Well, today was filled with things to do outside the house (first day of classes) so … I didn’t have time to make tea at home. Sigh, the beginning of the semester means that I won’t have nearly as much chance to drink tea at home as I did during reading period/finals/intersession. Oh well.
I ended up buying a cup of tea at Peet’s. It was their Darjeeling Extra Fancy Kalimpong. I don’t know where Kalimpong is, so I presume it’s some tea estate or another. It IS loose leaf, and it IS, as is usually the case when you buy tea from these places, expensive and somewhat mediocre.
A really good Darjeeling, in my personal opinion anyway, should be astringent but brews a golden brown colour, not too dark (and not too much tea leaves) with a little of what we call a “return sweetness” in the end. I like first flush more than second flush, but nowadays they come out with all sorts of weird Darjeelings that imitate green or white teas, which can produce varying results. This Darjeeling is not bad, but then, it’s not great either. I’ve had better than are both more fragrant and more flavourful.
The problem with buying a cup of tea at these places is usually that the amount of tea they put in can vary very considerably. Not only that, if you buy a Puerh from them they will never wash the tea, if you buy a white tea they will almost always brew it with water that’s too hot, and if you buy an oolong/tieguanyin they are very likely to put an insufficient amount of leaves in. It is annoying, and once in a while they even give you the wrong tea (I’ve been given a Chinese green tea before when I asked for a Darjeeling, go figure). Generally the people who work at these places, even at Tealuxe, have very little idea of the kind of tea they are actually selling. I’ve once heard from a guy at Tealuxe saying that their Genmai Cha is Dragonwell based. Well, what kind of Dragonwell? Not to mention that Dragonwell is unlikely to be used in any real Genmai Cha since Genmai Cha is, well, Japanese. Who knows, maybe they really do, but given how terrible their Dragonwell is, I don’t know about that Genmai Cha…