The first month of spring has entered on a wintry note as we are experiencing a blast of snow here in New England. This morning I am sipping a cup of Darjeeling black tea from the Arya estate called Arya Ruby.
Located in the lower range of the Himalayan mountains in northeast India, the Darjeeling district is home to many tea estates or “gardens” and is famous for the beautiful tea it produces. Called the “champagne of tea”, Darjeeling tea is prized for its delicate aroma and “muscatel” flavor notes. The Calcutta Tea Association defines the “muscatel” flavor as being “reminiscent of vineyards”, meaning a flavor like grapes and wine.
I was in awe as I gently smoothed the large, intact leaves out on my dish. I have read that this tea is produced from superior clonal bushes, meaning that they start a new tea plant from the cuttings of tea bushes that have produced remarkable teas. I believe that most of the tea bushes grown in Darjeeling originated from China bushes, called China “jat”.
The aroma of the dry leaf is very nutty. Since the leaf is so big, I used 2 teaspoons per cup (6 oz.) and steeped for 3 minutes in boiling water. The flavor is very characteristic Darjeeling with the fruit, muscat flavor note. I just finished my first cup so it’s time to go make another cup. It’s still snowing…