2012 First Flush Castleton SFTGFOP1

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Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Excelsior
Average preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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From Mariage Frères

Nestled in the vicinity of Kurseong, “City of the white orchid”

Leaves: Petite, jade green, delicately hand-worked with abundant silvertips.
Nose: Discerning, zesty wisps joined by notes of yellow fruit.
Liquor: Orpiment yellow; against a texture both supple and vibrant it unfurls in the mouth on deep, nutty notes of grain and wheat, then diverges into a rich spectrum of young fruit (Muscatel grape, green mango, sugar apple) crowned by a dash of citrus (sweet orange rind). The initial intensity then gives way to an august and gourmet amplitude, carried by discrete tannins, that lingers with finesse.

Pure, spring time Darjeeling Tea.

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3 Tasting Notes

17 tasting notes

400ml of water at 195F
1 heaping tablespoon of tea
Steep for 2 minutes
1/4 teaspoon of highly refined sugar

Darjeelings are extremely temperamental. Over extend one or more parameters (tea leave volume, water temperature, steeping time) and the tea becomes mediocre. Darjeeling also has the disadvantage of only offering one good steep and if manage to get a second or third steep, it does not compare to the flavor and taste of the first.

This year’s Castleton, by Mariage Freres, surprised me. The recommended steeping time for the 2011 FF was 5 minutes. The recommended steeping time for this year’s Castleton is 2 minutes. Same estate, same flush, same grade, different year and the time changes considerably. Could this be correct? Based on my memory, it took a full 5 minutes to bring out the full complex flavor of the 2011 FF Castleton. It only takes two for this year. Steep the 2012 for a longer time and the astringency will assert itself often masking the other delicate flavors exhibited in this tea.

So how is the taste of the 2012 First Flush Castleton? Excellent. A complex mixture of floral notes, full body with the classic “muscatel” taste, and little to no stringency. This flagship Darjeeling tea from Mariage is always good. Consistent in high quality, full flavor and great taste year after year after year. I asked the question of why the Darjeelings from Mariage are so different in taste from other retailers and their answer is this: “most of our Darjeeling premium flushes are exclusively grown and kept for us by the owners of the gardens from one flush to the other. That also is the reason why we can on some very rare occasions refuse a whole flush from one garden due the incapacity to meet our standards.”

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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2 tasting notes

400ml of water at 200F 5.5g tea Steep for 2 min 10sec
Cotton nel was used.

Astringency is not beautiful.
There is little sweet taste lightly.
The balance of astringency and sweet taste is bad.

It is better than the tea leaves harvested in 2011.
It is worse than the tea leaves harvested in 2010.

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 15 sec

I was looking at your website. You are rating the 2nd flush Castleton (T1110). Not the 2012 1st flush Castleton (T100) which I listed and tasted. As the new 2012 2nd flush teas are not in Mariage yet, it is most likely a harvest from 2011 or older. Also, the recommended steeping time is 5 minutes.


5 minutes are too long.
It is the futility of time.


Different teas, different flushes, different harvests require different steeping times. 2011 FF Castelton required a full 5 minutes to extract all the flavor and taste the tea had to offer. This changed to 2 minutes for the 2012 FF Castleton. The taste came alive in 2 minutes. Anything above 2 minutes brings about an unpleasant astringency. 2012 Ambootia, 5 minutes, 2012 FF Moondakotee 4 minutes, 2012 Jungpana 4 minutes and for most of the rest of the 2012 FF Darjeelings, 3 minutes. i have tried all of the 2012 Mariage Freres 1st flush and the real winners are the Namring and Castleton. Completely different from 2011, the 2012 Namring offered teh prefect balance of flavors and taste with just a hint of floral notes evident in the scent of the bewed cup.


A pitiful person.
And a regrettable person.
There is no thing as which Darjeeling this year may be sufficient.

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16 tasting notes

I have had the 2009 + 2010 – both were better.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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