On the anniversary of opening of “Dharmasala teahouse” we did a big tea tasting of spring Darjeeling teas – about 15 people participated, with diverse levels of tea knowledge and experience (about half of them working in tearooms). The teas tasted were also quite diverse selection from what is available, from gardens both well known and less know, various bushes, styles of processing etc.
It was not a sales-oriented, but exploratory tasting. We did it as a double-blind experiment :) The tasting procedure was a bit nonstandard – we used 0.5l glass pots, water 90-95°C hot, and a steeping time of 3m30s, 16 samples, pre-selected from a wider range. (We wanted to make the teas more pleasurable to drink: while the standard procedure is of course great to reveal all the weaknesses and problems with the tea, many of the nowadays Darjeeling FF teas can be in our opinion best enjoyed prepared in a gaiwan, making several infusions starting with a relatively low temperatures)
So here are some results and observation:
There wasn’t any tea which would come out really bad (also due to lot of pre-selection)
Overall most popular sample was a tea from Glenburn, young clonal bushes very
closely followed by a sample from Giddapahar, also young clonal bushes and Margaret’s Hope, the same. On the other hand there were other teas made in comparable style described as “empty” or a bit boring.
Few samples (Jungpana, Oaks) got mixed response where some more experienced people considered it quite interesting with various tastes developing in time, for other some of the tastes (eg bitterness) were too much.
On the bright side, everybody enjoyed the teas. One disadvantage may be on the upper end of the price spectrum not only the quality is world-class, but also the prices are quite high. If judged by more elusive tea aesthetics criteria, such as “complexity”, “depth”, “rhythm” or generally how much fun can an experienced tea drinker have with the tea, better value for money seem to be found in other tea growing places.