Black Matcha from Pure Matcha

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:   Black

Where to Buy:  Pure Matcha

Product Description:

During the Song Dynasty in 11th century China, tea was consumed in powder form. Centuries later this innovative way of drinking black tea has been reinvented with our natural 100% Black tea powder or Black Matcha. Consumed just like traditional Green tea Matcha our Black Matcha is made from the finest Darjeeling and Assam tea leaves of India, and has a robust rich flavor. Higher in natural caffeine than a traditional cup of black tea, rivaling that of a cup of coffee. Except with Black Matcha there is no jittery crash. When you drink Black Matcha you get almost ten times more anti-oxidants and vitamins than a regular cup of tea, where the leaves are thrown away after brewing. Black Matcha is great for a healthy morning wake up.

Taster’s Review:

Now, I know what some of you Matcha purists out there are thinking… Matcha made from black tea leaves?  But don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!

This is delicious.  It tastes like a very strongly brewed Assam/Darjeeling blend, heavy on the Assam.  It has a lot of GUSTO.  It has the maltiness that you would expect from a good quality Assam with a hint of muscatel in the background that is desirable from a Darjeeling.

There is a faint savory bitter note to this, but I’ve got to tell you that I really expected it to be very bitter in a not-savory-but-bad-bitter way.  This isn’t like that at all.  It does, however, have a fair amount of astringency to it.  It is robust with a well-rounded flavor.

It is very creamy and when that is combined with the biscuit-y quality of it and the malt – well, it becomes rather rich and decadent!  But, make no mistake, this is A STRONG TEA… so if you’re sensitive to caffeine, or even if you aren’t, you should be careful not to drink this too late in the day.  However, if you are one who finds yourself dragging a bit in the morning (um… that would be ME), this is the Matcha for you!

There is also a whisper of spice in the background that I am finding rather intriguing, and a very nice undertone of sweetness that I enhanced a little sprinkling of raw Turbinado sugar. A really delicious – and DIFFERENT! – Matcha!

It prepares just like “regular” green Matcha:  First, I sifted the dry tea (which looks a bit like dry hot chocolate mix).  The water was slightly hotter than I would with a green Matcha.  The water wasn’t boiling, but, it was just under a boil, whereas with green Matcha, I bring it to just about 145 degrees F.  Add the water and whisk, and this froths up just like a green Matcha!

I think this would also be quite nice as a latte, in fact, I think I shall have my next cuppa with steamed milk instead of water to see how that works out!   I will update in the comments when I try it!  In the meantime, you should try this tea!

Darjeeling Tukdah TGFOP from Culinary Teas

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Darjeeling

Where to Buy:  Culinary Teas

Product Description:

Bright, lively and full of flavor. Has a lovely muscatel character with a hint of nuttiness, an excellent 1st flush Darjeeling.

Taster’s Review:

This is a very unusual Darjeeling.  It is almost like a combination of Darjeeling and Assam teas!  It has many of the characteristics I expect from a Darjeeling, but also some of the characteristics of a high quality Assam.  Interesting… very interesting, indeed!

I can immediately sense the muscatel – I can smell the wine-like notes as well as taste them.  But where this differs from a typical Darjeeling is that it isn’t as light-bodied.  This tea is a little more solid and strong.  Not quite as hefty as an Assam, but certainly not as sparkling as a Darjeeling.  This seems to fall somewhere in the middle, making for a delightful medium-bodied tea.

There is a delicious undertone of malt to this tea, as well as a lovely honey-caramel sweetness.  There is also a decidedly masculine note to this tea, almost “leathery” in presentation.  There is also a toothsome quality to it – which is quite different than most Darjeeling teas that I’ve encountered.  Like I said, this is really an unusual Darjeeling – unusual, but delicious.

This is a tea that I would recommend to the lovers of both Darjeeling and Assam.  It makes for a great morning tea for the Darjeeling fan, and a great late afternoon tea for the Assam enthusiast.  And for someone who just loves tea… you should really try this one!

Red Panda Picked Darjeeling from Chi of Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Chi of Tea

Product Description:

The Red Panda always picks freshest Darjeeling teas! The Red Panda is the mascot of the International Tea Festival in Darjeeling! This blend of farm fresh Darjeeling tea comes from the Red Panda’s personal stash of 2010 Second Flushes and 2010 Autumn Flushes. Creating a rich, yet balanced cup with rich notes of muscatel grapes and sweet florals.

Taster’s Review:

This is one of the very best – if not THE best – second flush Darjeeling teas I’ve encountered.  It is so incredible!

As some of you may know, I have been on a quest to find that “ideal” Darjeeling – one that matches that very first Darjeeling experience that I had several years ago.  I had come to the conclusion that I put that particular Darjeeling on such a high pedestal that no Darjeeling – no matter how good – could match it.  But now… I think I have found the Darjeeling that is worthy to take that coveted place.

Now, I’m not saying that this is the same Darjeeling … instead, I think this one is better.  I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a Darjeeling quite like this one.

It has such a lovely sweetness to it which is a perfect compliment to the muscatel of this Darjeeling.  The muscatel is fruity and slightly floral, with just a hint of musk.  This possesses that “Darjeeling” crispness but it is different because it doesn’t come across as astringent as other Darjeeling teas.  It is also a different crispness because this Darjeeling is not as light-bodied as a typical Darjeeling.  So while this does taste crisp and clean, it also has more body and substance to it.

There is no bitterness to this tea.  It is incredibly smooth and absolutely delicious.  The aftertaste leaves me with a pleasing muscatel essence and a hint of that honey-esque sweetness.  Truly a lovely experience, this Darjeeling!

This tea is available in very limited quantities.  At the time of this writing, there were only 14 samples left – and by the time this review publishes, it may be sold out (in which case, I’m sorry!)  A truly fantastic Darjeeling – I do hope that Chi of Tea is able to get more in stock!

Organic Darjeeling from Two Leaves and a Bud

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Two Leaves & a Bud

Product Description:

Strong but sensitive – we like that in a tea. These organic, golden orange pekoe tea leaves are grown on the rolling hills of Darjeeling, India. This rich drink evokes the quality tea from India, and we think its subtle astringency pairs perfectly with dessert.

Taster’s Review:

I’ve said it before:  I love Darjeeling tea.  It has such a lovely elegance to it that is reflected in its color, its aroma, and its flavor.

This Organic Darjeeling from Two Leaves and a Bud is a delightful Darjeeling – with a clean, almost crystal-like flavor that seems to sparkle on the tongue.  Is it any wonder why Darjeeling is often called the “Champagne” of tea?

The flavor has a lovely floral background and a somewhat woodsy tone to it.  It is slightly musky and has a clean fruit note that offers a slight sweetness to it.  The astringency is not overwhelming, but does leave the palate feeling slightly dry and clean … and ready for another sip!  This is a tea that I could probably drink all day long!

Having previously reviewed this tea, I can’t say that my opinion has changed much since that first tasting.  This is one of the finest Darjeeling teas I’ve encountered and it is offered in the convenience of Two Leaves and a Bud’s beautiful, silky tea sachets.

And, yes, I have many times stated that loose leaf is better than tea sachets.  That being said, I have never been disappointed by a tea from Two Leaves and a Bud!  They seem to be the exception to the rule!  The teas from this company are always top-notch – regardless of the sachet!

I really like this Darjeeling from Two Leaves & a Bud, and in a way, it sort of epitomizes what Two Leaves and a Bud is about for me.   High quality, delicious tea.

Darjeeling 2nd Flush (Margaret’s Hope Silver Moon) from Canton Tea Co.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black Darjeeling

Where to buy:  Canton Tea Co.

Product Description:

We are delighted to include this as one of our first examples of top grade Indian tea. It is a magnificent high grown Darjeeling from Margaret’s Hope, a tea garden that’s known and loved the world over. The long twisty leaves are a delightful mix of chocolate and copper browns with an abundance of silvery tips. It produces a bright gold liquor with a malty aroma, a well rounded flavour and a sweet, fruity aftertaste. This fresh, brisk tea denotes a well-produced, high grade Darjeeling. We only have a few kilos and then there is no more available – anywhere.

Taster’s Review:

I love Canton Tea Company!  Every time I have one of their amazing teas, I become more impressed by them.  Quite simply, they carry some of the very best teas available!

This Second Flush Darjeeling is a perfect example of what I mean.  Produced in the Margaret’s Hope tea garden, this Darjeeling is so delicious!  To say that this Darjeeling is different would be an understatement.  First of all, we have the dry leaves which are quite long and elegant in appearance.  Most Darjeeling teas tend to be chopped rather small.  But not this one.

The brewed liquor possesses a light yet pleasing fragrance.  It smells fresh with notes of fruit and distant hints of flower.  Quite lovely.  But the most remarkable thing about this tea is the flavor.  It is one of the very best Darjeeling teas I’ve yet to taste – and I’ve tasted quite a few.

There is a malty overtone to the cup – which is a flavor that I don’t usually get from Darjeeling tea, but I’m tasting it now.  It’s a rather remarkable surprise, indeed!

The taste is clean and crisp and there is very little astringency to this particular Darjeeling (another nice surprise, as I usually find Darjeeling tea to have a bit more astringency than this).  There is a sweet undertone to this that is honey-like in flavor.  Melded with the honey-like tones is a delicious fruit flavor that tastes a bit like grapes.

The second infusion is just as delicious as the first.  It doesn’t have the same malty note that I got in the first infusion.  Instead, I’m getting a stronger taste from the honey tones as well as a more pronounced fruity flavor – this time I can taste hints of currant and even a little bit of crisp apple!

Overall, the flavor is a complex, vibrant cup that I am really enjoying.  I recommend this highly to all Darjeeling enthusiasts… I may have just found the ULTIMATE when it comes to Darjeeling!

Darjeeling Green Tea from Shanti Tea

Tea Type: Green Tea

Where To Buy: Shanti Tea

Product Description:

Rare Darjeeling Green , light, natural aroma and subtle flavor.

This rare Darjeeling green tea is cultivated at about 7000ft in the Himalayas, at the renowned Makaibari Estate, the oldest (est. 1859) and most respected tea estate in the world, and also the world’s first biodynamically cultivated tea garden. This exquisite green tea has a light amber color, a mild, natural aroma and subtle flavor, with delicate floral hints.

Tasters Review:

I haven’t been this excited about a plain green tea in a LONG time!  I swear Shanti made this tea especially for me!  So I will take this time to say THANK YOU Shanti Tea!!

Darjeeling Green Tea from Shanti Tea is a medium strength green tea but it’s pretty equal in all aspects of grassy, buttery, sweet, juicy, mouth-watering, floral, and it’s VERY smooth.  I guess one could say that this Darjeeling Green Tea from Shanti Tea didn’t play any favorites when it comes to one taste over the other and I am fine with that.  Everything works out and plays nice with each other.   There is a pleasant aftertaste which really makes me smile!

This is a really nice tea!

I REALLY REALLY LIKE THIS TEA!

HEY!  Did I mention, I like this tea?

Tiger Hill, OP from Praise Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Praise Tea

Company Description:

A likeable, medium-bodied tea good both with and without the addition of milk.

Taster’s Review:

Something very odd about this tea when I first began to brew it and with my first sips… it was very much like a Darjeeling!  The tea leaf looks a bit like a Darjeeling, as does the brewed liquor, and the taste had a very Darjeeling-esque quality to it.  I even noted a bit of muscatel in the flavor.  The astringency was a bit lighter than in a typical Darjeeling, but, it was still quite similar to Darjeeling.

As the tea cooled slightly in my cup, I noticed that the tea began to take on more characteristics of a Nilgiri.  It developed a bolder flavor, and that which I tasted as muscatel before became more of a citrus-y note in my cup.  Like I said, it was very odd!

Anyways… my odd experience aside,  this is a very enjoyable cup.  It has a pleasant brisk flavor to it.  The citrus-y notes give it a clean, bright flavor.  As I mentioned previously, there is a light astringency to the cup which leaves my mouth feeling cleansed but it is not an overly drying sensation.  A very smooth, robust tea.

This tea would be perfect as an afternoon tea or a lighter option for a morning tea.  Although the company description suggests it with or without milk, I quite prefer this without milk.  It also has a natural sweetness to it and doesn’t need sweetener.

A delicious, well-rounded tea!

2nd Flush Darjeeling – Margarets Hope Silver Moon from Canton Tea Company

Tea Type: Black Tea

Where To Buy: Canton Tea Company

Product Description: We are delighted to include this as one of our first examples of top grade Indian tea. It is a magnificent high grown Darjeeling from Margaret’s Hope, a tea garden that’s known and loved the world over. The long twisty leaves are a delightful mix of chocolate and copper browns with an abundance of silvery tips. It produces a bright gold liquor with a malty aroma, a well rounded flavour and a sweet, fruity aftertaste. This fresh, brisk tea denotes a well-produced, high grade Darjeeling. We only have a few kilos and then there is no more available – anywhere.

Tasters Review:

These leaves are so fun!  They have quite the personality!  Long, thin, windy, twisty, brown-grey leaves.  The aroma is quite memorable with a malty and almost chewy scent – moreso than any Darjeeling I have tried.

The taste is one to remember, too!  Fairly bold and full but less astringent than most Darjeelings I have tried.  It also leaves you with a pleasant and semi-sweet aftertaste.

I must say this is one of my favorite Darjeelings to date!  Very unique and leaves me wanting more!

 

Blackberry Fig from The Jasmine Pearl

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  The Jasmine Pearl

Company Description:

Organic, light-bodied Darjeeling black tea blended with organic anise seed and sweet fig and blackberry natural flavors. This fragrant and gently sweet tea is excellent in the mid-afternoon, perhaps accompanied by a scone.

Ingredients:

Indian Black Tea*, Anise Seed*, Natural Flavors.

*Organically Grown.

Taster’s Review:

When I found this tea at a Made In Oregon store, I knew I had to buy it!  First of all, I love supporting local businesses.  Second, after smelling the anise, blackberry and fig aroma of this tea (they had little “smelling” jars on the shelves so that we could experience the fragrance before buying!), my mouth began to water – right there in the store!  Finally, as if I needed further persuasion (I didn’t), it was a flavored Darjeeling tea!

I mean, seriously… how could I go wrong with this tea?

This is a delightful afternoon tea.  I say “afternoon” tea, because, well, I find Darjeeling to be just a little to “light” for morning.  In the morning, I need something with a bit of vigor… something that is going to help me shake the remnants of sleep and help get me going!

This… isn’t that tea.  But what Darjeeling lacks in “vigor,” it more than makes up for with its light and refreshing taste.  And that lightness is just right for this blend.

The muscatel of the Darjeeling complements the fruit flavors of the fig and blackberry (which seem to be more of a unified flavor, rather than two separate fruit tastes, which results in a very smooth, deliciously sweet fruit essence).  The anise is also sweet… and is a very delicate note of licorice-like flavor that seems to wash over the palate throughout the sip and linger just ever-so-slightly in the finish.

I adore this tea.  When served hot, it makes a great little pick-me-up to help with those afternoon blahs… and when served iced, it is perfectly refreshing and light!  Delicious!

Earl Grey Blue Star from Herbal Republic

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Herbal Republic

Company Description:

Contains black tea, blue cornflowers and bergamot extract.

Soothing blend of selected darjeeling, blue cornflowers and bergamot extract.

Taster’s Review:

As I’ve stated on Steepster, this is a masculine Earl Grey.  While I think that Earl Grey should probably be masculine, because it is named after Earl Grey… and yet some Earl Grey teas that I’ve tried (and I’ve tried quite a few!) come off a bit flowery and are a bit more feminine than the name would suggest.

But, not this tea.  This is why I would call a masculine Earl Grey – and tastes the way I would expect an Earl Grey to taste:  fresh, bright, bold and daring!

I think it’s the Darjeeling tea.  The muscatel qualities of the Darjeeling meld together quite nicely with the bergamot, and give it a different flavor than a typical Earl Grey.  Bergamot, as many of you probably already know, is a fruit – an Italian orange, to be precise.  And while it does offer a citrus-y punch to Earl Grey blends, it also has a somewhat flowery note to it that often gives Earl Grey teas a somewhat feminine flavor… or at the very least, a more androgynous flavor.

But the muscatel of the Darjeeling – that slightly woodsy, musky note – seems to unite with the bergamot to offset some of the more flowery tones to the fruit, and allow the distinctive citrus flavors to shine through.  The result is a taste that is brisk and pungent:  very pleasant with a slightly sharp edge and not at all floral.

This Earl Grey is delicious and refreshingly different.  I prefer it hot (as I do with most Darjeeling teas) but it is also quite good chilled, although the flavors are a bit softer in the cold tea.  It is good without sweetener; however, if you choose to ice it, I do recommend adding a little sweetener to give the flavors a little more gusto.   A very good Earl Grey!

Bengal Beauty from East Pacific Tea Co.

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  White Darjeeling

Where to Buy:  East Pacific Tea Co.

Company Description:

A delightful Darjeeling from the rich soils of the Indian mountains. The subtle taste and delicate scent of this rare tea makes it one of India’s best kept secrets.

Taster’s Review:

This is a most unusual Darjeeling.  And when I say unusual, I mean that in the very best way possible.  This tea is sublime!

I don’t recall ever encountering a Darjeeling tea that was categorized as a white leaf.  The dry leaves themselves are very unusual, and at first glance I would have never guessed that these were Darjeeling tea leaves.  Some variation of golden Yunnan, perhaps.  Or maybe some twisted variation of the Silver Needle.  The leaves possess the green/brown color like a Darjeeling, but the colors are much lighter than usual, and they have tips – silvery, fuzzy tips!

But the taste – oh yes!  That is Darjeeling!  A delicious, delightful Darjeeling.

The flavor is light, crisp and refreshing.  These are all typical traits of a good quality Darjeeling tea, but, this one is just a little lighter.  Just a little crisper.  Just a little more refreshing.  It’s very lovely, indeed.

The muscatel that Darjeeling lovers look for is there, too.  It is a pleasant musky, almost wine/grape-like flavor.   This tea possesses an earthy nature that is woodsy but not rustic.  There are floral notes as well, with a hint of fruit that lingers in the background.   It is beautifully complex and seems to sparkle on the palate.

Darjeeling is a tea that I prefer hot because I feel like the flavors and the complex layers are better enjoyed when the tea is hot.  As the tea cools, those layers of flavors become somewhat muddied and dull, and much of that complexity is lost.  It is also a tea that is best served straight with no milk or sugar.  It has its own pleasant sweetness that would be overwhelmed by the addition of anything else… although sometimes a very thin slice of lemon is quite nice and brings out some of the fruitier notes of this tea.

This is one of the finest Darjeeling teas that I’ve ever tried, and one I would recommend to all tea lovers, especially those who are curious about learning more about Darjeeling teas.  The subtle nature of this tea would be a nice way to introduce some of the unique characteristics of a Darjeeling tea.  And if you’re a Darjeeling aficionado like me, you’re in for a treat with this tea.  It’s an absolute MUST  TRY.

Darjeeling Goomtee from LeafSpa

Tea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  LeafSpa

Company Description:

This Darjeeling from the organic tea division of the Goomtee estate is a fine-looking classic of chestnut leaves with golden accented tips. A light honey muscatel flavor and a balanced nutty briskness linger as a delightful aftertaste.

Origin of Primary Ingredient: India
Certified Organic Tea: Yes

Taster’s Review:

I enjoy a good cup of Darjeeling.  The problem is that it’s not always easy to find a good cup of Darjeeling.

Actually, there are a lot of *good* Darjeeling teas out there, there just aren’t a lot of Darjeeling teas that stand out above and beyond what I would call an ordinary Darjeeling.  And I guess that is always what I’m looking for – an outstanding Darjeeling tea.

I guess that is always what I’m looking for – an outstanding Darjeeling tea.

This Darjeeling is outstanding.

It has a delightful honey-like taste to it that comes off as sweet but not sickeningly so.  Very clean and crisp tasting with a strong, exhilarating astringency.  The nutty quality that the above description eludes to is a very pleasant contrast to the somewhat wine-like muscatel taste of this Darjeeling.  One of the more complex Darjeeling teas that I’ve encountered – and as Darjeeling teas are usually complex – that says something!

LeafSpa’s teas are all organic.  While that isn’t always the deciding factor for me of where I buy a tea, I do prefer to buy organic and I’m glad that LeafSpa is dedicated to providing the highest quality organic teas available.

If you like Darjeeling tea, you should really give this one a try.  You can thank me later!

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