Darjeeling, “the champagne of teas”, is notoriously easy to start a love affair with. It could be that this delicate rarity captures exactly what is appealing and pleasurable about tea. Like champagne, Darjeeling takes the name of its region and can’t be produced anywhere else. This region happens to be in the remote, rolling hills of West Bengal, where only the most delicate leaves are picked and tossed by hand.
The 1st and 2nd crops of spring (or “flushes”) are highly sought after and tend to be expensive. And then there’s this: our second flush Biodynamic Darjeeling. Hailing from the Makaibari estate, it is best steeped at the (relatively) low temperature of 180°F.
You can also brew it in the fridge (8+ hours) for a refined and cooling iced tea. The result is a pale amber, just as distinctive in taste as in color. It is round, rich, astringent, and leaves a noticeable dryness. Darjeeling iced tea may be uncommon, but it is definitely worthwhile!
There are many black teas that compare well with Darjeeling, and I don’t believe in such thing as a “control” when it comes to trying tea. So, I wanted something different and settled on Art of Tea’s Ancient Forest. Each leaf is hand-picked from ancient trees in the Blue Mountains of Yunnan province, China.
Once steeped (in the exact same conditions as the Darjeeling), it becomes clear that these two teas have little in common. Much darker in color, the Ancient Forest releases a smoky aroma. Full and bold, this better resembles iced tea as we know it (albeit much more earthy than anything you’ll find at your local supermarket).