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A Fancy Autumnal Darjeeling

November 26, 2008

Today’s Tea: Arya Estate FTGFOP1 Ch. Autumnal from Upton Tea Imports

Savored by: goodtea

I’m not a darjeeling expert at all, so I can’t tell you the difference between all the different types out there. First flush? Second flush? Estate? Doesn’t mean a thing to me. Until now, I’d only had the little bags of plain old darjeeling from the grocery store, but I liked them for their astringent, grassy taste.

Then I decided to try loose darjeeling, so I picked up this sample because it had a lot of interesting letters after its name: FTGFOP1.  One day, as I was boiling some water to try the darjeeling, I decided to look up what these strange letters meant.

FTGFOP apparently stands for “Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe,” which is the top secret designation of the highest quality whole leaf tea so that no one else will realize what a treasure you have. You can also read the acronym as “Far Too Good for Ordinary People” if you’d rather be a snob than a secret agent. The number 1 after it simply means that it’s one of the finest teas even in that category. So this is apparently one of the best of the best. Plus, it was harvested in autumn, which is unusual since most darjeelings are harvested earlier in the year.

The dry tea looks quite pretty with its various shades of earthy green and brown. It smells marvelous, too. The only way to describe it is that it smels like the very essence of all that is good about tea. It’s the kind of scent that makes you sigh and murmur, “Now that’s tea.”

Infused, the twisted bits of leaves unfurl and you can really picture what the entire leave looked like. As for taste, it’s milder than I expected, but still delightfully astringent, which makes it feel very light and refreshing on the tongue. I find myself drinking 2-3 cups of this in row because it’s so easy to drink, but the leaves stand up well to multiple infusions (and that’s a good thing since this isn’t the cheapest tea).

Oddly, this tea also tastes surprisingly good after it’s gone cold. Not sure if it would be good iced, but at room temperature, it’s still amazing. (Somehow, this makes me feel like this tea really is too good for an ordinary person like me…)

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