Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2011 Autumn Flush Gopaldhara Darjeeling

A hearty thanks to DarjeelingTeaXpress for providing me with numerous samples of one of my very favorite (if not my overall favorite) types of tea. For those of you who read this blog, or have read some of my early posts (ahem...this one, this one, and this one), you know what I am about to say. You know how I will talk up Autumnal Flush Darjeeling teas all day, every day, and to every person.

You know how I will talk about their sweet, pumpkin/squash notes and their autumn inspired aromas and flavors. I could go on, but I think you understand my enduring love for Autumnal Flush Darjeelings.

This one, well, threw me a little unexpected difference compared to some of the others in its fine group I have had the pleasure of drinking.

The aroma of the dry leaf was strikingly different than what I had expected!
I sensed caramel, raspberry and cocoa. The dominant scents were the berry tones which smelled bright, tart, and sweet all at the same time.
I am always up for the unexpected.

I smelled the cup,
and I wrote "tangy grape and wheat."

This is a very accurate description of the aroma of the beautiful liquor. The grape notes are associated with the all-too-common muscatel scent that Darjeeling teas tend to produce. The wheat, now, that I am not sure of the origins, but I am not at all upset! This was a new adventure I was willing to take.

The first flavors distinguished were of bright berry and agave nectar. This tea is not complex, as most Autumnals have in common. A light, tart astringency tugged as the tea was swallowed, and left a wheat-y finish.
It is a bit flat, but as I have stated, this is an attribute I expect from an Autumnal.

The second infusion presents citrus (lemon) and mango notes with a very mild astringency.

Even when brewed not in western fashion, the tea hesitates to become overly astringent. This is a fantastic characteristic for a sometimes unfocused brewer (myself...). Also, it really hits home that this is definitely, without a doubt, in fact, a true, honest, down-to-earth, Autumnal Flush Darjeeling (not that I assumed it wasn't, as I trust the vendor).

All in all, pretty splendid tea, although, it will need a few more brews to grow on me I think. It is just very unlike others I have had, not bad! I can tell it is superb quality tea.

Also, it had said on the package that this tea's grade is "Red Thunder." Anyone (vendor perhaps?) care to explain? I am used to the string of letters (SFTGFOP) as a grading scale, not native american names.

I have more samples of Autumn Flush teas I am dying to open up.


Monday, April 16, 2012

JinXuan "Milk" Oolong Tea

I have encountered several JinXuan teas, more notably code-named "Milk" or "Silk" or "Creamy" oolongs.
There is little promise of authenticity among this style of tea, as they have been overwhelmingly popular on the global market, and so to keep up with demand, ways of physically altering, flavoring, or scenting the teas has become common practice. I have already had one "Milk" oolong on this blog so far, so let us see how this subject fairs in the tumultuous tasting test.

Gratitude to Teavivre for this sample.

There were several of these red packages inside the large package, basically single serve portions of tea.
I would have liked to see them vacuum sealed, but the other option that this could have went through was a nitro-flush, which would have been acceptable as well. I just know that tea does not stay fresh in small quantities, even when sealed.

The leaves look good, and smell good. They smell just creamy enough, but I can still tell that this is an oolong because of the light, floral notes coming off of it.

The liquor is very clear and the only particles I can see are down from the leaves. No foreign morsels floating around and interfering with my enjoyment of this tea.

The smell and taste of the liquor is sufficient, but a bit plain. There are subtle creamy/buttery notes that are expected with JinXuan teas, but also a very simple "oolong" flavor that green oolongs tend to have. This tea is a bit sweeter than most though, but that is most likely just due to the cultivar.

The leaves, as seen below, are healthy enough and look just as honest. I am in no way disappointed by this tea session, other than the simple fact that this was not a prime, top quality JinXuan. It should have had a much more dynamic in flavor. This tea was flat, but at least it was not lifeless.

In my opinion, this would only be a good buy because of the price, not the taste. This is relatively inexpensive and would probably get you better tea for less money than you could potentially spend elsewhere.

 What I find remarkable is that Teavivre sells both a flavored JinXuan and an unflavored JinXuan. It would be interesting to compare the two to see the difference. Perhaps this is an authentic JinXuan, but just sub-par compared to the province's other productions.