I was recently contacted by Nudo Darjeeling and sent samples of their tea for review! Darjeeling is one of the types of black tea I have very little experience with. Normally I pick a malty Assam for fear of the bitterness I previously encountered in plain old tins of tea labeled as "Darjeeling." It was a pleasant surprise to try these teas out and get to know more about them!
What's exciting about this company is the concept of it all: You adopt a tea garden through them and receive quarterly deliveries from each seasonal harvest. The tea you're sent is from the garden you adopt, and if something happens with the harvest they will inform you if they need to send you tea from another garden. It gives you a unique chance to really get to know the tea, origin, and see the difference between the leaves from the same source as months pass by.
Pictured above are the leaves from the Golden Harvest which is the Spring delivery. These are leaves picked in October 2012 from Nurbong. The cup brewed a beautiful amber color and produced a well rounded tasting experience! At first it had a sweet fruity note, similar to a currant, but then it eased into an earthy green flavor, and then carried a light aftertaste similar to a mildly bitter violet. It is a very fragrant tea and the aroma wafts up as you lift the cup to sip. It is light and mildly astringent.
The summer delivery, or the First Flush harvest, was much more astringent and light. This was harvested in March 2013 from Nurbong as well. The brewed color was a similar amber to the Golden Harvest, but the difference was noticeable right away from the aroma of the leaves alone: floral, sharp, and sweetly astringent. The first sip on the tongue was tangy and then morphed into an airy muscatel note followed by the bitter violet aftertaste. I found that the lingering tea on the tongue carried an orange blossom note well after I finished my cup!
I'm saving the Second Flush & Monsoon Flush for another time as I found that drinking too much Darjeeling in a short period of time makes me a little bit loopy! Then again, that applies for all teas that have sharp floral notes. I can drink malty and dark teas in excess, but give me a refreshing floral tea and watch how delicately and sporadically I must sip it. How strange is that?
If you get a chance, check out Nudo Darjeeling and read about their incredible tea garden adoption program! It would make a great gift for the tea enthusiast in your life this coming holiday season!