Updated: Aug 8, 2020
My first, second flush Darjeeling tea experience was quite delightful. Even if I knew that this tea came from another estate (Rohini) and the loose leaves of both teas looked significantly different, I had high expectations. I also expected some similarity in the tasting profile, given that both Darjeelings were the harvest of 2nd flush in 2018.
I was wondering what’s wrong with the dry leaves of this Enigma Darjeeling. Look at them. They almost look like shou mei (a type of white tea). While it is pleasant to see the fuzz, I prefer to see black leaves (with golden tips if possible) when I look at a black tea. Call me, naïve. Because I’m.
By reading Henry and Son’s Guide to tea, I found out that there is a procedure called ‘hard withering’. This method was invented by some local tea trader and dealer to capture a new audience following the post-colonial period as Britain started to buy tea from Kenya. Accordingly, the leaves are withered in heated troughs to fight off the cold and humid weather. What these pioneers found that if the leaves are left in the troughs long after the leaves had gone limp (i.s. hard withering) the teas acquire intense and complex aromas. Still, also their colour remains green because this process kills the enzyme that causes browning of the leaves.
As far as this tea is concerned, I could see the effect of hard withering on the colour of the leaves but not in the taste. I wonder what happened. Too many broken leaves? Bad storage? Who knows, but this tea did not give me an enjoyable experience.
Origin: Rohini Tea Estate, Darjeeling, India
Harvest time: Second flush, 2018
Leaf colour: Shades of green and light brown
Liquor colour: Burgundy
Tea aroma: Fruity (especially the infused leaves)
Tea taste: Medium bodied with slight astringency (no sweetness or other notes)
Steeping/brewing: Steep around 5 gr of the leaves in 90-100°C water and for up to one minute in gongfu style or up to three minutes in Western-style. You can brew the leaves many times (until the taste is lost). To each infusion add additional time. Experiment for a result that suits your taste.
Shelf life: Up to 36 months