Rohini Tea Estate’s ‘Spring Wonder’ is another 2019 Darjeeling tea that is fascinating us this year.
This ‘Spring Wonder’ crop is unique to Rohini Tea Estate and is produced 100% from the AV2 cultivar, the cultivar that contemporarily has been ‘wow’-ing most Darjeeling tea tastings for the last 10+ years. Based on china bush plantings and with some wild, native Darjeeling plant mixed in, these bushes not only thrive in the unusual terroir of the Himalaya, but also have almost all the elements of flavor and style that Darjeeling enthusiasts expect (and want) in their cup of Darjeeling tea.
We suggest that you take a big deep whiff of the aroma of the dry leaf of this exquisite ‘Spring Wonder’ Darjeeling.
Savor the fresh, vigorous fragance. This is the essence of the overwhelming verdant aroma that envelops a tea garden or tea factory during the spring cropping season. It is an aroma that is at once intoxicating and calming.
Then, give the tea a short steep and let the taste of the tea liquor fill your mouth with clean, smooth, rich flavors – not at all what we might expect from a contemporary Darjeeling tea.
This seasonal tea from the earliest spring pluck at Rohini Tea Estate is for those who prefer that their Darjeeling tea has a rich, mouth-filling, smooth-around-the-edges, and ‘traditional’ style ( not green-ish as many Darjeelings are ). This style, in which the wither is short and the oxidation long, is often referred to as ‘muscatel’ and is clearly different than the green-ish style that is a result of a long wither and short oxidation. While the latter style has seemed so prevalent recently, we are seeing more of the more traditional muscatel style again, and we think this is great. To look at the leaf of this 1st Flush tea, one would not expect the depth of flavor and smoothness that it has. It is not as ‘green’ in taste as it is in its appearance.
One of the positive aspects of the high altitude growing conditions in the Darjeeling section of the Himalaya is that the tea bushes grow more slowly, which deepens the flavor and allows the leaf to develop a very rich, massively full-bodied style. The very long, slow-to-get-going establishment of the bushes is sometimes overshadowed by the astringency of the style and inherently brisk flavor profile of the terroir of the region. This tea, this year, throws all that convention right out the window!
This year Tea Trekker has selected this Rohini Tea Estate 1st Flush ‘Spring Wonder’ offering and we are so excited about it. It is made from leaf that was plucked from the section of this tea garden that is planted with only the modern classic AV2 cultivar, so this finished tea represents current Darjeeling manufacture at its finest.
The leaf is completely hand-rolled, so the manufacture was laborious and careful. This very old-fashioned methodology yields tea that has an exquisitely clean style and shows a depth of flavor that holds for many months more than machine processed leaf.
The leaf is a mix of diverse shades of green, with a hint of deep gray, highlighted by showy tips of a golden color. This shows how the leaf and the tips have each responded differently to oxidation during manufacture.
The amount of tip in the leaf gives a bouyancy to the flavor that counterpoints its woodsiness and mossy elements. Overall, its style is vibrant and clear and utterly delicious. ‘Spring Wonder’ is well-made, elegant and has a lovely long finish. There is a mysterious lingering flavor that is at first difficult to pinpoint. I have decided that it is a unique combination of the aroma of various members of the cucurbits family, both what we eat as ‘fruit’ and those that we eat as a ‘vegetable’. This flavor (and aroma) add a rich, soft style to the overall impression of taste that this tea has an abundance of.
Always in short supply because of the small size of this garden’s output, we moved quickly to insure that we would be able to procur a portion of this season’s tiny production of ‘Spring Wonder’ for our tea enthusiast customers.
This tea is made using only the AV2 cultivar, a fairly modern varietal that has tended to win most of the tea tasting competitions in Darjeeling over the last decade . The leaf is a combination of the traditional varieties that are noted for great flavor and ability to thrive in the harsh conditions of the Himalaya. Its flavor is excellent and the tea produced from it has the classic aroma of a high quality black tea – the oxidized smell that so distinctively identifies proper wither and oxidation
The leaf is beautiful, a fairly bold mix of colors, with some leaf that is quite dark in color. In this pluck there is much ‘green’ leaf as well; however, the color is misleading, as there is not a hint of the ‘green’ flavor that we generally associate with leaf that color. The leaf is well-colored, with generous tip, and overall it has the rich classic color of a traditional 2nd Flush Darjeeling.
There is little aroma in the steeped liquid – rather, the aroma is held in suspension in the liquor, waiting to be released on the palate in a flurry of activity. The flavor of this Darjeeling, the Rohini Tea Estate 2019 1st Flush ‘Spring Wonder’, is such a classic Darjeeling 1st flush taste that it could serve as the traditional model for its genre.
Lush, deeply-flavored, without astringency, showing a beautiful, light golden/amber colored liquor, this tea is a stunner.
We like this tea steeped for exactly 3 mins. The leaf is large and fluffy so use a generous amount if you are measuring by volume rather than weight.
12 March, 2019
If you are looking for a treat either for yourself or someone who fancies the Darjeeling and Himalaya growths, this tea should be high on your list of teas to try this season – who knows whether or not we will have it next season.