Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What-Cha, Darjeeling 1st Flush 2014 Giddapahar Black Tea

What-Cha Description:
Another great top-end First Flush Darjeeling Tea; with a sweet start, spicy finish and slight briskness with light tannins..

Sample provided by What-Cha Tea Redefined

My Review:
Today we are back to India for some much needed caffeine and theanine. I recently reviewed an autumnal flush Darjeeling from this same estate. I am very curious to open up this sample and see the difference between a first flush and a third. I'm also hoping I can tell the difference, because, you know, I sort of review teas a lot. This could be very embarrassing.

What-Cha's samples are a generous 10 grams. Depending on how much leaf you are accustomed to using, you can get up to five steeping sessions. I generally use around 3 grams, so I can easily get three separate sessions with each. I try to always mention the sample bags are resealable as not every company packages their product this thoughtfully. Steeping instructions are clearly displayed on the label.

Opening the bag, I get my first clue that this will definitely be a different experience than the autumn flush tea. The aroma here is straw and grass with a healthy dose of fruit and floral. It smells like orange blossoms to me.

Removing a large scoop of leaf provides my second clue this is different. If you sat this in front of me and said guess, I would suspect a green tea or possibly a white peony. Nothing about the appearance shouts black tea. The leaf is various shades of green with a few cinnamon colored tips to keep me confused - in a good way.

My press was just cleaned and is still hot and wet inside. Adding the leaf to the wet press, while the kettle heats, releases the first notes reminiscent of a Darjeeling. The water was heated to 195 F and the steep time was 3 minutes.

The leaf has really come alive. It is green and moist. I still don't visualize black tea.

The leaf grade is labeled as SFTGOP1 or Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. I believe the 1 stands for finest quality. That basically means when this was originally graded and packed it contained whole leaves and buds.

Some settling has occurred and now some of the leaf is still full and intact while others are large pieces. I don't notice any really small pieces. Certainly nothing suggesting this is anything but a high quality leaf.

The liquor is honey yellow with a green tint. The label says black tea, but it continues to mock me.

So I finally taste. Oh there you are. The What-Cha description on the sample label nails this tea, "A brilliant sweet start with a spicy finish." Attempting to expand on this a little - after the sweetness I catch the first notes of muscatel. It is a light grape leaf like flavor. It fades quickly into a moment of mineral. Just as quickly it moves right into that spicy finish with the leaf taste moving below the spice.

The aftertaste lingers well in a sweet fruity note, as just a touch of cheek tingle moves in to further please the senses.

The difference between this first flush and the autumn flush are day and night apart in almost every way. I just checked and What-Cha does carry the autumn flush as well as this first flush. Before I recently started reviewing a wide range of Darjeeling teas, I thought I had a good handle on what they tasted like. In truth, I had no idea. I Seriously suggest trying a sample of both teas mentioned here, from this same estate. The difference will astound you. Just so you know, both are excellent.

You can find What-Cha, Darjeeling 1st Flush 2014 Giddapahar Black Tea here.

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