Tea: Equal Exchange Fairly Traded Darjeeling

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[Yes, the same person wrote all of these posts. Go figure.]

Darjeeling is the champagne of teas. It’s one of the few black teas made from Camellia sinensis sinensis, usually used for green tea.

Darjeeling was my favorite tea for years. I think I got Equal Exchange Fairly Traded Darjeeling at the health food store.

The need for fair trade is real. I wish I could give this tea a good review.

Unfortunately this tea had a heavy chemical overtaste. I’ve never run into anything like it. Is it a contaminent that got on the tea after harvest? The chemical taste resembles diesel fuel, or a petroleum-based solvent. Other than that, it’s not great Darjeeling. This tea is supposed to be organic.

The reviews of this tea on the Equal Exchange website make me wonder. One man gave it five out of five stars and said he makes iced tea out of it. Who does that? Some more five star reviews: “Even better than those found at specialty tea shops . . . the richest, best Darjeeling I’ve tried”

No it’s not.

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This is how the Equal Exchange website describes it:

DESCRIPTION
Aroma: delicate oak notes, wine, citrus, vanilla
Flavor: raisin, carmelized sugar, floral, sweet, velvetty body and refined astringency

Many of those notes aren’t in this tea, or any Darjeeling tea. Darjeeling is usually described as floral, fruity, grassy, delicate, woody (but not oaky) or tasting like rose petals. There’s no carmelized sugar notes in this or any tea. In fact, the company’s description sounds more like wine than tea.

This is the second fair trade product I’ve bought that seemed to contain things it shouldn’t. I bought some expensive fair trade unsulphured molasses. It tasted like sulphur. Is someone trying to mess with fair trade products? Further, making tea, wine and chocolate are crafts that can take generations to learn. The health food version of these can be lacking. This is the second organic Darjeeling tea I’ve found wanting. The other one, Choice brand, did taste fresh and organic. It just seemed a little raw and unfinished. It’s available at some health food stores if you want to try a fair trade organic Darjeeling that I believe is organic. St. Dalfours Darjeeling is organic (which I find believable) but not fair trade and the tea bags are annoying: you have to pull the string out of the bag which sometimes falls apart. My favorite Darjeeling is made by Twinnings who has 300 years of experience, but it’s not fair trade or organic.

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I am located in the US.

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