Sunday Tea and Books: Second Flush Darjeeling

Sunday Tea and Books: Second Flush Darjeeling

Today’s tea: Second Flush Darjeeling Black from Simple Loose Leaf

How I brewed it: The instructions on the package said to steep it in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. However, other members of Steepster have commented that Darjeeling teas taste better when steeped at lower temperatures. Instead, I steeped the tea using 185°F (85°C) water, while keeping the other parameters the same – 1 tsp per cup, for 3 minutes.

What it’s like: The dry leaf of this tea is small, twisted, and black. Anyone who wants to understand how diverse tea can be should have a tea like last week’s Yunnan Breakfast Black side by side with this one. That tea was smoky and leathery, and in contrast the Second Flush Darjeeling smells sharp, fruity, and peppery.

When brewed up, the sharpness and fruitiness were still present. A lot of people in the past have commented on the “muscatel” note of Darjeeling teas, and if this tea is typical, I think I understand what people mean. There’s definitely a smell reminiscent of raisins or grapes – somewhere in between the two, really. But the taste isn’t quite as fruity. Instead, there’s more pepper to it, and it’s also somewhat bready and savoury.

I know this is odd, but when I finish sipping, the aftertaste reminds me a lot of saltine crackers – there’s a sense of alkali saltiness in the back. I really think this tea would be a perfect fit to serve at a cheese tasting; it seems like it would really cut through and complement the richness of brie or gouda. I can totally see this kind of tea fitting into a fruit and cheese flight. Of course, now I’m thinking of just how much a bit of goat cheese covered in black peppercorns would really hit the spot for me, so I need to move on.

I had a really hard time thinking of a character to fit this tea, which is why this post is up so late. I keep thinking of words like “sharp” and “peppery” here, and thinking of food to pair it with. Which makes me think that I should compare this tea to a fictional chef, and preferably one who has a quick mind and a sharp tongue.

Unfortunately, I really can’t think of a fictional character that fits. I can think of several who are great cooks, like Paama from Redemption in Indigo, Tita from Like Water for Chocolate, Mihali from Promise of Blood, and Pelops from Food for the Gods, but the first three don’t really fit the personality I have in mind, and I still have yet to read Food for the Gods, even though it’s been on my TBR pile for at least a year and a half. For once, I’m stumped, so I’m turning it over to you: can you think of any characters that fit the bill here?

Where you can get it: Unfortunately, Simple Loose Leaf does not currently appear to have Second Flush Darjeeling for sale.

Note: Simple Loose Leaf sent me this tea for free in exchange for a review.