Review of Arya Ruby, Darjeeling First Flush 2014

7 of 104 of 53 of 573 of 100
Very GoodGoodReasonable

Very interesting tea! It's only my second Darjeeling and, so far, I think this will be my preferred style of black tea. It doesn't have the bitterness of most black teas, and this one has a light raisin-like flavor that works quite well with the delicately savory body of the tea. The aroma smells lightly of a licorice-like spice. Generally I'm not a fan of licorice, but it's subtle enough here that it works well as a scent.

I brewed this one a few times, always at 190 °F but with different steep times. My first cup with a fairly short steeping was subtle. My second brewing of that cup was accidentally brewed longer than I intended (maybe 7 minutes?) and didn't damage the flavor too much. I noticed a slight astringency that hadn't been in the first cup, but the overbrewing didn't cause any bitterness. I made a fresh cup this morning, steeped it about 6 minutes, and ended up with a slightly more robust cup that didn't feel overbrewed at all. So it seems to be a pretty forgiving tea regarding steep time, though I don't know how different temperatures affect it.

Due to the tightly crimped nature of the dry leaves, I left quite open gaps in my "teaspoon". This turned out to work well. You can get quite a good cup without a lot of leaves, and it still holds up to at least one resteeping. This mitigates the high sticker price a bit, which in addition to its good quality is why I scored it a 3 on value. Also, I enjoyed seeing the leaves spread from compacted strings to smooth, flat, whole leaves. The drama yet simplicity of this change caused the experience of watching the leaves to feel calming and philosophical moreso than with other teas I've tried. Though perhaps I simply need to make a point to do this more often.

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