Country of Origin: India
Leaf Appearance: mostly dark with scattered greens, buds throughout
Steep time: 3 minutes
Water Temperature: 195 degrees
Preparation Method: stainless steel infuser basket
My mind has been on Darjeeling a lot over the last few months. After a tumultuous summer where the tea industry came to a grinding halt, things are slowly beginning to move forward again. Thankfully we do still have some 1st flush to carry us through until 2018. Vikram Mathur of Somerville, Massachusetts based Yatra Tea company must have read my mind when he reached out to see if I was up for reviewing some of their teas.
One thing that really intrigued me about this recent startup was their partnership with Induz. A percentage of company profits are contributed to Project Kopou. This initiative works to empower children and youth of tea plantation workers in Assam through arts, education, and vocational training. Vikram told me that his hope is that contributions will grow as they scale. There are many people who buy and sell Indian tea but it is nice to see a company give back in a tangible way.
Now, on to the tea. The dry leaf was primarily whole with plenty of visible buds. FTGFOP1 is generally considered to be the highest grade of Indian black teas. First flush Darjeeling is harvested in or around April (depending on the weather) and will have a greener appearance than you might expect from a black tea. They also tend to be lighter bodied than later harvests. Goomtee Estate is located in south Kurseong and has been growing tea since it was first planted in 1899.
The taste was clean and refreshing with a lingering sweetness. An intriguing biscuity quality transitioned into floral notes and Darjeeling’s signature grapey muscatel. Although subtle, there was a crisp vegetal note in the background that reminded me of perfectly cooked asparagus. Some astringency is expected with a tea of this tyle but it was well balanced without bordering on unpleasantness. Don’t throw out those leaves right away! They’re perfectly good for a second infusion. For those that prefer a softer cup, I suggest dialing back your brewing temperature to about 175°.