Review of Arya Ruby, Darjeeling First Flush 2014

8 of 104 of 53 of 570 of 100

This tea was remarkable, but I don't think it suited my personal tastes as much as the other first flush teas I've sampled from Happy Earth Tea, both this year and last. I can see others liking it more though. Imagine a high-grade Chinese white tea with the typical Darjeeling muscatel nuances superimposed on it.

The dry leaf is long and curly, quite unlike the look of the other first flush teas. The leaf showed a mix of green, golden, and reddish-brown hues, and had an intensely nutty aroma, delightful to smell. Because it's so curly and completely intact, the leaf takes up a lot of space--note that the brewing instruction says a tablespoon of leaf.

Upon brewing, produces a cup that is nutty and floral, a hint of fresh grassy tones, and a strong suggestion of melon, reminiscent of silver needle white teas. Light-bodied and very refreshing. The resemblance to Chinese white teas, with the melony and floral tones of silver needle, and a few of the nutty tones of bai mu dan, is striking.

Clean, and cooling. If brewed stronger though, there's a faint aroma of candle wax that I find somewhat unpleasant.

Brews a second cup that is light and somewhat thin...also still tasting a lot like silver needle white tea, but darker in color, and with slightly more caramel tones. After this cup, the leaves were still aromatic but there wasn't enough flavor or body left to produce a third cup to my liking.

I tried varying the brewing temperature. At a higher temperature (near boiling) some of the aromatic complexities are lost, but greater astringency comes out, which I like because I think otherwise this tea is a bit thin-bodied. I also recommend steeping a little longer than Happy Earth does--some of their other teas will be far too bold if steeped longer, but this tea seems to infuse very slowly, and I thought was improved by a longer steeping time.

I'd recommend this tea to people who are a fan of bai hao yinzhen (silver needle) white teas, and I'd recommend avoiding it and sticking with the other first flushes from Happy Earth for people (like me) who are less a fan of that type of tea.

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