Monday, December 5, 2016

Gopaldhara Tea Estate: Red Thunder 2016, A Tea Review

So yesterday I went to the mall to pick up my nice new heated blanket, it was evening, right after sunset, and I got quite the show. Not Christmas lights (although, they were around) no, in the sky was a beautiful crescent moon and Venus right at the border between night and sunset. Yours truly was so struck by the beauty of the night sky that I just stood in the parking lot looking at the sky for a good five minutes. This happens pretty much anytime I go outside during winter, the winter sky has always been my favorite. About a month ago I went out super late at night to see Orion crest over the horizon for the first time, as is tradition! I don't talk about it as much, but Astronomy has been a passion of mine since I was tiny, my mom would take me outside to look at the sky and (I kid you not) talk to the moon as a toddler.

Today I am looking at a tea from Gopaldhara Tea Estate, their 2016 Red Thunder Darjeeling, an autumn flush black tea that is a favorite. I had the opportunity to look at the 2014 harvest and fell in love, so I was super hype to try the 2016 harvest.What makes this tea special is frost, harvested late in November high in the mountains, the temperatures get low so overnight the leaves get covered in frost. This causes the leaves to already start the oxidation process while on the bush, making it extra sweet and fruity. Smelling the leaves is quite a treat, notes of malt and cocoa with a strong stewed plums and raisin note. Undertones of baked oat bread give me a distinct notion of raisin bread, which is probably one of my favorite sweet bread variations. I love the strong sweet muscatel notes of this tea, granted I love the fresh grape notes of a first flush, but that richer raisin note of later flushes make me swoon.

I decided to have a little fun with my brewing equipment today, using a vintage teapot that is a kitty, I have had it for a while but I am just now using it. Same with the cup, a vintage demitasse cup that absolutely doesn't match the teapot! The aroma of the steeped leaves is heady, not floral heady, but that heady aroma of smelling stewed plums and raisins, very sweet and fruity. Undertones of cocoa and apricots with a gentle distant floral note, like a plumeria bush blooming outside the window and whisps coming in through the window. The liquid is sweet, very fruity raisins and plums with a touch of dried apricots. Along with the fruity sweet notes are gentle notes of malt and distant flowers.

Oh this tea is delicious! It starts with a strong note of honey drenched cooked plums and raisins, like someone stewed them together and then drizzled warm honey all over it. It is thick too, just like warm honey, I am glad I was drinking this on a cold night because it is very warm and soothing. There is more to this tea than fruity sweetness though, middle notes of brown sugar and malt blend with a gentle cocoa and yam starchy note, then the finish which is yams and a touch of lingering raisins. I was able to get another strong steep from this tea, the second steep being dominated by sweetness and fruit, the yam and cocoa notes being very subdued compared to the previous steep. The previous harvest I had became my favorite second flush, so much so that I used it in my Ravnican Caravan blend I made for Ben, and the 2016 harvest made sure it still claims that spot.

This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.

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