I’ve not come across many Oolongs from Darjeeling in the years I’ve been drinking tea, but the ones I have tried have always been something special. This one is no exception.
It starts with the leaf, which in appearance reminds me a lot of a first flush darjeeling (although it’s actually a second) crossed with a very fresh white peony. The are a high predominance of downy silver buds, some verging more on silver or pale green, plus some brown-ish-copper leaves. The scent is sweet and lightly jasmine.
Initially, the taste is subtle and fairly mineral, in the way that some lighter or green oolongs can be. There’s a distinctive citrus flavour in the mid-sip – it reminds me most of grapefruit, with a slightly sharp/sour tang. There’s also some of the muscatel flavour you’d typically associate with a second flush darjeeling, and the pairing is an unusual and inspiring one. As it cools. a hint of dark chocolate starts to emerge, although it’s mostly confined to the very end of the sip and it doesn’t linger long. Despite the scent, I didn’t detect any floral flavours in the actual tea, which is a small relief because it’s already quite busy. In terms of mouthfeel, it’s lightly brisk but doesn’t cross over into astringency, despite being slightly drying on the palate.
I enjoyed this one. I’ve discovered that I like Oolongs from Darjeeling in general, and they often have some of the more unique flavour profiles. Mineral, grapefruit, and chocolate don’t sound like they should work together very well, but, somehow, they do. If you enjoy either Darjeeling or Oolong, this one is definitely worth a look.
Here’s the scoop!
Leaf Type: Oolong
Where to Buy: The Tea Shelf
One of the finest oolongs of Darjeeling, the aroma of dark chocolate envelopes your senses, reminiscent of a cold wintry day! The leaves are springy with a moss like mosaic of silver and copper. The infusion shows another surprise with individual leaves clearly visible with bright colours of copper and mauve. The chocolate experience continues but now coupled with citrus and fruity notes. The steeped leaves give way to a gorgeous sunset yellow cup, which is very brisk on the palate with notes of jasmine and citrus, which linger on.
Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Bluebird Tea Co.
Earl Grey loose leaf tea blend with a papaya + strawberry twist. No one at The Nest (Bluebird HQ!) can start the day without a cup of this fruity, refreshing tea. Didn’t think you could improve the classic? We will happily prove you wrong! No words are gong to do it justice, it simply is paradise! Insiders tip: try it without milk for perfection.
Learn more about this tea here.
Bluebird Tea Co. kindly provided a 2-cup sachet of this tea as a sample with my last order. Naturally, I was instantly curious! It’s a fruity Earl Grey with Ceylon as the base tea, and I can imagine the citrus notes Ceylon can possess working well here. The dry leaf is in reasonably small pieces, and mostly a fairly uniform black although there are a few lighter, reddish-brown, leaves scattered throughout. The fruit here is papaya and strawberry, and I can see tiny freeze-dried pieces of both in the dry mix, although not in quantity. It’s literally just a piece here and there. There are also a few lime leaf pieces, which add an extra hint of colour. Dry, the scent is typical Earl Grey, with sharp notes of bergamot. I used 1 tsp of leaf for my cup, and gave it 2.5 minutes in boiling water. The resulting liquor is a medium red-brown. I made no additions, although judging from the colour of the brew, I can imagine this one standing up well to milk after perhaps a 3 or 4 minute steep.
To taste, this one is deceptively fruity! It’s hard to imagine, from the scent and appearance of the dry leaf, but it is the case! The initial flavour is all strawberry, and it’s deliciously creamy. It almost reminds me of strawberry milkshake! It’s a fairly candy-like strawberry, and not as natural tasting as some, but it steers well clear of artificial. There’s a hint of jasmine in the mid-sip which adds a heady richness, although fortunately it remains on the right side of floral for my tastes. The bergamot emerges mostly towards the end of the sip, and it is quite sharp. This is not a tea for bergamot haters, by any means! There’s also a bite of astringency from the Ceylon base, and together the combination is rather jarring, especially when contrasted with the sweet, creamy, fruitiness of the initial sip. That’s a slight disappointment to me, because I rarely have trouble with astringency when drinking Ceylon – it’s one of my favourite black tea varieties for that reason. As the tea cools, however, some of the astringency wears away and it becomes more palatable. This being the case, I’m starting to think that Earl’s Paradise might work better as a cold brew. At the very least, it needs to cool a little before drinking for the best experience. Possibly milk would help to smooth the edges on this one, although some Earl Grey purists might disagree. The other disappointment with this one is the lack of papaya – I just can’t taste it at all. The strawberry is so nice that it’s not a huge problem, but it is a little one-note. More so than perhaps it was intended to be.
This is a love/hate cup for me. There are things I adore about it (creamy strawberry, yes please!), and things I could really do without (astringency, intense sharpness of the bergamot). For this reason, I’m not wholeheartedly behind it. I think the idea of a fruity Earl Grey is a really nice one – it’s different, for sure. I’m just not sure that Bluebird have quite managed to pull it off. It’s close, but it’s not perfection. One tea can’t please everyone, though, and this blend does have a lot to recommend it. It’s definitely one for Earl Grey (and strawberry!) lovers to try.