‘Supermuscatel’ 2nd Flush Darjeeling 2021 & 2022
Gopaldhara is one of the highest gardens in Darjeeling, sitting at 3,500 to 6,000ft in the Himalayan foothills. This exceptional producer is one of the few Darjeeling gardens to remain independent and family run, owned by Rishi Saria and his family. Lalani & Co have been working with Rishi and his team for about 11 harvests.
Section 5A of Gopaldhara was recently planted with Yabukita and Fujimidori tea plants, imported from Japan. This was a huge surprise, given how well these leaves have captured the muscatel character of a fine 2nd flush Darjeeling. The 2nd flush season in Darjeeling is roughly May and June. Teas from this season are characterised by a darker, richer, stronger profile compared to 1st flush teas. The particular flavour profile we’re looking for from this season is called ‘muscatel’. Many tea professionals will argue about what ‘muscatel’ actually means. I’ve had different answers from different garden owners. The explanation I’ll give you comes from the root of the name, which is the muscat grape. Darjeeling 2nd flush teas should have a grape-like character. Imagine eating a grape. The flavour starts off floral and sweet. As you drink more, the tannins begin to emerge and build on the palate, just as if you’re chewing the grape skin and seeds. Eventually you have a beautiful, well-structured, grape skin dryness on the palate. Fine examples of this muscatel profile are becoming harder and harder to find, such that some years we’ve had an absence of 2nd flush Darjeeling in our library.
Batch Ex25 2021
We’re pleased to bring you this first 22kg production from the recently planted section 5A of Gopaldhara garden. This batch was picked on the 14th May 2021. The leaves were outdoor withered (evaporation), rolled in a bamboo drum, and then indoor oxidised (browning). Following this, the oxidation was halted by heat, then there was a further round of rolling and drying. You may note that this is technically an oolong process, even though the tea behaves and tastes like a Darjeeling black tea. The tea opens with honey grape and floral notes. This is followed by layers of aromatic wood, leading to a grape skin dryness in the finish which slowly builds sip by sip. Updating this in October 2022, the tea has 16 months of ageing. The floral grape notes are on top form and the tannins have softened. My opinion is that it’s drinking at the peak of its sweetness.
As a guide, we recommend 3g:150ml at 90°C for 3 minutes; although feel free to infuse it longer or shorter if you want more or less strength.
Batch Ex21 2022
In 2021 we brought you the first 21kg picking from section 5A. In 2022 the same plants have matured and produced 51kg. This year, they were made with a classic Darjeeling black tea process, resulting in a deeper oxidation and a darker tea. When the tea is poured, straight away the air fills with grape and vine aromas. Since the tea is young, allow it time to open. The tea begins with a rich red grape character, leading to hints of lychee, then a grape skin dryness that builds on the palate with each sip. The tannins are beautifully structured and the finish is long. Having tasted two sister batches, I can share with you that the Yabukita varietal adds a touch of sharpness which enhances the muscatel character.
I recommend 3g:150ml at 90°C for 3 minutes; although feel free to infuse it longer or shorter if you want more or less strength.