Darjeeling teas are truly special and are often enjoyed by aficionados in fairly small quantities — about 8 to 10 ounces. But some of us need more than just that small amount at a time. We need to go for a potful, and not a wimpy 1- or 2-cupper pot but a big 6- or even 8-cupper pot.
Being one of the most distinctive teas out there, with their often tangy Muscatel-like fruity notes, Darjeeling teas are sometimes considered too much to take by the potful. They are often enjoyed by a cupful here and a cupful there. In fact, I listed them as one of the categories of “sipper” teas. However, in the world of tea there are no hard and fast rules — one of the best things about teas. No “has to be this” or “has to be that.”
I have found that the best Darjeeling teas to steep up by the potful are Autumn Flush. They are the last growth of the season and are generally harvested in October. These teas are grown at high elevations in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range that runs along the northern edge of India. The cultivar is the same as the one grown in China, but the terroir (soil conditions, weather, and basic tending) and processing techniques are different and tend to result in a very distinctive taste. This final growth (flush) is generally heartier that the first and second flushes.
Thus, I can steep up a nice potful and enjoy cup after cup with a bit of milk and sweetener and still get that quintessential character coming through. Even those who like their tea without milk can enjoy this method of steeping Darjeeling, but you may not want to let it sit in the teapot too long. Teas tend to change character as they sit there, even when the tea leaves have been removed. You don’t get the same character as you did with that first “golden pour” from the pot.
Give it a try sometime. You can start with Harney and Sons Darjeeling Tea. It’s a blend of autumn and spring flushes but will still be strong enough for a potful.
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