Origin: Arya Estate, Darjeeling, India
Year: 2005 (?)
Vendor: Upton Tea Imports
Price: $19.80 (80g packet) / $3.50 (10g sample)
Today's review (it's been a while since I reviewed anything, hasn't it?) is of the Arya Estate Ruby Organic Second Flush (EX-4) from Upton Tea Imports. It is a very nice tea, and I would certainly consider buying a more. It's not quite as nice as the Makaibari I reviewed recently, but it is definitely of high quality. I apologize for the picture-- this is an image of the last remnants in my bag, so it is not representative of the leaf quality. The dry leaves are actually quite nice, and tend to be longer and more robust than the ones shown. They dry leaf also has a lovely fruity nose, and is faintly reminiscent of marzipan.
This tea is quite a gem (yes, "ruby", I know, I know). The liquor is very perky-feeling due to a bit of first flush sharpness, even though this is a second flush tea. It is decently rich in flavor, and has a nice sweetness to it. It is not quite as fruity as some others, but there is a subtle muscatel note and a hint of citrus that cuts nicely through the tea's body. Definitely drink this one hot, though-- its flavor doesn't carry over well when iced.
If you are a big fan of first flushes and like their brightness, this might be a good second flush option for you. It is surely more second flush in character, but it has some nice first flush attributes that shine through the mellow body. Unfortunately the brighter flavors are not quite strong enough-- they are more of an afterthought than an obvious characteristic, and make this tea feel a bit unbalanced (though this could just be due to age). Still, it is a high quality tea and I look forward to trying a more recent version. The Arya Estate Ruby Organic Second Flush gets an 8/10.
Oh, and if you're wondering why there's only one picture, it's because I accidentally threw out the infused leaves before I took a picture. Still, it's an Indian tea, so they're not that pretty anyway (that's not meant to sound racist or anything, it's just that Indian teas are broken up more during processing). I can't wait to put up some pictures of nice, full oolong leaves!