Monday, July 6, 2009

Comfort Food: Phuguri Estate Darjeeling


In my parents' house, comfort food was (and remains) all-American fare like tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, or stuffed peppers, or Swedish meatballs-- in spite of the fact that none of us are Swedish. When I asked about that, Dad once told me they were made out of ground Swedes. As opposed to air Swedes, I suppose, which are far too difficult to catch. [Ba-dum-dum! Thank you. I'll be here all week.]

Last night's educational but unsatisfying tea-tasting adventure left me wanting something familiar, so this morning as I work, I have returned to my beloved 2008 Phuguri Estate 2nd-Flush Darjeeling FTGFOP1, which I bought from TeaGschwendner not long ago. To my shock, I discover I have not written a review of this tea yet! Rather quickly, because this is a workday, I will try to let you see what I love about this particular Darjeeling.

It's a funny thing, how tastes change over time. Lately, I've been very interested in exploring Chinese green teas and some dan cong oolongs, which I am less familiar with. But the Phuguri provides me the comfort of coming home again. Indeed, this is my go-to tea whenever I am in need, and when I can afford it. It's middlingly expensive, but I can go through it so quickly that it easily blows through my tea budget.

This tea is extraordinary. It's a second-flush Darjeeling, with all the complex notes that attract and keep my attention from the moment I smell the leaves, all the way through to the amazingly complex and long-lasting huigan [sweet aftertaste].

Phuguri Darjeeling is a black tea that appears to be darkly transparent amber. The power of the tea is locked in its flavor, not so much the aroma. The flavor reminds me of Spring honeysuckle, with both smoothness and not-quite-tart astringency at the same time.

The second-flush Phuguri estate Darjeeling never fails to make a completely satisfying cup. Delightful, subtle yet bold, dry yet smooth, with a restrained sweetness I find entirely captivating. It's one of those teas that I drink with my eyes closed, and which I need to return to over and over again. If TeaGschwendner ever stops selling it, I'll have to move to India.

4 comments:

Jason Witt said...

Yes, Steven, it would be nice for you to get into reviewing Dan Cong Oolongs. Chinese Green Tea? That'd be nice too but the Dan Congs are calling. I can hear it.

Steven Knoerr said...

Jason:

First, thank you so much for reading my blog.

Secondly, from a pedagogical perspective, I do see your point. There is an abundance of good information out there about the wonderful green teas and Darjeelings on the market, but about dan cong oolongs, not so much. Which is a pity, because these teas are so singular and unlike other, more familiar teas, that people would benefit from knowing about them.

I've already tried one of the dan congs, and it was intriguing. Probably I'll start cracking open the pouches in earnest in the next couple of weeks.

I had read recently (sorry, I can't remember the attribution, but it might just be Imen's blog) that the way to develop your tea palate is to just drink one kind of tea nonstop for several weeks. Perhaps it's like tea-language immersion or something. By only drinking one thing constantly, you start to be able to discern the subtle differences among brands, grades, growing regions, and so on. I'll think about doing this in the days ahead.

Christine said...

I am almost out of tea at my house and will need to run to Tea Gschwender soon. I am looking forward to trying this Darjeeling. Thanks for the recommendation!

Steven Knoerr said...

Christine, you are very welcome. And I hope you like it!