Here is another sipdown to log. I only had one ounce of this left and finished it up over the course of the last three days. This tea was a roller coaster experience for me. The first couple cups I made were good, but the last five or six were very bland. I don’t think that was the tea’s fault though. A weird thing happens to my nose and mouth whenever I drink Darjeelings or anything remotely similar-my palate just seems to go numb. If I drink a full cup, I will be able to smell and taste it fully, but if I have more than one cup over the course of a session, anything after that first cup just ends up smelling and tasting like hot mineral water. Also, the longer I spend working on a tea of this type, the more quickly my nose and palate shut down. With all of this in mind, it was a given that I would not be able to pick up much in the last couple of sessions. I think this phenomenon probably has something to do with my seasonal allergies and the constant sinus issues they cause.
I prepared this tea using the one step Western infusion process I favor for many non-Chinese black teas and black tea blends. I steeped 1 teaspoon of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 212 F water for 3 minutes. At other times, I have tried longer infusions of around 4-5 minutes, but all of the infusions that I could actually smell and taste were pretty consistent across the board. This review will exclusively deal with the 3 minute infusion.
Prior to infusion, the dry leaves produced a mild, musty aroma with hints of herbs, nutmeg, and Muscat grapes. After infusion, the bright golden liquor produced a delicate aroma of roasted almonds, nutmeg, lemon balm, bee balm, and Muscat grape. In the mouth, I detected notes of toast, malt, cream, nutmeg, chestnut, and roasted almonds accompanied by impressions of Muscat grape, lemon balm, and bee balm, as well as hints of oak and minerality on the finish.
I could definitely see the comparison to orthodox Darjeelings with this tea. It particularly reminded me of some of the grassier and more herbal first flush Darjeelings I have tried in the past. Still, the pronounced herbal character and the strong nutmeg and roasted almond aromas and flavors reminded me that I was drinking a Nepalese tea (I seem to frequently pick up those aromas and flavors in Nepalese black teas). While I enjoyed this tea overall, one thing that I found a little difficult to get past was how dry it became for me in the mouth. Though this tea did not express itself as being particularly astringent, it got to a point where it kept completely drying my mouth out with each sip. Just for that, I have lowered my rating for this tea somewhat.
Flavors: Almond, Chestnut, Cream, Herbs, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Oak, Toast