2005 Thurbo Darjeeling
My friend Sonam Paljor Lama, whom I met via Facebook, sent me a package with a vintage 2005 Thurbo Estate Darjeeling. As he explained, it's pretty rare for anyone to hold back a Darjeeling, because it's typically all sold and consumed in the first year. And this is unfortunate, because a lack of available vintages also means that it's harder for people to keep track of great teas of years past. I am very grateful to Sonam for the wonderful gift of tea.
1 tsp leaves to 1 cup just under boiling water, in my favorite Japanese lined tetsubin.
The dry leaves are a brown-green, with tight leaves. The scent is extraordinary; like roses, eucalyptus, bright, fragrant-- precisely what I look for in a beautiful Darjeeling.
I love this cup, and it makes me sort of sad that, because it's a vintage tea, I won't be tasting this exact tea ever again. The liquor is a transparent golden-brown. The flavor is nicely smooth and very subtle, with a woodsy, floral flavor. There is a bright astringency, and it ever so slightly bitter. I can really see why Sonam kept it all these years: it's memorable and just delightful.
I love it when teas are treated as special and individual vintages, rather than as commodities. I realize the tea blender's art is to mix the unique teas in such a way that the buyer gets a consistent product-- so that Fortnum & Mason's black tea always tastes exactly the same, no matter how the growing conditions change from year to year. But to me, I'd rather experience the variety and uniqueness of tea estates, and enjoy how they change from year to year.