Review: Thunderbolt Tea Castleton Muscatel (Second Flush 2011)

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Thumbs up!"This wasn't just a quintessential Darjeeling second flush, this was the friggin' template."
Geoff’s Teaview: 9.7/10
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For the longest time - and by that, I mean two years - Giddapahar was my favorite Darjeeling tea estate. I tried three of their wares, and all of them were what a Darjeeling OP should aspire to. That crown has been challenged lately by another contender. Castleton has really impressed me lately. In a fabulous year for Darjeeling teas, its first and second flush offerings just about reigned supreme - at least, in my mind. With a title like "Muscatel", this second flush by them had a lot to live up to.

I swear, the moment I cut open the vacuum-sealed bag with a pair of scissors, the air exploded with spice. Some spiciness is expected with a Darjeeling, but not this much in a second flush - at least to me. In my experience, that bold of a profile is reserved for first flushes. Not that I was complaining. If there was a grape lean, I didn't sense it amidst the tamale-esque smellsplosion. The appearance of the leaves themselves were more standard to the growing season - greens, browns and beiges. Like the last two Castletons I tried, this promised to be an interesting infusion.

Brewing instructions weren't present on the tea profile. Generally, second flush Darjeelings required a lighter approach...but not too light. This time around, I went with a tablespoon of leaves in a 12oz. cup of 200F water, steeped for three minutes.

The liquor infused to a dark amber, much like the flesh of a young clementine orange. No seriously, that's the best comparison I could come up with. The aroma was equal parts woody, malty, smoky and grape...-y. It was Darjeeling to the core, but how did it differ on taste? Well, first off, I was taken aback by a tickle of petals on the front; not quite what I was expecting on first sip. Then I was virtually clobbered by the spice-'n-grape muscatel profile of its namesake. This wasn't just a quintessential Darjeeling second flush, this was the friggin' template. It's not as awe-inspiring as Castleton's second flush oolong (Moonlight), but it's still a point-tea of palate-related pleasure.

— To purchase Thunderbolt Tea Castleton Muscatel (Second Flush 2011), or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff
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One Response to “Review: Thunderbolt Tea Castleton Muscatel (Second Flush 2011)”

  1. Graham Cope Says:

    Enjoyed your review Geoff, as always. It sounds like a lovely cup. Just out of curiosity, what is your favourite Darjeeling? I love both the first and second flushes, for different reasons. I find the Autumns a bit hit or miss. Have you tried the Singbulli Jade Delight 2nd flush from 2011? It’s a bit pricey, but the taste is amazing!

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