NaNoTeaMo, Day 6: “Defining a Doke Tea State of Mind”
- A river located in the state of Bihar, India
- The surname of a tea estate in Bihar, India owned and operated by the Lochan family.
- To induce a state of mind in a Doke tea drinker, wherein they experience equal parts bliss, resiliency . . . and/or blind, seething rage when denied said brew.
Okay, I made the verb definition up, but I’m going to spend the next few hundred words demonstrating that “Doking” is – or at least should be – considered a thing. And I won’t even come close to touching the Urban Dictionary definitions for the word “Doke”. (Don’t look it up; you have been warned.)
I have talked at great length about my love for Doke Black Fusion – the flagship black tea put out by the Doke Tea Estate. It’s safe to say that it is my favorite Indian black tea – period. What I have not touched upon, though, is how it makes me feel, or what it does to me when I am somehow/someway prevented from having it. Yes, the latter complication has happened. I’ll explain . . .
When coming back to Oregon from World Tea Expo in Long Beach, California, I put some leaves in a travel mug before heading to the airport. I was able to plead with a barista to fill said mug with hot water, and I gleefully began sipping away . . . until we hit the TSA screening area. The agent informed me that I had to dump the brew.
I nearly called her a terrorist.
A few months later, I brewed up some Black Fusion before a work shift. Heck, I did that several times over the course of the summer. On many of those early morning commutes, I would brandish my travel mug like it was some holy grail carrying an immortality-granting elixir.
One such work shift, though, a coworker was trying to nudge past me in the break room. Her tush came in contact with my travel mug. It crashed to the floor, spilling my first infusion. I imparted many epithets. I think she cried. I got over it once I made myself a second infusion.
But I was still burned enough on that spill that I had to write a tea haiku about it that night.
Don’t judge me.
Recently, though, I was given an opportunity to really test out its exhilarant effects on one of my days off. Rajiv Lochan had imparted a large bag of June 2015-plucked Black Fusion, while is son, Vivek – a couple of months later – sent a bag of July 2015-plucked Black Fusion. This provided me a rare treat, indeed. I’d compared two different growing seasons of Black Fusion before, but not two teas from the same growing season – just different months.
This last week I got to brewing both.
The first thing I did that morning was pour out both leaves to compare them. The processes looked entirely different, even after such a short period of time. Two months, that’s it!
The first flush leaves – picked in early June – had a very wild, hand-rolled appearance to them.
I love that. Black Fusion tea leaves were always beautiful to behold – long, dark purple-brown and twisty. And the aroma they gave off was what I was expecting and longing for; that whole Doke honey-nut-spice terroir fragrance
The July-plucked leaves were a tad different.
Sure, they still had the hand-rolled appearance of the earlier flush, but the leaf cut was considerably smaller, honing in on BOP territory without getting that unfortunate grade. Still whole leaf . . . but with a haircut. The aroma those leaves gave off was about the same. Very little deviation in scent between months.
For both, I brewed ’em “traditional” Western style. Heaping teaspoon (or close to it) in two 6oz. Ceylon steeper cups, and a three-minute steep in boiled water. This was a hearty tea no matter how you brewed it.
The June brewed up to a bold copper, with a nice, smooth, malty aroma.
Wait . . . that was new. Malty aroma? I was used to this being burly, but not so malty. I was also aware of the fact that they used assamica cultivars, but this was the first Black Fusion incarnation that was muscling in with Assam-ish taste profiles. Unlike Assams, though, on taste there was still more going on; that whole honey-nut-spice monopoly. Yep, still there, still kickin’ – and how! It was malty in the front, straight Doke in the back. Y’know, like a . . . tea mullet? No. Just awesome.
I was expecting more of the same with the July, but a bit more robust – as one would with second flushes. However, I was not prepared for what greeted my tongue.
Whereas the June gave a smooth, malty mouthfeel followed by the usual sipping note suspects, the July just . . . punched me with Doke notes. Sidethought: “Doke!” does sound like a punch from the original Batman. Just sayin’.
That reminds me . . . I also did a “Batman Brews” episode featuring Black Fusion.
It was a very Doke time in my life.
The July pluck skipped all the pleasantries and small talk, delivering full-on flavor on the first go.
Introduction? What introduction? Here’s a fistful of DOKE! Along with the honey-nut-‘n-spice trifecta, there was a feeling of pipe tobacco throughout the repeated sips.
I know I’ll sound like a college student by saying this . . . but . . . “I want to smoke this Doke.”
That day, there was a cheesy grin on my face. Like . . . all day. I think I was certifiably tea-stoned, or rather, completely Doked. My niece even tried to come into my room a couple of times to talk, and . . . I didn’t let her. It took all my resolve not to say, “Leave me alone, I’m Doking!” . . . which probably wouldn’t have gone over well.
No one keeps me from my Doke.