I wanted to start by thanking Yatra Tea Company for the amazing opportunity to try all of these great teas. They specialize in South Asian teas, predominantly from India but also from Nepal.
If you would like to try some of their teas, they have a great offer called the “Yatra 2018 Sampler” where you can try 9 of their best teas at once. This is great if you aren’t quite sure what type of tea is your favorite. https://www.yatrateacompany.com/shop/yatra-2018-sampler
I was so excited to try one of India’s most famous types of tea, Darjeeling. This is known as “the champagne of teas” because of its distinct liquor and its floral, almost fruity flavor. It comes from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal. It borders Bangladesh to the east and Bhutan and Nepal to the north. This region lies at the foot of the Himalayan mountains, creating great elevation for growing tea. What makes this tea unique in India is that the type of tea leaves used to make it are from the small-leaved Chinese variety of Camelia sinensis. This means that the tea produced by the plant doesn’t have as much of a bold flavor to it. It is a little gentler and more subtle in taste.
Before even drinking the tea, I noticed something unique about this one. The leaves were much larger and seemingly less fermented than some other darjeelings I have had in the past. Upon first glance, I thought I was looking at a white tea because the leaves were so large and the color was almost a complete green. Some of the leaves were also rolled into little balls like an oolong.
The aroma coming from this first flush Darjeeling wasn’t quite as strong as with the one from the Goomtee estate. I could tell that this tea was a little bit lighter than the last one I had, but I knew I would enjoy it.
The first sip was very welcoming. There is a subtle sweetness and a lingering astringency. Compared to the Goomtee estate tea, this tea had a little less of a sweetness to it and more of a nice long aftertaste. I also notice a bit of a creaminess to this tea that I don't think I noticed in the last one. It is really comforting. If I had to choose between the two teas I’ve tried on a cold winter night, I would take the one from the Puttabong estate. It has some comforting qualities to it that make me feel warm inside and out.
For the second steeping, I used the same temperature water and steeped closer to 5 minutes. I was so impressed by the second steeping of the Goomtee, I wanted to recreate it. The second steeping gave me the opportunity to get a closer look at the leaves of the tea. I noticed that there was a pretty large amount of fine white hairs floating around in the infusion. You may not notice this right away, but if you really search for it you can find it. These fine white hairs are from the fresh buds of the tea plant. This is common in the first harvest, because the buds are usually the most desirable part of the tea crop, and are therefore picked first.
I was able to get the color to turn a light amber hue, which was encouraging. The aroma is about the same, maybe a tiny bit more subtle. As soon as I took the first sip, I was impressed. The second steeping is amazing! There is a little bit of an earthiness to the tea that comes out a bit more. Without some of the lighter floral notes of the first steeping, you can really enjoy the full-bodied flavor. As long as you allow a 5-minute steep time, the second steeping of this tea will be just as powerful as the first. The flavor may be a tiny bit flatter, but what it lacks in dimension, it makes up for in full-bodied flavor.
Afterwards, I took a look at the leaves and noticed some variations in the different types of leaves. One in particular jumped out at me. It was a reddish color, which was unusual given that all the others were of pretty much the same shade of green. This made me feel an even deeper connection with the tea, as if each leaf had its own story.
I really like this tea. The first steeping wasn’t quite as good as the Goomtee in my opinion, but the second steeping saved the day. I don’t think I have ever gotten so much flavor out of a second steeping, and it really put the tea over the top for me. So far my score is, #1 Puttabong, #2 Goomtee.