It’s that time of year again. We celebrate the ending of the current year, and welcome the new one. What an unusual and divergent year it has been. One might say this is a reason to reflect on the past year in a different way, too. While most people will celebrate with bubbles, others might want to endeavour new ways to manifest the antecedent year.
But what exactly makes Champagne so special? It is the Méthode Champenoise, a secondary fermentation process, which requires hundreds of hours of manual labour, and years of aging before bottles can be released to the public. By law, all Champagne must derive from the Champagne region of northern France. The unique taste of Champagne has its roots in the Terroir - the special character a taste gets from its surrounding conditions. These range from climate and soil, to terrain and - very importantly - the culture of local cultivation methods and traditions. This is what makes Champagne so sought after, and exclusive.
The same can be said about Darjeeling, one of the most well-known and perhaps one of the most well-liked teas in the world. There are 87 tea estates that are granted the permission to produce Darjeeling - a unique, delicate black tea grown at a high altitude. The Himalayan terroir allows for its unique and complex taste characteristics, which is why Darjeeling is considered to be the Champagne of teas.
All of these factors can be found back in the sophisticated taste profile of one of our most exclusive Darjeelings:
Our Kali-Ma Reserve N°916 Limited Harvest is reaped in the early spring days, after dormancy (a state in which the plant undergoes temporary or minimal metabolic activity, similar to hibernation for animals). This leads to an intense mouth-watering taste profile, which includes distinct tropical fruits, notes of muscatel and a rich floral bouquet. With every sip taken from this exceptional brew, one can feel the love and effort this plant underwent, while harmoniously growing in the healthiest soil mother nature provides.
Mother nature is full of peculiar wonders. One of them being a miraculous phenomenon called symbiosis, a close relationship between organisms of two different species, from which at least one organism benefits. In the Terroir of the Taiwanese tea regions, the tea jassid lives off the Camellia sinensis. When this little green leafhopper bites the leaves, they experience early oxidation while the leaves are still on the plant. This defence mechanism flourishes muscat grape like notes, and develops a magnificent rich savour, which results in a flamboyant riot of white-tipped leaves.
One of the few teas that actually goes through this natural interaction is our Oriental Beauty N°403, an Oolong with hints of fruity, peach and citrus notes. Oriental Beauty was also the favourite tea of her Majesty Queen Victoria. Although Oolong is a lesser known type of tea, the flavour this interplay produces is so exquisite, that we also refer to Oriental Beauty as our Champagne of Oolongs, grown in the Miaoli region, a place akin to paradise on earth.
Apart from the Champagne Oolong produced in Taiwan, this exalted island offers us other outstanding teas. Our Ruby of Formosa N°920 makes reference to the name given to Taiwan, by Portuguese settlers who named this island “Formosa”, beautiful in Portuguese, due to the astonishing beauty of the landscape. Although Ruby of Formosa N°920 is not referred to as a Champagne of tea, it is an elegant black tea that carries its name with pride. Our latest limited harvest unfolds as an exquisite brew with an awe-inspiring taste with notes of liquorice, bitter chocolate and lemon balm. Taiwanese tea gardens rely on quality over quantity, which can be seen in every batch of tea, and especially in our Ruby of Formosa N°920. This tea producing region is located by the largest body of water in Taiwan, Sun Moon lake, ideal for quintessential growing conditions surrounded by picturesque landscapes, in which the plant can enfold its beauty and unique taste.
Since this year was so very abnormal, why not finish it in a special way, relishing the finest teas such as our Kali-Ma Reserve N°916, Oriental Beauty N°403 or our Ruby of Formosa N°920, all carrying such a delicate taste and complexity, that could only be compared to a glass of the best Champagne. These teas carry the harmony and richness of the idyllic and breathtaking places they originate from. They will re-fuel your body and cleanse your mind to be ready for a better 2021.
Photo Credit: © Foto Paetau