November 02, 2016
Cupping Smith Teamaker's 1st Flush Darjeeling Tumsong
Technically one uses a cupping set for a comparative tasting but I the Tumsong was the only first flush Darjeeling I have in my tea stash. I do have a second flush Darjeeling, also from Smith Teamaker, the No. 17 Steinthal. The protocol I used is the one outlined in Tea: History, Terroirs, and Varieties, the textbook for my tea studies with ITEI, which I describe below.
1. Weigh the tea and add it to the infusion cup. I measured 3 grams of loose tea.
2. Pour hot water on the leaves and cover the cup. I used 200F water since the Darjeeling is a first flush and this greener.
3. Infuse the leaves for three minutes. I steeped the leaves three times: 3 minutes, 3 minutes 30 seconds, and 4 minutes.
4. Tip the covered cup into the tasting bowl. Drain completely, then flip over the cup to dislodge the leaves onto the lid.
5. Smell the infused leaves, then place the lid upside down on the infusion cup to display them.
6. Smell the liquor.
7. Sip the liquor. You can use a spoon or drink directly from the tasting bowl. I've used a spoon in the past but this time I sipped directly from the bowl. It's definitely encouraged to slurp the tea!
8. Make your notes on smell, taste, color, texture, etc. Also, enjoy the tea!
The infused leaves smelled like green stems with floral and stone fruit notes. The liquor from the first infusion was a deep honey color, amber with a sweet smell which carried through to the taste. Accompanying the sweetness was a pleasant green astringency, a thigh mouthfeel, and a lingering stone fruit taste. With a second infusion, the color of the liquor deepened but it was less sweet and fruity. The green astringency was still there though it had spun off into a dryness on the tongue and fruity film on my top row of teeth. The end note like gnawing on the pit of a stone fruit. The third and final infusion was lighter in color and thinner in flavor and texture. The green astringency was mostly gone but happily the dry fruitiness remained. I cupped this tea twice and am sharing notes from my second session. Out of a 2 ounce bag I have used approximately 6 grams so fortunately for me I have another 50 grams of this Darjeeling or at least 16 more cuppings. The fact that I performed this calculation should tell you that I am looking forward to drinking more of it.
1st Flush Darjeeling Tumsong courtesy of Smith Teamaker.