Darjeeling tea seems to be on my mind or in my cup often these days, and with very good reason. It is mind-boggling that so many high quality teas with dramatically varied flavors and aromas can be produced in such a small region. I wish I had a t-shirt that read, “Darjeeling, Oh What a Feeling!” to spread the word about the wonder of Darjeeling teas. I totally envision this shirt with a person jumping like in the Toyota ads, only while holding a teacup. I would wear that shirt ALL. THE. TIME. It would literally be a TEA shirt! 😉
Although not an awesome T-shirt, I did just receive a wonderful treat from Darjeeling via London, thanks to Richard at ArtCraft&Travel: the 2015 Monteviot Garden 1st Flush Darjeeling from The Tea House, Covent Garden. My first “1st Flush”…much better than a T-shirt! Having now tasted this tea several times, I have to say, WOW. From the gorgeous leaves to the heavenly scent to the surprisingly sweet taste, what a fantastic tea!
The fruity-floral aroma is what I imagine to be the inspiration for the fragrance used in Aveda products. (At least it smells very much to me like an Aveda salon, only 1000% better.) Fresh, herbal, slightly spicy, somehow zesty but mellow at the same time. The flavor is also unexpectedly complex, changing with repeated steeping. I have been able to re-use the leaves 3 or 4 times, and plenty of flavor comes through every time. The sweetness of the first brewing slowly fades to a more vegetal taste in the 2nd brewing. Third time was truly the charm for me, as that brewing revealed an interesting mineral flavor with a great aftertaste.
Monteviot Garden teas are apparently noted for their quality. According to Darjeeling Tourism:
This small tea estate is located at the north Kurseong valley and below Darjeeling town. The plantation area is only 88 hectares. This is an organic tea estate that lies at an elevation of 950 to 1700 meters. It produces green Darjeeling tea. The focus of the garden has always been on quality and it has consistently received good ratings from the consumers. In 2004, the factory was completely burnt down in a fire resulting in massive damages to the property.
I am not sure if the Monteviot 1st flush would be considered a green tea or a black tea. I feel like that bit of information would be noteworthy enough to put on packaging from The Tea House, or at least in the description on the retail page, but it is not mentioned anywhere, so who knows. The leaves are certainly very green, and the brewed liquor is definitely a lighter shade than other Darjeelings I have tried. But I had read that 1st flushes “are yellower in color…and more delicate in taste,” so I am not sure if the difference in characteristics is due to it being a 1st flush tea, or if it is due to technically being a green tea. Regardless, the 2015 Monteviot Garden 1st Flush Darjeeling is a delicious tea.