It’s difficult for me to articulate my feelings on this tea, as I haven’t had a Darjeeling I remember, and lack a point of reference.

That said, this is one expensive, fancy Darjeeling… and it lives up to what it says on the tin. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had in a tea, which I suspect is mostly my inexperience with Darjeelings talking – but I can tell this is truly something special. The flavor and aroma are immensely complex and layered, with all sorts of nutty, floral, spiced, fruity flavors coming and going as your palate processes it all, ending with a distinct note of umami.

If all the flavors came together, it would be an unpleasant, boring, overpowering mess of a tea, and I wouldn’t much like it – but they come a few at a time, shifting through sets, just enough of a procession that you can appreciate them all. There’s near-zero bitterness, just many delicious flavors that unfold in your mouth for a good 5-10 seconds after you take a drink, leaving a nutty mushroomy umami in their wake.

The concentrated intensity of flavor packed into this tea just screams first flush – this is what first flush is all about, in any kind of tea. Go light, 185F and 2-2.5min steep. Like most first flushes, this one’s delicate relative to the rest of the family.

I might just have ruined myself for Darjeelings forever, by starting with the best of the best. Oh, it is good.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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Her Highness Rozen Maiden No.5, Shinku, is my tea-soulmate.

I am a tea nerd. I only brew looseleaf, I keep an instant read thermometer with my stash and never, ever brew a cup without getting the water temperature I want first. I can’t stop buying teas that capture my heart, even if I have more than I could ever finish before they go stale – though I do my best to keep delicate ones sealed until I’m ready to dig in.

I rate things on a different scale than I think most people do. For me, 50 is not a bad grade, 50 is take it or leave it, I probably wouldn’t turn it down but I wouldn’t ask for it. 50 is indifference, sub-50 is dislike.

Also, I live near Lupicia SF, and can get there and back in the span of my lunch break. I’m jealous of myself.

I like just about everything, but my true loves are shincha, gyokuro, pu-erh, and lapsang souchong. Grass clippings, dirt, and campfires, mmm mm.

What I won’t touch is blasphemous grossness like candy-flavored rooibos, fruit-and-vanilla white teas, etc. – don’t even get me started.


SF Bay Area

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