|"No astringency, no dryness, no cotton-mouthy aftertaste, just liquid Midas."|
It wasn't until some of my online dealings put me in touch with the friendly face of Thunderbolt Tea - a direct distributor of high-quality single estate Darjeelings - that my eyes were truly opened. Up until then, Ceylon teas were my go-to for estate specific varietals. That and I rarely step out of comfort zone unless the Fates kick me.
Of the samples I kindly received, the first I went for was the Giddapahar Musk. The Thunderbolt Tea page is a veritable fountainhead of information. I could paraphrase the backstory to the varietal, but I think they say it better.
The leaves were a proverbial bouquet of color. Yellows, browns, and greens were all present. Some leaves were rolled, some slightly open. The smell was floral, musty, smoky, and vaguely reminiscent of chocolate covered almonds.
There were no brewing tips for Second Flush teas on the Thunderbolt site, so I went with First Flush instructions. A Twitter friend recommended that I not bring the water to a boil. "Just" below a boil, he said. I did this with 2 teaspoons and 16oz of water, then steeped this for around four minutes.
It brewed to a deep amber-gold, very unusual for a black tea. At least, as far as I've encountered, but deeper than a pale Ceylon. I later learned that most Darjeeling teas - unblended - are not fully oxidized; bearing more resemblance to an oolong in processing.
Per its namesake, it had a musky smell. The first sip was an emerald explosion of flavor. It was here - for me - where the lines between wine-tasting and tea-tasting blurred. No astringency, no dryness, no cotton-mouthy aftertaste, just liquid Midas. It's hard to pinpoint what flavors come to mind. Best I can compare it to is sailing in a caramel canoe wearing earth-tone safety floaties, and breathing gold fairy dust through a snorkel of pure "Wow!"
Tea Tip: In the brewing instructions for First Flush teas on the Thunderbolt site, they strongly recommend using mineral water. I went a step further and used Canadian glacier water for my second attempt. The change in water quality makes a significant improvement. And I didn't think this tea could be improved upon.
» Read more about this reviewer on Geoff's profile page.
» Find a list of recent posts by Geoff.