Taste: Aromatic jasmine and sweet papaya
Origin: Darjeeling, Northeastern Indian Himalayas
Tea Maker: Risheehat Tea Estate
Steep 1 1 Tbsp /2.5 g | 8 oz | 210° F | 4 min
Steep 2 8 oz | 210° F | 5 min
Our 2021 Darjeeling Reserve is an organic black tea from the Risheehat Tea Estate. The tea makers at this famed estate created this microbatch tea in early April, and we were able to get just 7 pounds for our collection.
Meet A Darjeeling Master: Anyone who purchases this tea will be given access to a special workshop on May 22, 2021 at 10 a.m. Pacific with Rupesh Pradhan. Mr. Pradhan is a native son of Darjeeling, and spent his life developing his expertise and passion for Darjeeling teas. He runs our favorite Darjeeling tea house, Mayukh’s. In normal years, we visit him in April to taste the best Darjeeling First Flush teas of the year. This year, knowing we wouldn’t be able to meet up, he sent a number of samples and after a difficult and delicious cupping session, we settled on this one. In the workshop, Mr. Pradhan will walk us through the story behind the 2021 Darjeeling Reserve tea, from its varietal to climatic conditions during the harvest to the processing style that the tea makers at Risheehat employed to create it.
Taste: Drinking this tea is like sipping spring vibrancy. Explosively floral aromas of lilac and jasmine twist upwards as they rise off the cup, setting up a nice, heavy body that carries a tropical sweetness and tart brightness of bananas and papaya. The finish lingers and lingers and then lingers some more, allowing the chance to savor the experience fully. From the initial aroma through to the endless finish, this tea raised the bar on our expectations for great Darjeeling teas.
Impact: In our work to help emerging tea makers raise the quality of their teas, we study the best of the best. Darjeeling is widely recognized as the most prized tea region in the world and lots like this one remind us why. The craftsmanship in every part of the leaf—from the cultivar, to the harvest, to the processing—represent just how good Himalayan tea can be. This is the type of tea to inspire a movement.
Production: Darjeeling First Flush teas are once-a-year events. While most black teas undergo a full oxidization to fire up a bold strength, the tea makers at Risheehat employ a much gentler touch, giving the fresh leaf a light roll and ultra short oxidization that makes it more reminiscent of Taiwanese oolongs or even some floral Chinese green teas. This year, a long drought that lasted five months in certain parts of Darjeeling resulted in reduced production, makes the window to create this tea just a few days.
Region: Running along Nepal’s eastern border, the mountainous area of Darjeeling is a confluence of varied ecologies and cultures. The region’s sharp ascent from the plains of West Bengal into the towering Himalayas creates the ideal conditions for tea to flourish. As rain clouds heavy with water from the Bay of Bengal collide into the mountains, the tea bushes receive intense bursts of rainfall followed by strong, unfiltered sunlight. These heavy rains are actually what gives the region its name. “Darjeeling” means “Land of the Rolling Thunder” in Tibetan. Recognizing the potential for high elevation specialty teas, Darjeeling tea makers have focused on quality since they began crafting teas there in the 1850s and have built a tea tradition that fetches some of the highest prices in the world. Darjeeling is also a melting pot of South Asian ethnicities, home to Tibetans, Nepali, and Indians. Under colonialism, the mild mountain temperatures made Darjeeling a perfect retreat for British soldiers, which is why the town was originally built. Today, in the shadows of Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak, Darjeeling remains a destination for tea lovers and trekkers alike.
Packaging: Our teas come in resealable standup pouches with strong moisture and oxygen barriers. All our pouches are made with at least 20% post-consumer recycled milk jugs and water bottles. They are infinitely reusable, although not recyclable. They are essentially high-end resealable bags. After you have finished your tea, wash and reuse them to store your car snacks, carry your favorite trail-mix on a hike, or even house odds and ends such as art and craft supplies, batteries and toiletries.