Our 2021 Early Wonder 1st Flush tea is from the earliest picking, of the first period of the spring pluck at Giddapahar Tea Estate this year. However, it has a richness that normally would only be possible after a longer growing season. It is a spectacular ‘Early Wonder’ harvest.
We think that this exceptionally flavorful early growth is partially the result of last year’s reduced picking due to the pandemic. Mother Nature has also provided a glorious spring, weather-wise, so that has helped too!
The leaf is classically beautiful and modestly mottled, with a nice proportion of the modern-style, ‘green’, long-withered leaf. The leaf is mid-length and well-cut, very even in composition, and has the rich classic color of a modern 1st Flush Darjeeling
It is for those who prefer that their Darjeeling 1st Flush tea has a snappy and bright, while mouth-filling (this year extremely so), smooth-around-the-edges, ‘modern’ china bush style. This style, in which the wither is long and the oxidation short, is often referred to as the ‘Russian’ or ‘German’ style now, and is clearly different than the classic style of 1st Flush Darjeeling that has no green-ish coloration to it at all.
The dry leaf is slightly larger than most year’s crop due to the plentiful rains this spring. This predominately china bush leaf has the classic 1st Flush aroma in its dry leaf: pure, brisk and straightforward. The considerable aroma that is contained in the leaf then releases readily upon application of the steeping water, and will vary in intensity depending on the temperature of the hot water. Very pleasant and highly desirable aromatic qualities are released by the wet leaf during steeping. While the dry leaf has hints of stone fruit and dry wood bark in its aroma, the wet leaf releases these aromatics in restrained abundance. Cacao and the classic aroma of a high quality china bush black tea are the primary elements of this enticing tea – .
The base flavor of this Darjeeling, the Giddapahar Tea Estate ‘Early Wonder’ 2021 1st Flush, is that of a classic 1st Flush Darjeeling tea in the ‘Wonder‘ style. Actually, this taste could serve as the model for its genre. Brisk, but deeply-flavored, and with a nicely-balanced astringency, it possesses some of the raisin-y taste that high quality Darjeelings rarely show. There is a layer of ‘biscuit’ in the mix too, without its becoming overly dry. Layered on top of this traditional Darjeeling 1st Flush flavor is the influence of the china bush taste, which offers the cacao and dry, wood-bark attributes. This tea is quite well-balanced and smooth, especially for a 1st Flush Darjeeling, and the core Darjeeling flavor keeps it firmly in the Darjeeling camp. Full-bodied, the bright, nuanced flavor is in perfect balance with the body and aroma throughout the drinking experience.
The leaf is medium in color and is well manufactured. It has a broadly-cut style that is unusual for a Darjeeling manufacture, but is perfect for this tea, given that this is a china bush planting. The leaf has a nice length and even cut.
Showing beautiful liquor color of deep claret-amber, this tea is a stunner.
We are recommending a moderately short steep for this tea. I have been steeping it for about two and a half minutes. The leaf is large for a Darjeeling, so use a generous measure. We have been quite successful re-steeping the leaf, often for quite a long steeping time – even 4 minutes. Conversely, this leaf will tolerate one long steeping, perhaps even 5 or 6 minutes in the water.
Giddapahar Tea Estate is located in the most prestigious heart of the Kurseong Valley. (Giddapahar is translated from Nepali to mean Eagles’ Cliff). Giddapahar Estate is owned by fourth generation Surendra Nath Singh and his brother, and is a relatively small area of 109 hectares. The gardens are poised at an average altitude of 4,800 feet and their orientation offers an incredible view of the Himalaya. The garden was first developed in 1881 and has been producing fine tea continuously.
Giddapahar is one of the few remaining tea estates with gardens that still produces tea from older plantings of China bush tea varietals. We feel that leaf from these tea bushes adds body and richness to the mouth-feel of a fine Darjeeling, so we always look for these ‘gems’ from the few gardens that still maintain their long-lived China bush stock.