The news I’m getting from Darjeeling is not very good. The planters are disappointed by the small quantities of tea harvested in March. This is due to low temperatures and a lack of sunshine and rain. So far, production is down by almost a third. However, as long as you act quickly, there are still some very fine teas. I have already bought several batches from gardens where the quality is improving year on year, like Gielle, Rohini and Teesta Valley. And a tiny batch of “Puttabong SFTGFOP1 Moondrops”: anyone who gets a chance to taste this tea will love it.
To celebrate the arrival of spring with you, what better than to take a break together, put the kettle on, sit down in an upright position, empty our minds, shut our eyes, inhale deeply while the leaves infuse, get ourselves in the right frame of mind, and prepare to drink tea. And then, to open our eyes on this beautiful landscape, to nature reawakening, the first buds opening, the return of life.
At the end of February I was invited to lead a tasting session for some actors, most of whom had been nominated for a César award. Throughout the day, they arrived at a suite in a Paris hotel. Among them was also Kevin Rolland, Olympic Gold medallist at Sotchi (see photo), as well as television presenters and journalists. I enjoyed introducing them to some Grand Cru teas such as Dong Ding, Tawaramine, Dan Cong and Jukro. And I surprised them with Pu Erh. Many of them really appreciated this astonishing tea. They stuck their nose into the infused leaves, which reminded some of a walk through the forest, others of a stay on a farm. An olfactory journey.
As happens every year at the same time, the first samples of first-flush Darjeelings are starting to arrive. There are never many during the first week, then during the peak of the season, around the end of March, I can taste dozens every day. Each one represents a very small batch of about 100 kilos. I have just chosen two: the Rohini “early spring” and the Longview FTGFOP1 ex-5. They are characterised by their fresh, vegetal, floral and zesty notes.