When the package of samples from Golden Tips Tea first arrived, I was thrilled to find some Darjeeling teas inside. Though Darjeelings aren’t as well-known as Assam teas, they’re considered some of the finest in the world. In fact, Darjeeling black tea is nicknamed the “Champagne of Teas” because of its distinct aroma and flavor palate. I’ve had a few Darjeelings, and I have to agree – they’re smoother than Assams, more floral and fruity than Ceylons, and wonderfully delicious.
Which leads me to today’s Tea Time. Golden Tips’ Moonlight Darjeeling is a blend of black teas from various plantations across India’s Darjeeling region. All of the leaves were picked during “first flush” (March / April 2015) and are categorized as “Moonlight” due to their superior quality and aroma. In other words, this is one fine black tea blend. Who would like to try a cup with me? 🙂
Golden Tips’ Description: “The golden bright liqouring cup is smooth, flowery and exquisitely aromatic. Every sip suggests an accentuated burst of fresh tropical fruits and spring flowers with the typical natural Darjeeling sweetness. The aftertaste resonates your palate with hints of peach, apricot and lychee. The entire experience of this tea stays with you for quite some time. Take it straight without any accompaniments and relish the brilliance of a pure spring Darjeeling tea. ”
Ingredients: First-flush Darjeeling black tea leaves
Steeping Instructions: Use 1 teaspoon per 8 oz of water. Heat water to boiling (200 degrees Fahrenheit / 93 degrees Celsius) and steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
Multiple Brews?: No
Bagged or Loose Leaf?: Loose leaf
Caffeine Level: High
Did you see the photo of loose-leaf Moonlight Darjeeling in the Basics section? It’s hard to believe it’s a black tea – its leaves are so full and green! They look exactly like this when I open the packet, too. It looks more like a Bai Mu Dan / White Peony white tea, a meadow of spring green with brown, twig-like bits and a few white tips.
The fragrance also takes me by surprise. It’s delicate and fresh, with the fruit and floral notes that are typical of Darjeelings as well as a vegetal nuance. Again, this reminds me more of white teas or a Hua Gang or Wu Ling Oolong because of its lightness. First-flush teas tend to be on the gentle side, though, since the buds and leaves are “younger” and more tender. So, I’m very curious now to see how Moonlight Darjeeling will brew up.
Using Golden Tips’ instructions, I steep a teaspoon of Moonlight Darjeeling for 3 minutes. The tea develops into a bright golden yellow, a stark contrast to the typical brown shades of black teas. The fragrance is still light and subtly floral, with hints of fruit and the grape-like “muscatel” presence that makes Darjeelings so unique. As for the taste… It’s hard to describe, but in a good way. Caramel, peaches, apricot, spring flowers, grapes – it’s delicate and not too sweet, with a smooth, medium body and a pleasant crispness.
Since Golden Tips recommends between 3 to 5 minutes for brewing, I try fresh cups of Moonlight Darjeeling at 4 and 5 minutes each. The liquid takes on a darker yellow color, and the flavor profile matures as well. The muscatel and floral currents still flow, with raisin and subtle honey notes throughout now. Actually, it reminds me a lot of oolong tea! The 5-minute brew also has a slight tannic taste without becoming bitter or astringent. Overall, these longer brews are still light, complex, and refreshing. If one could taste an early afternoon picnic by a lake, listening to the trickle of water and watching the clouds roll by, this tea would be it.
Golden Tips’ Moonlight Darjeeling is such a delight! Because it consists of first-flush leaves, it’s more delicate and refined than other Darjeelings I’ve had before. (Those must have been second-flush or autumn-flush, since they’re darker , bolder, and juicier.) Yet I enjoyed Moonlight’s blend of muscatel, floral, and fruit aromas and flavors. I wouldn’t recommend additives like sugar or milk; it’s best to savor this tea’s subtleties as they are. I also think oolong tea lovers would appreciate Moonlight Darjeeling for its elegance and nuances.
Grade: 8.5 / 10
- Tea Drinkers Who: Like lighter black teas, as well as oolong teas
- Time of Day and Year: Late mornings or early afternoons in the spring or summer
- Possible Book Pairings: With its fresh and unique profile, Moonlight Darjeeling pairs well with books that tell beautifully complex stories. Try a cuppa with Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone (YA fantasy), Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See (historical fiction), and classics such as Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre or Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.
You can purchase Moonlight Darjeeling Black Tea directly from Golden Tips here.
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In addition to being a tea enthusiast, Sara Letourneau is an avid reader and a writer who… well, enjoys writing! Currently she’s working on a novel, and she writes book reviews and articles on the craft of writing. She’s also a published poet with works available in various print and online publications. Visit Sara at her personal blog, Twitter, or Goodreads.
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