Sunday, July 5, 2009

REVIEW: Thunderbolt Tea, Jungpana FTGFOP1 China 2009

This is the P-47 Thunderbolt. Apropos of the tea I'm reviewing, the handwriting on the side reads, "No guts, no glory!"

As always, I like the description provided by Thunderbolt Tea's Web site for the Jungpana Estate FTGFOP1 China '09:

Dry Leaves:
A mouth watering retreat for tea connoisseurs who are seeking for real First Flush orthodox Darjeeling character. The dry leaves comprise of 90% greenish tinge. It has a high floral aroma that is intoxicating to the mind. A quality tea with nutty (almonds) and floral (reminiscent of rhododendrons) infused leaves that are totally green in appearance and are of even size.

Infused Leaves:
The infused leaves have an overall greenish tinge reminiscent of First Flush tea - a trade mark. It has a astonishing buttery hints which also additionally turns to be sweet smelling, nutty and honey toned.

The cup is very light with excellent floral notes and nutty character. It has some astringency and that is why we call it the orthodox Darjeeling character. It leaves you with a sweet and buttery after taste.

Honestly, I do not know what rhododendrons smell like. But I do know that I'm enjoying this tea immensely.


These leaves are a lovely greenish tint, shaped as a typical high-end Darjeeling: smallish leaf size, fairly tightly twisted, and with no tea dust or twig that I could see in my sample. Beautiful aroma, floral, exciting. I know I will like this tea (especially after having a hiatus from Darjeeling in the past week or so, as I was drinking mostly Chinese oolongs).


In Great-great Grandma's Japanese porcelain teapot, a very simple and typical presentation: tea brought just up to a medium boil (what Chinese might think of as 2nd boil), and then poured over 1 slightly generous teaspoon of leaf per cup, allowed to steep for a full three minutes. (I would normally go for 2 minutes or so on a first-flush Darjeeling, but I rather want to plumb a bit more deeply into what this tea is saying today).


A rather pale amber (not yell0w) cup, with a lovely shine and a beautiful transparency. When the tea is drunk very hot, it is difficult to place any flavors, but he typical Darjeeling-style, orthodox, dry mouthfeel is still welcome. BUT once the tea cools just a bit, the complexity begins to make an appearance.

The tea tastes a bit buttery, with such a dry white wine-type mouthfeel. The high notes, in the mouth, don't really remind me overmuch of fruit or flowers, because the astringency seems to militate against that; instead, it's an herbal quality one associates with thyme, or oregano, or sage-- dry, sharp, complex. And then I find the nutty flavor, as mentioned in the Web site, which hides in the complex but not overly sweet aftertaste and is revealed in the throat.

The subsequent cups from the pot are likewise quite dry in mouthfeel, but now with an added rather soapy texture in the mouth. The nutty flavor is slowly growing; and the dry, oregano-like mouthfeel is quite developed. WHEN I SAY OREGANO, I realize I am being a bit misleading. I am not saying this tea tastes like oregano, exactly; but, rather, that it is reminiscent of the feeling you get when tasting a sprig of fresh oregano from the garden: arresting, not sweet, sharp, dry, and evocative.


When Benoy Thapa at Thunderbolt Tea writes that this Jungpana is for connoisseurs, I agree. This Jungpana first flush is perfect for tea aficianados who may not be as interested in overly sweet, floral, or fruity teas, but rather desire something complex and a bit harder to put a finger on. It's a great drink, and a welcome diversion from the more floral oolongs I've been drinking lately.

Benoy, great tea. And especially great, because the tea is so fresh!


Wojciech Bońkowski said...

I've been considering ordering from Thunderbolt.
Do you have any feedback on the order process and shipping/delivery?
Thanks in advance

Unknown said...

Hi, Nerval:

Because my experience with Thunderbolt has been informal and personal, I can't really tell you how the ordering process is. Sorry about that. However, Benoy, the owner, is very pleasant, and I only have good things to say about him.