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My Falling Out with Darjeeling Tea

Golden Heaven Yunnan - one of many fine teas from the Yunnan Province in China. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)
Golden Heaven Yunnan – one of many fine teas from the Yunnan Province in China. (Photo source: The English Tea Store)

Things change. Which is a bit of an obvious statement, I know. So to be a little more specific, I’ll say that tastes in tea change. Although to be fair, I can only speak for myself. I’ve only been drinking tea in a serious way (whatever that means) for a little more than seven years. In the early days I was kind of naïve about what constituted “good” tea, but that wasn’t necessarily a problem since my palate wasn’t refined enough to appreciate the subtleties of such an item.

As time went on I discovered that there was such a thing as loose-leaf tea and that some of it could be quite good. I also was introduced to the notion of single-estate teas, which could often be very good indeed. As I began to drink more of these teas, with flavors that tended to be a little more subtle, I found that my palate was becoming a little more sensitive and some of the teas that I used to drink didn’t seem to be quite as enticing as they once were.

And so it has gone over the course of these years. On the one hand there are a few things that haven’t changed and probably never will. I have never been a fan of Earl Grey and I’m sure I won’t ever be. Ditto for Lapsang Souchong, that intensely smoky flavored Chinese black tea that always reminds me of smoked meat.

On the other hand there are a few teas that I used to like quite a lot that I’m not so keen on anymore. There’s jasmine, for example, whose floral notes over a base of green tea (most often) once used to seem quite appealing but which I now place into the category of kind of overpowering.

More notably, there’s Darjeeling. I’ve always been a great fan of black tea – another thing that will never change – and I used to be quite keen on this Indian black tea that’s often touted as the champagne of tea. But the more I drink it, the more I find that the flavor of Darjeeling is a little too thin for my tastes and that even the best of it seems right on the border of being too bitter and astringent.

The good news is that there are a couple of teas that used to not be on my radar that I’ve become fond of. Ceylon is like any other tea in that some of it is good and some not so much. But rather than dismiss it all, as I used to, I’ve become open to the notion that there is such a thing as really good Ceylon. Then there’s Yunnan, a Chinese black that I used to next to nothing about and which has lately become one of my favorite teas of all.

All of which may be subject to change, so I’ll check back in another seven years or so.

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2 responses to “My Falling Out with Darjeeling Tea”

  1. […] barely bring myself to prepare the samples of Darjeeling that come my way. I even went so far as to document my falling out with Darjeeling tea last […]

  2. I too have found both unaccountable changes in taste as well as a progressive sophistication of likes and dislikes. It is though hard, if not inconceivable, to imagine ever going off Darjeeling. Must try again Golden Yunnan after your recommendation.

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