Best Darjeeling


Fully oxidized tea leaves for a robust cup.

Re: Best Darjeeling

Postby Tead Off » Dec 13th, '10, 23:17

entropyembrace wrote:
yshuto wrote:It's expensive, the website is not too user friendly but the quality and selection is exceptional at Mariage. They have the ultra premium Darjeelings like the Bruhmes D'Himalaya selling at 120 euros per 100 grams and they also have quite reasonable priced darjeelings like Springside. They have over 50 Darjeeling teas to choose from.


Their markups are what I´d call ridiculous...

check the price of Singbulli SFTGFOP1 first flush on Mariage vs Tea Emporium (first one I found that both have for sale)

40€ per 100g at Mariage vs $10 per 100g at Tea Emporium

I know which one I will buy my next Darjeelings from :lol:

I'm not defending Mariage Freres, but, the invoice # and when it was picked can affect the pricing and quality of the same tea. But, it is hard to justify the difference in pricing we see here. Holy Cow. :shock:
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Re: Best Darjeeling

Postby kymidwife » Dec 14th, '10, 16:36

Value is not just price, but quality/price ratio. If there are Darjeelings out there that are much higher in quality than Tea Emporium, I'm not sure I even want to know about them! TE's quality/price ratio equals excellent value, and I haven't found a downside to them yet. I have no desire to start sampling much more expensive vendors.
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Re: Best Darjeeling

Postby yshuto » Dec 14th, '10, 22:10

I am not opposed to buy tea at different retailers so I might try Tea Emporium. One question I have is, when I went to their website, their selection was limited. Is this always the case? Also, the price for Margaret's Hope is not that much different. It's the exotic and first flush teas where the price becomes quite expensive. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. Like Brumes D'himalaya. I tried it but in my opinion it was not worth the price of 120 euros for 100g. The store manager agreed with me. Yet there were plenty of consumers willing to pay the price and they sold out their stock within a week (Tokyo Mariage). They have more Mariage shops in Japan then they do in France.
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Re: Best Darjeeling

Postby Tead Off » Dec 14th, '10, 23:42

yshuto wrote:I am not opposed to buy tea at different retailers so I might try Tea Emporium. One question I have is, when I went to their website, their selection was limited. Is this always the case? Also, the price for Margaret's Hope is not that much different. It's the exotic and first flush teas where the price becomes quite expensive. Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. Like Brumes D'himalaya. I tried it but in my opinion it was not worth the price of 120 euros for 100g. The store manager agreed with me. Yet there were plenty of consumers willing to pay the price and they sold out their stock within a week (Tokyo Mariage). They have more Mariage shops in Japan then they do in France.

I have returned from Darjeeling recently where I searched all of the tea sellers in the town, asked many, many, questions about all aspects of the teas and was quite surprised at how many good teas were available that are not sold through the websites or are not publicized with undue hype like Makaibari and Castleton. Not that these producers have bad tea, they are just better marketers of their product and are big producers selling directly into the big German/French/Japanese distributors. In Japan, prices are high for everything.
Buying direct from Darjeeling via website is also more expensive than buying the same teas in person. There was 1 shop I bought some teas in from 1 person and a few days later I returned and bought the same teas for less money from another clerk. Go figure. Nothing is fixed in India. Everything is negotiable. The exotic teas will always be more money and are harder to find. The question in this case is how much more are the non Indian vendors marking them up. The most expensive tea I saw in Darjeeling was 1500 Rupees/100g. This is US$33.50. I can't imagine paying 120Euros/100g for a Darjeeling. Someone is making a lot of money on those and I can guarantee there is equal quality to be bought online from vendors in Darjeeling for a whole lot less.
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Re: Best Darjeeling

Postby AlexZorach » Dec 16th, '10, 11:59

I find this question a little problematic, Darjeeling is so diverse, there is really no such thing as a "best" Darjeeling. And many Darjeelings can have strong and peculiar aromas that will be one person's favorite but will be outright off-putting to another.

For example, I dislike everything I've ever tried from Castleton estate, and I've been consistently disappointed with Arya, but those are a favorite of many others and Arya's teas in particular often fetch high prices. I absolutely love everything I've tried from Makaibari estate (including both specific flushes and generic blends), which is best known for its organic + biodynamic practices.

One of my favorite teas was a Barnesbeg Estate FTGFOP1 First Flush (DJ-6) that I got through Upton (my favorite source of low-priced Darjeelings). It's not a black tea but I loved the Soureni Organic Oolong from Fresh Darjeeling tea; that tea is a little more like a silver needle white tea than anything else, but it definitely has the stronger vegetal tones of the less oxidized Darjeelings.

Darjeeling is so variable and tastes are so personal that I think your best bet is to just try a lot of samples. One reason I prefer Upton is that it has such a huge catalog and offers such inexpensive samples. But there are lots of fantastic offerings that they don't have, so it's worth trying lots of other companies too.
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