This is a stunning tea from Bihar State, a recently-renovated tea growing region of India. Bihar State lies south of Nepal and to the west of North Bengal, where the famous Darjeeling teas are grown. It is historically an important tea growing region, but in modern times the gardens were allowed to revert to their wild state while tea growers in northern India focused on the more well-known garden areas to the north and east. A decade or so ago it was decided to bring this region back into production because the leaf and terroir there are so unique. More about that later.
Doke Black Fusion Tippy is a hearty but very smooth cup. The leaf is greyish-black, long & fine, and nicely twisted. It shows plentiful tip throughout the well-crafted leaf that almost looks as though there are fine silver threads running through the leaf. This is an aromatic tea but it does not have a floral or fruity nature. Instead, the fragrance is reminiscent of molasses and malt, and in the cup the taste – the buttery taste – reminds us here at Tea Trekker of a rich serving of creme brulee. For those who like our big-mouthfeel Nepal Everest, and Yunnan black teas, this tea will also be a welcome addition to the lineup of morning or afternoon favorites.
This tea has a unique taste and style, which makes it difficult to categorize. But this is also what makes it so intriguing. Right out of the gate it is a delightful, quality tea offering from a new tea garden that is achieving results that are miles ahead of many other teas that we sample (and reject) from other new tea gardens.
We liked the 2nd Flush offering that we had earlier this year so much that we sampled the Autumnal Pluck and found it to be very similar but a bit more full-bodied and smoother in the cup. The slight fresh astringency that the early tea had has been replaced by a deeper and more complex layering of flavor. As we hoped, a little more time on the bush has increased the flavorful characteristics and softened its tendency toward a Darjeeling-like sharpness. This ‘tippy’ version will likely become a standard for this new garden to replicate.
In fact, the tea family responsible for this tea, the Lochan family, has many decades of experience working with several Darjeeling tea gardens. This new venture will showcase the tea-making skills of Neha Lochan and her brother Vivek, the current generation of Lochans who will try their hand at the entire process of tea growing and manufacture.
They know what it takes to make good tea because they understand how to evaluate soil conditions, climate and weather, and know what tea bush cultivars will work best under the available conditions to yield the best tasting tea for that particular region. They also know how to utilize to the best advantage the fresh leaf materials in the tea factory. Producing good tea is so much more than simply sticking some plants in the ground, watching them grow, and then drying the leaf.
This tea comes from tea gardens that are planted alongside the Doke River. The growers have utilized a state-of-the-art irrigation system to make wise use of water from the river.