Saturday, January 9, 2010

The case of the strange but wonderful Darjeeling

Yesterday I tried some Autumnal Flush Risheet Darjeeling SFTGFOP1 Wiry 09 from Thunderbolt Teas, one of the samples Benoy kindly sent with my order. The dry wiry leaves are a pretty brown with bits of gold buds and green leaves scattered throughout. The scent reminds me of Cracker Jacks, roasted corn and fresh tomatoes just starting to cook, all scents I really like. I brewed up about a teaspoon with boiling water for 3.5 minutes. The brewing tea smelled even more of roasted corn and was a kind of dull yellowy brown. I have to say that it also tasted mostly of roasted corn and was not to my taste. It did not seem to have any of the fruitiness I would have expected from an autumnal flush. Very disappointing. But wait!
Today I tried the Risheet again, using water from a different kettle and a different teapot. It is wonderful. Still with a roasted edge, but very grapey, with a prettier color. It is still a mild, gentle black, just right for those who don't like the heavier or more assertive blacks.

This all brings up the importance of water. Tea is 99% water and if your water is weird, your tea will be, too. I am not sure what caused the very great differences in these two cups of tea but here are the facts: the tea was from the same sample; the water was straight from the tap through the filter I always use; day 1 was from my new Panasonic water boiler in my Adagio Giant cup and saucer; day two was with the water boiled in my old electric teakettle in my Teavana Perfect teamaker. I am going to experiment some more. I don't think it was all the problem of the water boiler, as I had made a cup of Devonshire Earl Grey from Upton's with it yesterday as well and it was superb. And today I had a Ceylon I felt so-so about before and it is much better than the last time when I used water from the electric kettle. Maybe Darjeelings are pickier about their water or their pots. I'll keep you posted. Maybe it is just the innate perversity of matter.

Day 13 of snow, early this am. But now there is SUN!

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