Before beginning my review, I would like to make note of the name of this tea. As I try to keep all titles on one line, I shortened this one drastically by putting “Tumsong Second Flush” as the name of the tea. The full name of this tea is Tumsong SFTGFOP1 Second Flush Organic Darjeeling. Not only is that a mouthful, but if you already know what all of that means, you can skip the next paragraph with a fair amount of respect from me!
Let’s start with the basics. Darjeeling teas have long funny names. Because Darjeeling teas are among the finest, most exquisite teas in the world, they have many (and I do mean MANY) classifications for them. Now you can click here to read the full list and meanings on Wikipedia. However for this particular tea, I will quickly explain the meaning of the words in the name of this tea.
Tumsong refers to the specific tea estate where this particular Darjeeling tea was grown. There are many tea estates (also called “tea gardens”) in Darjeeling, each producing teas with different character in taste and aroma. Here is a beautiful and relaxing video of the Tumsong Tea Estate in Darjeeling, the very place this tea comes from:
Beautiful, isn’t it? Now the second flush part refers to another Darjeeling term. In Darjeeling they group the tea harvests into what are called “flushes” which depict when in the season they were plucked. First flush Darjeeling teas are often lighter and have a crisper, refreshing flavor, while Second flush Darjeeling teas are much more earthy and mellow, and have a much deeper flavor. My personal favorite is a good second flush Darjeeling such as this one, because the flavor of the brewed tea is so incredibly mellow, smooth and deeply earthy.
SFTGFOP1 in the title can be somewhat confusing to those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of Darjeeling tea grading systems. SFTGFOP1 stands for Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe (1st grade), which indicates that it contains many fine tips which are long and wiry in appearance. The liquors of the brewed tea is lighter in color and extremely smooth with no hints of any astringency or bitterness. This is indeed a very fine, upscale tea from a very high end tea company. You can read about other grades of Darjeeling here, however that particular grade, SFTGFOP1, is the highest possible grade of Darjeeling tea one can purchase or drink, especially from a single tea estate such as Tumsong.
This tea is also completely organic, and I would expect no less from a tea company such as Rare Tea Republic, which makes this tea Darjeeling perfection.
Rare Tea Republic describes this tea as:
One of the best second flush teas of the 2011 season, this organic selection from Tumsong estate, locally known as the “garden of happy hearts,” was grown at 5,500 feet. Mountainous weather conditions including frequent mist, dappled sun and cool temperatures result in a tea with full, complex flavors. A strong jam and sap aroma; a bright, amber liquor; a lively balance between sweet, dried plum and fresh pine needles and a planty finish on the back of the palate characterize this tea. Plucking date: May 27, 2011.
They have already described the tea much more eloquently than I could, but their description is fairly accurate, with flavor and aroma nuances which are exquisite, and it is a very earthy and smooth, but holds that delicious light muscatel, almost plum-like flavor which Darjeeling teas are known for.
In summation, this is one of the finest and exquisite Darjeeling teas I’ve had the pleasure of tasting, and reflects upon the quality of the company as well. Rare Tea Republic sells only the best of the best, and this particular second flush Darjeeling is a shining example of that quality. There are no impurities or disagreeable flavors in this tea, there is no sharpness, no astringency, just a perfectly smooth medium bodied black tea with a palate-pleasing array of flavor nuances. I give this tea ten out of ten!