Monday, 25 February 2008

TChing's Margaret’s Hope Muscatel, Lochan's Muscatel Delight & Temi

These are Indian black teas I'm not overly familiar with. The Margret's Hope Muscatel was obtained from TChing as part of the most recent online tasting session. The other teas are both samples I procured from Lochan Tea. Both of the Muscatel teas are from Darjeeling and the Temi is from Sikkim, to the north of Darjeeling, but I'm sufficiently ignorant of Indian blacks to pop them into the same review. The leaf of the Temi looks similar to most first flush Darjeeling's I've had so far. Both of the Muscatel offerings look similar with the defining characteristic that they contain far lager leaves in the mix than I've seen in this kind of tea before, especially in the sample from TChing.

The aroma of the dry leaf is very perfume-like with floral notes in all three though less pronounced in the Temi. The leaf also displayed a little more endurance than I'm used to seeing in Darjeeling.

I initially brewed these teas in either a 100ml gaiwan or a 50/60ml gaiwan always using just off the boil water. I recently purchased a small clay pot off ebay for a pound, not expecting much on arrival. When the pot appeared I was quite impressed with my bargain and began musing over which tea it should be paired with, it is quite a bit larger than I'm used to in yixing pots around 250ml, and a topic over on Teachat convinced me to give the Darjeelingly teas a shot. I think the choice paid off and I'm loving both the pot and the teas coming out of it far, far more than a few days ago.

Interestingly, possibly, is that my wife was very put off by the smell of the leaf and declared she would not like to try the 'stinky tea'. I convinced her to try it; a few brews in and she was very taken by the floral aspect of the tea and it received an approval, albeit with the disclaimer that it was a little to astringent.
This matches my own view although I do find the astringency far more acceptable than my wife, I eat dark chocolate and she only eats milk so I guess this is inevitable. I also found that the Muscatels showed some parallels with the orchard flower oriental beauty from Stéphane Erler at Teamasters, which is definitely a good thing in my book as this has been one of my fav 'in stock' oolongs since it arrived.

The Muscatel teas were very similar overall. If pushed I would opt for the Margaret's Hope as it did appear to be a higher quality tea in most respects although any future choice would be very much price dependent. The Temi was not quite as interesting as the other two but is far more forgiving as far as brewing goes and much less demanding on the palate, more suited to be drank with food or when there isn't much brainspace to pay attention to tea and you would rather just enjoy a quick brew - horses for courses and all.

Apologies for the quality of the photography but my digital camera has decided to play hide and seek at the moment and the burden of capturing images has been shifted to my mobile phone for the mean time.


Salsero said...

Mmmm, those oversized yixing seem to be popping up all over. I am still quite happy with mine for Assam. Darjeeling doesn't usually bother me straight up, so I'm not looking for a Darjeeling pot.

I have a Margaret Hope Estate 2nd Flush, SFTGFOP1 that I got from that is wonderful. I suppose it's not the same tea since the TChing as the word "Muscatel" does not appear in the name. As I have come to understand, I guess muscatel refers specifically to teas that have been bitten by a jassid or some such critter, just like the oriental beauty oolongs.

From Lochan Teas I have a Giddapahar Muscatel Imperial, 2nd flush, 2007 which is the other best 2nd flush Darj that I have had. Both were, unfortunately, quite pricey. On the cheap side, I got some nice tea from Thunderbolt Tea, and what I got was all previous year stuff. When I get low on Darj, I plan to try some of their current year best offerings.

Thanks for the post. We don't see enough about the great Indian teas these days.

Proinsias said...

Cheers Salsero,

A quick bit of web-fu revealed the comments from Ankit Lochan concerning all things muscatel below one of Brent's blog posts.

I had read the post but never came back to check comments, doh.

Good tea needs good stories.

Salsero said...

Good tea needs good stories.

You certainly do have a talent for inventing pithy epigrams. This one deserves not to be forgotten.

Wu Long Tea said...

So you say you brewed you own tea, how did you do that? Did you have a garden or something? I am very interested in how that would taste compared to store bought tea or my favorite wu long tea

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How to grow mushrooms said...

Thanks, it's not often i hear a review of an Indian Black tea.