Darjeeling Gopaldhara Sencha

Now regular readers will know that I love Darjeeling, and I love green tea as well. So I was excited to try this Darjeeling Sencha from curious tea. I moved recently and have got a bit behind on trying new teas I had and am working through a back catalogue so I can’t remember how I acquired this but I probably got it in a curious tea subscription box.

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The leaves are a dull green colour it doesn’t look much like Darjeeling teas as most people would imagine Darjeeling, to me it looks more like an Indonesian green I have. However, Darjeeling is a name that can be given to any teas from the Darjeeling region of Indian and this tea is grown in the Darjeeling region even if it isn’t traditionally what people would think of as Darjeeling.

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As a sencha the liquor the tea produces is a bright green colour though not quite as bright as the Japanese senchas I am used to.

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Brewing parameters: 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) for  2-3 minutes

My brewing parameters: 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) for  2-3 minutes

Taste: Smoky. I mentioned the leaves looked a lot like an Indonesian green I have. It tastes a little like that too except that flavour is hidden under a smoky aroma and flavour. I don’t like smoky teas. I am a huge fan of Chinese tea but I cannot stand the fairly popular Lapsang souchong (even the smell makes me feel ill).

To be completely fair the packaging states the tea has a smoky profile and curious tea is usually very good about their packaging being accurate so I should maybe have read it more carefully.

I didn’t like this tea, and that’s rare for me, even teas that don’t really do it for me I usually find pleasant enough that I will finish the pot I have made even if I wouldn’t buy it again but this one really doesn’t do it for me.

Good if you like: Lapsang souchong, Indonesian green tea.

This was a quick review because I wasn’t a fan of the tea unfortunately, so I plan finish another longer review this weekend as well (hopefully).

For my long reviews in which I tend to review several teas at one I often write a bit one day and then a bit another as I try the teas so I can be working on a long review for days or weeks at a time as I do not want to hurry as I want to enjoy the teas. I do have a white tea reviews with 3 different white teas in my draft folder, I have written up two of them and only have one left to try so hopefully I will managed to try the final tea and get that one out tomorrow.

Review of my new Variable temperature kettle and my fight to get a good tea set up.

Hello, I am back. Finally.

I want to thank the people that messaged me saying they missed the blog. I had no idea anyone was really paying attention. Thanks for the ego boost.

I finally have my normal tea set again. I couldn’t fit it in my suitcase when I moved so I had to get my mother to send it.

Sadly my glass teapot broke in transit so I had to order a new one. This is my third tea makers of London glass tea pot. It is hard to blame them though, the first one broke when I dropped something on it, and the second one was probably the fault of the post office.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to sell the 400ml (13.5 us fl oz) tea pots any more so I had to find one on Amazon it is a slightly older one and the spout isn’t as good as it is about half an inch shorter and trickier to pour, but it is still a serviceable tea pot that matches in with my glass jug and my glass tasting cups (which I have replaced with my Chinese porcelain carp cup for everyday use).

Another problem has been the kettle. The kettle that came with my apartment was ancient and filthy and I didn’t feel happy using it so I have been heating water on a stove. I order a klarstein goose neck kettle with temperature control. However I have been disappointed, first of all it took ages to ship (I know its coming from Germany but I have had stuff from China and Japan quicker), and when I finally got the kettle after two weeks it didn’t heat the water at all it turned on and then turned itself off after a few seconds. I have been chasing up the company for a refund but not had much luck.

Impatient I tried again and I found a thread about variable temperature kettles on the brilliant r/tea sub reddit, if you want to talk about tea r/tea is a rather friendly reddit to do so.  On an thred someone recommended the  Aicok Electric Kettle Temperature Control, Double Wall Cool Touch Stainless Steel Kettle with LED Display from 35°- 100℃ |BPA-Free| Quick Boil

I got it on Thursday, finally. What a saga to get my tea.

So is this second kettle any better than the Klarstein one? Yes, I love it.

Many variable temperature kettles have pre-set temperatures at 80. 90, 95 and 100 celsius (176, 194, 203, 212 fahrenheit) This works for most people but I tend to drink a lot of green teas from Korea which are usually drunk at 60. 70 or 75 Celsius (145. 158, 167 fahrenheit) and regular readers will know my favourite ever tea glenburn white moonshine darjeeling is an 85 degree celsius (185 fahrenheit) tea.

This kettle allows you to choose temperatures between 35- 100 celsius (95-212 fahrenheit) in increments of 5 degrees (celsius). There is also a keep warm functions, I tend to end up brewing two pots of tea using my small tea pot and this function saves me time on getting the tea to the right temperature the second time. The LED display also shows the current temperature of the water.

The kettle is also steel so no plastics to ruin the taste of the tea. I have moved from Cumbria, which has delicious tap water to London which….doesn’t. So I also invested in a filter jug to try and make the water taste better.

Sadly I was out of Glenburn Darjeeling so I tried it out with my second favourite, another 85 degree celsius (185 degree fahrenheit) tea the Rohini first flush Darjeeling.

Now I have a temperature control kettle I can stop using the tea thermometer. It still works but I’m lazy and this is easier. I will probably bring my tea thermometer to work because there is no kettle there only a tap that readily dispenses boiling water and I will want to wait for the water to cool down before adding my tea leaves in the infuser basket. I can see how a tap would save time and stop queues for the kettle, but honestly, the tea facilities at work do not match my high standards (I better be careful what I say here, I don’t think they are regular readers but I know at least two of my teammates plus my manager have seen this blog at least once and I don’t want to get fired).

Below are pictures of my new kettle in a slideshow format (I am trying to make this blog look more “professional” even though it is just me being opinionated about tea, so let me know what you think).

 

 

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Ah my set up is back. I am aware I am using a more Chinese style set up but I know very little about Indian tea culture (I am trying to learn) so lets call it cultural fusion.

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The Kettle cost me just under £43 (about $56), though I got it off Amazon and the price is variable. This isn’t cheap for a kettle but it isn’t overly expensive either. So is it worth it?

If you are going to use the features, yes. If you only drink tea made with boiled water I wouldn’t waste your money as you can get a kettle far cheaper, but if you drink a lot of green, white or oolong tea and will use the temperature control it is worth it.

There is also the option for simpler variable temperature kettles that will probably be sufficient if you only drink oolong at 90 or 95 degrees celsius (194 or 203 fahrenheit) and no other teas for example. However most of them are about the same price or more expensive than this one. If you are willing to spend £40-£50 (about $52-$65) on a variable temperature kettle you may as well buy the one with more features. After all you may fall in love with Korean green tea.

Also keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming long review on Yunomi Japanese green tea, I meant to put it up in August but life got in the way.  My mum sent my tea set but not all my tea, so the fight to get a good quality tea set up continues but hopefully I will managed to finish soon (there were 12 teas in the pack I have already reviewed 9 but I want to publish them together for easy comparison).

Anyway hopefully I will be back to writing semi-regularly. I have a job now so I can’t blog as much as I used to but I hope to managed one post a week. We’ll see how it goes.

 

 

 

Teas I drink most, a top 10.

This is a list of my top ten teas based on what I actually drink the most of. Some of these are rarer or more expensive teas some of these are a lot more common. Based on what I drink the most of.

Also note this list is in no particular order I just couldn’t choose an absolute favourite. I could easily have done a top 20 (or top 100) but I would have had to write about each tea and I’m too lazy. I may release (depending on demand) a list of my top 100 teas.

1. Glenburn tea makers of London first flush Darjeeling

A black Darjeeling more reminiscent of a white tea the leaves produce a paler liquor than most Darjeelings and the taste is floral and sweet with a hint of citrus basically it combines everything I love about Darjeeling with everything I love about white tea

2. Tea pigs green tea and mint tea temples

A combination of Chunmee green tea from China and a peppermint leaves in a roughly 1:1 ratio. This is rather different from the other teas on my list as it is not loose leaf and it is also a blend while all the other teas in this top ten are pure tea leaf.

The tea temples are essentially larger pyrmaid shaped tea bags filled with loose leaf quality tea. This allows you to have the best of both worlds, the convenience of the tea bag with the taste of loose leaf. There are better quality green teas out there but this remains my favourite morning tea. I am so not a morning person and this tea is so convenient (heat water, pour into cup, add tea temple, done) when I am still half asleep and I find the mint helps wake me up.

Teapigs were what first got me into tea. I tried their Green tea and mint, their mao feng, their oolong and their Jasmine tea. I now tend to buy more expensive loose leaf from specialist sellers but I still enjoy their Oolong (though it just missed out on being on this list) but the Green tea and mint is still a firm favourite of mine.

3, Long jing dragon well

A very famous Chinese green tea and perhaps the most popular tea in China. Longjing dragon well is very mellow and balanced it also works well cold brewed or as an iced tea for summer. There is no astringency just a mellow smooth vegetal flavour.

4. Huo Shan Huang ya

A yellow tea from China. Yellow teas are less common than greens and not widely known in the UK. yellow teas undergo an extra step after pan frying which results in a mellow slightly creamy taste (it tastes a bit like a creamier Long Jing).

5. Bai mudan (white peony)

A popular white tea, stronger than the more subtle but more prized Yin Zhen. I love Yin Zhen (though it just missed out on this list in favour of bai mudan) but I prefer the stronger fruiter flavour of bai mudan. This is also a good gateway white tea if you want to try white tea for the first time as most white tea is more subtle than this.

6. Yin Zhen silver needle with Jasmine.

I know I just said Yin Zhen lost out to Bai mudan in my top ten but it also missed out to this. Yin Zhen flavoured with Jasmine, Jasmine tea is very popular in China and my favourite Jasmine tea is this as I love the balance between white tea and Jasmine and prefer it to all the Jasmine green teas I have tried (though Phoenix eyes Jasmine came close).

7. Nokcha

Korean green tea. “Cha” means tea (as it does in Chinese and Japanese) and “nok” means green. Korean nokcha is different from other green teas it is usally brewed at around 70-75 degrees and only for about a minute compared to the usual (though admittedly variable depending on the tea) 80 degrees for three minutes for most green teas. Nokcha has a light savoury taste that is difficult to describe it is a little like rice though the tea is far lighter than Genmaicha.

Unfortunately not much tea is imported from South Korea this is because most of their tea is for the domestic market. South Korea is a small country and as such the supply of tea is limited. This means South Korean tea is quite expensive.

8. Dong Ding Oolong

I drink a lot of oolongs but I rarely find one I will buy again and again in fact there are three; Dong Ding, Khao Hom fragrant rice oolong (see the honorable mentions) and Jin Xuan milk oolong. Dong Ding was the first oolong I ever tried. I loved it. It is still my favourite oolong and my go to for this category of teas.

9. Xu Long snow dragon

A Chinese green tea that is somewhere between a green and a white. It is very sweet naturally which is why I like it so much. I have a big sweet tooth and I am quite fat so obviously I need to stop eating so many sweet things. Making this tea gives me the taste of something sweet without the calories and also gives me something to do with my hands meaning I am less likely to go for cake (now if only I could find teas that taste like chips, pizza and ice cream).

10. Sencha

The most common tea from Japan almost all Japanese teas are made from Sencha (such as Genmaicha which is Sencha and rice) or a by product of Sencha productions (like Mecha or Hojicha).  This is why of all the Japanese green teas I had to put Sencha on my list. A good everyday drink (in fact when I lived in Japan I did drink it every day) and it is good cold or warm. Cold green tea is sold in bottles in Japan the same way fizzy drink is in the West. While I love most Japanese teas and probably drink more Genmaicha than I do pure Sencha the simple fact is without Sencha Genmaicha would not exist.

 

Honorable mentions:

Teas I wanted to include but just missed out.

Yin Zhen silver needle- A subtle sweet and fruity white tea and the most prized. I wanted at least one white tea on this list and to be honest though I drink quite a bit of Yin Zhen I drink Bai mudan more. The Jasmine version of this tea did make the list though as my favourite Jasmine.

Fen Yuan Phoenix eyes- A jasmine green tea that just lost out to Yin Zhen Jasmine on my list. I enjoy this tea a lot but my preference for white Jasmine teas means reach for the Yin Zhen Jasmine far more than this one. For more on Fen Yuan Phoenix eyes see my review of this tea.

Genmaicha- I do drink more Genmaicha than pure Sencha but as there is no Genmaicha without Sencha I felt the more popular tea deserved to be on the list. More information on Genmaicha coming up soon in my upcoming post about Japanese greens (as soon as my order from Japan gets here).

Khao hom fragrant rice oolong-This is an oolong from Thailand. It is flavoured with sticky rice in a pretty overpowering way. For the first 2-3 infusions all you can taste in the creamy vanilla and rice scent. By the third infusion the taste of the oolong underneath begins to emerge. This is one of those teas that but be infused several times to get the best out of it as the flavour profile begins to change. Just lost out to Dong Ding for me.

Yuchi wild shan cha- I have never had a green or white tea I didn’t like. I like about 75 per cent of the oolongs I try enough to at least finish my pack of tea even if I never buy more of that particular tea. With black teas I am more picky. I prefer Indian Darjeelings and Assama and Sri Lankan Ceylons. I rarely find black tea that is not from India or Sri Lanka that I like. Yuchi wild swan cha, a black tea from Taiwan is the exception. It is not too malty or astringent and has a clean finish and slight hint of honey, peaches and savoury flavours.

I’d love to hear what other people’s top ten are in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Darjeeling Phoobsering First flush

The third tea from my curious tea subscription box, guaranteed to be a big hit with me as I LOVE first flush Darjeeling.

As soon as I open the packet there is the typical floral scent characteristic of a Darjeeling. There leaves are tipping and dark as is typical for Darjeelings. I tend to prefer Darjeelings with greener leaves and while there is clearly green in there there is not as much as I tend to like.

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The leaves produce a golden brown liquor. With a floral and menthol aroma.

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The packaging as always for curious tea is very clear.

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Brewing method: 3-4 minutes at 90 degrees.

My brewing method: 5 minutes at 90 degrees

Taste: I have already stated how I tend to prefer greener Darjeelings so did wonder how this would taste I am not a fan of black teas that are too malty and in my experience darker Darjeelings tend to be quite malty. However I was pleasantly surprised. It is not as floral as some of my favourite Darjeelings like Glenburn or Rohini (see my comparison of tea makers of London Darjeelings post for more details) but there is still a distinct floral taste balanced with menthol and a hint of citrus there is a little bit of a malty taste but just enough to be pleasant without being overpowering.

Subsequent infusions: Darjeeling does not resteep as well as Chinese greens, whites, oolongs and pu-erhs do. I only got two mugs of tea out of one teaspoon full of leaves but this is typical of my experience with Darjeelings and not a fault with this particular Darjeeling. As always the second resteeping while still enjoyable to drink was not as good as the first steeping.

Conclusion: Less floral and more mineral like than my favourite Darjeelings yet the balance of the different flavours, the floral with the mineral, the slight malty taste is not overpowering and actually compliments the tea. I would definitely buy this one again in a larger quantity.

Recommended if you like: Darjeeling, Ceylon

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.