|"A tea that enlivens the senses, full of vigour, striking boldly at the palate with it's dry smoky-spicy flavour and deep muscatel aftertaste."|
Typically second flush Darjeelings as this one are full-bodied and rich in the muscatel flavour they are famous for, more so than any other harvest. In this, American Tea Room Puttabong SFTGOP1Q Darjeeling Muscatel does not disappoint. Described as “deep, rich and earthy, with hints of clove and nutmeg and a classic muscatel second flush note”, it is a complex and captivating tea from start to finish.
Because the leaves of the best Darjeeling teas are incompletely oxidized, they are closer to oolongs than traditional Assam teas. Thus the colour of the leaves in this tea is varied, ranging from café au lait to chocolate brown to espresso black. The leaves themselves are rather small, shrivelled and curly-looking. However, the most striking thing about the dried tea is it’s aroma: sweet and astringent, hinting at the juicy muscatel notes to come. Some teas you can really taste before they get to your taste buds!
Following the direction provided, I infused one teaspoon of leaves with water heated to 195 degrees and let steep for 3 minutes. The result is a coppery amber cup that holds a deliciously perfumed scent, reminiscent of exotic fruit and spice. The flavour of the brew comes in waves, leading one down multiple sensory paths at once. The sweet and sour muscatel aftertaste is perhaps the most striking of all, but the dry, smoky-spicy flavour that hits the tongue is also deeply satisfying.
A second infusion still provides an interesting cup, although with a slightly flatter range of flavour intensity. The dryness on the tongue still lingers, as does the tart finish. The leaves yield such a strong cup, I decide to see what a third infusion will deliver. I first thought that this time the tea was definitely passed its prime. The brew is thinner, the spicy notes are more on the bitter side, and the sweet muscatel flavour has all but disappeared this time around. However, as I sipped my cup, I found myself appreciating the gentler qualities of this steep. What seemed so definite and punchy in the first two steeps seems to have blended together, showing a more soothing side.
This is a tea that enlivens the senses. Not one of those subtle and precious Darjeelings, but rather one that is full of vigour and strikes boldly at the palate. A definite must for those who appreciate rich and complex teas. Well done!
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