|"“Superior,” “delicate,” and “finicky” are all applicable to this excellent tea."|
Dry, the small China bush leaves of this first flush plucking are wiry and dark green, with a nice bloom and lots of tips. The aroma is very sweet, flowery, and pleasant. Wet, they release a stronger floral and honey fragrance.
I placed a generous teaspoon of leaf in a porcelain infuser cup and filled it will spring water that had been brought to a boil, then allowed to settle briefly. For my first attempt I let it steep for four minutes, but it bolted as Darjeelings tend to do, especially first flush pluckings. It looked and smelled wonderful, with a crystal clear golden amber liquor, but the flavor was bitter and overly astringent.
Starting over with fresh leaves, I allowed the water to settle a bit longer and steeped the it for three minutes. The results were more satisfying this time. Very satisfying, in fact. Arya SFTGFOP1 China ’09 has a pleasing golden amber liquor, and the fragrance of flowers and honey, with hints of almond. This is brisk tea, somewhat sweet with the distinctive Darjeeling “muscatel” flavor and a healthy level of astringency, or pull, that dries the mouth even as it quenches thirst. Both flavor and sensation linger on the tongue, together with the sweet fragrance. The flowery aroma remains strong in the cup, pleasing the nose and adding considerably to the enjoyment of the tea.
Still not entirely satisfied, I turned to my trusty electronic thermometer and carefully brought the water to 180F, cooler than before. Starting with two minutes, I tasted the liquor every thirty seconds. At this temperature, a steeping of four and a half minutes yielded the tastiest, smoothest tea and the flavor continued to improve as it cooled. This would make a very elegant iced tea.
“Superior,” “delicate,” and “finicky” are all applicable to this excellent tea, but it’s worth the extra effort. Highly recommended.
— To purchase Thunderbolt Tea Arya SFTGFOP1 China 2009, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.
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