Sunday, 18 April 2010

Getting my brain around Darjeeling

For some reason right as I'm drinking more Darjeeling, there are articles specifically about this region in the papers I read. Maybe there are always so many mentions of this tea-growing region of India, but I doubt it. I wrote about it several days ago, and today I want to talk about a few specific ones that I like.

Have written about Darjeeling Singbulli 2nd flush here before, and I still think it's one of the best tasting teas I've tried.

Similar to that is another 2nd flush called Darjeeling Jungpana FTGFOP. This is a really delicious Darjeeling. There’s something almost floral in the smell and taste of this tea. Much stronger and tastier than a first flush. It's definitely my taste.

Having said all that, I want to also recommend a lighter tea of this sort because I know not everyone likes such strong teas. It's a 1st flush called Darjeeling Gielle, and it has a much milder taste. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. I had it this afternoon, and it was perfect for a light, refreshing break from my normal morning brew. It has a light brown color in the cup and, from what I've read, comes from the middle of the spring growing season. If you can find either of these very different Darjeelings and try them, please let me know what you thought.

The interview I read this morning was in the Business section and talked about some interesting things I hadn't considered. A tea grower called Ashok Kumar Lohia, who owns plantations in both Assam and Darjeeling, was being interviewed. He mentioned that Darjeeling tea had the same problem Champagne, Scotch, Gouda cheese and Parma ham have.

Because they're considered the finest regions for their products, people sell inferior products by trading on these well-known names. Tea sellers play fast and loose with the name 'Darjeeling'. Although only nine tons of tea is grown there in a year, you can find forty tons on the market. Luckily, the EU has decided to help protect the name and will demand more strenuous regulations for what can and cannot be sold as Darjeeling. We'll see if it actually does any good when the first cases actually make it to litigation.

The last thing I want to mention is how the interview began. He was asked why Darjeeling tea was so special. So different from other teas. His answer was that because the tea was grown so high in the mountains in the shadow of the Himalayas that there was something mystical about it. That the soil and the air was certainly crucial, but that the god Shiva lived there and his spirit affected the tea. It's easy for me to dismiss that part, but then he said that the people who actually tend to the tea have an important impact on the way every cup of tea turns out. That growing tea takes a patience and dedication that has been honed for generations. The esoteric stuff is so difficult to quantify, but the thought that this tea tastes so luxurious partly because of the trained hands that prepared it. That's something that even this Western brain can comprehend.

source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntags Zeitung Wirtschaftsteil 18 April 2010 p.33

1 comment:

  1. Teaopia has 3 Darjeelings: Phuguri SF FTGFOP1, Ambootia FTGFOP1, and Makaibari. I've not tried any yet, but I might get some next time I'm there. I'm curious to see if it lives up to the hype.