Thursday, July 21, 2016

Gopaldhara Wonder Gold, first flush Darjeeling

An exceptional tea, and a unique version of a Darjeeling.  The full name is Gopaldhara FTGFOP1 CL WONDER GOLD, from the first flush (their main site, here, and the tea under a different name, Emperor's Choice, here).

In tasting the tea the general impression stands out more than specific tastes:  bright, rich, sweet, balanced, nuanced.  As to flavors, a rich and layered honey sweetness, in the floral range, is balanced by a complex flavor structure.  There is a hint of muscatel but not much, and a bit of citrus integrates with that.  The tastes are very clean and refined, simple in a way, but complex in a different sense. There is very little astringency in the tea, beyond coming across as full bodied.

An earthiness and mineral background that contributes complexity is hard to describe.  It's like that background context that comes across as a related set of tastes and texture (feel) in white teas, particularly in silver needle style versions.  One might describe it in different ways, with the taste aspect in the range of sunflower seed, a mild light wood tone, or only part of the flavor of chamomile, but what I'm talking about relates to character beyond tastes, in a way those somehow both seem related.

I've been drinking a Peony style white tea from Sri Lanka recently that has a similar effect, from Ebony Springs, a subtlety and richness, an experience not well defined by specific tastes.  It's exhibited much differently in terms of other trace components, in the mineral range instead of sweet floral (with a write up on the first time it crossed my path here).  I'll do more with describing that source and related teas in a later post, since in that one I didn't get beyond mentioning the link for that tea maker.

oxidation level:  a very happy medium

It's nothing like a black tea, not oxidized to that level (although being Darjeeling it might still be considered a black tea, as much as any standard type).  It has none of the vegetal character or bite of relatively greener teas, but it does retain a lot of that freshness.  The fullness is like that of oolongs, full and rich, but in a different flavor range.  The overall effect is nice, bright flavored but subtle, sophisticated, and very pleasant.  As with most better versions of teas description by listing of attributes doesn't really do it justice.

I would normally use this type of comparative description sparingly but it seems a better version of Darjeeling than almost any I've ran across.  It helps that I'm an oolong drinker that has been into lots of white tea lately, so I'm calibrated for this sort of general range.  It seems to represent the best of both worlds as tea types and styles go, in between a number of other typical styles, in a tea that comes across as unique.

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