Our ‘Autumn Beauty’ is from the middle-latter part of the autumnal pluck at Giddapahar Tea Estate. This year-end tea is for those who prefer that their Darjeeling tea has a rich, mouth-filling, smooth-around-the-edges and yet ‘traditional’ china bush style. This style, in which the wither is short and the oxidation long, is often referred to as ‘muscatel’ in Darjeeling, especially when describing a 2nd Flush harvest tea. This style is clearly different than the green-ish style so common in today’s 1st Flush teas, which is a result of a long wither and short oxidation. While the latter style has seemed so prevalent recently, we are seeing more of this traditional muscatel style now, especially in the manufacture of the 2nd Flush and Autumnal Harvest teas, and we think this is great. The 2020 harvest was perfect for this more traditional wither/oxidation balance due to its normal-to-late harvest and subsequent larger leaf-particle size.
This china bush leaf has the classic Darjeeling aroma in its dry form: pure, clean and straightforward. The considerable aroma that is contained in the leaf 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. The dry leaf has a strong sense of the green culinary herbs (celery, fennel, parsley) The oxidized smell that so distinctively identifies this traditional style of Autumnal Flush wither and oxidation, from eastern China or northern India is lighter than this garden’s 2nd Flush 2020 harvest.
The leaf is classically beautiful, very darkly-colored for an Autumnal Pluck and is well manufactured. It has a wiry style that is unusual for a Darjeeling manufacture, but is perfect for this tea, given that this is a planting that consists of a large percentage of china bush. The leaf has a nice length and even twist.
The base flavor of this tea is that shared by the Giddapahar Tea Estate’s classic Darjeeling teas. Bright, minerally, & crisp, it possesses a significant raisin-y taste on top of its muscatel flavor. There is a show of biscuit in the mix, without its becoming overly dry. Layered on top of this traditional Darjeeling 2nd Flush flavor is the influence of the china bush taste, which offers the dry wood bark attributes. Very full-bodied, the soft, muscatel flavor is in perfect balance with the body and aroma throughout the drinking experience.
Showing a beautiful liquor, the color of raw sienna/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 a typical size for a Darjeeling, so it is easy to measure. We have been quite successful re-steeping the leaf, often for quite a long steeping time – even 4 minutes. It will also show well if steeped just once for even as long as five mins if you prefer a bold cup, perhaps with cream or milk?
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 produce tea from older plantings of China bush tea varietals. We feel that leaf from these mature 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 some of their long-lived China bush stock.