We suggest that you take a big, deep whiff of the aroma of the dry leaf of this exquisite, first-of-the-early-season, 1st Flush 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 this season’s earliest spring pluck at Giddapahar 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. Especially in a 1st Flush offering, it is nice to see a variety of flavor profiles being manufactured. While we appreciate the brisk, ‘European or Russian’ style manufacture that has varying percentages of non-oxidized leaf in its mix; it is delicious to see that some gardens are once again offering a more traditional-style Darjeeling that does not have the bright crisp style and assertiveness of a green tea or some oolongs. We don’t think that we have tasted a Darjeeling from this early in the season with this much depth of flavor in several decades!
So, again this year, the Giddapahar Tea Estate 1st Flush teas are ‘wowing’ us from the first sip.
Giddapahar Tea Estate is one of Bob’s all-time favorite Darjeeling gardens. Year-in and year-out, their stylish leaf yields mouth-filling fresh, vibrant flavor in the cup. This, coupled with crisp high altitude briskness, is the measure of a stunning 1st Flush Darjeeling tea.
When we taste the new-harvest Darjeelings every spring, offerings from the gardens of Giddapahar Tea Estate are always among our favorites.
Giddapahar Tea Estate is located in the most prestigious heart of the Kurseong Valley. (Giddapahar is translated from Nepali to mean Eagles’ Cliff). The family-owned Giddapahar Tea Estate is a relatively small area of 109 hectares (269 acres). The gardens are poised at an average altitude of 4,800 feet and their orientation offers an incredible view of the Himalaya. The garden was first developed in 1881 and has been producing fine tea continuously. Giddapahar Tea Estate is currently owned by fourth generation Surendra Nath Singh and his brother.
Giddapahar is among the tea estates with gardens that still produce tea from older plantings of China bush tea varietals and that have embraced its most highly-regarded offshoot, the AV2 cultivar. We feel that leaf from both of these tea bushes provide body and richness to the mouth-feel of a fine Darjeeling, so we always look for these ‘gems’ from the few gardens that still maintain their old China bush stock or offer an AV-2 harvest.
This early, first-of-the-season 1st Flush from Giddapahar Tea Estate is of China bush leaf, but not 100% AV-2, and we are extremely honored to have it. As soon as we tasted it we were taken back at least 20 years, to a day when Darjeeling tea truly was the ‘Queen of Tea’, a moniker that it has in some ways lost in the last decade or so. We see that reputation coming back quickly, as many current gardens’ tea makers return to techniques that yield classic flavors and style.
The dry leaf is a perfectly lovely, well-rolled but moderately leafy, classic 1st Flush tea. The leaf is a tweedy mix of diverse earth colors on a base field of forest brown . This shows how the leaf and the tips have each responded differently to oxidation during manufacture.
This particular lot is an exceptionally beautiful tea with long, hand-rolled tips and leaves. The bright cup and intense aroma is possibly a ‘perfect’ 1st Flush Darjeeling. We think that this is one of the best examples of a hand-rolled tea from Giddapahar Tea Estate that we have ever received.
The amount of tip in the leaf gives a buoyancy to the flavor that counterpoints its woodsiness and mossy elements by offering a gentle ‘snap’ in the front of the mouth. Overall, its style is vibrant and clear and utterly delicious. This Giddapahar Tea Estate 2018 1st Flush tea is well-made, elegant and has a long, lovely muscatel finish.
This leaf is drinking youthfully now (and we like it this way) , and should continue to drink well for at least another 18 months.
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 procure a portion of this season’s production for our tea enthusiast customers. We are very happy to offer this elegant tea.