Sunday, September 14, 2008

Twinings Darjeeling

At the fresh market in Cameron Village, I saw a 100 gram box of darjeeling tea. It wasn't the first tea of the day that I saw. That honor resides with 10000 Pillages, er, Villages. Yes, for $12.50, tax excluded, I could have been the proud owner of USDA organic, Fair trade, first flush darjeeling tea. First flush teas are a big deal. They're big, they're high quality, and they're in large demand. So imagine my surprise when I uncapped the lid and saw this but only with a lot more stems. That does not resemble a fine grade of tea. As a matter of fact, it looks like it would barely pass as an orange pekoe grade, but it's more likely a broken orange pekoe which would be suitable for teabags. And for that sort of price, it should've been at least a Flowery Orange Pekoe. And for them to label it as a first flush tea and to sell such a low grade is like selling bushels of apples hand picked by virgin maidens on Mt. Olympus, but all the apples have worms in them and they're incredibly mushy. I passed on it and thought of getting some handmade soaps. Unfortunately, the soaps cost $4.50 for a 4"x2"x2" piece of sandalwood soap. If we keep buying goods at these prices from 10,000 Villages, pretty soon India will be setting up a "10,000 Suburbs" in New Delhi featuring pictures of accountants making paperclip chains and abacuses.
I was going to get some tea, but not from that store.
So I went to the Fresh market and saw the Twinings tin that was 100g for $5 of Darjeeling tea. I knew it was loose leaf, and I knew that it wasn't going to be high quality, but by golly, I knew what I was getting. So I broke the seal and saw broken orange pekoe leaves glancing up at me. I made a cup when I got back home and noticed that the cup smelled like a rose. The taste was apt for the amount of money I paid: bitter, monotonous, and lightly gritty. But it gave me a vague idea of what Darjeeling tastes like, and I enjoyed the cup which was the point anyway.
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