Saturday, February 03, 2007

"ooooh darjeeling" First Flush Oolong Darjeeling

Class: Oolong
Origin: Gopaldhara Estate, Darjeeling, India
Year: ?
Vendor: Adagio Teas
Price: $10.00 (2 oz. tin) / $4.00 (>1 oz. tin)
Review: 7/10

Today's review is of the "ooooh darjeeling" tea from Adagio Teas. I realize it's a bit odd that I should review two Darjeelings and have neither be black teas, but I just haven't quite gotten around to reviewing those yet. Anyway, this tea is an oolong (semi-oxidized) tea from the Gopaldhara Estate in Darjeeling, India. Darjeeling is most well known for its black teas, but they are actually producing quite a variety of other forms of tea (green, white, oolong) on a limited scale.
Dry Leaves I have yet to try a Darjeeling Green tea, but I have to admit that the unique Darjeeling taste works quite well in whites and oolongs.

Once one starts to get into different single-estate Darjeeling teas, one finds that each estate has a unique flavor. Some people can even tell what lot of a specific garden a tea is from, but alas, I cannot. Anyway, the Gopaldhara Estate is well known for its unique taste, and I am ashamed to say that I haven't quite figured it out how to describe it. I can certainly tell you that it is one of the more complex Darjeelings, and also that it has less in common with other Darjeelings than any I have tried. It may just be my tastebuds fooling me, but I also think I can taste a bit of a cocoa note from second flush Gopaldhara.

I am not as experienced with oolongs as I am with Darjeelings (which still isn't that much), so I'm not sure I have learned to brew it correctly yet. Infused LeavesStill, this one seems to like lower temperatures and shorter infusions, even though it is a fairly dark oolong. There is a faint Gopaldhara flavor, and also a hint of first flush sharpness, but the oolong heart seems to make everything taste a bit more mellow. I tend to like the mellow nature of a second flush Darjeeling more than the brightness of a first flush, so this is a good thing in my opinion.

I know all of what I've said so far has been good, but that's just it. There are a lot of good things about this tea, but nothing really great. Sure, it's a nice combination of oolong and Darjeeling flavors, but there's no kick. I'm concerned that this may be due to a lack of freshness. Not only is there no indication on the website about when this tea was harvested, but the sample that I purchased ($4.00 for approx. 1 oz.) came loose in a non-airtight tin, without a packing date.

Don't get me wrong, that little tin is quite nice looking, but I much prefer Upton's practice of shipping their teas either in an ugly but airtight canister or bag, with the packing date clearly printed on the packaging. Also, what is up with 5 minutes at 212°F? Adagio TinI feel like if they wanted people to actually enjoy this tea, they should at least suggest reasonable infusing conditions! (Speaking of infusing conditions, use a gaiwan for this tea if you have one.)

The "ooooh darjeeling" first flush oolong from Adagio Teas gets a 7/10. Though not bad at all, there was nothing about this tea that really made me say "ooooh."


Steven Dodd said...

I have quite a few things from Adagio, some good, some bad. How is the sample tin not air tight? Is it because there is no rubber seal on the lid? I didn't like the general lack of year and harvest area information, either.

Brent said...

Well, I wouldn't necessarily say there needs to be a rubber seal on the lid, but a double-lidded or a plug-stop canister would have been nice. I'm thinking of writing a post about freshness, so I'll include more information there. Thanks for the comment!

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