Some teas are so fruity tasting that they’re like an orchard in your teapot. Unlike teas that have pieces of fruit in them or fruit oils added to them, these teas have a natural fruity flavor. They are also real teas, not fruit-filled herbal infusions.
The most well-known of these “fruity” teas is Darjeeling. That “champagne-like” quality is actually fruitiness occurring from the way the tea leaves are grown, processed, and then steeped. The First Flush Darjeelings, harvested during Spring and the first harvest of the growing season, have the most pronounced fruit notes (akin to muscat grapes).
Some other teas with similar fruit-like flavor that you may not know as well are Nilgiri and Keemun Panda China Black. Nilgiri teas are from South India and Keemun Panda is from China; both tickle your tongue with their pleasing flavor.
More delicate than Ceylon teas, Nilgiri teas (especially Nonsuch, Tiger Hill, and Glendale) are still Ceylon-like. Cooler mountain (5,000 to 8,500 feet above sea level) temperatures combined with plentiful rainfall are part of the secret to their taste. Fruity yet malty, Nonsuch Nilgiri makes a great breakfast tea. The first Nilgiri teas were planted in 1835 and commercially grown starting in 1859. Today, they are sought after by tea connoisseurs.
The Keemun Panda China Black Tea has a fruity taste that’s as complex as many wines are reported to be (as a teetotaler, I have to take other people’s words for things like this). I can say that it takes milk well (good news for me, since the milk helps my delicate tummy handle the tea) and steeps to a bright and reddish liquid. The unbroken tea leaves are processed in a fairly time-consuming and labor intensive manner into fine, taut strips, preserving their complex and penetrating aroma and character, perfect in English Breakfast tea blends. You can store fine specimens of Keemun Panda for years when you store them properly. They even can take on a mellow and wine-like character. All the more reason to buy good quality Keemun Panda from a vendor that packages their tea in airtight containers.
Some Specific Fruity Teas to Try:
- Golden Moon Imperial Formosa Oolong — Light in color and rich in taste, living up to the promise of the aroma of the dry tea, both earthy and heavenly.
- English Breakfast Blend No. 2 — Strong with fruity notes, great all day long.
- Margaret’s Estate Darjeeling Tea — 2nd flush, grown at 6,800 feet above sea level, distinct wine-like character with hint of currant taste, rich aroma and smooth flavor. The fragrance and taste is a complex bouquet some describe as nutty, others as black currants or muscat grapes.
- Mim Estate 2nd Flush Darjeeling Tea — Grown at 6,800 feet above sea level, distinct wine-like character, hint of currant taste. A true estate Darjeeling (not a blend that could be as little as 10% Darjeeling), guarantees quality.
- Soom Estate 1st Flush Darjeeling Tea — Top quality, grown at 5,300 feet above sea level, a delicate muscatel character with excellent roundness. Many bushes on the estate are over 130 years old but still produce remarkable tea.
- Steamed Darjeeling Green Tea — A steamed orthodox green tea, with a delicate muscatel taste, 2nd flush, grown at 3,000 to 4,600 feet above sea level.
- Golden Moon Darjeeling Tea — A pleasing array of nut, fruit and floral notes.
- Taylors of Harrogate Afternoon Darjeeling Tea — From the highest gardens in the Himalayan foothills (6,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level). A slow growth rate and climate conditions produce smaller crops of excellent quality. Subtle ‘muscatel’ wine like flavor. Best served without milk or sugar. Good afternoon tea.
Go ahead and try one of these naturally fruity teas. The taste won’t fade as it does with teas processed with fruit oils, or overwhelm as teas containing dried fruit pieces do. Enjoy!
A.C. makes her vast tea-knowledge available to the public eight days a week over on her blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!