|"This is a winning tea that far exceeds that of the first flush crop from earlier this year. It's sophisticated and delicate, while remaining bold in flavor. And most importantly: it's delicious."|
The Puttabong Estate is rich in history. It was reportedly the first Darjeeling Estate established, and it also holds the distinction of being the first estate to hold the world record for the highest-cost tea purchased at auction (although that's hard to imagine, as the conversion at today's rates equates to only about $11 per ounce. Today this seems laughable, but I guess a scant 17 years ago, tea was not valued very highly at all. This has obviously been eclipsed many times over in today's market of tea connoisseurs. Also amusing to note that this tea that I'm reviewing costs about the same as that world record price - and that's not even very expensive nowadays). The estate is very famous, acts as a tourist destination in its own right, and is essentially it's own town, with Wikipedia reporting a population of 1,633 in 2001.
The aroma of the dried leaf is something marvelous to encounter. An overwhelming dry/woody aroma is prominent, with equally potent spicy notes. The leaves present a variety of color shades, from deep mahogany, to lighter milk chocolate brown to flecks of white. Shapes/sizes are equally varied - some claw-curl pieces, some straight and tightly rolled, most small and broken, but a few longer leaves in the mix as well.
Once brewed, the leaves take on a slight green hue to them, while remaining uniformly muted-brown. A 3 minute infusion with 190-200 degree water presents a reddish-amber cup. The flavor is immediately pleasant and remains so throughout the cup as it cools. The flavor is very clean, and a delicious black tea / Darjeeling taste. It is semi-sweet (especially in the finish) and feels especially nice when rolled along the sides of the palette on its trip to the back of the mouth. The flavor and texture evokes sophistication and delicacy, while still remaining a boldly-flavored tea. There is no bitterness (when brewed appropriately, natch), and a slight astringency leaves a pleasant feeling in the mouth throughout the drinking session. A second infusion at the same time/temp parameters is equally lovely - just as bold, delicious, and sophisticated as the first.
This is a winning tea that far exceeds that of the first flush crop from earlier this year. I'm looking forward to the autumn flush, as well as subsequent years' crops of the second flush.
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