A few years ago, Mr. Rajiv Lochan of Lochan Tea sent me a few really big bags of samples. I’ve had some in the intervening years, but never quite finished any of them despite my best attempt, mostly because I don’t drink black tea very often. Since I’m on the road today, I pulled out the bag labeled Margaret’s Hope Black Tea, and had it grandpa style. The tea, I must say, has aged very gracefully in the four years that it’s been under my possession. I’ve always known that blacks often taste fuller with age, at least in the first year or two, but this tea, drunk in this way, was just really, really nice. Long gone are the aggressive notes that you get with Darjeeling — that bitter bite that comes with the territory of drinking Darjeelings grandpa style is not to be found. Instead, a very welcoming sweetness pervades the tea, coats the mouth, and slides down the throat. The sweetness is not too different from the type of taste you get from a good, somewhat (but not very) aged puerh — a 5-7 years tea that’s turning the corner. You can still taste the typical Darjeeling scent underneath, but this is much better than, say, a young 2nd flush.
This makes me wonder if I should stock up on some Darjeelings and just let them age. Might not be a bad idea, actually.