- 2014 Ruby Background
- Arya Darjeeling Preparation
Arya Ruby is a limited production first flush Darjeeling tea. I learned early on that the only way to ensure that I would get this tea was to order directly from Arya Estate before first flush. As in the world of wine, a product’s allure is only increased by its lack of availability! Given the adverse growing conditions in Darjeeling this last winter and the subsequent production shortages I am fortunate to have placed my order early!
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. In a normal year these are among the most expensive teas in the world. This, however, has not been a normal year and given the adverse growing conditions in Darjeeling this spring, we are fortunate to have obtained this excellent tea! (For more about this year's adverse conditions please see our "Background" notes.)
The majority of first flush teas in Darjeeling tend to be on the green side--not fully oxidized. The fairly small leaf produces a light, clear, somewhat week cup with pronounced floral notes and a mild astringency that can be somewhat bitter, a characteristic that is much appreciated by first flush enthusiasts. Ruby, on the other hand, is most definitely a black tea. The chocolate brown leaves have a strikingly sweet fragrance and they possess a definite bloom. The carefully plucked whole leaves are extremely well rolled and twisted with abundant gold and silver tips giving them a more refined appearance than in previous years. Overall, the superior processing is highly apparent. The aroma of the dry leaf is still unusually rich and full, sweet and honey-like with touch of ripe peach and tropical flowers with citrus overtones.
Arya Ruby always has some cup strength regardless of the flush or season and this first flush Ruby is no exception. It has a lovely amber liquor that is very flavorful. Every sip is smooth and full bodied, refined and complex. The fruitiness of the aroma carries over to the cup with notes of citrus, ripe peaches and a bare hint of camphor. There is just the smallest trace of astringency with absolutely no bitterness. The flavors turn quite floral and delicate in the mouth with a lingering sweet refreshing after-taste.
Origin: Darjeeling, India
Ingredients: Artisan Black Tea
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. In a normal year these are among the most expensive teas in the world. This, however, has not been a normal year.
Darjeeling is nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. Even in a good year there is little rain in winter, so the few showers that do occur in January are crucial for the first flush. However, this winter there was almost no rain from October onward. In addition, the cold temperatures of winter persisted through the middle of March when most of the premium first flush teas are manufactured. As a result production was down between 30% - 50% compared to previous years and many tea gardens reported that quality suffered as a result of the dry conditions and cold temperatures. With first flush tea in such short supply many buyers went away empty handed. Those that did manage to get their hands on some tea had to pay extremely high prices. We were fortunate enough to place our order for all of our 2014 Arya Estate Darjeeling teas just after the first of the year, thereby ensuring our supply of these excellent teas. The Estate did experience a shortage of approximately 30%, however they contend that the quality of their tea has improved over previous years. I wholeheartedly agree, and I'm sure you will too.
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 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. Although they do produce a number of other outstanding teas, Arya Ruby has always been their crown jewel.
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.