• Good strength with hints of muscatel
• Similar to an excellent Darjeeling
Illam estate has a darjeeling-like character with good muscatel flavor. Some may ask, "What is the muscatel flavor?" When you taste this tea you will experience an almost perfume like character that some tea drinkers call -"`Chanel -like;" others call the darjeeling character "slightly over-fired" or oaky. The muscatel flavor is the natural taste of the tea - becoming more pronounced during April (light tasting with astringency and intense flavor) and June (intense flavor with more body). The flavor is on account of the altitude of the tea estate, the soil in the Himalayas the weather patterns, temperature, the originating species of the bush (Chinese genus as opposed to the Indian genus) and fermenting techniques; it has nothing to do with the tea being over-fired (over-fired is a description of poor manufacturing techniques). The leaf appearance is very typical of a well produced high mountain grown Nepalese tea. It appears mottled with brownish and greenish leaf - almost camouflage-like. This appearance is caused the myriad of different mother bushes, the older age of the bushes and the subsequent fact that the leaves ferment differently.
The area where Illam is produced is high in the Himalayan mountains. The slopes where the tea is produced are extremely steep which makes it very difficult for the tea pluckers to go about their work. At Illam one is surrounded by the high snow covered peaks of the world's highest mountains. It is truly a very scenic area. The quality of this tea befits the tremendous efforts undertaken to produce the tea and the beautiful surroundings.
There are 3 main times of year for producing good quality Darjeelings:
- 1st flush - Springtime harvested teas from late February to mid-April. The young leaves yield a light tea with generally intense muscatel with "point." A gentle afternoon tea.
- 2nd flush - Harvested in June, these teas are more fully developed. The liquor is bright and the taste full and round excellent muscatel. An superb afternoon tea that is especially good with scones and raspberry conserve.
- Autumnal - Not always available depending upon the weather, they are typified by a round taste and coppery liquor. Excellent as a breakfast tea with milk.
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