Review: Darjeeling Tukdah TGFOP Tea
The Darjeeling Tukdah tea is a wonderful and flavorful tea for those of you who like Darjeeling with a bit more body than the usual. The tea has a bit more of a pronounced flavor with a hint of maltiness and a medium body compared to the typical light Darjeeling. Definitely a high quality tea that I would recommend to someone who likes black tea- it would make a great morning tea to wake up with, or to enjoy during a leisurely afternoon.
Culinary Teas’ Description:
Tukdah estate, nestled high in the hills below the soaring majesty of the Himalayas is one of the shimmering jewels in the Darjeeling crown. The 557-hectare estate clings to the steep banks of the Teesta river valley downstream from Sikkim. It goes without saying that this corner of the globe is home to some of the most beautiful and arduous terrain on planet Earth. Even by Himalayan standards, the Teesta valley receives incredible amounts of rainfall. This comes in the form of great monsoons that wash across the landscape like a vast barrel being emptied from heaven. Accompanying the rain are great bolts of lightning that shake the hillsides like a passing elephant herd. Interestingly, the actual name Darjeeling means place of lightning. In Hindu mythology, legend has it that a thunderbolt thrown by Lord Indra, king of heaven, struck the ground in the surrounding woods. Tibetan monks subsequently began referring to the place as Dorje-Ling – Dorje meaning “thunderbolt” and Ling meaning, “Place”.
The monsoon rains appear during the first flush, a period of peak seasonal quality. The rain ensures that estate’s soil remains sufficiently wet for cultivating tea while the steep hillsides ensure that all rootstock is kept perfectly drained. Temperatures are cool – much cooler than in the neighboring growing region of Assam resulting in a markedly lighter cup overall when the product of the two are compared. Currently, 228 of Tukdah’s 557 hectares are under tea, a remarkable number when one considers the steep, mountainous conditions. The estate employs over 780 people and produces 220 Metric tons of finished tea per annum. All 220 of these are superb, and so they should be as the estate is run and operated by a well cared for workforce. The management of Tukdah provides all workers with free housing, schooling, hospital care and places of worship. (Production and operational excellence has earned the estate HACCP certification certified by SGS India.)
The tea as mentioned, every drop of it is superb. For the full effect, begin with a pure white cup in order to fully appreciate the light, bright, golden liquor. Next, inhale the aromas and take note as your mind attempts to decipher wisps of sandalwood, the sweetish smell of damp forest canopy and plum. On the tongue, the unmistakable muscatel character for which Darjeelings are praised washes over your taste buds and fills the mouth with a lingering nutty finish. A cup fit for the god of heaven himself!
Bring freshly drawn cold water to a rolling boil. Place 1 teaspoon of tea for each cup into the teapot. Pour the boiling water into the teapot. Cover and let steep for 3-7 minutes according to taste (the longer the steeping time the stronger the tea). It is recommended to consume this tea ‘straight-up’ even though you may add milk and sugar if that is your preference.
For this tasting, I steeped at 212F for 4 minutes.
The dry leaf is strongly aromatic with the muscatel wine-like notes which are characteristic of darjeelings. The leaf is composed of spindly dark brown and reddish brown twists of leaf and stem.
The tea brews into a dark amber red.
The wet leaf is a greenish red, with bright leaf stems and leaves that have unfolded and significantly expanded. The wet leaf is almost twice the size of the dry leaf! It smells wonderfully woodsy and aromatic.
The tea has a rich, deeply pronounced flavor with a hint of maltiness with a tart finish. I enjoyed this tea because there was some interesting complexity to the flavor. I struggled a little bit to find words that could correctly describe the different flavors in the liquid. I’d say it has a bit of woodsiness to it and toasted nuts without the overtones of a dark roast. The common word used to describe darjeeling teas is muscatel, which I’ve always struggled with since there isn’t a clear definition for the term. I do think that this tea could certainly be reminiscent of a muscatel wine with its tart finish and the brisk, bright notes to its flavor.
Pricing & Where to Buy
Pack Size: varies, 1oz to 16 oz
Price per unit: $2.40 for 1 oz, $8.80 for 8 oz
This tea can be purchased on the Culinary Teas website here.