Review of Risheehat, Darjeeling Black Tea, First Flush 2014

10 of 105 of 55 of 597 of 100

A delightful, very green Darjeeling of the highest quality, sweet, aromatic, and reminiscent of summer.

Reviewing Happy Earth's Teas is always a delightful pleasure...the question is usually, is this going to be among the best of the best teas I've ever sampled? Or is it just going to be a really, really, really freaking good tea? I'd say this is among the best of the best.

The dry leaf of this tea smells perhaps the best of any tea I have ever smelled. It has a wonderful aroma, mellow, fruity, and grainy, with a certain quality that I have never encountered before in Darjeeling teas--only in high grade Chinese and Japanese teas, like Gyokuro or some Chinese green teas. It's a soft fragrance that suggests sweetness.

Upon brewing, the tea smells even more wonderful...fresh vegetal and floral scents emerge. I thought this particular tea was outstanding last year, but this year's batch is noticeably more aromatic. Towards the end of the cup, a minty note emerges, suggestive of spearmint--this was also absent in last year's batch.

I've drunk this tea a few times and each time I notice more in the aroma. There's a faint suggestion of sweet peppercorns

The flavor is very similar to last year...there's a pleasant astringency, characteristic of most first flush Darjeeling, and the flavor has a honey-like sweetness, paired with a modest bitterness.

I found this to be a sipping spite of the light color and sweet flavor, it was rather potent, and best enjoyed very gradually. Nectar-like, with an explosion of floral aromatics in each sip.

I was able to brew a second cup, which was completely different from the first, but unfortunately, not quite as enjoyable. The floral tones are lost, but this cup had an interesting herbaceous pungency, with a peppery quality. A shadow of the first cup emerges in the finish, hinting at what was once there, but I mainly get a few fleeting caramelly tones in the aroma. Somewhat watery, pleasant to drink but tastes open, somewhat empty, as if missing something.

Even if this tea only keeps its best flavor through a single cup, it is still absolutely exquisite. It also was not particularly picky about brewing temperature...I tried near-boiling water, and slightly cooler water, and it seemed to taste nearly the same each way. That's a plus for me, as are the organic, fair trade, and rainforest alliance certifications. The price seems very fair for a tea of such exceptional quality.

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