|"I've had a few less-than-stellar Darjeeling teas in the past, but in general, I love most of them. That said, my first few cups of Mark T. Wendell's latest offering from the Singbulli Estate left me feeling underwhelmed. I'm really not sure why, as this is purportedly one fine, rare tea."|
Singbulli is in the SW corner of Darjeeling, close to Nepal. The plantation is at an elevation of 3/4 of a mile, and has a reputation of high quality tea production. This being a first flush tea, it consists of the leaves harvested in early spring after the initial rains of the season. The dried leaf is a blend of appropriately-sized medium rolled leaves with a sprinkling of smaller and flatter fines and dustings. Overall though, the appearance is intriguing and seems to exude the expected high-quality - the hues are a rich blend of forest greens ranging from pale white tippy buds to deeper brown tones. The aroma is pleasantly spicy on the nose, with hints of black pepper, fragrant wood and musk.
My default brewing standard for Darjeeling teas is 4 minutes Once brewed, the wet leaves take on a more homogenous muted spinach color. The liquor is a pale golden color and retains a strong aroma reminiscent of the dried leaves. The flavor is particularly floral, and also retains a sharpness and muscatel spice. The true telling of a Darjeeling (for me) is its ability to produce a satisfactory - and typically better - cup in its second infusion. In the early cuppings of this tea at home, I had difficulty in finding a second cup that was worthwhile. I am still finding (after half a dozen cuppings or so) that it just seems to fall flat on the second infusion. This is unfortunate, and somewhat mystifying.
One item worth noting is that this tea made a nice iced tea. A first infusion blended with a second infusion of the same leaves, and a touch of local honey added, poured over cracked ice, produced a nice glass for poolside sipping. Other than that, I find the second infusion not worthwhile when sipping a hot cup.
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