Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling


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Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby Tennessee Dave » Jun 5th, '12, 12:49

I am looking for a really good to outstanding darjeeling with that heavy muscatel note. Could you recommend a retailer? I have enjoyed darjeeling in the past in tea bags and now that I am into leaf I really want to try them again. Thanks in advance for your response.
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby sherubtse » Jun 5th, '12, 13:37

Try Camellia-Sinensis in Montreal. I'm no expert on Darjeelings, but my sense is that they may have an excellent selection. Kevin, one of the owners, *is* an expert, however.

http://camellia-sinensis.com/tea/teas/B ... liste-thes

Best wishes,
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby sriracha » Jun 5th, '12, 13:53

I've never bought from them myself, but maybe Darjeeling Tea Xpress..?
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby chado.my.teaway » Jun 5th, '12, 16:33

Try Darjeeling Giddapahar;)

http://www.darjeelingteaxpress.com/darj ... giddapahar

I had this tea from Thunderbolt.
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby spinmail » Aug 19th, '12, 00:14

Tennessee Dave wrote:I am looking for a really good to outstanding darjeeling with that heavy muscatel note. Could you recommend a retailer? I have enjoyed darjeeling in the past in tea bags and now that I am into leaf I really want to try them again. Thanks in advance for your response.


I'm reviving this "old" discussion because it's exactly the information I'm looking for. The second flush Darjeelings are coming out, now, which means more of the rich Muscatel flavor.

If anyone has additional information or tips, that would be great. I really like the full flavor of Castleton and Margaret's Hope 2nd Flush. Anything along this line?
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby brunogm » Dec 28th, '12, 17:12

I ordered Muscatel Darjeeling directly from the Makaibari tea estate.

What can I say? When I first tasted it, when it was fresh, I gave it top rank in my personal tea rankings (I am keeping a spreadsheet where I rank teas from 0 to 6, and it got a 6).

But there are two caveats:

- after a few months, like after 4 months, this tea kind of lost its flavor and now I would give it a 3 (average rank).
- I am hearing some of Makaibari Darjeelings are not exactly from the Makaibari original garden, but rather a blend from the vicinity (not that it matters if the tea is good).
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby Tead Off » Dec 29th, '12, 00:14

brunogm wrote:I ordered Muscatel Darjeeling directly from the Makaibari tea estate.

What can I say? When I first tasted it, when it was fresh, I gave it top rank in my personal tea rankings (I am keeping a spreadsheet where I rank teas from 0 to 6, and it got a 6).

But there are two caveats:

- after a few months, like after 4 months, this tea kind of lost its flavor and now I would give it a 3 (average rank).
- I am hearing some of Makaibari Darjeelings are not exactly from the Makaibari original garden, but rather a blend from the vicinity (not that it matters if the tea is good).

In Darjeeling, the mention of the name Makaibari illicits many responses, mostly negative, from people in the tea business. Why is that? Perhaps there is a lot of jealousy of how successful the name has become. Perhaps there is a lot of truth to the gossip of blending teas from low-lying areas and calling it Makaibari. Does Makaibari do this themselves, or do the outliers buy Makaibari and blend the cheaper teas themselves without the knowledge or permission of Makaibari? I don't have an answer to this question. I would have to believe one person's view over another's. This doesn't lead to fact. The fact is there is a lot of blending going on in the Darjeeling tea business and it has been shown that more Darjeeling tea is sold each year than is actually produced. Because Makaibari is such a well-known brand, it would make sense for blenders to use this tea and its name. Makaibari has marketed itself well and is world famous.

I have 3 teas from Makaibari. All were purchased 1 or 2 years ago in India. There are so many variations from this garden that I couldn't possibly tell you if they are 100% or not. None of my favorite tea shops in Darjeeling sell Makaibari. Maybe they can't get any. Maybe their production is pre-bought by distiributors. The biggest markets are Germany and Japan I am told. I would rank none of the Makaibari teas I have as top teas. In fact, there are many better teas, IMO, being grown in the region. But this would be up to you to decide.

The muscatel profile is usually associated with 2nd flush teas. I would encourage you to write to some of the online sellers in Darjeeling and ask directly what they think their best muscatel teas are. Buy some, compare, and develop your tastes. I trust Rajiv at www.teaemporium.net but there are other sellers that posters here like and trust, too. Mariage Freres also has good teas but you will pay a premium for them. Because they are a big seller, they may have access to the best pickings. The tea business is much more complex than we realize.

Also, I don't know why some teas will still have a lot of punch after a couple of years and some will die. Many variables. Many different qualities in Darjeelings.
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby brunogm » Dec 29th, '12, 03:35

Hello,

I bought the Makaibari directly from Makaibari. They sell online: http://www.makaibari.com/
Since there are no intermediaries, any possible blending would have been done by them. Given the cheap price (6.70 USD/100 grams) I would not be surprised if it is a blend.

Mariage Frères: I know them because they are based in Paris, and I live in Paris. I am trying to avoid them if I can, because I had the exact same experience as described by someone in a thread on these boards, which is they sold me some tea I am sure was too old.
On the other hand, they sold me some top tea too. But I do not like every purchasing experience being a bet on whether it will be a top tea or old tea. And as you mentioned, they are pricey.

What I am doing now is ordering online directly from the country of origin, which works fine for Chinese and Darjeeling teas.
Mariage Frères or similar French shops, I only use for teas that I cannot find elsewhere (like Nepalese tea).
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby Tead Off » Dec 29th, '12, 04:43

The inexpensive price will reflect a low grade of tea, probably just broken pieces. I have paid about $30/100g for their Silver Tips or Blossoms, can't remember what they called it, in India. This is what they call a white tea, first flush, and very light and bright.

I think you will have a different experience dealing directly with some of the online sellers in Darjeeling. Always ask if the leaves are whole or broken.
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby brunogm » Dec 29th, '12, 07:27

Tead Off wrote:The inexpensive price will reflect a low grade of tea, probably just broken pieces...
I think you will have a different experience dealing directly with some of the online sellers in Darjeeling. Always ask if the leaves are whole or broken.


You got it spot on. When I compare the Makaibari side by side to a much better Autumn Castleton FTGFOP1, the Makabairi has some small broken leaves, like half leaves, quarter leaves, whereas the Castleton has a lot of whole leaves.

Therefore Makabairi is probably not blending this tea, just making it from partially broken leaves. It is telltale that they just call it "Muscatel Darjeeling" without adding letters like FTGFOP.

Next time, I will follow your advice and ask for whole leaves only.
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Re: Source for really good "muscatel" darjeeling

Postby Tead Off » Dec 29th, '12, 23:00

brunogm wrote:
Tead Off wrote:The inexpensive price will reflect a low grade of tea, probably just broken pieces...
I think you will have a different experience dealing directly with some of the online sellers in Darjeeling. Always ask if the leaves are whole or broken.


You got it spot on. When I compare the Makaibari side by side to a much better Autumn Castleton FTGFOP1, the Makabairi has some small broken leaves, like half leaves, quarter leaves, whereas the Castleton has a lot of whole leaves.

Therefore Makabairi is probably not blending this tea, just making it from partially broken leaves. It is telltale that they just call it "Muscatel Darjeeling" without adding letters like FTGFOP.

Next time, I will follow your advice and ask for whole leaves only.

Just to be clear, there are broken leaf teas that will taste very good. Some at $9/100g are bargains. Which ones? Trial and error. And, you can reverse this and say not all whole leaf teas are going to be great tasting. This is why you have to get to know a vendor and begin to rely on some opinions. Buying the brand doesn't insure a tea will be the same from harvest to harvest. Climate has a lot to do with the results.
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