Of the many qualities that go into making Darjeeling Tea a wonderful cup – the most famous is the elusive ‘muscatel’ flavor found primarily in tea made from summer harvest in the hills – popularly called the second flush.
Etymologically, ‘muscatel’ variant of ‘muskadell’ (c. 1400), from Old French ‘muscadel’ from Old Provencal ‘muscadel’, is a diminutive of ‘muscat’ – which refers to both the ‘muscat grape’ noted for fragrance of musk and the ‘muscat wine’, sweet fortified and made from the same Muscat grapes. Undoubtedly when the world discovered hints of ‘musk’ in second flush, it was related to Muscat wines characterized by pungent floral aromas and sweet, spicy flavours.
If the word ‘musk’ is traced back further - it travels through late Latin ‘muscus’, Greek ‘moschos’, Persian ‘mushk’ and finally in Sanskrit ‘ Muskas’ – a substance with a persistent odour, obtained from the gland of male musk deer.
When in summer the incidence of flies/insects increase after a cold and shivering winter, the tea plants produce ‘terpene’ to defend themselves against onslaught of such pests. The smell of ‘terpene’ is a pleasant fruity odour which doubles as an insect repellant. When plucked and made to go through limited oxidation process, the ‘terpene’ in tea leaves gets converted into a flavor like honey – the elusive muscatel.
As the fly attack on tea leaves is essential for the tea plant to set off its defense mechanism, the need of a garden to be organic becomes even more for in no way can insecticides be sprayed to discourage the pests. The best that one can do is to leave it to Nature to do its thing.
In Darjeeling, when the tea leaves are plucked from late May to June, upon processing the product is less astringent, well rounded, bright liquor with that hint of muscatel. Along with the flies, Darjeeling has that unique terroir, the mountain the mist and the air which leaves you with no options but to make you fall in love with Natures games.
At our gardens in Puttabong, Sungma, Risheehat the play had been even more enriched with the care and affection put in by the workers to bring to you this beautiful Organic Black Tea. It is best enjoyed without milk and makes for a wonderful afternoon tea. With its nuttiness and honey like flavours, it pairs well with biscuits, cookies, fruits and soft cheeses.
Taste is the sensation of flavor perceived in the mouth and throat when it comes in contact with the substance being tasted. What makes Darjeeling Second flush really special is the balance it bears in its complexity. When the first sip greets you with the enchanting muscatel, the full body and less astringency generates a smoothness which is fruitier than green and a colour mid amber to deeper shades of brown. The after taste is sweet and keeps lingering in the palate for long.
Muscatel is a desired flavor but again too much of it might not yield a very good cup. With all in perfect harmony, only Darjeeling Second flush Muscatel has it in itself to have enchanted the world and earned the title of ‘The Champagne of Teas’.