|"This tea has a very good first cup, but the bergamot wins in the end and only the first steeping of the Darjeeling could stand up to it. For a one-shot, however, it's not bad. "|
Not so with the American Tea Room's offering; they have infused long, dark Indian Darjeeling leaves with the traditional bergamot oil, and very generously, too. Bergamot oil is extracted from the rind of bergamot oranges, native to Asia, and now grown in Ivory Coast, France, and Calabria, Italy, where it is also used as an herbal remedy for malaria. In hoodoo rootwork, bergamot is used to control or command the mind. (Wiki) This is certainly a multipurpose oil.
Opening the package I took a sniff and was overwhelmed with a powerful citrusy scent that completely masked that of the tea. The leaves were a mix of golden brown and almost black; some of the dark leaves had white tips. I infused one teaspoon of dry leaves in a cup of 195F water for three minutes. This produced a light amber liquor with a much lighter and, to my sensitive nose, more pleasant fragrance full of citrusy notes. The scent of the Darjeeling was still undetectable. Fortunately, the tea finally made itself known in the flavor, which was surprisingly balanced. The bergamot complements the floral Darjeeling and slides pleasantly over the tongue, leaving the fragrance of the bergamot in its wake. The overall effect is smooth, light, definitely citrus-driven, but with a lingering Darjeeling sweetness in the finish. I must confess, it's not at all what I expected when I first smelled the dry leaves. I was quite impressed.
Returning to the pot, I found the fully unfurled leaves a dark reddish brown, and torn or broken, which suggests a C-T-C (cut-tear-curl, machine made) production method, rather than orthodox (handmade), not unusual in flavored teas.
A second steep of four minutes produced a somewhat darker liquor. The flavor was more heavily weighted to the bergamot and the finish lacked the sweetness of the first infusion. It was still a flavorful cup, but noticeably different than the first, and definitely more to the taste of those who are in it for the bergamot. I much preferred the balance of the first cup.
A third steep of four minutes produced a medium amber liquor, rather like the color of a good Scotch. The flavor was much weaker now, and still favoring the bergamot. Not much to recommend this cup.
This tea produces a very good first cup, but the bergamot wins in the end and only the first steeping of the Darjeeling could stand up to it. For a one-shot, however, it's not bad.
Editor's Note: The original post incorrectly referenced the source of this tea as Sri Lankan - it has now been fixed to show the proper source.
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