Tea: Singbulli Darjeeling DJ41

A Darjeeling First Flush from Harney and Sons

This tea has been retired/discontinued.

Picture of Singbulli Darjeeling DJ41
Brand:Harney and Sons
Style:Darjeeling First Flush
Region:Darjeeling, India
# Ratings:3 View All

Review of Singbulli Darjeeling DJ41

10 of 105 of 55 of 5100 of 100

After brewing this tea several times, I cautiously dole out yet another perfect score, the second one for a black tea.

Michael Harney sent me this sample after reading a post I wrote on my tea blog about black teas I found interesting, and I can't help but wonder if he hand-picked this one based on my descriptions, because it fits nearly exactly with the qualities that I like most in black teas.

The dry leaf is very green in color, greener than a lot of green tea, and has a pungent aroma suggestive of spice, Christmas cookies, and clean earth--quite different from how the brewed cup tastes.

The Harney and Sons description, I think, does not do this tea justice--I'm not sure I would call it mellow. You can brew it so as to make it mellow, but using a standard amount of leaf I found it quite strong, although light in color and with a greener character, it also exhibits some qualities that I usually only encounter in Assam or Kenyan teas.

The aroma is very complex, with a lot of different things going on: a strong, complex fruitiness, much more than the typical muscatel grape; Harney's description of "darker" tropical fruit aromas is a good way of putting it, I think. I also notice some vegetal tones, almost like asparagus but more pleasant, and a strong honey-like quality. There is also a pungent, herbaceous quality. And, upon drinking about a third of the cup, a strong wintergreen quality emerges, along with a malty quality that is unusual for Darjeelings...imagine a strong Assam or Kenyan tea but much lighter. This tea's overall character is actually strongly reminiscent of the Royal Tajiri Tea from Royal Tea of Kenya, which I said reminded me of a Darjeeling. The tea also has some interesting nuances that I find hard to describe...one reminded me of stone on a cold winter day, another reminded me of pan-fired green teas from Zhejiang province. I feel a little silly writing these things, but they're what is popping into my head as I'm drinking.

I feel like I'm already writing too much about this tea, but it just has so much going on that I can't stop.

I tried brewing this tea gong fu style, with more leaf and many brief infusions, and I found that this process separated the different elements of aroma, with the vegetal and fruity elements coming out mostly in the first infusions, the more typical black tea aromas showing up in intermediate infusions, and the herbaceous qualities coming out later on. The tea retained a greener character through all infusions. Although this process was interesting, I prefer brewing the tea as Harney recommends: a straight 5 minute infusion.

When brewed this way, I found this tea to be very full-bodied. It is not bitter, and has very low astringency, but it still struck me as strong, almost overwhelming; I recommend using a little less leaf than you normally would. The flavor is even slightly sweet. Something in this tea also has a slight numbing effect on the palate...by the end of the cup my mouth is more than a bit tingly.

And even after brewing for 5 minutes, the leaves still have some flavor left in them!

So bottom line? This tea was exceptional. And because it is so flavorful, the leaf goes farther than you would think--Harney says 2 ounces brews 20-30 cups but I think this is a conservative estimate, so this tea is more of a deal than you might think.

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