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.
This is an oolong, so it is slightly different than the Darjeeling black teas and green teas I was used to. Oolongs are slightly oxidized teas. It is a very broad category, ranging from teas that are even lighter than most green teas, all the way to oolong teas that are darker than some of the darkest black teas. I was really looking forward to trying this variation of the world famous Darjeeling tea.
When I opened the package, I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity of leaves in here. They were all different shapes and sizes, it looks like there was a lot of hand selection and hand processing being done. One leaf in particular jumped out at me. I love seeing leaves that are so large and unbroken like this. It really is beautiful and I knew this tea would produce an equally amazing taste once I added some water.
The aroma coming off of this tea is quite floral. I know just by the scent that it will be unlike any oolong I have tried before. The first sip did not disappoint, it was an earthy taste with a mild and mellow finish. As I began to sip more of the tea, I noticed some new things. There is a gentle sweetness to this tea. It is pretty typical of an oolong to have a slight sweetness to it, but this one is even more welcoming than usual. There is a tiny hint of spice to this, like a faint cinnamon or clove flavor. Maybe it’s just in my head I kind of notice it.
This oolong is very sweet up front, but lacks some of the aftertaste you may expect from an oolong. I would say it is one of the less bitter oolongs I have had, with a gentle sweetness and a mellow creaminess to balance out the earthiness. This tea is quite unique for an oolong. It has a lot of characteristics of black teas and white teas. I was very happy to try something unique and I was definitely not expecting it to be as sweet and as smooth as it was.
For the second steeping, I used near boiling water for a time of 5 minutes. I really want to make sure I can get out everything that is left in this tea. So far, the second steepings of the teas from Yatra Tea Company have really impressed me. Usually second steepings are nowhere near as powerful as the first ones, but with these teas they taste very close.
With the second steeping, you lose a lot of the bitterness and the earthiness. What is left is the sweetness and the creaminess. The floral aroma disappears with the second steeping, and you lose some of the higher notes like the subtle spice. The second steeping does take on a nice astringency, which I found quite pleasant.
It was really cool to see the leaves fully expanded. Most of them are complete leaves and one leaf is about 3 inches long. It is so cool to see this in a tea. So much variation in the leaves but also the completeness that makes you feel a stronger bond with the teas origin. I really enjoyed this tea, and it was actually the first Darjeeling oolong I have tasted!