I can remember my first sip of Darjeeling tea. Yes, it’s that memorable. The flavor was smooth, slightly astringent, with sweet musky undertones and an intoxicating fragrance that was reminiscent of an exotic flower. The finish was sweet and refreshing. The body was light, the color was light amber, much lighter than I was used to with black tea, so much so that I was tempted to brew it longer for fear that I hadn’t brewed it long enough. Fortunately, I didn’t do that, and kept to my standard 3 minutes for black tea.
Since finishing that tin of Darjeeling tea, I have been on a quest of sorts to find a Darjeeling that would rival that experience. Sadly, the tea was a gift, and unfortunately, I have since lost the tin that it came in, and the name of that particular Darjeeling.
So while shopping in my local Whole Foods Market, I browsed through the tea department (as I’ve often been known to do) and snatched up a box of Choice Organic Teas Estate Blend Darjeeling, which is part of their Whole Leaf Organics line, and decided to give it a try.
Choice Organic Teas describes their Estate Blend Darjeeling as
This gentle, refined blend features a floral, nutty taste. The leaves are hand-picked at the height of the season in the famed hills of India’s Darjeeling region. Then they’re blended to tease out the finest fragrance and taste of muscatel.
As a tea vendor, I have found (and usually to my disappointment) that organic teas do not compare to the richness in flavor as their conventionally grown counterpart. Occasionally, I am lucky to find the exception to this generalization. But, unfortunately, this was not the case with this tea.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do enjoy this tea. However, the flavor did not possess the same magical qualities as that first sip of Darjeeling. The flavor did not have that same muscatel that Darjeeling is famous for, and the finish was not quite as smooth and cool on the palate. I finished my cup feeling somewhat not-quite-satisfied, sort of like that feeling one might get after eating a diet treat… there’s just something missing.