Adagio Darjeeling #22, or The Importance of an Open Mind

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Adagio TeasToday I'm going to take a look at Adagio Teas Darjeeling #22, a fairly light and pleasant second-flush black tea. As usual, I cleaned my yixing teapot and filled it with hot water while I prepared the rest of my kit. After the teapot was finished warming, I put the loose tea in there, shook it around, and gave it a big sniff. The leaves smelled strongly of earth and chocolate, with perhaps a slight hint of nori. It was such a rich aroma that I couldn't help but go back for multiple whiffs of its elegant perfume.

I steeped the tea for the suggested five minutes, and then examined the liquor, which was of a very transparent and pale ruby color. It smelled slightly smokey, perhaps a bit tinny with strong hints of a mineral twang. The leaves left in the pot opened up quite beautifully, and only a few small broken pieces made it into my cup. Carefully, I sipped at the hot liquor. There's supposedly a preferred method for tasting tea which involves slurping a tiny spray of the boiling hot liquor into your mouth in such a way as to avoid burning your tongue. I keep trying to do this, but never know if I'm doing it correctly. Regardless, the tea had a roasted flavor with nutty undertones. There is that characteristic Darjeeling minerality to it, but not as overpowering and metallic as other Darjeelings, which in my opinion makes this tea far more drinkable than its brethren from the region.

The final test of a good black tea in my book is how well it holds up to milk and sugar. I therefore doctored my tea, and was dismayed to find out that it held up not well at all. The sugar seemed to overpower most of the subtlety of the liquor, and the milk seems to mellow out all of the roasted flavors and leaves behind just the mineral tones. However, as the cup of tea cooled a bit and the flavors had a chance to mellow out, I've found it to be quite drinkable and enjoyable. Though I am not typically a fan of Darjeeling teas, I feel very comfortable recommending this one as a tea to try out.


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