I don't know if I have a favorite tea, but when faced with a decision I usually pick Darjeeling. Now, I don't know the ins and outs of this tea, such as where is the best estate, what the difference is between harvest years, etc. But I do know that I prefer the second flush over the first flush. The flushes refer to when the tea was harvested- first flush is in the early spring, and the second, around June. The first flush produces a lighter hued tea, as well as a gentler taste. The 2nd flush has a fuller body, with more astringency and a 'muscatel' (nice way to say musky) flavor. A quick search has just taught me that there are three other varieties- an autumnal flush that is harvested after the rainy season, which produces a darker, more robust brew, with less delicate notes. There is also the monsoon or rains tea, which is harvested in the rainy season. This takes place between 2nd flush and the autumnal. This tea is more oxidized, and is rarely exported. Interestingly, it is often used in masala chai. I wonder if that is what is in the tea my friend brought back from India! Finally there is also an in-between harvest, which is done after the first flush, and right before the second. Got all of that?
I recently purchased a Darjeeling from serendipiTea that I've been drinking for about a week now. The package doesn't specify when the tea was picked, but it is from the Makaibari estate in India. I've noticed that many Darjeelings I've had in the past have come from this estate. This tea is also fair trade certified, and organic.
The tea produces a nice golden-to-dark cup. It has mostly an astringent taste, the muscatel that I've grown to love from Darjeelings. I'm guessing this is probably an autumnal flush, because while it has the distinctive Darjeeling aroma, it does not have any delicate floral notes. The tea was a bit steep at $10, but the leaves are nice and large, and you don't need much to get a dark full bodied cup. It is a descent cup of tea, especially on a chilly day. But I will continue my quest for my favorite Darjeeling, as this is definitely not the one.
I've decided to add a star rating to my reviews, a great idea that my husband recommended. Please feel free to comment and give the teas your own star ratings as well!
serendipiTea Darjeeling- *** 3 out of 5 stars.