Long live the leaves!
More 2009 Darjeeling on the tasting table today. Two releases from the high-perched Giddapahar estate renowned for its highly aromatic teas.
The 1st Flush SFTGFOP1 ($3 / 100g from Lochan Tea; bottom leaves in the photo above and below) shows a contradiction between the visual aspect and the actual flavour. The dry leaf, wet leaf and brewed tea colour are announcing a fairly light tea: leaves are green, brew is apricotty-orange, while this tea actually packs in quite a bit of punch, with a bitterish, dry finish. The chewiness and murkiness are also signs of high oxidation. This however remains clean, with good intensity and not without interest but lacks the precision and distinctiveness of the best 2009 1st flushes.
Giddapahar 2nd (top) and 1st flush (bottom) after 5 minutes of infusion.
The 2nd Flush FTGFOP1 ($2 / 100g from Lochanagain; top samples on the two photos above) looks considerably more brown and oxidised than the above tea,plus the grade is somewhat lower and more rustic, with a high amount ofstems. Brews a very dark cup with a malty-purple hue. I’ve only had onelucky shot with this tea, a competition brewing soon after receiving thesample in June: a dark aromatic register with plummy fruit, wet earth, highoxidation; balanced astringency within a voluminous, raisiney, almostchocolatey, quite individual mouthfeel.
Giddapahar 2nd Flush FTGFOP1, expired leaf after 5 minutes.
But subsequent tastings have been very underwhelming, and the tea has developed an odd intensity of smokey, herby, onion-like, sulphury notes over the summer. The same, in fact, is true of the 1st Flush. Retasting alongside this morning both teas were on the verge of offensive. That’s quite an odd twist of tea leaf evolution.
The Okayti tea estate is rarely on anyone’s absolute favourite group but produces a reliable tea from its plantations that are among the region’s highest. This 2009 1st Flush FTGFOP1 China Special ($3 / 100g from Lochan; pictured above) is an excellent tea. A good grade with some tips, it has a herby, bergamotty aroma with hints of nuts and citrus. Light in body but high in tannins, it is a delicate tea that’s quite easy to overbrew; I actually prefer a second long brewing here for its fruitier, less tangy balance. Fresh and lively, not among the season’s best, but then more resilient in time than many. I’ll surely be seeking more teas from this estate.