So I was at my local Earth Fare store recently, and noticed that they sell loose leaf tea by the pound, and one of the teas they had for sale was Darjeeling. Before this my only experience with Darjeeling was a bag of Twinings, so I was eager to try one loose leaf and brewed Gongfu style. Darjeeling is tea that is grown in the Darjeeling region of India and is known for having a malty flavor to it.
Here’s all the information they had available for it. It had a grade of FTGFOP. A quick internet search reveals that this is the second highest grade that a Darjeeling can achieve.
It came in a canister with a pull handle and you hold a bag under the opening at the bottom and you get as much as you want. It is weighed when you check out and you pay by the pound. At $34.99 a pound, that’s fairly inexpensive so my hopes weren’t super high to begin with. But I was still interested to try it and see how I liked it.
I don’t know what season this tea was picked or if it is even all from the same flush. My guess is that it is a blend of either different flushes or different estates. It was also stored in a clear plastic container that was not airtight so this probably had an effect on the taste as well.
As you can see, the leaf is different shapes, colors, and sizes so most likely a blend of some sort.
I decided to brew Gongfu style because that is how I brew everything lately and wanted to be consistent with each tea. I gave it a rinse to start and brewed it for 15 seconds with 200 degree water. I used 4 grams per 100 ml of water.
The first infusion was malty and smooth with a medium length, but it also had a flavor I can best describe as sour fruit. I know some people like that, but it is not a flavor I enjoy.
The liquor is bright coppery red and as you can see, there are a lot of broken leaves and twigs mixed in as well.
The second infusion was for 20 seconds and boy this one was not pleasant. Sour, sour, sour is all I can say about it. I really just wanted to get through this one and hoped the third infusion would get better.
Luckily, the third infusion did get better, albeit slightly. This one was a little less sour and a little more malty. I do enjoy the malty flavor and I know Darjeeling is known for being malty, but I don’t think it’s known for being sour.
By the fourth infusion it just felt kind of lacking. I don’t know if it’s supposed to be that way with Darjeeling or if the tea was effected by the storage, but I would expect most tea to have a strong flavor for a good five infusions before starting to lose flavor.
I tried to be artsy and get a brewing shot for the fourth infusion, but the camera fogged up and I really have no photography skills or knowledge at all.
I gave it a fifth infusion because I already had the hot water. I really should have stopped at four though.
Overall, this tea was not a very bad tea for the first three infusions. It never went bitter on me at all, just sour. If you like sour, you might very well enjoy this tea a lot. I don’t like sour and probably won’t be trying this one again. I will try a single estate first flush Darjeeling at some point in the future I am pretty sure. With the high grade of leaf that this tea has, I have to believe the storage had an effect on the flavor. I do wish I had purchased a bit more of it though, so I could brew it Western style and compare the two side by side. I do think some teas are better Western style, and this may be one of them. I’ll make sure to try both next time I try a Darjeeling.
Thanks for reading