Friday, January 4, 2019

Chai Chun: A Pair of Darjeeling Second Flush Black Teas, A Tea Review

So, I have decided to learn Old English (Anglo Saxon, Ænglisc, etc) why? Honestly, because I am weird and like studying old obsolete things. I am mildly obsessed with Medieval England (I can trace my lineage back to William the Conqueror and Charlemagne, assuming people back in the day were actually legitimate children, granted most people are descended from some nobility since those guys had so many kids, and if they were a girl or later born son they just married them off to lesser nobility, so it is really easy to be descended from like the 3rd daughter of the 2nd son of the 5th son of a king) and I am just awful at learning French, so Old English it is. My first step was of course learning how to say tea...which I pretty instantly remembered didn't enter England until the sixteenth century, a bit late for OE, so I need a Kenning! Basic definition: taking two words and smushing them together into a new word, like hron-rād in Beowulf, which translates to whale road aka the sea. My tea kenning will be (thank you Prince Zuko) Leaf Water, blǣd-wæter I think should be right. Granted I am very much a novice, so I might have gotten something wrong, but for now here is the Old English word for tea!

Today I am looking at a pair of Second Flush Darjeeling teas from Chai Chun, my favorite source for Darjeeling goodness. I always go back and forth between first and second flush, and which is my favorite, they are both so different and so similar that picking a favorite is nigh impossible, so I won't, I love both flushes! The two specific teas I am looking at are Arya Ruby and Margaret's Hope Clonal Wonder, I have made it no secret that I love tea from the Arya Estate, and Margaret's Hope is a well known estate that I have not had the pleasure of experiencing, so without further ado, let us delve into the tea!

Arya Ruby Second Flush

Oh Arya Estate, I could sing your praise all day, you make some of my favorite Darjeeling tea of all time, but instead I must focus on a single tea. Continuing in their theme of naming a tea after a gemstone, their second flush is called Ruby, which is a great name for a black tea. The aroma of this tea is malty and muscatel, smelling of very sweet dark raisins and honey, with a slight undertone of sage which adds an interesting depth to the familiar muscatel malty goodness of a second flush. Brewing it up brings out some tantalizing nutty notes reminiscent of chestnuts that pair wonderfully with the incredibly strong raisin notes, they smell as though they have been stewed together in a rich red wine with a metric ton of sugar. The taste is a perfect example of a second flush, starting with a very smooth almost slippery mouthfeel with a wonderfully rich taste. Notes of stewed raisins and chestnuts, a strong malty quality, and a lingering aftertaste of fresh sage. It is a great tea for an afternoon pick-me-up!

Margaret's Hope Clonal Wonder Second Flush

It is always fun to try a new estate's offering, and by new I mean new to me, Margaret's Hope is rather old. The aroma of these leaves is surprisingly nutty! Strong notes of almonds blend with raisins bringing in that classic muscatel note, it is an immensely sweet smelling tea and I was very excited to steep it up! Once I have steeped the leaves, the aroma wafting out of my cup is still very muscatel, very nutty, and hello sweet yeasty freshly baked bread! This is such a sweet smelling tea. The taste is unsurprisingly very sweet and smooth, with crisp grape notes, apricot jam, almonds, and a lingering aftertaste of freshly baked very yeasty sweetbread. This tea is practically begging to be sipped at a tea party with a small mountain of cucumber sandwiches, something I need to make happen.

Tea sent for review

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