Besides leaves from books, the other kind of leaves that are essential for my well being are tea leaves. This year was an interesting tea year for me. It began, as usual, with First Flush Darjeelings. One of my favorites this year was the the very mild First Flush Imperial from the garden Runglee Rungliot. Wonderful tippy leaves and a bright yellow cup.
Considerably stronger in flavor (papaya) was the Okayti Wonder.
A curiosity from the same garden is called Golden Treasure. It came to me from Harney, one of the few consistently good US based distributors. This tea tastes a bit like a good Chinese black tea, with pleasant cocoa flavors, but still a hint of second flush Darjeelings.
Then, my afternoon favorite this year, the Himalaya Shangri-La Ruby from Nepal. Its golden leaves are curled, and the dark color of the cup reminds me of strong Assam teas. But the complex taste is milder, with hints of cocoa and cognac. I have never tasted a tea like that. Its sold out now, probably because of me. What I have left will get me through the long winter.
This tea came to me from Germany, via Tee Gschwendner: This a German company with local shops all over Germany that carry an amazing collection of loose tea. After graduating from grocery store loose tea tin boxes, I had been sampling their less expensive teas for several months. One day in Spring changed my life, when they had flown in small samples of the first invoices of that year’s First Flush Darjeeling from a handful of tea gardens. The price for the sample set was more than I would spend on tea in a year.
You know what happened.