we inaugurated our batch of this season's Darjeeling 1st Flush with requisite fanfare, staging a quick tasting at work. Today,  I followed up at home by pairing the 1st Flush with its brethren, the 2nd Flush.

So with a forecast of tumultuous thunderstorms and hail the size of ham hocks, I found good reasons to stay indoors, drinking ample cups of Darjeeling and writing down my tasting notes (while reveling in some purple prose).

This 1st Flush is an early one of the season, first brought to my attention by Karen of Art and Tea.  As with all 1st Flush, the tea grows in early spring, sending from the plant's roots stored nutrients of  winter to the blossoming leaves to create that amalgam of flavors so unique to this tea.

Its leaves are of a pine green hue, jagged in their edges with hints of silver.  The scent is unlike any black tea I have drunk: lightly floral instead of the emphatically cacao-scented like my beloved Keemun, for example.  The leaves of the 2nd Flush, one from the Margaret's Hope Estate that I wrote about in a previous post, are brown and smaller, more homogeneous in size than those of the 1st Flush.  The scent is one of rich maltiness.  

Brewed side by side (for 3 minutes in boiling water), their liquors are a revelation: the 1st Flush, soothingly golden, evokes its springtime provenance; the 2nd Flush, a pleasing copper hue, suggests the ripeness inherent in its summer harvest.

The 1st Flush delighted with its burst of floral and fruity flavors: roses, gardenias, the sweetness of a ripe grapefruit.  I tasted intimations of all of these and more.  A bit of an astringency -that was pleasant- left my mouth puckering a bit. It is a tea more like a green than a black, partly due to it being lightly oxidized -unlike its fully-oxidized black tea brethren.  I next drank the 2nd Flush (still heady from my inhalation of springtime in a cup) and was led down the serpentine path to a summer harvest with its palette of roasted chestnuts and an anomalous Woolworth's vanilla malt, while outside, the wind picked up, swaying the flowering maple tree.  


Tea Fanatic said...

Was the first flush also from Margarets Hope?

cha sen said...

The 1st Flush is from the Tindharia estate.

artandtea said...

Wonderful review and comparison of first and second flush Darjeelings! Thanks for the mention and I was glad to inspire. :)
Cheers, Karen