I'm new to this forum. I'm from Spain, so please, forget my poor English.
Although I'm a black tea drinker since a child, I just recently began to expand my tea experience. One week ago my sister brought from Paris a box of Vintage Darjeeling from Twinings. Tempted by the reputation of this kind of tea, I surfed all along the web to search for the optimum brewing methods. So I began with 2g per 8oz cup, 85ºC (185ºF), and a steeping time of 3 min. The first impression was AWFUL. I would say that the flavour was mild, but with an initial briskness that made me think of this tea as a combination of black and green tea. But what overly disappointed me was the "associated" flavour that came with the regular tea flavour. In my palate, it felt like a very strong flavour, not sweet nor bitter, somewhat watery, I would say almost brassy, very similar to the flavour of a badly boiled tea, that topped and almost overcame the regular tea flavour. Even worst, this tea left me a very very strong and very astringent aftertaste of the same flavour, similar but much worse than the bergamot aftertaste flavour of a cheap and largely overbrewed Earl Grey. And (horror!) it lasted for more than 1 hour in my throat!! At the third cup I began to feel a bit nausea. And no trace of muscatel or sweetness.
So, I tried the other brewing method commonly found on the web: boiling, 3-5 min (4 min for mine), so more or less a regular black tea brewing. Same result, but now with an bit unpleasant bitterness. I tried a few more times with different techniques, pots, quantities, and even water (tried four different bottled waters)! The horrible aftertaste was invariable, maybe sometimes more nauseating, sometimes a bit less. One slurp each ten I could detect a very very very subtle hint of sweetness that I wished to think that reminded me white wine or grapes.
I began to think that maybe the tea was plainly awful (Twinings Vintage Darjeeling, although being FTGFOP, is a blend of 2nd and 3rd flush Darjeeling, so it's not very good quality). So I bought some Castleton SFTGFOP1 2nd Flush Darjeeling. Well, after 5 diferent brewings, I could say that, althought it tastes better and more complex than the Vintage Twinings, that is much more full bodied and strong, that the aftertaste is much more gentle and much less lasting, and that the sweet notes are a tiny bit more noticeable (but continues to be almost indistinguishable), the awful brassy, watery and astringent flavour continues to impregnate the liquor, and I can't never say "I had a nice cup of tea".
So what happens? It could be a simple matter of taste, but I actually like the wine taste and grapes, and I don't find almost nothing in common between wine & grapes and Darjeeling.
One important thing to note is that I suffer of nasal polyps, and have a reduced capacity of smelling, so I barely can smell anything more than a vegetable aroma in this tea, or a flowery scent only at the very moment I open the tea container. I discarded through experimentation other possibilities like poor water (I use now a 37 ppm mineral natural water, almost perfect), bad container, bad brewing methods, drug interaction, or detergent/chemical action.
On the other hand, my nasal polyps hasn't impeded me enjoying and smelling other teas like Earl Grey, Lady Grey, Black Tea, Green Tea, White Tea, Tarry Souchong, flavoured blacks, Indian Chai or Moroccan Mint Tea. I'm a huge tea fan, but if all teas tasted like Darjeeling I would give it up forever.
¿Please, do you have any suggestion or idea about why I can't even taste Darjeeling?