by Little Yellow Teapot (a tea steeping marvel and occasional contributing author to this e-zine)
My humans and I decided to group together these three teas from the Arya Tea Estate. It’s one of the gardens in the Darjeeling area of West Bengal, India. The samples came to us courtesy of that fab tea guy Benoy Thapa of Thunderbolt Tea. These are in the high price range, but not outrageous. More like “I deserve a bit of self-indulgence” range. And they all got the highest praise from my humans. TOOOT!
Ruby 1F 2015
|Dry||Darker color, nutty aroma|
|Liquid||Roasty, even better for adding milk|
|Leaves||Roasty coffee-like aroma|
Spring Diamond 1F 2015
|Dry||Darker color, more roasty/peanutty aroma|
|Liquid||Fruity, roasty, dark & strong enough to add milk|
|Leaves||Highly roasty, almost coffee-like aroma|
Royal Moonbeam 2F 2015
|Dry||Nutty, roasty, fruity|
|Liquid||Rich, fruity, roasty, should be good with milk – THE BEST OF THE LOT|
I know some of you humans are shocked at the idea of adding milk to these teas, and you certainly don’t need to. But some out there, especially people from India and other countries who grew up with the idea of milk in their tea, will certainly prefers their tea that way. And no, it’s not a waste to add milk to these teas. They are so wonderfully rich in flavor that you can add that splash of moo-juice and still have plenty of that tea’s flavor coming through. A touch of sugar or other sweetener is also good, but not necessary. These teas are not bitter in the least.
About the Arya Tea Garden
The Arya garden is one of the more northernmost of the Darjeeling area gardens. It is at an elevation ranging from 900 to 1,820 meters and is close to the town of Darjeeling for which these teas are named. The garden was originally founded as Sidrabong in 1763 by Buddhist Monks and renamed Arya (‘respectable’ and ‘best’ in the Indian language) in 1885 (formally registered under its current name with the Indian registrar of companies that year). Conversion to all organic farming dropped crop yield from about 90 metric tons annually to only 65 metric tons. They have been relying on higher prices to make up the income difference, but that will vary with the market and the season (too much rain will spoil the leaves and cause even more weeds to grow around the tea plants and too little rain will stunt them and make them weak and more susceptible to insects). Less than half of the garden’s acreage is planted (this is a growing and troubling trend in Darjeeling and other parts of India as they get pushed to set aside areas for schools, hospitals, housing, and wild life – non-income generating uses). Tea factory fires occur in various tea gardens since part of the process is baking/drying the leaves. Their factory had been totally modernized in 1997-98 but destroyed by fire shortly thereafter, and was then rebuilt in 1999.
The Arya garden uses all China jats and clonals, phasing in new cultivation according to a systematic plan. They use only orthodox processing methods, meaning a lot is done by hand.
Arya Tea Garden map shown here is a still capture from the full map here: Darjeeling Garden Map on Camellia-sinensis.com Blog.
A Big Thanks
I want to thank Benoy and all the other vendors who have sent my humans tea samples over the past 6 years. We have decided not to continue with these reviews. A lot of time gets spent without a lot of readership. We’ll still be posting here about tea, though. Never fear!
Thanks for reading.
© 2015 A.C. Cargill photos and text