After what is always an anxious wait, the first batch of our first flush samples for 2013 finally arrived from Darjeeling. Thanks to modern transportation samples now take under a week to arrive from the gardens of Darjeeling! It's incredible. Think how long the wait must have been not too long ago when couriers were still rudimentary and expensive. We're lucky indeed!
It is hard not to tear into the package like a kid who has been just handed a gift. And what a gift it was! As I took the staples off the samples pouches just the smell of the dry tea transported me right back to the hills where at this time the air is crisp, green and sweet. Each tea is exquisite which is such a relief and a triumph. Because every year you face the weather gods with dread, praying that they bless us with all the normal variables. I guess it is the same with farmers all around the world, tea is no exception.
The teas have a fresh and clear floral fragrance. The liquor is delicate but brisk with a defined point. As you take nose - literally stick your nose in the infused leaves - the aroma leaves you enchanted. To me it recalled the sweet smell and taste of a Himalayan brook. No hint of astringency but only in one cup. The finish of the teas were lingering and very, very refreshing. A tea from Sungma was so good it moved me to tears. I remembered an old relative who I have never seen in years who lives in this garden. I wanted to hug her, and tell her how proud I was of her, and other workers who toil these hills to produce this magic called Darjeeling, which we have the great honor of sharing with the world.
The teas I sampled were from Risheehat, Sungma, Puttabong and Singbulli. While the three first gardens are certified organic the last one is organic under conversion. It takes three years of adopting organic farming methods before a garden can get an Organic certificate. Singbulli is on its final year.
I am happy that this year it won't be hard to offer a good selection of Darjeeling first flush. Every sample I received - there were nearly four from each garden - is worthy. I can't wait to have these teas available to my customers. Hopefully we won't have to wait for more than a week or so! I will keep you updated.