Time for my favorite tea to be available again - First Flush Darjeeling from Makaibari Tea Estate. The harvest was late this year, a trend in evidence for the past several years. Twenty years ago, the first batch of samples arrived around the 3rd week of March. Nowadays, it is usually mid-April before the first samples arrive. The good news is that the crop is excellent. This is no small feat. As many of you know, on March 16, the Makaibari bungalow burned to the ground. Soon after that, the tea estate experienced a hail storm and a fine layer of snow. Despite these adversities, the leaf is remarkably good.First Flush Darjeelings can be characterized by a few key elements:
- A distinct green hue to both the dry and infused leaf.
- A sharp, floral bouquet - referred to as the 'nose'.
- A light amber cup with some astringency.
Five lots arrived by courier and no sooner than I opened the envelope, the full aroma of Makaibari wafted through. It took me back instantly to the factory where the tea is manufactured - that wonderful aroma of fresh leaf, sweet, aromatic, a hint of pine and distinctly Darjeeling. There is a fine ritual associated with sampling teas - the precise measuring of 2.2 grams, ensuring water comes to first boil, filling the cup and setting the timer and then the glorious task of evaluating first the dry leaf, then the infused leaf and finally the cup. Yes, we procured all five lots! Air Freight to arrive soon...