This is a second flush tea. The flush refers to the season that the tea is picked. The tea plants first flush with new growth in early spring (February or March), and the second flush takes place later, in May. The leaves are larger, more mature, and so less tender. It is this season that the tea today comes from, and according to The Story of Tea by Mary Lou Heiss and Robert J. Heiss, this is when it releases a “‘muscatel,’ the dry, currant flavor for which Darjeeling teas are famous.” There are two more flushes, one in the monsoon season and another in October/November, the monsoon flush and the autumnal flush, respectively. The autumnal flush is the last picking of the year. (202-203)
The tea smells fruity and slightly chocolate-like in the tin. The leaves are small, but not choppy or broken. They are a dark brown with a gradation in color. When brewed they turn a greenish brown and it is here that I smell the currant, and in the cup especially. The color in the cup is a dark reddish brown. The flavor is rich, and I think I read somewhere that Darjeeling is meant to be had without milk. But I can’t.
So, the verdict on this tea? It’s different from what I’m used to, and I keep comparing everything to my breakfast-type teas. I need to stop doing that, and judge each tea alone on its own merits. I hate to sound like Ann Romney here, but this is hard! I like this tea, but it probably won’t go into heavy rotation.
You can get it here: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=62&cid=1000113