19 August 2015
With such a diverse collection of excellent teas this year choosing 3 to write about was no easy task for me. Here are 3 from among my favourites..
At the beginning of the 1990’s, when I started buying teas in the Himalayan region, the favoured young cultivar was the T78 with its rich full-bodied ginger/peach notes. Around 2005 the planters of Darjeeling realized that the peak flavour period for this plant was very short lived and the T78 fell rapidly from favour. Most was uprooted to make way for other cultivars and very few gardens now retain quality sections of this delicious leaf.
Temi just over the River Teesta from Darjeeling is one great exception. This year’s SK 4 is one of the best teas they have produced during recent difficult years and it has a full T78 flavour profile….like a blast from the past.
When the First Flush Darjeelings arrive they are fresh and very ‘green’. During the first few months we have the opportunity to follow their gradual development and stabilization as they ‘mellow’, this precious period would have been lost in transport in the early days. Among the earliest plantings in the Darjeeling Region the ‘Heritage’ plants of Singell are some of the finest in the region. The DJ 5 is made from these plants and was deliberately made a little ‘greener’ than my other Himalayan selections of 2015. This great example of a Classic Darjeeling is slowly developing to reveal a tea of beautifully sophisticated balance, precision and exceptional definition.
Part of being a tea buyer is continually keeping your finger on the pulse of your region of specialization. A garden that is making great quality now may loose control next year just as a ‘quiet’ garden might suddenly improve as the necessary variables align to make great tea. Badamtam have been making solid, upper- medium quality teas in recent years but this year they pulled a few really fancy teas out of the hat. The DJ 13 is a great example of quality clonal cultivation and manufacture. A light, bright and consistently floral tea at a surprisingly good price.
Just three of a ‘must try’ collection of 2015 Himalayan teas,