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twiggles

Indian Teas - Assam, Nilgiri, Darjeeling...

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I've recently been trying different brands of Darjeeling tea, and noticed a big difference in taste. Can anyone recommend any particular brands (or web stores) to try?

Thanks! :biggrin:

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For my money Upton Teas has a wide selection and consistently excellent quality. I've been ordering from them for several years now.

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For my money Upton Teas has a wide selection and consistently excellent quality.  I've been ordering from them for several years now.

yes you are correct-

www.kyelateas.com

i also enjoy trying darjeelings from upton as well-

my favorite s are the first flushes-

www.lepalaisdesthes.com also has a good selection of darjeelings, too.

joanne

:biggrin:

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First flush Darjeelings generally have a freshness & pungency that you don't find in other pickings. I tend to prefer them too. Castleton is one of my favorite gardens.

Second flushes can develop a richness & complex character that will never happen with a first flush. They'll make mellower, less pungent cup. Sometimes I'm just in the mood for that particular taste. Margaret's Hope usually has an excellent second flush.

Then there's Golden Nepal, which is like a Darjeeling but subtly different.....


Edited by ghostrider (log)

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Then there's Golden Nepal, which is like a Darjeeling but subtly different.....

i do enjoy golden nepal. where do you get yours?

thanks for the first/second flush descriptions. :smile:

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Cut out the middle man and buy from source. In this case, the source is Makabari tea estate, considered by some to be one the best tea estates in the Darjeeling region:

http://www.silvertipstea.com

My personal favorite is their Makaibari Second Flush FTGFOP1S

I am just a satisfied customer and have no affiliation with them...

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House of Tea is my favorite source. It's great quality, it's walking distance from my house and the shop smells SO good!

The teas are wonderful and they are the source for every decent restaurant in Philadelphia as well as other cities that ship in their products.

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House of Tea is my favorite source.  It's great quality, it's walking distance from my house and the shop smells SO good!

But boy they are pricey!

For instance, on this page: http://www.houseoftea.com/category.html their Makaibari Estate FTGFOP-I is listed at $72.00 per lb!!!!

Same Tea is available from http://www.silvertipstea.com from $23.00 per lb.

Am I missing something or House of Tea really selling it at more than 3 times the price?

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Same tea runs approx. $53 per lb from Upton Teas (Upton uses metric quantities so it's a rough price conversion).

But note that Upton has 4 different varieties of Makaibari FTGFOP1S - two first flushes & two seconds - at slightly different prices.

I presume that these represent pickings from different areas of the Estate, perhaps picked at slightly different times.

Whether House of Tea has the best Makaibari ever, or is simply charging what the traffic will bear, can only be decided by tasting, & that's a pricey decision.

It's a bit odd that House of Tea lists Sikkim under Darjeeling, & Nilgiri under Ceylon - not too far off, flavour-wise, but they're not the same regions.

The prices at SilverTips seem quite good, though a couple of their Assams are pretty expensive. That particular Makaibari may be a genuine bargain, or it may be from a picking that's getting old.

At Upton I've found that you generally get what you pay for. In the end it all comes down to personal taste; sometimes the premium on the more expensive varieties seems worth it, sometimes not. You never really know until you try.

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Try Silver Tips Tea Room, Anupa Mueller Proprietor; she imports the Makaibari range of organic teas; first flush as well as the special silver tips are excellent

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Castleton First Flushes are my personal favorite. Usually pricey, but I've never had regrets, wherever I've bought it.

I'm sure that Upton's is sterling. I forget whether I've tried theirs.

In the early 1990s, before the days of Net commerce, when good tea was hard to find in these parts, I used to bring back a suitase full of the stuff (not only Castleton) from Buder's Tea Parlor in St. Moritz, Switzerland.

On one trip, on re-entering the US at JFK, the customs agent who inspected my bags turned out to have been a tea taster for the American Tea Council. He was as surprised as I was to find a fellow tea fanatic in those circumstances. We had a brief but quite nice discussion of Darjeeling & Assam tea gardens.

Sorry for wandering off on another tangent, but you just sparked a flood of memories with that question.

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I haven't yet, and not much budget this year, but I'm trying to figure out where I might source a reasonable first flush Longjing or sencha (gyokuro is outta' my league this year!). I've been keeping an eye on the In Pursuit of Tea website, as I know they travel a lot this time of year.

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I have a tea from Thunderbolttea that is described as a Darjeeling china or china grade tea. I thought all tea from Darjeeling was originally from china. Does this mean it's an oolong tea or what?

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I have a tea from Thunderbolttea that is described as a Darjeeling china or china grade tea.  I thought all tea from Darjeeling was originally from china.  Does this mean it's an oolong tea or what?

Good question. Can you tell us exactly which tea it is on their site? Or give a link?

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Thanks. I think they are simply distnguishing the small leaf Chinese variety grown for Darjeeling from the large leaf Asssam tea leaves more common in India. The leaves can be processed to different levels of oxidation, but there does not appear to be anything in their content describing their various Darjeelings that states specifically how they are processed. They indicate which flush from which estate, but calling it Chinese alone does not tell us whether it was processed toward the lighter or darker end of the spectrum. But I find the term "China-hybrid" they use to be a little confusing.

I know a few people who who have traveled the tea areas of India and who know more about Darjeelings and Indian teas in general than I do. I'll talk to them and see if I can add anything more to clear this up.

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Thanks for your reply and in advance for your research. I did some more myself and came up with a similar idea--that there are 2 types of bushes--the indigenous Indian variety and those imported from China. I'm guessing the China-hybrid is a hybrid of both or two Chinese varieties?

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Thanks for your reply and in advance for your research.  I did some more myself and came up with a similar idea--that there are 2 types of bushes--the indigenous Indian variety and those imported from China.  I'm guessing the China-hybrid is a hybrid of both or two Chinese varieties?

Yes. I agree. Those are the two best guesses about what the hybrid means. If it is [art indineous, the question is whether such a hybrid is considered a true Darjeeling, since there is apparently a huge problem with fake Darjeeling on the market.

Is this the first time you have ordered from this purveyor? How long did it take to reach you?

So, how do you like this tea, whatever it represents.

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It took about a month. I enjoy the tea. I put it in my middle category, which is teas I'll finish every leaf of but not reorder, which is good because it's sold out and not available anymore. This was my second time ordering from them. I had ordered something like 4 darjeelings and this was my favorite, so I ordered another batch. It's a 2007 Sungma China Classic. The description of the 2008 Sungma Delight in the link I posted has some similarity. Mine is very buttery and somewhat sweet but I wouldn't describe it as sugary or limey. Mine is also somewhat green when infused. The other teas I ordered from them tasted a little stale--as though the month of travel didn't do them any good, but for some reason this one came through fine both times. I like it best cold-brewed. It brings out what I call the over-tones, though I don't think that's an official tea term.

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Try to go to the TOCKLAI research station website

Director General

TRA, Tocklai Experimental Station Jorhat -785 008

Assam, India

Tel: (91)-(0376-360467)

Fax : (91)-(0376-360474)

e-Mail : TRATOK@ASM.NIC.IN

"A species-specific primer was also developed for distinguishing between the Assam and China type tea cultivars.

Amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) markers were also studied in depth to detect diversity and genetic differentiation of several important tea clones, including the famous `Darjeeling tea', mainly to protect cultivars for intellectual property rights purposes."

Tapan Kumar Mondal

Centre for Advance Study in Tea Science and Technology

Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidalaya, India

mondaltk@rediffmail.com

D. Singh: Advances in tea breeding in north-east India. Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Symposium on Plantation Crops : p. 88-106 (1984).

Barua, D. N. 1963. Characteristics of Tocklai released clones. Two Bud 10:26-28.

[ Two Buds & A Leaf = Journal published by the Indian Tea Industry, get article by Inter-library loan request]

Wight, W. 1956. Commercial selection and breeding of tea in India. World Crops8:263-268.

Wight, W. 1958.The agrotype concept in tea taxonomy. Nature 181:893-895.

Wight, W. 1959. Nomenclature and classification of the tea plant. Nature 183:1726-1728.

Wight, W. 1962. Tea classification revised. Curr. Sci. 31:298-299.

Wight, W., and R. C. J. H. Gilchrist. 1961a. The concept of kind of tea. Nature 191:14-16.

Tea Breeding & Germplasm Evaluation [ 2005-6?], published by

Dr. N.K. Jain

Secretary, International Society of Tea Science

Resident Editor, International Journal of Tea Science

A-298, Sarita Vihar ,

New Delhi 110076, India

Website: http://www.teascience.org

Email: teascience@gmail.com

See also my post in the Tea Rooms of America thread about Makaibari & other Darjeeling teas sold by Silver Tips

http://www.silvertipstea.com/fusionecommerce/browse/

After many years of searching, I happened upon this place, clued in by another Indian. Super selection, gracious, superb service, a great relief from the HUGELY overpriced vendors elsewhere. It is unnecessry to add that I have NO commercial connections, merely great satisfaction to escape the stranglehold of insane, extortionate pricing I had experienced elsewhere and receive only the very finest quality teas: Darjeeling, and all other Indian, Nepalese and Lankan. Enormous selection, very knowedgeable owner, the sister-in law of the Makaibari planter.

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Has anyone ordered or brewed any 2009 spring Darjeelings? I understand they may not be as great as last years', many of which were terrific.

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andiesenji posted the follwing in the What Tea Are You Drinking Today topic.

This morning I brewed a pot of Meleng FTGFOT, one of the Assams from Special Teas.

I like the malty flavor of Assams and this one has the characteristics but not as pronounced as other Assams.

Unlike most Assams, I like this one without milk.  It is very aromatic and has a lingering aftertaste that is very pleasant and complimentary to savory breads.

A couple of days ago I brewed a pot of the Mangalam FTGFOT, also from Special Teas, which has a more pronounced malty flavor, fruity and slightly spicy, a very faint hint of pepper. 

I prefer this one with milk and one of the raw sugars - although it needs less sweetening than many teas.

It is a terrific complement to almost any type of food, especially the stronger-flavored meats and goes beautifully with hearty cheeses.

Also wonderful with sweet pastries, cakes, scones, etc.

Both of these teas are somewhat expensive but both can be infused multiple times and I use half the amount I would require for other, less full-bodied teas, so they are quite economical when brewed this way.

I brewed both for only 90 seconds for the first infusion - that produced an excellent flavor, beautiful color and quite enough strength for my taste.

Thanks for the detailed comments, andiesenji. I agree, higher quality teas are more expensive per ounce, but generally no more expensive per cup due to their capacity for making numerous infusions. How many infusions did you get out of these Assam's and how many do you usually get with an average one?

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I got four infusions from both Assams. Usually I can get three from most full-leaf blacks, the broken-leaf and CTC will produce two good infusions.

After each infusion has been drained from the leaves, I use a fork to "toss" them so they separate a bit instead of remaining in a solid clump.

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