A comparison of tea makers of London Darjeelings.

I am a huge Darjeeling fan, specifically a first flush Darjeeling fan. The first flush of this tea is a mixture of floral and fruity than I love. The first flush is the picking of the two leaves and a bud from the early spring growth of a plant this usually occurs sometimes between February to April. The first flush is more delicate and lighter with a stronger floral flavour. First flushes are often less oxidised to preserve this flavour profile this means that even though Darjeeling is a black tea the leaves can appear more green than in most black teas.

There is a reason Darjeeling is called the Champagne of teas, Darjeeling is a protected term (tea labelled as Darjeeling must come from the Darjeeling district in West Bengal, India, the same way prosecco labelled as Champagne must come from the Champagne region of France).

So I ordered several different first flush Darjeelings from Tea makers of London, (the same company I got my glass tea set in the first picture from) as they have a decent selection of first flush Darjeelings. Here is my review and comparison of the three Darjeelings I ordered from them.

Glenburn white moonshine Darjeeling.

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This Darjeeling is unusual as it is somewhere between a white and a black tea. As a fan of both Darjeeling and white tea this is one of my favourite teas of all time.

As soon as you open the pack there is a strong floral and fruity aroma. The leaves are wiry with silver tips. These leaves produce a pale yellow liquor that resembles a white tea more closely than a black tea.

Brewing method: 85 degrees for 4-5 minutes

My brewing method: 80 degrees for 5 minutes.

Taste: Floral and sweet with a slight fruity note of citrus. A true mix of Darjeeling and white tea.

Subsequent infusions: The packs says that this tea is suitable for one re-steeping, this is different to the East asian teas I usually drink which can often be re-steeped 2-3 times or even more in the case of some oolongs. The second steeping of the tea produced a nice floral and sweet Darjeeling but it was noticeably weaker than the first steeping.

Rohini First flush Darjeeling

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The leaves have a subtle floral aroma and are wiry and mostly green in appearance, this is despite being a black tea as it is lightly oxidised. The liquor produced is pale for a black tea though darker than the Glenburn Darjeeling above.

Brewing method: 3-5 minutes at 85 degrees

My brewing method: 5 minutes at 85 degrees

Taste: Floral and sweet with a slight after taste of grapes.

Subsequent infusions: The packagins states that this tea can be resteeped once, like the Glenburn first flush this Darjeeling retains its flavour profile with the first re-steeping yet the flavour is considerably weaker than the first steeping.

First flush Darjeeling house blend

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This blend is cheap for a first flush Darjeeling. At £4 for 50g which is considerably cheaper than the Glenburn white moonshine which is £13.95 for 25g or the Rohini which is £9.95 for 25g.

Unlike the other two in this article it is not specifically claimed that the tea leaves are from the 2018 harvest so I assume they are from a previous harvest. The leaves are darker and produce a liquor more reminiscent of a black tea.

Brewing method: 100 degrees for 3-5 minutes

My brewing method: 95 degrees for 3 minutes

Taste: Fresh and fruity with a strong malty aftertaste.

Subsequent infusions: This tea is suitable for one re-steeping. I felt out of the three teas this one kept more of its flavour when re-steeped than the other more expensive Darjeelings. I think this is because it has a stronger, less delicate flavour profile.

Conclusion: By far my favourite Darjeeling is the Glenburn white moonshine Darjeeling, it is delicate and a mix of two of my favourite teas Darjeeling and white. Unfortunately it is also the most expensive of the Darjeelings I ordered due to the small size of the Glenburn estate. Rohini is slightly cheaper and may be preferred by people who like black teas more than white having the characteristic flavours of a Darjeeling and being more a traditional black tea than the Glenburn but as it is only a few pounds cheaper than the Glenburn I personally would always choose the Glenburn. The first flush blend is my least favourite flavour wise but it is still very obviously a first flush Darjeeling and for the price it is incredibly good value.

 

Chai of Madagaskar

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Full disclosure I have never had a chai tea that I liked enough to buy again. I also dislike Honeybush so a Chai tea with Honeybush rather than black tea is not a tea I expect to like. However I got this as a free sample included when I ordered several packs of Darjeeling so while I would not have bought this tea myself I felt I may as well try it.

Packaging: Very simple but has brewing instructions on it which is important.

Company: Tea Makers of London

Contents of Chai mix: Green Honeybush, Orange Bits, Cocoa Bits, Cinnamon, Ginger Bits, Flavour, Vervain, Cardamom Pods, Cloves, Rose Pepper, Vanilla Bits, Rose Blossom Leaves.

Brewing instructions: 2-3g in boiling water, steep for 5 minutes.

My brewing instructions: The sample did not contain enough tea for me to experiment so I only made one pot following the packs brewing instructions.

Taste: This tea has a very strong aroma so strong I could smell it across the room. It smells lovely. The taste is very complex with hints of Cinnamon, orange, vanilla, Cloves and Cardamom. After taste of Orange, cinnamon and pepper.

Subsequent infusions: I did not re steep as I was not fond of the taste.

Conclusion: I think if someone enjoys honeybush and many people do especially those who cannot have caffeine due to medical reasons that this would be a good drink. The taste is complex and the flavours well balanced but the fact I dislike honeybush makes me unable to fully assess the quality of the tea. My experience with Tea Makers of London with regards to the teas I like has been positive so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt with regards to the quality.

 

Feng Yan Jasmine Phoenix eyes

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For my first tea I shall be reviewing one of my favourite flavoured teas, a Jasmine tea.

I got this tea as part of a subscription box from British based company Curious tea. It was one of four teas in the box and I intend to get round to reviewing them all.

This is a Jasmine green tea called phoenix eyes because the leaves are rolled into a shape that supposedly resembles the eyes of a phoenix. Then like many Jasmine teas the tea leaves are laid out between alternating layers of Jasmine flowers so they absorb the Jasmine aroma.

Jasmine tea is one of the oldest types of flavoured tea around. It is very popular in China where it is traditionally served to guests.

Packaging: Very clear and very informative. It is immediately obvious what the tea is, the recommended brewing parameters and the origin of the tea.

Brewing recommendations: 2-3 minutes at 80 degrees.

My brewing recommendations: 3 minutes at 80 degrees increasing steeping time with each infusion.

Taste: The tea smells absolutely gorgeous with a very strong Jasmine aroma and taste.

Subsequent infusions: The tea leaves unroll when steeped in hot water, during the first infusion they do not completely unfurl this leaves plenty of flavour for subsequent infusions though with each infusion the Jasmine flavour decreases and becomes more subtle so it is easier to taste the actual green tea which is a good quality green tea which is smooth with no astrigency. I got three infusions out of one teaspoon full of leaves.

Conclusion: A good quality Jasmine green tea. I prefer this to the more common Jasmine pearls as I find the Phoenix eye leaves do not unfurl as quickly leaving more flavour for subsequent infusions.

How to drink tea correctly.

Make the tea how you like it. And then drink it.

That’s it.

Many teas come with instructions that tell you what temperature to heat the water to and how long to steep the tea. These can be very useful, when I am trying a new tea for the first time I always follow the instructions because it gives me a good starting point to go from, and in general tea vendors want you to like their tea so you will buy more of it in future so following the instructions, especially if it is a tea you have never tried before is a good way to get the best out of the leaves. Then if I like the tea I will keep following the instructions whereas if the tea doesn’t quite meet my personal flavour preferences I will mess around with the temperature and brewing time and experiment until it does (for example I tend to brew white teas for several minutes longer than I am “supposed to” because I enjoy the stronger taste).

You will also find people saying you should never use teabags or you should never put anything in your tea except water. I have my own opinions on this and will be publishing another post later about why I prefer loose leaf but at the end of the day as the person drinking the tea it is completely up to you.

Tea is the most commonly drunk beverage in the world (after water) and many cultures have completely different ideas what “tea” is. If you ask for “tea” with no further specification in Great Britain (where I come from) you will get black tea in a tea bag (most commonly Assam or Ceylon) and the offer of milk or sugar. Whereas when I lived in Japan the request for “tea” would instead result in being given a cup of a green tea (most commonly Sencha) with no offer of milk or sugar (because green tea doesn’t tend to taste good with milk or sugar). These two countries have completely different ideas of what “tea” is. Yet even within cultures there is a huge variety of preferences, I have known British people who drink tea with no milk, with sugar, with no sugar, with cream, with lemon. Or Japanese people who steep the leaves (or tea bag no everyone in Japan does the tea ceremony all the time or even uses loose leaf tea) for far longer than I personally would to make a stronger liquor, and I have only gone into the most common two types of tea in two countries I have spent most time in.

When you factor in the other 193 countries in the world and all the other thousands of teas (excluding blends which would make the number a lot higher) the different ways of having tea become almost infinite.

The simple fact is if you like the taste of the tea you are drinking you are making it correctly.

 

浮世のお茶

“It (Teaism) inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.”  Okakura Kakuzō (author of the Book of tea).

Cha or 茶 is the word for tea in both Chinese and Japanese and also in certain parts of India.

浮世 or the floating world is a Japanese concept popular in the Edo period (1600-1857) to describe the impermanence of life and the idea of seeking pleasure.

No two cups of tea are exactly identical and no harvest of tea is exactly the same as that of previous years. But as with the Japanese floating world aesthetic this variety and the fact it does not last forever makes tea, in my opinion even more fascinating.

Thus came the name for my blog floating world of tea.

Although blog is mainly for personal pleasure for me to review and record the tea and tea related items that I use I also hope it will be helpful for fellow tea addicts and those looking to learn more about the world of tea.

If it is not already obvious from the above explanation I know far more about Japan (and Korea) than I do about other tea drinking countries. Although my focus is mainly on tea from China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea other teas will be featured. I am a Darjeeling addict so expect Darjeeling to feature prominently as well as any other teas that catch my interest.