Review: Mark T. Wendell First Flush Darjeeling 2010 Puttabong Estate

Black Tea, Darjeeling Tea, Mark T. Wendell, Single Estate Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"I had question marks over my head while trying to identify it, but it was a majestic mystery."
Geoff’s Teaview: 8.4/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8.4/10, Jamie gave it 9/10, Katie gave it 8.2/10, Sophie gave it 9.4/10
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Thanks to the blessing that is Teaviews, I can squeal in delight at having tried teas from the Puttabong estate in Darjeeling. My first (and before this, only) foray was a second flush. Generally, I liked it. I even noted in my review that I was deadly curious what a first flush would taste like. I now had my opportunity to find out thanks to the Mark T. Wendell company.

The dry leaves for this first flush were quite unusual. I'm used to seeing greens amidst the browns and blacks of Darjeeling teas, but this one was mostly green. It looked like a Mao Feng green tea by appearance alone. Even the scent threw me off. Sure, there were muscatel grape comparisons that could be made, but I also got the impression of other berries in the mix; cranberry particularly. All of these settled on a blanket of smoke. Truly peculiar.

The only brewing instructions per the MTW site were to bring water to a boil, let it cool for a minute, and steep for three minutes. I've had better success at actually monitoring the water and shutting it off before it reaches a boil, then infusing for the needed time. It worked for second flush, anyway. I did this with 1 teaspoon-worth.

While the tea profile stated that the infusion should be a vibrant gold, it yielded a somewhat pale infusion. Not unattractive, just understated to the eye; bright, to be sure. The aroma was smoky and spicy with a hint of malt and grape, but it also had a grassy factor that was actually quite inviting. As for flavor, I wouldn't know this as a black tea if I was blindly tasting. It felt like a green/white fusion on the tongue. Alarming, yes, but not unwelcome. Unlike a green tea, however, there was no vegetal kick to it. And unlike a black tea, little-to-no bitterness.

I haven't been this stumped by a Darjeeling since sampling a Goomtee "yellow" orange pekoe. Unlike that experience, though, I can say for certainty that I liked it. I had question marks over my head while trying to identify it, but it was a majestic mystery. For people getting started on Darjeelings, I'd say go for this first. There may be better, more bodied ones out there, yet this makes a great baby step.

Visit Mark T. Wendell Teas for more information on this tea and many more from their extensive product catalogue.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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