Review of Makaibari Estate Darjeeling 1st Flush Black Tea

8 of 105 of 55 of 587 of 100

I never cease to be amazed by what comes out of Makaibari estate.

The dry brownish leaves with a few greener leaves mixed in turn noticeably greener upon brewing--most of them become the color of a green tea, with a few olive-colored ones mixed in. The cup is a deep golden hue, no darker than some green teas.

Aroma is mildly vegetal, strongly honey-like, and somewhat floral. In spite of the light color, this tea carries a little pleasant bite with it. It's more bitter than I'd expect from the aroma, but without being astringent. The finish has a peppery quality, like a Yunnan Dian Hong, even though the overall quality is not at all like a Yunnan black tea.

This is much more like a lighter oolong (in the sense of resembling Darjeeling oolong, more so than Chinese or Taiwanese oolong)...even more so than a typical first-flush. The tea it is most similar to is, in my opinion, the Soureni Organic Oolong; it tastes more like that tea than any other first-flush black teas, or anything from Makaibari estate for that matter. But like Makaibari's other teas, this one is outstanding.

I've tried brewing this one several different ways. Unlike most black teas, this one works well for multiple infusions. If you use a generous amount of leaf (about one and a half teaspoons per cup) you can easily brew two very flavorful cups and possibly a third. I like two, using a 1 minute infusion and about a 3-5 minute infusion. A lot of the aroma comes out quickly so if using this technique, make the first infusion very short. Brewing once, I prefer a longer (3-5 min.) infusion...this tea does not acquire many unpleasant characteristics if you let it brew longer...however longer brewing times bring out that pleasant bite that I like so much. My favorite way to brew this is to use a little more leaf than normal and brew for a full 5 minutes...this makes it come out about as strong as an average black tea, but the aroma is intensely floral and complex.

Really outstanding. My favorite first flush tea yet. Not all that pricey when you consider the quality and the fact that Makabari has gone far above and beyond the requirements for organic certification. And there are more expensive first-flush Darjeelings that I've enjoyed less that do not have any of these sustainable features to their production!

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