The first day of fall is only days away and here in New England, temps have dropped almost 20 degrees literally overnight. Even though fall is one of my most favorite seasons, spring is, too, and I’ve chosen a tea this morning that reminds me of those promising days when the soil is just warming up and the tea bushes have started their growth cycle. Yes, one of my most favorite teas – a first flush Darjeeling! This one is from the Makaibari estate, an organic, biodynamic, Fair Trade tea garden in northeast India.
I’ve written about it before here.
As the tea steeps (3 minutes in 212 F water) in my glass teapot, you can see the green bits of leaf that are a good indicator of its first flush designation. Some folks actually believe they’ve received a green tea when they look at the first flush leaf. Yes, it is processed as a black tea but it seems that this first leaf growth, or flush, retains its greenish color, unlike a second flush tea.
As I lift the lid of my teapot, a faint aroma of nuts arises from the light amber tea liquor.
My teapot wears a necklace of pearl bubbles that adorns its glowing, inviting color. As I pour my first cup, I also detect a whisper of ripe fruit.
What strikes me first and foremost about the flavor is its amazing smoothness. Usually, not always, first flushes exhibit a healthy level of astringency. While it is there in this tea, I might say that it is bright rather than astringent. There is also a honey-like sweetness and a bit of fruitiness that lingers in my mouth.
As I wave goodbye to the very last days of summer, I now look forward to cozy sweaters and dark, rich cups of tea. How about you?
Until next week, dear tea friends…
Let us, then, be up and doing
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow