- Darjeeling Tea Background
- Black Tea Preparation
Plucked in the month of March during the height of the first flush, this wonderful Darjeeling tea is alive with muscatel flavor. As with most first flush Darjeelings this one tends toward the greenish flavor profile, light and gentle.
The plucking fields of Soom are about 5200 feet above sea level and the terrain is very severe with some of the slopes approaching 45 degrees. The slopes are so steep that the estate still carries the green leaf to the factory by mountain pony. Many of the bushes are over 130 years old but produce remarkable tea; in fact it is not uncommon for some 1st Flush teas to be rushed to Germany in a race similar to the Beaujolais Run.
There are several theories about the origin of the name of the estate. 'Soom' in Lepcha Language (local dialect) means 'Three' or 'Triangular' Interestingly the estate is bounded by three streams and is somewhat triangular in shape. Another school of thought is Soom also means 'holy abode' and as Soom has a holy deity who is worshipped, it is possible the name originated from here. The factory burned to the ground in 1995 and was out of production for 1 1/2 years. The new factory has all modern equipment, which now produces some of Darjeeling's best teas. Top tea estates perform a social function and Soom is exemplary in this regard. The estate not only employs 700 people, but provides housing, food and medical needs for the families resulting in about 2000 people living on the estate in full view of the Himalayan Mountains.
Ingredients: Artisan black tea
Origin: Darjeeling, India
First Flush occurs in Darjeeling from March through to mid April, during this period the tea bushes have once again begun 'flushing' (read growing) after the winter dormancy period. Vigorous flushing occurs because the daytime temperature has risen 5 to 7 degrees Celsius (from 10/12 C to 20 Celsius); the hours of daylight have increased (the vernal equinox has passed); and despite the fact that the weather is dry there is excellent moisture retention in the soil from the winter rains. All these factors in the rarefied mountain air help produce Darjeeling teas.
There are 3 main times of year for producing good quality Darjeelings:
1st Flush - Springtime harvested teas from late Feb. to mid April. The young leaves yield a light tea with generally intense muscatel with 'point'. A gentle afternoon tea.
2nd Flush - Harvested in June, these teas are more fully developed. The liquor is bright and the taste full and round excellent muscatel. A superb afternoon tea that is specially good with scones and raspberry conserve.
Autumnal Flush - Not always available depending upon the weather, they are typified by a round taste and coppery liquor. Excellent as a breakfast tea with milk.
Water Temperature: Just off the Boil (205 degrees)
Water Quality: Best with Spring Water
Amount of Leaf (per 6 fl oz water): 1 tsp. to 1 Tbl.(2.5 grams)
Steep Time: 2--4 minutes
Number of Infusions: 1
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.