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

Darjeeling Tea, Mark T. Wendell Add comments
Jamie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The tea tastes of the bright, chipper happiness that a first flush is famous for, but there is also a mature continuity to the flavor that tips its hat to a more composed second flush."
Jamie’s Teaview: 9/10
Other Teaviews: Vanessa gave it 8.4/10, Geoff gave it 8.4/10, Katie gave it 8.2/10, Sophie gave it 9.4/10
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Last year I was able to explore first flush (and later on, second flush) Darjeeling teas for the first time and found myself very impressed - even hooked! The first flush teas I sampled from a few sources last year had an amazing, transient quality to the many flavors expressed in the steeped leaf - it was like being in a somewhat ordered and somewhat DIY dance routine - the flavors themselves seemed able to go in a variety of directions and it was sometimes hard to tell who was in the lead. That was one of the things I liked so much about the first flush. In my later dips into second flush teas, I was impressed at the way the bright, floral, fruity and more characteristics notable zipping around in my cups of first flush sort of settled into more stable relationships with each other - merging in the case of second flush brewings to produce mature cups with wonderful flavor but less fantastic zinging about to make the cup so hard to peg. I couldn't claim to love one more than the other. First and second flush darjeelings, just as the tea gurus say, are quite different from one another, as different as siblings often seem to be.

Anyway, that's a long way of saying that it's nice to be able to try some more first flush Darjeeling. I was looking forward to the wonderful flavors and eager to note any taste differences that might jump out at me in comparison to the 2009 harvest. Mark T. Wendell's 2010 offering is from the Puttabong Estate, which was the first tea estate to establish itself in the Darjeeling district, something I was unaware of. The estate was planted in 1852. The leaves are short to medium in length, quite green overall with light olive and golden leaves peeking out here and there. The scent of the leaf is sweet and dry with a heavy floral accent.

I steeped a teaspoon of leaf in 8 ounces of water that I brought to a boil and then allowed to cool for a minute. The liquor is a beautiful deep pumpkin orange and the scent is just superb - that mixture of smells that to me is a hard to distinguish combination of floral and fruity that is not wholly either and is I think usually described as "muscatel." The taste is wonderfully smooth with bright, spry accents and an abundantly floral taste that ends with a gently astringent, sweet and clean close that lingers pleasantly. There's a fruitiness to the tea, as well, that is tightly bound up with the floral notes and reminds me a little of a fresh fruit not quite ripe. The really lovely floral qualities of this tea merge with the other flavors to make for a wonderful, full flavor that is fun to drink and not at all hard to follow. Rather than a riot of competing elements, this tea has a wonderfully mature quality for a first flush and this is a balance I really like. The tea tastes of the bright, chipper happiness that a first flush is famous for, but there is also a mature continuity to the flavor that tips its hat to a more composed second flush.

This tea is a real delight! Highly recommended to those enjoying either first or second flush Darjeelings.

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

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