June 6, 2013

2013 Giddapahar Hand Rolled, First Flush Darjeeling

I know the whole where, when and why of how my infatuation with tea began. It seems so long ago, and..... I guess it was. I,m thinking it was about forty or so years ago was when I first encountered a cup of really good Darjeeling tea. It obviously made quite an impression on me.  That particular Darjeeling I just happened to stumble upon, a fortunate recipient of circumstance. I was visiting a friend in San Francisco and had stopped in at a local coffee shop. She had ordered a pot of Darjeeling and I had a cup from her pot. That first cup marks the beginning of a never ending search for good tea.

A lot has changed since then. What, with the invention of that world wide inter-web thing-a-mo-bob. Anybody reading this is aware of how easy it is to get just about anything you can think of.

I have bought tea from Norbu on just a few previous occasions. He now sources his own teas. Not just buying online and reselling. He has a pretty wide selection with teas in every category. Green, Oolong, Black or Puerh. This tea is entirely hand made, which is rare for Darjeeling.  Norbu was so impressed upon tasting this tea that he bought the entire (albeit tiny,3 kg.) lot.

Now isn't that a pretty site? These leaves are very large, crispy and flaky. The scent of the dry leaf is extremely floral and with just a hint of vegetation. The flavor matches the aroma to perfection. Sweet, floral with just the slightest trace of greenery. There is no astringency at all. The muscatel flavor and aroma we expect from a Darjeeling are there, but being pushed to the background they are barely noticeable.

I don,t brew Darjeeling teas using a Gong fu method. Just one 3-4 minute steeping works out best for me. In my opinion, using a gong fu approach doesn't  work well because the flavors are too hit or miss. All the flavor aspects need to be represented in one fell swoop to be fully appreciated.

Even though the cups are brown you can see the color of the brew. A light golden, amber. The tea smells sweet with florals coming out the ying-yang. You can see in the picture below that there are some stems still attached to the leaves. In my book this is not a bad thing at all. In fact I kinda like teas with some stems still in the mix.

I've had these cups (made by Park Jong Il ) for over a year but never used them before today, they are just a tad too small for my liking. I have never used them for photography purposes before because I reckoned the brown glaze wouldn't allow the teas color to be accurately represented. But there it is.......plain as day.

A cup of good Darjeeling always brings back memories. It,s funny how with just one sip, that distinctive flavor takes me right back to where it all began. I,m right back in San Francisco sitting on a side walk cafe with a cool ocean breeze.

Minus the pony tail and flip flops!

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