Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Badamtam STGFOP1 - Mid Flush Darjeeling

A little while ago I was lucky enough to receive a parcel of Darjeeling teas - extremely generous samples! - from Tony of High Teas in London. Shamefully, it has taken me way too long to get around to featuring them on this blog; but I wanted to make sure I had time to do them justice. I've only opened two of the four packets, as I want to keep them as fresh as possible, and I've been drinking pots of these two - an Autumnal from Castleton Estate and the Badamtam Mid-Flush I'm reviewing here - over the last several weeks to try and get a feel for them. Anyway, here goes.

The Badamtam dry leaves are finely twisted as you can hopefully see in the photo; they vary quite a bit in length and range in colour from almost black, through brown and tan, to the numerous pale greeny tips - this is visually a very attractive and delicate looking tea.


The aroma of the dry leaves is hard to describe; it's a little fruity I think, but also with a 'dry' smell that is simultaneously quite rich if you inhale it for long enough. I don't have a better way to describe this; it's almost a citrussy aroma, but then again not quite. It's actually what I think of as 'Darjeeling smell'.

I brewed a rounded teaspoonful in about 300ml filtered water for approximately three-and-a-half minutes. This produced a liquor which was a beautiful, crisp, clear amber in colour, without a trace of muddiness or dullness - which I guess you wouldn't expect from a grade of tea with quite so many letters after its name anyway. Heh.


When I tried the Badamtam cup-for-cup with the Castleton Autumnal the other day, the Badamtam showed up distinctly fruity and quite a bit sweeter than the Castleton (perhaps this is the 'muscatel' flavour I hear so much about as a feature of Darjeeling tea flavour?). Drinking it on its own, though, I found it a bit more difficult to pick up those fruity nuances. However the Badamtam is very smooth, with only the very slightest astringency as you start to get towards the bottom of the pot, and it has a slightly silky texture in the mouth. There's a small amount of sweetness in the aftertaste, but this isn't a dominant aspect of this tea (at least not for me, not today). It's more that it tastes - and again I really can't find the right words, but perhaps that doesn't matter too much - very 'Darjeeling-y'.

Just thinking about this right now I am actually amazed that there is such a thing as a quality of 'Darjeeling-ness' - and there are also qualities of 'sencha-ness' and 'oolong-ness' as well as 'Assam-ness' - how absolutely remarkable that dried leaves steeped in water can display so many unique (yet sometimes similar) characteristics.

I am so awed by tea.

In any case, the Badamtam Mid Flush gets my hearty recommendation; it's a beautiful tea, and thanks so much to Tony for giving me the chance to sample it! I'll be following up with more Darjeeling posts in the not-too-distant future.

7 comments:

  1. Right now I have two goals: to discover Pu-erh-ness and Darjeeling-ness. These are the two I want to know about very much. I expect Darjeeling is going to be a pretty easy mark since many of them are similar with not as much variation. How different can they be since the muscatel should be the predominant feature of all the good ones? But Pu-erh comes in many varieties and I expect it to be a lifelong quest. --Spirituality of Tea

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  2. I am completely stumped as to where to start with Pu-erh. It seems so unbelievably complex...

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  3. I'd say start with mini tuo cha Pu-erh. That's the little bowl-sized servings. You can get several cups out of one, depending on the size. Then you can steep for different amounts of time. Just don't buy the cheapest stuff out there. With some teas price doesn't always matter that much but with Pu-erh if you drop below $50 a lb(sorry I'm not sure what that means in AU)you'll not get a good experience. The good news is that's not really outrageously expensive for tea. Right now I'm drinking some at about $65 a lb and it's quite good. I can vouch for that price level. Tuo Cha is easy because you don't have the challenge of portion size when you're just beginning. --Spirituality of Tea

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  4. Jason, thanks for that info! I'll look out for some tuo cha. In fact I think I've seen them at a few places but have been a bit uncertain about what exactly to do with them - but perhaps I just need to give them a go!

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  5. I've never done any kind of Gong Fu before and I think it's a bit much. But I decided to do what was recommended and steep the tuo cha first for 15 seconds, then 30, then 45, and so on. It's worked really well and I recommend it as long as it isn't a very bad Pu-erh. Also rinse the leaves just for a moment first to awaken them. --Spirituality of Tea

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  6. Oh, terrific - that sounds very manageable indeed. Thanks Jason! :)

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  7. Hi! I am just going to your Darjeeling entries. :-) I like the colour of Badamtam. Once more it was a tea that is not to get in my town. But I have searched once more for online shops and this was pretty good, as I found two more interesting ones. The Badamtam I only found as first flush or as second flush to order, but not as a mid flush. Not sure which flush I will try first, depends in which shop I will order it.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment... I appreciate it!

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