- Arya Estate Background
- Arya Darjeeling Preparation
I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of this tea for weeks now! I knew I would be in for a treat because it happens every year. Arya has never let me down! When my shipment finally arrived I could hardly wait to tear into it! I opened the bag and was overwhelmed with the aroma of fresh ripe oranges with a subtle floral and nutty accent. As is usually the case with first flush Diamond, there was also a hint of dark chocolate. I am always taken aback by the intoxicating aroma of this exquisite tea!
Arya's Spring Diamond is made in very limited quantities and only by demand so our supply is extremely limited in the best of years. This year, however, first flush was off to a very slow start. There were no Christmas rains followed by drought conditions early in the season. Even as late at March 15th all but one tea garden appeared practically dormant. When the rain finally came it was accompanied by cold, gloomy conditions. Fortunately, the sun finally came out by the end of March to warm things up and by the first of April the tea bushes started to flush. The good news is that we have a first flush Diamond. The bad news is that the limited quantities are even more limited due to the short season.
I first ordered this first flush Diamond in 2014 for my personal collection. I usually go for Arya's famous first flush Ruby, but after experiencing their Spring Diamond I knew I had to have it again! First flush Darjeeling teas are prized for their light brisk flavor that is ever so delicate, yet mildly intense. They are highly aromatic and rich in complexity.
The Arya Estate names all of their teas after precious jewels. It goes without saying that their Spring Diamond is the cream of the crop, the best of the best. Spring Diamond is carefully hand-plucked solely from the prized AV2 cultivar from the highest section of the estate where the slow growth concentrates the juices and nutrients in the leaf resulting in the most complex flavors and aromas. The dry leaf is a bit longer than the normal classic graded Darjeeling first flush leaf, and it has an attractive bloom due to an abundance of fine gold and silver downy hairs on the leaves. The leaves are elongated and wiry, well rolled and twisted in various shades of brown with a hint of green. The profusion of silver and golden tips is evidence of the remarkable handling during processing. The rich aroma of the dry leaf is a complex mixture of ripe oranges laced with dark chocolate and a hint of caramel with floral and nutty undertones.
The infused leaf opens beautifully to reveal the original size of the tea leaf. It has a lively brown color with the golden and silver tips turning a pale yellow. The leaf set of one and two leaves and a bud is fully intact--once again, evidence of the superior handling during processing. The infused leaf has a sweet aroma with a hint of citrus and mint together with complex nutty, floral, and fruity nuances.
The liquor is slightly darker than the classic clonal first flush Darjeelings. Diamond has a light and bright golden brew that is brisk and mildly astringent with a buttery mouthfeel. It is instantly sweet with notes of caramel, mint and citrus together with nutty undertones. It has a long lingering finish that is sweet and minty. All in all, this is definitely a tea to be savored!
Ingredients: Artisan Black Tea
Origin: Darjeeling, India
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas of northeastern India, Darjeeling is renowned for producing the "Champagne of Black Teas". It is one of the four main tea growing regions in India and, at 6,000 feet, the highest in elevation. Formerly called Sidrabong the Arya Estate (which means “respectable” or “best” in the Indian language) is a relatively small tea garden that was established in the eighteenth century by a group of Buddhist monks, whose original dwelling is preserved on the property to this day. It is fully certified bio-organic and is strongly committed to environmental sustainability. The Estate actually has the distinction of having the first private hydro-power generator in Asia! As a small organic tea garden, Arya’s focus has always been on producing artisan teas of exceptional quality.
Water Temperature: Just off the Boil (205 degrees)
Water Quality: Best with Spring Water
Amount of Leaf: (per 6 fl oz water): 1--2 Tbl.(2.5 grams)
Steep Time: 2-4 minutes
Number of Infusions: 2
When measuring it is best to weigh your tea. (I use a small pocket scale. We have a few or you can get good inexpensive scales at Old Will Knotts) Measuring volume with a teaspoon or tablespoon is not accurate because whole leaf teas take up much more space than broken, graded teas.
We highly recommend brewing your tea in a teapot or mug with a removable infuser so that you can remove the leaves at the end of the steeping time. Whole leaf teas of this quality need room to unfurl and expand in the water in order to perform their "magic." However, leaving the tea leaves in the water will result in an over-infused, bitter tea. If you want a stronger cup of tea increase the amount of leaf rather than the steeping time. If you don't have a removable infuser, you can brew the loose leaves directly in the pot. At the end of the steeping time, pour all of the tea into a warm serving pitcher or pot.